Getting To The Point

IMG_2667We spent Saturday afternoon and most of Sunday at Cedar Point and had a wonderful time.  Cedar Point, located on a peninsula jutting out into Lake Erie near Sandusky, Ohio, is one of America’s premier amusement parks and a must-visit destination for any roller coaster fan.  The weather was flawless, too.

A few observations after experiencing thrill rides for the first time in a few years:

IMG_2666If you don’t think America is still a melting pot, you need to get to Cedar Point.  The park is popular with people of every imaginable race, ethnicity, gender, age, and — judging from t-shirt statements, at least — religious and political viewpoint.   And yet, somehow, even on a hot, sunny day in which people are waiting in line for hours, everybody got along famously.  It was somehow affirming to see that, for all of the reports of divisiveness in the U.S. of A., Americans can get together at a classic American venue like an amusement park and have fun.  It makes me think, again, that reports of a bitterly divided country at a fundamental level really are overblown.

Cedar Point has added some excellent rides since the last time I was there.  I particularly liked Gatekeeper, a top rail coaster that sends you swooping through gates like a bird of prey, and Valravn, an eight-across coaster that first dangles you over a sheer drop and then sends you plunging on a rapid-fire series of loops and curves.  We got the first row on both of these rides, thanks to the early admission you get from staying at The Breakers, and they are great additions to the Cedar Point roster of coasters.  Their rides are amazingly smooth compared to the old-time coasters.  I also liked Maverick, which is new since the last time I hit the Point.  Of course, we also rode the tried and true Millennium Force, which has that breath-taking first hill, awesome speed and massive g-forces, the Magnum, the Raptor, and the Gemini, among others.  The Millennium Force at night is an experience not to be missed.

IMG_2707They say that with age comes wisdom.  I’m not sure about that, but with age clearly comes some sense of self-preservation and an honest assessment of your physical capabilities and likely tolerances.  I skipped the Top Thrill Dragster, reasoning that going on any ride that shoots you like a bullet from a gun and sends you on a 90-degree incline probably isn’t a smart move for an aging guy with a grouchy lower back, and the Mean Streak, an old-time wooden coaster that will be retired after this year and that is, in the lexicon of the Webner family, a “head-banger” because of its rough, jerky ride, for the same reason.  I also discovered, while dangling far above the park at the top of the Power Tower and WindSeeker rides, that I get somewhat anxious at being launched to the sky and being separated from a plummet to my demise by only lap and harness restraints.

But I’m glad I went.  Cedar Point is a bright, clean, colorful place, and coasters are a blast.  And when you can see funny things — like a guy losing his ball cap on the Raptor, or a kid losing what appeared to be his retainer on the Magnum — it’s bound to be a a laugh-filled time.  Amusement parks also are a people-watching opportunity unlike any other.  Who knew that so many people had so many tattoos?

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An American Scene

Amusement parks are a big part of the American summer.  Every year, millions of children of all ages travel to these asphalt-topped celebrations of speed and thrills to eat ice cream and cotton candy and cheeseburgers and then scream like banshees as we are flipped, twisted, turned, dropped, and soaked on the fastest roller coasters, the tallest Demon Drops, and wettest water rides. We’re Americans — it’s just what we do.

This photo was taken in the line for the Millenium Force at Cedar Point.

An American Scene

An American Scene

An American Scene

An American Scene

An American Scene

An American Scene

An American Scene

An American Scene

An American Scene

An American Scene

Getting To the Point

On Wednesday the annual Webner family reunion gets underway.  To start the reunion off with a bang, a bunch of us will go up to Cedar Point.

If you’ve never been there, Cedar Point, in Sandusky, Ohio, is one of the premier amusement parks in the world.  It is a destination trip for roller coaster afficionados because it has more than a dozen roller coasters that variously take you 310 feet into the air, blast you from a dead stop to 120 miles per hour in a split second, and corkscrew you head over heels at high speeds.  In addition to roller coasters, Cedar Point also has water rides and other thrill rides.  This year’s new ride is called Windseeker, which is a like the old swing ride found at many amusement parks — except on heavy steroids.  Windseeker takes riders 300 feet into the air, far above the Lake Erie shoreline, and rips them around at 30 miles per hour.

I’m looking forward to the visit because I haven’t been to Cedar Point in a while, and it is always fun to test your nerve on the new rides and the old favorites.  The best ride at the Point, in my book, remains Millennium Force, which is one of the highest, fastest roller coasters in the world.  The official point of view video gives you a sense — but only a dim sense — of what it is like to ride this monster: