austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

See the Great One rise before us

By the way, without spoiling the Doctor Who thing for anyone, I was astoundingly wrong in my predictions.

Even though it was cool and rainy Cedar Point was still fairly well-crowded, so we figured there was only a small chance we'd get to any of the big-name rides or the walk-through haunted houses. We had planned on using Saturday as a chance to walk through open areas, which soak up much more capacity, and take in shows, which run for about a half-hour every hour. Also, it was Sweetest Day, a holiday I never heard of because I'm not from Ohio or patches of Michigan, but which, well, I can go along with.

One of the shows we went to was a magic and some dance show at the Jack Aldrich Theater, one of the venues near the front of the park and which bunny_hugger remembered used to be named something else. After some memory-searching she identified it as having been the Centennial Theater, and she wasn't sure when it was renamed or who Jack Aldrich was that it got renamed. We resolve to look this up when we noticed the historical marker plaque on the theater explaining. (He'd directed the park's entertainment programs for decades, and after his death in summer 2009 they renamed the theater for him.)

The show was a pleasant blend of magic and dance routines, some of which we recognized from past years, though not all of them. Many of the magic bits were based on basic disappearance stunts, or cutting a woman into pieces, that sort of thing; although the clown-magician --- the only one who spoke as I remember it --- did a fine bit where his Siri directed him, somewhat snarkily, through a magic trick. Apparently Siri, much like Gangman Style, is now old enough to be used in the script for this sort of production. Anyway, it was fun and it sure feels like Cedar Point is trying harder to provide entertainment besides thrill rides and, for Halloween, hard-core haunted houses, and this is a successful part of that.

We were also able to get in some familiar friends like the Blue Streak roller coaster. I don't think I was wearing the Conneaut Lake Park Blue Streak hoodie that day --- I'm pretty sure it was the Blackpool one --- but I do remember kind of hoping to at least get a double-take from the Blue Streak ride operators and not seeing anything. Or I was looking at the wrong moment.

That we were there, though, meant it was also easy to get a ride on Calypso, one of those cars rotating around a post that's itself rotating rides that's so popular. bunny_hugger has found archive photographs showing how really ornate the ride used to be --- backdrops, a center stand, loud music and everything. Now it's dwindled to just a couple of lighted poles kind of suggesting trees, and rides spinning in silence. We also noticed one of the four rotating posts which is supposed to give its cars the epicycling rotation wasn't working. The riders in those cars were spun around the main center, yes, but there wasn't the secondary spinning around that makes the ride fun. I'm hoping it's just one of those little glitches they figured was easier to fix in the off-season.

We didn't do anything particularly special for Sweetest Day, but it was mentioned at the restaurant where we went for dinner. There's a marina on the end of Cedar Point and they have a couple of restaurants including one that's the sort of place my mother's college friends go, and bunny_hugger likes to have dinner there on Halloweekend Saturday night, and we did. They had a special for the day that was somehow tied to Sweetest Day; they also had a paper sign in the window explaining this which was oddly spaced and which, read literally, seemed to suggest the restaurant has a couple of locations, when as far as we can tell it hasn't.

The restaurant's a great place to eat, though, even if it has got enough atmosphere that they must know I don't belong there. Specifically, from its windows, you can look out and see the Great Lake if that's your thing or the amusement park if that's yours. After I fumbled a bit figuring out where to sit --- directly across from bunny_hugger, or cat-corner, and this took me far too long to decide on --- we both ended up at seats from which we could easily see Millennium Force and much of Blue Streak, as well as some of the rides and at the right moments other roller coasters.

We had a late dinner, late enough that the restaurant was closing as we left. As we were getting ready to leave a guy, clearly the card of his group, asked the maitre d' if they quick could handle a party of seventeen (or so). There was also a departing group, which bunny_hugger missed because she was washing up, which was clearly the touring company cast of my mother's college friends. It's always uncanny to run across that group.

Back in the park we wandered around the Gemini Midway and the children's rides we expected to be doomed, of course, and also took a stroll through one of the open-air haunted houses, the Carn-Evil, set up in the Camp Snoopy area. bunny_hugger hadn't expected much of the area, based on having been through it years ago, but the park has expanded the number and variety of attractions and people coming up to spook the audience in the interim and it's made for a pretty good use of time now. Cedar Fair seems to be on a trend towards making its amusement parks better-rounded and I can't guess whether the improvement in Carn-Evil is all part of this new trend or if it's from a couple years of trying to make all the parts of Halloweekend better.

We went to the Kiddie Carousel to close out the night --- it's a carousel dear to bunny_hugger's past --- and we indeed got on the final ride of the night for it. This left us near the front of the park, and the exit for the hotel is of course near the back, but that gave us the chance to walk through the park closing up, and to see streams of performers from the various haunted houses or walk-through areas coming back to the staging area. We took a slightly odd way around, going through one of the children's sections, with the Peanuts licensing in full flower, where we discovered not only were there Peanuts names attached to everything but even two strips hung as signs in every wait queue. There's enough Peanuts strips out there to find something that at least touches on some element of each kiddie ride, but it can be a pretty tenuous link; for example, for Snoopy's Express Railroad they found a couple strips where someone mentions hearing a railroad in the distance, at night, when the characters are most despairing. But, it mentioned a train and the ride is done on a train so that's enough. Now that you have this in mind, picture a pack of zombies or of blood-smeared psychiatric-ward nurses marching past as they come off duty.

So you see why this was a wonderful closing to the night.

Trivia: Astronomer Peter van de Kamp, who made the (now discredited) discovery of planets orbiting Barnard's Star, was a friend of Ira Gershwin and Peter ``P D Q Bach'' Schickle, and even composed his own blues, including ``C-Shanty'' and ``Blackout Blues''. P D Q Bach composed ``The Easy Goin' PVDK Ever Lovin' Rag'' for van de Kamp's 70th birthday. Source: The Quest For Alien Planets: Exploring Worlds Outside The Solar System, Paul Halpern. (How do you credit someone for a discovery that's since been generally regarded as untrue? It seems deeply odd to say he's credited with finding a discredited planet.)

Currently Reading: The Great Arc: The Dramatic Tale Of How India Was Mapped And Everest Was Named, John Keay.

Tags: amusement parks, cedar point, halloweekends

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