Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Ohio - Part 1 (Cedar Point)

(written by J)

The Ohio portion of the trip started with Sandusky and the world famous Cedar Point amusement park.  Z had been waiting for this moment not just all summer but for a couple of years.  He loves roller coasters and he had been intensely studying the Cedar Point website for years picking out his favorites.  Now that he is tall enough for all the rides, we decided that Cedar Point had to be a part of this vacation.  The original plan was to leave Mackinaw City super early Wednesday morning at 4AM so we could make the 7 hour drive down and arrive at the park by 11AM.  Then we could stay until the park closed so we could ride as many rides as possible.  Mother Nature had other ideas.  I kept checking weather forecasts while we were in Michigan and the Cedar Point forecast grew more dire by the day, even by the hour.  30% chance of thunderstorms at first then all the way up to 60% chance of thunderstorms we I checked Tuesday night, the day before we were to arrive.  Our itinerary was Sandusky for 1 day (Wednesday), drive to Cleveland the next for 2 days (Thursday and Friday), and then drive to Cincinnati for 2 days (Saturday and Sunday) to finish off the trip.  I knew that the kids viewed the Cedar Point stop as the one they were looking forward to most.  We couldn't afford to lose time at the park due to inclement weather.  We already paid over $200 for park tickets so we needed as much time as possible to ride all the cool coasters.  We had tickets to an Indians game Thursday night and Cleveland is only an hour from Sandusky so I suggested that we should just go to Cedar Point first thing Thursday morning, stay at the park until no later than 6PM, and arrive in downtown Cleveland just in time for the 7:05 start for the Indians/Tigers game.  Everyone was agreeable to the plan.  Kudos to all 3 kids who patiently waited an extra day for the moment they had been waiting for all summer.

We left at a more reasonable time Wednesday morning around 9AM and arrived in Sandusky around 4PM.  Guess what we didn't see the rest of the night in Sandusky?  That's right, thunderstorms.  It was a clear, calm evening.  Apparently it had rained a bit around lunchtime but not a drop once we arrived in town.  I was going back and forth in my mind hoping that I made the right decision.  What if it were to rain tomorrow and I screwed it all up by overanalyzing weather forecasts?  Regardless, we had time to kill once in Sandusky.  We went out to find a place to eat for dinner.  I had seen signs on the main drag (US 250 - yes, the same route that goes past Short Pump and the Siegel Center, interesting, eh?) for the historic Sandusky waterfront.  Mackinaw City was right on both Lake Huron and Lake Michigan and it was very touristy.  Sandusky is on Lake Erie so I thought maybe the historic waterfront might be the same as well.  Erroneous!  The waterfront was old, rundown, and adjacent to it was the mean streets of Sandusky.  Therefore, adjacent to the mean streets IS the mean streets.  We promptly left the historic area back to the area with all of the hotels and enjoyed dinner at Fazoli's.

Thursday morning was like Christmas morning for the kids.  The day had finally arrived!  I wanted to leave the hotel by 8:45AM because I didn't want to get stuck in any traffic getting to the park.  Time was of the essence this day with the Cedar Point/Indians entertainment double feature.  We made great time getting to the park as we were in line waiting to get in at 9AM.  The park opened at 10AM though so we had to stand there for almost an hour looking at the rides instead of riding them.  Once the park opened, H, Z, and B took off for Gatekeeper, the newest Cedar Point coaster.  I took A on the carousel which she loved.

She rode a couple more little kid rides with me while we waited for the big kids and H to get off of Gatekeeper.  Once we reunited, Z and B took me towards Top Thrill Dragster while H took A to more of the 40 inch rides that A could ride.  Top Thrill Dragster only lasts 17 seconds.  In those 17 seconds though, the coaster goes over 100 MPH straight up over 400 feet and then straight back down with a little twist to boot.  It was daunting to look at to say the least.  It only took us about 20 minutes to get into our seats on the ride which was great.  Z and B were in one row and I was behind them in the next row.  Before we started, B turned around to me with this look of terror on her face.  I won't ever forget that look.  I told her that it was too late to worry now.  Then we took off at light speed.  It was absolutely exhilarating ... probably the best coaster I've ever been on.  The kids loved it.  Here they are right after it with the coaster towering above them in the background.
H and I texted back and forth in terms of where we were and where to meet.  She told me to just keep riding with Z and B and we will touch base for lunch.  So our next stop was the Corkscrew coaster - a normal run-of-the-mill coaster similar to Anaconda at Kings Dominion.  The line for this one was pretty long.  Z was begging me to buy Fast Lane passes so we could get on rides faster naturally.  I didn't really want to spend another $200 to ride rides quicker but if this ride was long, some of the other bigger coasters would have even longer lines.  I called H and offered my opinion that if we were going to get to everything we wanted to by the time we had to leave for the Indians game, then we need to fork over the cash to ride quicker.  She agreed and Z, B, and I got to wear blue wristbands for the rest of the day to signify the VIP treatment of Fast Lane.  It worked great for the first few rides.  We did 3 more coasters (Corkscrew, Gemini Twin, and Magnum XL-200) and then met for lunch.  After lunch, I continued on the coaster tour with Z and B while H continued to ride with A.  The pace slowed considerably after lunch though.  The park was getting more crowded by the minute.  Remember this was a Thursday, not even a weekend day.  I can't imagine going there on a weekend.  We started with the Millennium Force coaster after lunch.  Even with Fast Lane, the wait was 45 minutes for us.  Cedar Point must make a killing on those Fast Lane passes because there was a ton of people in line for Millennium Force with them.  As for the poor folks who didn't shell out the big bucks for Fast Lane, I would estimate that they are still waiting in line today (a month after we went to the park) to get on the ride.  This was an excellent coaster as well.  Here's the view prior to going up the first big hill.
One of the really neat things about Cedar Point is that the amusement park is on a peninsula with Lake Erie all around it.  The views of the water from the top of the coasters was breathtaking.  Check out this shot.  You wouldn't even know we were waiting in line for the Wicked Twister when I took this picture.

I digressed about the scenery ... now back to the coasters.  In the afternoon portion, Z, B, and I went on Maverick (another 30 minute plus wait with Fast Lane), Mean Streak (a wooden coaster that lasted almost 2 1/2 minutes!), and Wicked Twister (kind of like the Berserker at Kings Dominion, only it was a coaster that went forward and backward and it didn't flip over the top).  We then met up with H and A.  At that point late in the afternoon, Z took me on the 2 54 inch coasters that B is not yet tall enough for, Raptor (a hanging coaster) and Mantis (a coaster where you stand up), while B rode the Power Tower (like Drop Tower at Kings Dominion) all by herself!  Then the kids got souvenirs and we had to say goodbye to Cedar Point.  What a day though.  Z rode 11 coasters, B rode 9 coasters and 1 thrill ride, I rode 10 coasters, H rode 1 coaster and a bunch of little kid rides and the skyride cable cars with A.  A's favorite ride by far was the Kite-Eating Tree, similar to Drop Tower or Tower of Terror, but for the little ones. She went on it at least 8 times.
But the day was not over yet.  It was 5:45PM and the race was on to make it to Progressive Field on time.

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