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Witchfinder finally gets to the Point – US Trip, Sep/Oct 2022


Hyper Poster
Like our trip to Sweden earlier this year, this was another trip postponed from 2020. Originally we were flying to Chicago to go and see my wife’s favourite Country singer Chris Stapleton at Wrigley Field, then having 8 days to hit Cedar Point, Indiana Beach and Six Flags Great America.

As with the Sweden trip, when it came to rearranging this one we added some days on and made it a (sort of) circular road trip that encompassed Cedar Point, Kings Island, Dollywood, SFGAm and ended up in Milwaukee where we would fulfil the wife’s original requirement of seeing Stapleton. With the trip taking place in late September/early October we had the added bonus of seeing the US in the autumn for the first time and checking out all the parks Halloween/Fall events.


Before all that though we had to get there, and due to faff I won’t go into, we had to use our American Airlines flight credits from 2020 on a flight from Dublin to Chicago. Since the flight we chose departed at 9am, we had to fly from the UK to Dublin the day before and do you know what’s just a short car journey from Dublin Airport? Tayto Park!

After arriving into the airport at lunchtime and picking up the rental car, we drove to the park for what was effectively just a cred run, as we only had about 3 hours by the time we’d got there and gone through some faff to get discounted entry with our RCCGB membership cards.


The park was busier than expected and most queues were around 30 minutes so the idea of getting lots of rides wasn’t going to happen. First stop was obviously this beast that you can see from the car park – Ch Chulainn or however you spell it.


First ride was on the second row and this was my first big-scale Gravity Group Woodie, having only ridden Mine Blower and Twister before. First drop was great, and overall the ride was wild without being too rough. Highlights on that first ride would be a couple of modest airtime pops and the big over-overbanked turn (not an inversion, Tayto Park). It was fun but didn’t really stand out as anything special, so more rides would be required later on.



Before that though, there were three more creds of varying quality to mop up. Next up was Dino Dash, the park’s new-for-2022 addition and one of a new design of Vekoma junior coasters.


The winding queue line was crazy long and once we got to where there were actually people it was was slow-moving, as befits a one train family ride. Theming was pretty good although the dinosaurs were a bit run down in places so I suspect they had been transplanted from an older attraction.


We finally reached the front of the queue and managed to snag the front row which meant we rode in the jeep!


This was a pretty fun ride for a junior coaster. It had some low to the ground banked turns and even some very mild airtime, and if it ran a little bit faster you’d probably get some genuine air from it. The interaction with the dinosaurs was fun, so overall it was a good ride for kids and childish adults like ourselves.



Next up was Flight School, the Zierer Force. Again, there was a fairly decent effort at theming on this one.



The ride itself was pretty similar to Dino Dash, though slightly inferior – banked turns and the mildest hint of airtime. In a word – fun.


The final cred was over in the kids area, which involved navigating a maze of pathways with limited signage, but eventually we found it – Ladybird Loop.


This was to be my first and only SBF Visa spinner of the year, though I could’ve ridden a couple in the States. I’ve decided though that I am now only riding crappy kiddie creds if they are in a park that I’ve already paid to enter, or I’m on a specific crappy cred run. I’ve passed 300 creds, there’s no value in paying to specifically ride this kind of junk :D

You know what you’re getting with these things – 3 laps, mild spinning, tedious loading times. At least this one had an effort made with the theming!


With all the creds ticked off we pondered riding Viking Voyage, but having seen how wet people were getting on it, we decided against it since we didn’t want to risk having wet footwear for our ongoing journey to Chicago the next day. So instead we had a wander around the zoo.






I then headed back to get two more rides on Cu Chulainn before the park closed. Both rides were near the back and that made for a much more impressive ride than the earlier one. It’s certainly rougher at the tail-end of the train but not significantly so, and the improvements to the airtime were well worth some minor discomfort as there were some great ejector pops compared to riding at the front and I was out of the seat all the way down the first drop. It does have some slow spots and a lot of left turns, but this is easily the best woodie in the British Isles and was destined for a place in my top ten wooden coasters.




What's in the she... Oh hang on, wrong park. That's coming up later :D

That was it for Tayto Park - a quick visit and a nice warm-up for the bigger and better parks to come. Overall the park seemed pretty nice. Operations were so-so, there was quite a bit of queue jumping from the local teens and it was a bit of a maze in places with a few dead ends, but the ride line-up is pretty decent for a park of its size and it should be well worth another visit under its new name of Emerald Park when the two new Vekomas are opened.


After that we headed to our AirBnB close to the airport, grabbed some food and had a quiet night in as we had to be up at 6am the next day to check-in for our flight to Chicago. We were soon to find though that we were taking an unwelcome guest with us… :oops:


Hyper Poster
I’ll cover off the next few days of the trip in this post so we can get on to the good stuff. We flew to Chicago with no problems – the pre-departure clearance is great at Dublin airport and means you fly into the US domestic terminal so have no Immigration faff on arrival, and we also arrived an astonishing 80 minutes early.

The next few days were spent doing typical touristy stuff – we rode the ‘L’ train (a lot), visited Millennium Park and “The Bean” (meh), went to Lincoln Park Zoo (very nice, and free), ate Chicago deep dish pizza (underwhelming), wandered along the riverwalk (pleasant) and visited the Navy Pier (also underwhelming).









After a couple of days we headed back to the airport to pick up our rental car, which was this monster. A compact SUV apparently!


Over these few days I had been feeling a bit run down and not sleeping well at all, and I’d also had a bit of a sore throat and felt feverish. I’d put it down to fatigue from the travelling but since we were about to hit the road for the next 12 days and stay in several AirBnBs at people’s homes, I thought it prudent to do a COVID test (we’d brought some from home). I didn’t feel too bad so I assumed it would come back negative and just give us some peace of mind before we really started this trip.



Yep, after two and half years of not catching it, which included numerous theme park trips, gigs and holidays, and spending two weeks prior to our trip in semi-isolation to avoid catching it before we went, I caught COVID during my journey to the States!

Initially I kind of freaked out. I’d not had it before and as I‘m both asthmatic and diabetic I had no idea how badly it was going to affect me. This was the day before we were supposed to be going to Cedar Point and after waiting over two years because of COVID, was it now going to stop me visiting due to infecting me?

After getting over the initial shock and talking over our options, we agreed that while it wasn’t the recommended course of action, we would carry on our trip as long as I felt well enough to do so (and Anna too, as she inevitably caught it from me a few days later). We’re not especially proud of the decision but we don’t regret it either – we’d spend a lot of money on this trip and we’d be damned if we were going to let COVID spoil it.

The good news was we were only mildly affected for the most part and ultimately it didn’t stop us doing anything significant on the trip, though we did make a few compromises such as getting most of our food as take-out or drive-thru for the next few days and wearing masks in indoor spaces. We probably gave the virus to a bunch of theme park guests but most of those are hardy folk so hopefully we didn’t do any serious damage :O

So we hit the road and headed East, spending some time in Shipshewana, Indiana, home to a large Amish community, where we did a buggy and farm tour (in masks) where we met and milked cows, amongst other things.







After spending the night at a lovely AirBnB on a farm (view from the driveway above) and the following morning visiting local food stores selling Amish produce, we hit the road for a 3 hour drive to Sandusky, and you all know what’s there, don’t you? 🤩

Nicky Borrill

Strata Poster
I am so pleased to see somebody who not only gets the whole 'we have to live with it' thing, but is actually honest about it too.

I refuse flat out to do any tests now, I'm fully vaccinated, everybody else has had their opportunity, we've made our sacrifices for 2 years. If I have a cold now, it is a cold, covid or not, I won't know as I won't be testing, and will just get on with it!

Great trip report, thanks. Something like this is my next logical step, possibly next year if the £-$ recovers some, so it was of particular interest to me. Great photos too. :)


Hyper Poster
Brill, been looking forward to this one. The Covid scare was a close call though wasn't it, Captain Comorbidities? 🤣
Lucky you had some sound advice and encouragement from your fellow messenger chums eh?
("F**k it dude", "Covid is so 2020", "Just crack on, innit").

Haha yeah, good to get some consistent opinions on how to proceed. Basically just deny its existence and wait for it to go away :D

Great trip report, thanks. Something like this is my next logical step, possibly next year if the £-$ recovers some, so it was of particular interest to me. Great photos too. :)

Yeah, definitely wait for the exchange rate to improve. This was a much more expensive trip than we anticipated :( As for the trip report, I'm just getting started!


Strata Poster
That pizza looks awful, was it even cooked? I've had pizza from both Giordano's and Pequod's and both were amazing, I personally preferred Pequod's but not a huge difference between the two.

It was great to follow on with you as all this occurred but I love a TR to remind and give a bit more context, looking forward to the rest!


Hyper Poster
That pizza looks awful, was it even cooked? I've had pizza from both Giordano's and Pequod's and both were amazing, I personally preferred Pequod's but not a huge difference between the two.

It was cooked, it just had very little flavour. It was from Lou Malnati's which was one of the recommended restaurants (even above Giordano's) on some sites I looked at beforehand, but I think we just got a duff one. To be fair the crust was good, it just needed more herbs!


Hyper Poster
I am so pleased to see somebody who not only gets the whole 'we have to live with it' thing, but is actually honest about it too.

I refuse flat out to do any tests now, I'm fully vaccinated, everybody else has had their opportunity, we've made our sacrifices for 2 years. If I have a cold now, it is a cold, covid or not, I won't know as I won't be testing, and will just get on with it!

Great trip report, thanks. Something like this is my next logical step, possibly next year if the £-$ recovers some, so it was of particular interest to me. Great photos too. :)
Was going to say something similar. A ballsy move. Fair play to you sir.

I'd have gone for the 'ignorance is bliss' approach and avoided a test though I think.

I'm sure you took care to minimise spreading it when out and about, and anyone worried about getting it will be fully vaccinated/taking their own precautions anyway.

Is that a Lou Malnati's pizza? I'd do a London to Chicago day trip just for that🤤

Edit: Lou's confirmed.


Hyper Poster
I'm sure you took care to minimise spreading it when out and about, and anyone worried about getting it will be fully vaccinated/taking their own precautions anyway.

Is that a Lou Malnati's pizza? I'd do a London to Chicago day trip just for that🤤

I guess we really must have just been there on a bad day as everyone seems to rate them. Maybe it was the COVID affectng our taste buds (although neither of us knew we had it at that point)

I did deliberate over taking the test but one of the main reasons for doing it was because we had some AirBnB stays booked so it was only fair on our hosts to make them aware of the situation since we were staying in their homes. As it turned out, they were long past caring about COVID too so there were no issues!


Hyper Poster
Right then, preliminaries over and the scene set, let’s get to the good stuff, the reason I was there and most likely the reason you’re reading this – mahoosive American amusement parks. Kicking off with one of the mahoosivest! 😁

We were booked in for two nights at the Cedar Point Express Hotel which offered an excellent Halloweekends deal – the room, park entry on Thursday night including Fright Lane passes, tickets for an additional full day (Friday in our case), parking for each day and of course the most important thing – one hour of early entry. Add up the individual cost of all those things and it worked out that our room cost about £40 a night, plus we got early entry. Did I mention early entry? :D

As with most goons I had done plenty of research in the lead-up to this trip, meticulously looking at queue times for the same days on previous years, poring over the park map and picking what rides to hit in which order. The park opened for early entry at 5pm on Thursday and closed at midnight.

Let’s stop for a moment and think about that. This park was going to be open for longer than a standard off-peak Alton Towers day, and it didn’t open the gates until 5pm. Love it!

Anyway, for my meticulous plan to go into effect, first we had to get there. The plan was to arrive at the hotel no later than 4:30, but having left Shipshewana late and stopping on the outskirts of Sandusky to buy drugs (legal Cold & Flu ones) we were running a bit late.

Now looking at the map below, as we were approaching the hotel and stopped at a junction (red dot) I could see that the Sat Nav was taking us on the route shown in red. There was some traffic ahead so I saw that there was an alternative route (the blue line) and I could take that and save a few precious minutes.


What the map doesn’t show is that while the red route has a bridge that passes over the railway line, the blue one has a level crossing. You can guess what happened next can’t you?


Now the thing with American freight trains is that they go on for f**king ever! So we were sat there for a good ten minutes while this thing trundled past. RAGE!

Side note: we got stuck at this level crossing again the next day when we went for some food, and then again when we left Sandusky on Saturday. So in summary, don’t use this road! 😆


We finally got to the hotel around 5pm and after a fairly quick check-in and even quicker freshen up we jumped in the car and headed up to the park. I’d like to tell you there was one of those “moments” when I saw the park on the horizon for the first time, but honestly, I just wanted to get parked up and get in there so I didn’t take it in too much.

By the time we arrived and parked up, we still had about 20 minutes of early entry time left and the park was – as expected – pretty quiet with just a small cluster of non-early-entriers near to the turnstiles. We smugly breezed past them, got our tickets scanned and stepped into the hallowed grounds of Cedar Point for the first time…


Hello there!

At this point I should mention the pros and cons of visiting Cedar Point on a weekday during the Halloweekends event. Basically the big downside is that due to staffing issues, some of the lower-tier rides and attractions are not open on Thursday or Friday. There were four coasters scheduled to be closed in addition to the SBNO Top Thrill Dragster – Gemini, Corkscrew, Woodstock Express and Wilderness Run. I wouldn’t be messing around riding the latter anyway but to miss out on 5 out of 16 creds (including TTD and counting both sides of Gemini) was a bit of a blow.

The upside is that the park is very quiet on these days, with all but the most popular coasters being little more than a 5 minute wait. As a result, there was no cred anxiety and we could take our time negotiating this huge park.

Enough waffle, let’s talk creds. My plan to take advantage of early entry was largely torn up (and it didn’t matter anyway due to the low crowd levels) but the first part of it was followed as we began our night on Gatekeeper.


If you’ve followed earlier trip reports of mine then you’ll know that my wife loves a good B&M wing coaster and so this was one of her most anticipated rides of the trip. We began with a back row ride on the left hand side and immediately followed it with a front row ride on the right.


Thoughts? Well, it’s just a big ol’ B&M wing coaster on crack innit? It’s got all those swooping elements you associate with this kind of ride, the near misses and the occasional hint of airtime, just bigger. It was never going to wow me but it was good fun, though that first ride on the back was a lot more shaky than I’d expect from a 9 year old B&M. Anna enjoyed it but in her opinion it ranked lower than her fave, Wild Eagle, and also Fenix. We agreed to come back later for a night ride to help form a more rounded opinion.


By this point the park was open to all and consequently all the creds were open too, so the vague plan was to make our way down the midway, riding anything that had a short wait (which was everything at this point) and eventually get to the big boys at the back of the park and hope they hadn’t drawn too large a queue. Choosing not to backtrack, the next creds we arrived at were Iron Dragon and Rougarou. We chose to ride the latter first and walked straight on to the front row.


One thing you can't fault about most of the rides is the signs :)

I’d heard this stand-up to floorless conversion was a bit on the rough side. Honestly, there were a few minor headbanging moments in the latter half but otherwise it was fine. Layout wise it’s a run of the mill B&M looper with a nice location over the water. I didn’t ride it again on this trip but I would have happily done so. It’s filler, and to quote @Howie, s’alright.



Next up, Iron Dragon. This was my first Arrow suspended that used the original sit-in trains. First thought upon arriving in the station was “Eh? Why’s it got OTSRs?” Other than that I remember almost nothing about this ride apart from seeing the dismantled track on Top Thrill Dragster as we swung past. I didn’t really take any photos of this thing in action either. One and done.



Nice location though!

With some of the supporting acts out of the way, it was time to ride one of the big headliners. And when I say big, I mean it…



Queue time for this beast was only 10 minutes but I decided to make my first ride a memorable one and waited an extra 10 minutes for the front row. Anna sat this one out due to the intimidating height so I ended up riding with a local that was also an enthusiast. He shared some tips for this park and Kings Island and in return I shared some tips about Swedish parks as he was planning to visit next year.

As for the ride itself, I loved it. The huge drop, the speed and the low to the ground banked turns were all great, but the biggest surprise for me was the airtime. Having heard people complain that it doesn’t really do much, my expectations were low for this ride, but I found the four airtime moments to be quite impressive, especially the one-two punch of the massive floater hill and the ejector pop right at the end. After a few ‘meh’ creds, riding this iconic one really made me feel like I’d arrived at this legendary park.



Ignore that thing in front and check out that hill 🤩

The sun was starting to go down at this point and the various scare zones across the park were starting up, with roaming zombies, clowns and hillbillies ready to give you a creepy look or jump scare if you weren’t on your guard. The scare zones are very much concentrated at the back of the park and that’s where we were heading, because it was time for the main event…


Anna had been deliberating over whether to join me for my first ride or wait for my thoughts on the ride before riding, but with a queue time of just 15 minutes, she decided to go for it straight away, with the only caveat being we ride somewhere in the middle of the train. Not a concern as there was going to be plenty of time for more rides that evening. So we dropped our bag and phones in a locker nearby and joined the queue for our first ride on Steel Vengeance.

Let’s talk operations for a moment. When you reach the loading platform for this ride and take your seat on the train, a clock starts. As we were waiting in for our ride, I was seeing despatch times of 30-45 seconds for most trains, which was impressive. When it came to our turn, our train was ready to go in an astonishing 13 seconds! 😲 So hats off to the operators on the platform for this (cowboy hats, obviously!)

Before that though you have to go through the most unbelievable faff as you are made to walk through metal detectors to ensure you have no loose articles. If you set the detector off, one of the staff will scan you with a wand, and if they find anything they deem unsuitable then you’ll be sent off to put it in the free small article lockers, then made to walk through another, different metal detector before you make it to the station. The staff here are quite ridiculously draconian at times. First time around I’d inadvertently left my wallet in my pocket, and despite my jeans being tight enough to ensure there was no chance of it falling out, I was made to go and drop it in a locker. I’m all for ensuring safety but some common sense would be nice too.


So anyway, I suppose you want to know what we thought of the ride? Well firstly, by the time we boarded the train the sun was pretty much set, so our first ever ride on big SteVe was basically a night ride. And what a ride! Smooth, fast, relentless, packed with crazy elements and the airtime – oh, the airtime. All kinds of airtime – ejector, floater, flojector, ejeloater, sideways, off-axis and upside-down. I may have made a few of those up. It’s the gift that keeps on giving right until the brake run and when we reached it, we just sat there slightly gobsmacked. Anna had also been swearing a lot during the ride and apologised to nearby riders, but while she was definitely scared, she also enjoyed it and was happy to have ridden one of the world’s best coasters.

I don’t like to make snap decisions on any coaster but obviously this was instant Top 5 material, and I’d be back for more rides later to firm up my opinions. After ticking off five creds in two hours though, it was time for a break and some food. With some dining outlets closed due to the staff shortages, we chose the nearby Farmhouse Kitchen as it looked like it had a better than average menu (at a higher than average price) and, well, it was sh*t. Several of the options weren’t available and what we did have was barely warm, and this place only has outdoor seating so we had to eat it in the now-chilly evening. Meh.

While we gave our crap food time to digest, we headed to the mildest cred option in the area, the Cedar Creek Mine Ride. No wait for this one so we were straight on for a typical vintage Arrow mine train – janky. To be fair it was a long ride with a few thrills and doing it at night probably made it more fun, but also meant I took no photos except this one:


After a wander through one of the scare zones it was time to get back to the good stuff.



Maverick was a highly anticipated cred for me as a love a good launch coaster and everyone seems to love this one. Queue times continued to be low across the park and Maverick only had a 15 minute wait, which is a real rarity for this temperamental ride. We managed to get the front row for our first ride.


Again, low on pictures here as most of the ride is shrouded in darkness, but it was a fab ride. The first launch up the hill isn’t anything special but the beyond vertical drop properly hurls you out of your seat and the following mix of airtime hills, overbanked turns and inversions piles on the thrills. Then you hit that second launch, which is brilliant. Sure, it’s a bit of a shame it goes straight into a trimmed hill, but the launch itself is phenomenal. More seriously overbanked turns follow before you hit the brakes. I was surprised to read afterwards that this only has two inversions, as it certainly felt like more in the dark, and I’d probably say replacing one of the overbanked hills in the second half with a pure airtime hill would be better, but overall it was a great ride made even more memorable by hurtling through the darkness. It’s no Taron but at that point it was another serious contender for my Top 10.

It was now approaching 10pm and we were starting to flag a bit, with Anna starting to feel the first effects of COVID, so she found a warm spot indoors while I headed back to get some more rides on Steel Vengeance, taking advantage of 10 minute queue times that I’d likely not see again the following day.

I got two more rides - one on the second row from the back, followed by another on the second from the front – and it’s hard to say which of those was the most awesome. There are subtle differences between the front and back of the train for sure, but every row on this monster gives a great ride. I would say that it’s a slightly smoother ride towards the front, especially on that twisted hill just before the MCBR which quite brutally throws you into the side of the train at the back. As I’m sure everyone says, that’s the only part of the ride that is a little imperfect, along with the unnecessary pre-lift bunny hops. But I’m splitting hairs here – this thing is amazing and so far ahead of most other coasters I’ve ridden it is kind of embarrassing. I was holding off on naming it my number one until a daytime ride where I could actually see what was happening, though.


That did it for SteVe on that night, and while there was still 90 minutes of opening time remaining we were both feeling the exertions of the day, so we began to make the long trek back to the front of the park. I was tempted to use the free Fright Lane pass to check out one of the scare mazes but ultimately decided not to bother as in an enclosed space I might give the scare actors more than they bargained for. We did check out some of the cool Halloween decorations and festivities along the way though.





Final ride of the day was intended to be another go on Gatekeeper, but as we walked past Valravn I noticed it had a 5 minute wait time so it seemed stupid not to give it a go, as I wouldn’t prioritise a night ride on it the next day. Even though it was virtually walk-on, I didn’t hang around for a front row and just grabbed a seat on the end of row 2.


This is another monstrous B&M, with the biggest drop of any dive coaster I’ve ridden and a holding brake that seems to hold you forever before you finally plummet down and through a huge Immelmann before sending you down another drop, two more inversions and ending with a reasonable airtime hill before you hit the brakes.



Like Gatekeeper, it’s just an absolutely massive version of the ride type and stands out for that reason, but isn’t something I would ride over and over again. It’s probably the second or third best dive coaster I’ve ridden, and definitely the most forceful, but I did note it was a bit vibratey for a fairly new B&M. Another one to be fully assessed the next day.

To round off the night we returned to where we began for a night ride on Gatekeeper. We intended to ride the front row on the left side but there were a few people waiting for that so we just went for the nearest free row which was the third one. What followed was the roughest ride we’ve ever had on any B&M, and bear in mind we’d ridden Rougarou earlier! Honestly, the train felt like it was running on triangular wheels as it bounced along the track, the wheel assembly was rattling like crazy and the vibrations were nauseating. That instantly dumped it down to worst wing coaster we’d ridden and pretty far down the list of B&Ms overall. A very disappointing end to an otherwise great night.


So that was our first day at Cedar Point, with 8 of the 11 available creds ridden in under 6 hours and no less than three Top 10 contenders in the form of SteVe, Millie and Maverick. Aside from those beauties though, nothing else really stood out so a few re-rides were in order the following day along with picking up the three remaining creds.


First CP visit feelings 😁

We finally got back to our hotel room just before midnight and flaked out almost immediately, but here’s a couple of cool photos from the room to finish off this post.


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Donkey in a hat
Loved reading this fella, especially the SteVe bits. It's the airtime innit, it just has all the airtime, endless airtime (ejeloater 🤣). For me at least, it's just so far out in front of everything else that I can't imagine what on earth could top it. Like... if everything in my Top 10 is a 10/10, then SteVe is a 12... that's how good it is. Even the Zadras and the Iron Gwazis of this world are a notch or two behind in my book (I haven't actually ridden IG yet, but it looks fairly Zadra-ish to me).

Bring on day 2!


Hyper Poster
For the most part this post is going to be more photos and less waffle. Maybe 😁

On to day 2 then and after a fairly average night’s sleep (more to do with our health than the hotel) we were up, fed and ready to hit the park. No mistakes this time as we arrived 20 minutes before early entry opening at 10am, getting a prime parking spot and arriving at the gates in time to take a few snaps.






Anus pumpkin, anyone? 😆



Woohoo. Let's do this!

First bit of great news – they were already letting early entry guests into the park! This meant I was stood in the queue for my first ride of the day ten minutes before it opened.


It also meant we got to experience something new and slightly awkward as the park played the US National Anthem before opening at 10, which was of course observed impeccably and patriotically by all the locals and in a more bemused manner by us non-Americans. 😬

Anyway, first train of the day on Valravn and I got the front row this time. Feelings were much the same as the previous night – it’s big, it’s quite forceful, it’s worth riding but it’s not something I’d ride a lot. It was much less vibratey on the front though.



Next up was Millennium Force, which I intended to get a couple of rides on before heading down to the back of the park for the opening of Maverick and SteVe at 11. Having done the front row the previous day, I grabbed a back row ride first, followed by another on the third row, each time paired up with a local that was more than happy to share their thoughts about the ride and the park in general.


Interestingly, everyone I rode with over the two days rated this as their favourite ride in the park, and while personally I rate SteVe higher, I can’t argue too much with their reasons. It may be lacking the innovations of recent years, but Millennium Force delivers speed, intensity and thrills impeccably without being rough, given its age. It doesn’t have a huge amount of airtime throughout the layout but every airtime moment really delivers, and in fact everything the ride does, it does really well. It’s absolutely a classic and the fact the people still rate it so highly after more than 20 years proves that. Without doubt it was the biggest surprise for me at Cedar Point and is well worth a place in my Top Ten.


From one Intamin to another, it was time to head to the back of the park again for the general opening time and join the queue for Maverick before it inevitably got too long. 11 o’clock arrived and it was announced that the ride wouldn’t be opening for the foreseeable future. Oh well, suppose I’ll have to settle for this again then. 😁


Well, SteVe was also closed at park opening time, but after waiting around for 10 minutes it did eventually open and I went for what turned out to be my only daytime ride of the trip.


So I finally got to take in the whole experience in daylight and yup, still awesome. By now I’d definitely picked out my favourite moment of the ride, which is the off-axis airtime hill just before you plunge into the structure during the second half of the ride. The sensation of being popped into the air then thrown from left to right before landing back into your seat was just incredible, but to be fair is just one of many great moments on the ride.


I was finally ready to declare this my new number one, dethroning Taron after 6 years at the top. To be honest, I can barely remember what Taron was like now so it’s only fair, but I’m hoping to revisit Phantasialand early next year and pit these two against each other.

By the time I got off the ride, Maverick had opened and was advertising a 10 minute queue, so I headed over and joined it. Well that turned out to be bollocks, as it was significantly longer than the previous evening and then the ride broke down for a good 20 minutes, which to be fair did thin the queue out but also meant I waited around 45 minutes for my ride. While I was waiting I was amused by this couple in their lovely matching tracksuits.


Second ride on Maverick then and I was pretty close to the back. Plenty of airtime again and that second launch is ace, but overall this was disappointing compared to the previous night’s ride as I found being thrown into the restraints quite uncomfortable. No doubt it’s a great ride but it would really benefit from the newer, Taron-style trains and as this turned out to be my only other ride on it, I decided it wasn’t worthy of a Top Ten spot. Basically what let it down was frequent downtime and the fact the queue never dropped much below an hour for the rest of the day so I couldn’t be arsed to re-ride.





Next up it was time to mop up the remaining new creds, so I headed towards the nearest one. You’ll notice a lot of ‘I’ and not much ‘we’ in this day’s report, and that’s because Anna was feeling rough with COVID and didn’t ride anything, though she was hanging around reading a book while I did the rides.

Oh look, I did take another photo of Cedar Creek Mine Ride after all!

Walking past Gemini, I noticed a train was testing and for a fleeting moment I though it might be opening, but it was not to be. Due to it, Corkscrew and Planet Snoopy all being closed, this area of the park was largely a ghost town with the only one ride of note being open.


Time to ride the original hyper coaster then, and it was walk-on so I avoided a wheel seat and grabbed the second row from the back.


My only other experience of an Arrow hyper is The Big One, which is awful, but most people rate Magnum so I was looking forward to this, and it didn’t disappoint. Sure, it has some of those jerky Arrow transitions but it is light years ahead of its Blackpool counterpart and has plenty of speed, cool tunnels, great views of Lake Erie and of course those legendary airtime hills on the return leg. I didn’t find it especially rough either, even near the back, so I was definitely going to give it another ride later on.


You have to love those cheesy retro-futuristic trains!

Another pretty successful morning then and it was time for a break from the coasters for an hour. We grabbed some lunch, watched the Peanuts Halloween show on the main stage, played a few carnival games and then checked out the Peanuts store as Anna is a big Snoopy fan.





Also spotted some bizarre Steel Vengeance themed merch in there. 🤷‍♂️

Next it was time for the last two new creds, both at the front of the park and beginning with this big, green B&M.


I always like to ride inverts on the front row but despite me asking and the ride being walk-on, the ride ops here were stubbornly refusing to acquiesce to my request, making up some nonsense about making sure the weight on the train was evenly distributed. So I grumpily boarded on row “something” and away we went.


Raptor is another massive B&M in a park that has more than its fair share, and it’s packed with intense elements. Unfortunately it hasn’t aged very well to my mind and I found the ride to be quite shaky, especially through the cobra roll. So I wasn’t really a fan and yeah, that’s another B&M at this park that gives an uncharacteristically rough ride. Maybe I’d have been more impressed with a front row and I resolved to try again later.



That just left the oldest coaster in the park, Blue Streak, which gets a clever rename during Halloweekends.


This was another walk-on with plenty of empty rows and as a train had just dispatched as I entered the station, I decided to grab the front row.


I was expecting this to be a bit rough and it was in places, but it also had some decent airtime on the hills and I do love a classic woodie as long as it’s not too brutal so I decided to go straight around for another ride on the back.

Whilst waiting I got to see Cedar Point’s loose article rules enforced to full effect, as despite being warned by the operator before every dispatch, a silly boy had taken his phone out on the lift hill and as a result the ride was stopped and one of the ops walked up the hill with no safety equipment, confiscated the phone and called security who were waiting for the naughty rider upon his return to the station.



Big shout out the that ride op by the way, who despite having to trek up and down the hill was full of good humour, making fun of his colleagues when announcing each dispatch and trying his best to generate some enthusiasm from the riders. He even noticed that I was back for a second ride and greeted me with a “welcome back” when checking my lap bar. Legend.

Second ride was much like the first – jolty but with a decent amount of airtime for a vintage ride.

Having reached the front of the park and with both of us feeling worn out, we left for a few hours to chill out at the hotel. During this break I was occasionally checking queue times and saw that SteVe was down to just 15 minutes for a couple of hours, so I did regret the decision to leave somewhat, but I think it was necessary in order to recharge for the final push that evening. It also gave us the opportunity to go for dinner at one of our favourite US restaurant chains.


After the meal we returned to the hotel and I dropped Anna off as she was really struggling and sleep was the best option for her. I had a bit of a scary moment as she went to get something out of the boot of the car and I had accidentally put it into reverse instead of park, but thankfully she reacted quickly so that I didn’t run her over – that really would have ruined my plans for the evening! 😆

At around 8:30 I returned to the park for a final lap around, with a checklist of ride experiences I wanted to have before I left.


Still celebrating, eh?

First up was another night ride on this fella.


As luck would have it, this time around when I reached the station, the front row queue was virtually empty and so I finally managed a front row ride, and it was just about as perfect a ride as I’ve ever had on a rollercoaster. The ride had been running for the last 9 hours so was well warmed up compared to the previous night. Add to that a relatively loose lapbar and a train full of hyped-up riders and this was just sublime, with every element delivering and everyone loving it.

In my mind I’d intended to get a few more rides, but after that one I said to myself “that’ll do.” It really couldn’t get much better and I had other things to tick off my list anyway.

Next thing to cross off was some kind of scare attraction, given that it was Halloweekends. The queues for the indoor haunted houses were reasonably long but nearby was the entrance to Cutthroat Cove, an outdoor walkthrough that passed beneath Maverick. With no wait to enter this was good enough, and it was fun to wander alone through the misty pathways with the coaster roaring overhead and getting the occasional scare from some well-dressed actors.




I then headed back around to Magnum XL-200 to tick another must-do item off the list – riding the legendary third row of the first car. As I waited I was joined by a guy who clearly knew exactly what row he wanted, and he also told me that due to the wind that evening Magnum was running without trim brakes, so this was going to be a wild ride!

It certainly lived up to the expectations and it was fantastic to go plunging into the darkness and experience those insane ejector hills on the return to the station. My thighs may never recover but it was another brilliant experience to add to the CP memory bank, and while it’s not the smoothest of rides, I’m definitely a fan of this 30+ year old classic.

Now began the long walk back to the front of the park, and along the way I took a ride on Power Tower, choosing one of the drop towers. I was hoping for some great views across the park from this, but unfortunately got put on a side of the tower that faces one of the other three, so the view was rather uninspiring. The drop itself was fun though and at least I could say I’d ridden one flat ride here.


Back to serious business then, and earlier in the day I’d been told by one of my fellow riders that a night ride on Millennium Force was not to be missed. So I didn’t miss it!


Queue time for the ride was about 30 minutes which was the longest I’d waited, and operations seemed a lot slower than earlier, with a couple of people in the queue remarking that the team they’d got running the ride that evening were not up to scratch. Despite it having three trains and its own offload platform, the process of boarding and having restraints checked does seem to be quite laborious on this. I also witnessed Cedar point rule enforcement in full effect again as some girls that had queue-jumped to join their friends were sent to the back of the line by the employee at the Fast Lane merge point. They don’t mess about here!


Back to the ride and this time I rode alone near to the back, and was treated to another excellent night ride, with all the high points previously mentioned being elevated by the darkness. It was also great to see the park spread out below us just before plummeting down that stunning first drop.


By now it was way past 10pm and I was running out of time, and steam. I took another ride on Gatekeeper (front left) to see if the previous night’s terrible ride was an unlucky fluke. It’s certainly better on the front but it was still quite rattly. Perhaps it’s just one of the trains or colder temperatures having an impact, but this thing is seemingly not aging well.

Rounding off the night I took a second ride on Raptor. Again I asked for front row and again I was denied, despite it being walk-on. Different ride op but same excuses about the wind and weight distribution. I was too tired to care much at this point so grabbed a back row and got a similar ride to earlier – intense and quite painful. I’m not a fan, sadly, and rated this as the worst B&M Invert I’d ridden up to that point.

Final stop of the night was one of the shops to buy a T-Shirt to commemorate my visit, and with that in hand I made my way back to my car and headed to the hotel, arriving just after midnight. What a day!


Random picture becasue from this point, there aren't any more.

That turned out to be almost as much waffle as the first day and I haven’t talked about my overall thoughts of the park yet.

I think it goes without saying that I had very high expectations for Cedar Point, and before I get into details I should mention that there were some contributing factors to my overall opinion. Firstly our health issues played a part, and in addition to this it should be noted that due to the aforementioned staffing issues, neither of the parks transport rides (skyride or train) were operating on either day, which meant we had to walk everywhere. Also, I’ve written in previous trip reports about the fact that I enjoy my day better when I share the experiences with somebody, so while I did have a good time on the Friday, that fact I was queuing and riding alone (or with a stranger) did have an impact.

So with those points in mind, this park is exhausting! It takes at least half an hour to walk from the main entrance to the back of the park where SteVe is. There are also a number of confusing dead ends or maze-like pathways which make things difficult for a first-time visitor and that is exacerbated when the sun goes down as the park is shrouded in darkness, making it even harder to navigate. Even walking through queue lines is time-consuming as they are geared up for longer lines, so for example while we we had 7 hours at the park on Thursday (and potentially 14 on Friday) it’s actually hard to maximise ride time even when the lines are short, because it takes ages to get anywhere!

In terms of the ride line-up, on paper this looks like a park full of amazing coasters, and the top tier trio of SteVe, Millie and Maverick are phenomenal creds that I could happily ride all day. You could presumably add Dragster to that list too if it was open.

After those top tier rides though, it’s a mixed bag. I found there were very few coasters that I had much desire to re-ride. Magnum was great but a little too brutal to ride many times. Valravn was a good dive coaster but that’s not the kind of thing I would need to ride too often, and then you have the other three B&Ms which were all pretty disappointing to me and a lot rougher than you expect from the manufacturer. Beyond that you have a selection of clunky old Arrows and a fun but shaky woodie.

Basically the problem with Cedar Point is that the top tier coasters are so good that everything else just seems a bit pointless by comparison. Rides like Valravn and Gatekeeper would be star attractions in a smaller park, but here they are relegated to second-rate filler attractions. When I was riding them, all I was really thinking was that I’d be having more fun on SteVe or Millie.

It’s clearly not just me that feels this way either, as you only have to look at the queue times for the Friday I was there to see that everything other than those top tier rides was virtually walk-on all day. Meanwhile, the big three had queues ranging from 30-60 minutes for most of the day which is not long, but it does mean that you’re not going to get as many rides on them because that’s all people are interested in. It’s also worth noting that those three creds seem to have the most operational issues, be that technical or personnel related.

The solution to this problem is of course the very expensive Fast Lane Plus, which was $135 on the Friday I was there. I had originally intended to buy it to remove any stress but having ridden most of the creds the previous day and not knowing how long we would last on the Friday, I decided not to bother. It also didn’t help that thanks to Liz Truss and her cronies, $135 was effectively £135 while we were in the States! If I could go back and do it again knowing what I know now, I’d have whored Millie, Maverick and SteVe on Thursday night when it was really quiet, knowing that I could pick up all the other creds on Friday as they’d have no queues. As always, hindsight is 20/20.

As for other aspects of the park, some of those grate too. It’s reasonably pleasant in terms of landscaping and the setting on the lake is lovely, but there’s an awful lot of concrete pathways and it took me a while to realise that despite having 16 coasters, none of them really interact with one another – they’re just plonked on their own patch of land, which is a shame. Food was very average but most of the staff were pleasant and a few were very excited to meet some British people. When you have a Stoke accent it’s always fun to hear somebody say how exotic it sounds. 😁

The park is legendary for its efficient ride operations, and generally speaking as a person that hates waiting, I applaud that. All coasters ran the maximum amount of trains even on a slow day and dispatches were generally fast other than the examples I’ve previously given. I do feel however that the park sometimes prioritises those amazing operations at the expense of guest satisfaction. The varying loose articles policies cause serious confusion and can even vary on the same ride from time to time, which is annoying if you’ve carried a loose article on to the station platform only to be told you need to store it in a locker. The enforcement of these rules is almost military at times and you also have some ride ops being unnecessarily stubborn, such as the ones I encountered on Raptor.

Strange policies extend to other areas of the park too, as I found it hugely frustrating that there were so many merchandise shops and none of them carried exactly the same range, so you’d see a T-Shirt you liked at a store in Frontiertown and assume you could buy it near the front of the park, only to find that no stores near the front stocked it. Just bizarre and frustrating as a customer.

I guess what I’m saying is that all in all I found the park quite clinical and inconsistent in the way it is operated, so while I definitely liked it, I didn’t love it. That said, I would return in a heartbeat because firstly I still have half a dozen creds to pick up, and secondly it has Steel Vengeance, and that alone is worth the entry fee. Will I ever return? Most likely not, as there’s a lot of the world we still want to see and I’m getting on a bit, so while it wasn’t a perfect visit for many reasons, I’m very happy to have ticked this park off my bucket list.


Hyper Poster
For me at least, it's just so far out in front of everything else that I can't imagine what on earth could top it. Like... if everything in my Top 10 is a 10/10, then SteVe is a 12... that's how good it is.
I was waiting until I'd posted day 2 to respond to this but yes, I agree completely. There's Steel Vengeance and then there's everything else, though I have not ridden some of the serious contenders yet either. But based on the videos they just aren't going to have the length to match big SteVe 😝


Hyper Poster
We’re now on to Saturday 1st October, and I woke up pondering the idea of buying another ticket for Cedar Point from the hotel for $55, getting another hour of early entry and then grabbing the other four creds quickly before hitting the road. However, what we both needed more than anything else at this point was an exertion-free day, so common sense prevailed and we said our goodbyes to Sandusky, stopping at the waterfront to grab a photo of Cedar Point in all its mahoosiveness.


Our original plan for this day had been to head over to West Virginia as it’s the only state on the eastern side of the country we haven’t visited. The problem with that was that it would be a good three hours of extra driving to get to the nearest bit of the state, so in the interests of taking it easy we ditched that idea too. That did mean that the motel we’d booked for that night was a little out of the way, around 50 minutes east of the next day’s destination, but we couldn’t be bothered to try and cancel it and find somewhere closer.

So after a few hours driving with a couple of stops on the way, we arrived in the town of Hillsboro, Ohio. This turned out to be about as stereotypically small-town America as you could imagine, with a number of buildings that could easily have inspired those in some well-known movies.

Great Scott! This building in the town square is just missing a clock on the tower!


Michael Myers house?

Night of the Living Dead, or House by the Cemetery?

Somebody loves Halloween here!


Quite the sunset, with the typical small-town water tower on the horizon.

The town is also home to the world largest (fibreglass) Horseshoe Crab, of course.


Oh, and this is where we stayed. Definitely not creepy at all! :oops:


To be fair the motel rooms were perfectly decent, if a bit dingy, but the security left a little to be desired so with some extra precautions taken, we had a early night in preparation for another big park day.



Hyper Poster
After a decent night’s sleep with no being murdered, we were up bright and early and kicked off our day at this diner, the final box to be ticked on the small-town Americana checklist.



From there we headed west(ish) through rural Ohio before eventually getting on the Interstate to travel to our next destination.


Nothing bad ever happens on roads like this, does it? :oops:

After a 50 minute journey we arrived at our second Cedar Fair park of the trip, and with the weather looking bright and both of us feeling much healthier, I was buzzing for this one.



The park was only running the family-friendly Halloween event that day so was open from 11am-7pm, which presented the daunting task of trying to get 14 creds in 8 hours. A plan had once again been formed and no mistakes were made this time as we were parked up by 10:30. Upon entering the park a few minutes later I was delighted to find all areas of the park already accessible.




First coaster of the day was the one that I know gets always gets a minimum 45-60 minute queue as the day progresses, so it was imperative to get in line before it even opened, and I wasn’t the only one with this mindset.


Flight of Fear opened at 11 and I made my way through the impressively-themed indoor queue line to get my first taste of a Premier launch coaster.




Obviously no pics of this in action as it’s all in the dark, but I was impressed by the snappy launch, though less impressed with the coaster as a whole. It powers though the twisty layout and with it being all in darkness, it’s hard to know exactly when you’re being inverted, but it was quite shaky and I was glad that it had lapbars rather than OTSRs. Very much and one and done for me and most importantly, I’d knocked this off the list in the first ten minutes of the park being open, which put me way ahead on my plan.

The obvious next choice would have been Orion, which is right next door, but that unsurprisingly had attracted a large queue first thing, and my research said it would be less busy later on, so we headed for the park’s second Premier rides coaster and another one that tends to have slow queues as the day does on.


Backlot Stunt Coaster was advertising a 25 minute wait, but in reality we only queued for about 15 – a trend I hoped would continue throughout the day. It’s very much a family ride but the initial helix after the launch is quite intense and the theming and effects were well done. The final dive through the sign is great both on and off-ride, so much so that it seems to be the only thing I got a photo of. Overall a very enjoyable cred and one that I’d have happily ridden again if we’d had time.


Next on my plan was to ride The Racer, but it wasn’t open at that point so we headed for a much more modern woodie instead.


This looked like being the first major wait of the day with an advertised wait time of 45 minutes, but once again this was hugely overestimated as we barely waited 20 minutes to ride this highly-rated GCI. We also managed to get the back row for our first ride.

Current mood:


This was one of my most anticipated coasters of the trip outside of the RMCs and before riding I felt it had the potential to be a new number one woodie. After riding I have to say I was a little disappointed. On the plus side, it’s smooth but still throws you around the way you want from a wooden coaster and the setting as it careers through the trees low to the ground is great (and also the reason I have no photos of it!) It does have a couple of really good airtime moments but overall it had a lot less airtime than I was expecting and was also quite short. Then there’s the shed – much has been written about the shed, and what I’d say is that it’s good that the park decided to give the ride a themed experience at the end, but it really is hilariously naff. If you’re riding at the back you’re not even in the shed when the action begins, and when you’ve got limited time at a park and lots to do, the last thing you want is this finale slowing things down.

So Mystic Timbers was a bit of a let-down compared to my expectations, but I did bear in mind that it was still in its first hour of running for the day so I hoped to get back later on for another ride if time permitted.

With one of the park’s big hitters done, it was straight on to another.


In a recurring theme of the day that I won’t carry on going on about, Diamondback was shown as having a 30 minute queue and I was on in about 10. I also once again got a back row ride, and after coming off the queue was even shorter so I pretty much walked on and got the front row second time around.

Current mood:

After two rides, the verdict was it’s an excellent B&M Hyper - not particularly imaginative in the layout, being little more than a long sequence of hills, but those hills all deliver plenty of floater. The finale with the helix and splashdown is probably a better spectacle off-ride than on, but I had a great time both front and back and rate this as my third favourite B&M Hyper behind Goliath and Shambhala.




With one massive B&M done, it was time to go and check out the even bigger one across the park.


As predicted, Orion’s queue had diminished and was now displaying a 15 minute wait, though for the first time that turned out to be an underestimate as it was more like 25 before I got on. While much of the queue is an uninspiring cattle pen, there is a section before the station with some mild theming. I didn’t really pay attention to the story – some space nonsense.



My run of good luck continued in the station as I managed to snag my third back row “first ride on a new cred” in a row, and away I went on the world’s newest Giga(ish) coaster.


Bit of an odd one, this. For what is essentially a giant B&M Hyper, it doesn’t have too many of the massive hills you expect from the model. There are a few, and they have some great sustained airtime, but there are also some strange twisty-turny bits that don’t do a lot, and of course that hilarious world’s tallest brake run.


I suppose with already having Diamondback in the park, Orion was designed to do something different and in that respect it is successful. The best thing I could compare it to is the original Giga up the road, and in some ways the intention of the ride seems quite similar – great first drop, lots of speed, banked turns and a few airtime moments. While Millennium Force does that with the raw intensity you get from an Intamin, this B&M is a lot more graceful and as such nowhere near as thrilling. A good ride for sure, but not an outstanding one.

That brought us to lunchtime and my plan was going even better than imagined, with five creds and three of the park’s biggest draws all ridden in just over 2 hours. We grabbed lunch at a Mexican place near the front of the park, easily found some seating and sat in the sunshine eating Tacos and reflecting on how good a day it had been so far. With the weather being quite warm, there was only one place to go for dessert.



The legendary blue ice cream was very tasty – not too strong on the flavour but nice and refreshing. Bit of an imbalance between cone and cream quantities though! 😁


With all that food inside us, we needed a couple of mild rides to kick off the afternoon. Over the preceding hour the park had become noticeably busier with a lot of families in particular, and as a result both Woodstock Express and Flying Ace Aerial Chase had queues of over an hour, so that ruled them out. That basically left us with this:


Adventure Express is one of several rides at the park whose track is mostly hidden from the midway, so no photos of this one in action, but it was probably the best Arrow mine train I’ve ridden. Having been built in the 90s it’s way less decrepit than most of its counterparts and also feels faster, and when you add in some tunnels and that wacky finale, it was a pleasant way to start the afternoon cred run.


Have a train in the station pic because that's all I have 😆

Time for another of the big boys then, and for this ride type they don’t come much bigger.



Even before riding this I was impressed, with the sign, the colour scheme and huge elements looking great. Of course I took the obvious photo in the queue line too.


Anna had sat this one out so whilst in the queue I got chatting to a local couple, and we ended up riding together on the front row, because as I’ve already said, all inverts should be ridden on the front first time.


A lot of people complain about this ride having a rattle and the vest restraints, but neither of these things bothered me at all – I didn’t even notice any vibrations. What I did notice was an awesome first drop straight off the lift hill, a bunch of huge inversions including that brilliant loop around the lift hill, and a ride that powers through the long layout with no MCBR to slow things down. I thought it was great, and I’m a little sad I only got one ride on it.



Continuing down this leg of the park, next up was another coaster that hangs beneath the track. Can you believe Kings Island has four inverted coasters? That’s pretty unusual.


This ride’s queue line is legendary. I think it was advertising a 20 minute wait but a good ten of that was just getting down the queue line to where there were actually people. Once we got to the front of the queue, we could choose whatever row we liked so we went for the front.


The Bat is a pretty short ride after the agonisingly-slow lift hill, but definitely a fun one. The incline of the track and the many curves really get the best out of the swinging cars and it’s quite thrilling. I could probably do without the excessive swinging on the brake run, but otherwise it was another decent supporting coaster in the park’s line-up.


The afternoon was progressing nicely and the creds were steadily being ticked off and since I was in the vicinity I thought I’d grab a ride on one of the lower-level options – Invertigo. But it was shut! So instead we headed back to the Coney Mall area and I headed for the park’s oldest coaster(s).


Minimal queue for this with just one line that separated in the station, so I grabbed the red side first.


When I think of old racing coasters, I think Grand National, and with this having similar PTC trains I was bracing myself as I went down the first drop for the big SLAM into the track at the bottom. But it never came, because this thing just glides smoothly down the first drop and throughout most of the circuit. It was quite shockingly smooth, in fact, with some nice airtime hills along the way. Nothing amazing by modern standards but it was great to ride one of the classic big white American woodies and not get an unwanted spinal adjustment.


Obviously I then went back around and rode the blue side for two easy creds in ten minutes. That side was a little bit rougher in places but still a credit to the maintenance team here for the most part. I do find it a bit odd that this racing coaster has the two sides split off half way through and then the final approach to the station is in a tunnel, so you can’t really see who wins, but I’m pretty sure my train lost both times.



After a brief sit down and a play on a few of the carnival games, it was approaching 6pm and the final hour of the park day. Now there is one significant ride I haven’t mentioned yet and you can probably guess that our plan was to ride that right at the end of the day, which meant I had just under an hour to either pick up the three other remaining new creds or get some re-rides on the good stuff. With both the creds in Planet Snoopy still really busy and Invertigo in the wrong direction, I opted for the latter and headed back to Orion.

Shortly after I joined the queue, the ride broke down for about 15 minutes. I was on the verge of bailing on it but decided to stick it out and as a good proportion of people in front of me did leave, the queue time when it reopened was half what it was when I joined it so it all evened out in the end.


Second ride on this was mid-train and the feelings are much the same. It’s big, fast and has a few good moments but it doesn’t do anything outstanding and is no match for Millennium Force. I’m sure it’s a crowd pleaser for the majority of visitors, but for me Diamondback was the better B&M Hyper here.

40 minutes left till closing time and my next re-ride was Mystic Timbers, which was a brisk ten minute walk across to the other side of the park. I had been forewarning Anna of my plans as I was waiting in the queue for Orion, so she had already made her way over at a more leisurely pace. Queue time looked slightly longer that the earlier ride so I’d set myself a cut-off time of 6:45 for getting on this, at which point I would leave the queue to give enough time to make it to the final ride of the day.

It was close, but I did get on at almost exactly my cut-off time. Another mid-train ride and again it didn’t really change my opinion. It had probably warmed up a bit compared to the earlier ride but this was still a tad underwhelming compared to my expectations. Having said that, it’s still easily a top ten woodie for me.

What I’d forgotten about is The Shed, which caused some serious anxiety as I sat there going through the end-of-ride rigmarole with the clock ticking down towards 7pm. FFS, just let me off!

So that left just one ride, and as I left Mystic Timbers it suddenly dawned on me that I didn’t actually know exactly where the entrance was. Panic set in for a moment, but then I was shown the way.


Thank you, Kings Island! 😍


Anna was waiting for me at the entrance and we joined the queue for The Beast at 6:54. The plan had worked to perfection. We couldn’t get a true night ride but sunset was at around 7:20 and we had at least a 15 minute queue in front of us, so by also keeping our sunglasses on we could get as close to a night ride as was humanly possible.



Then the ride closed for a technical delay.

Current mood:

I was crossing my fingers for a good 15-20 minutes of downtime but sadly it was only a brief delay, but it didn’t stop the excitement and anticipation levels rising. Eventually we made it to the station and boarded the train towards the back, avoiding a wheel seat.



This was happening! The sun was going down, we had our sunglasses on, this was pretty near as damnit a Beast night ride. And what a ride it was. Firstly, the retracking work they have done on this is phenomenal – it’s butter smooth in places for a 30+ year old woodie. Secondly, it’s so much fun! Sure, it’s not doing a lot layout-wise – it’s a load of straight track and a few corners, but add all those tunnels, the mega helix of doom at the end and a bunch of riders that are just absolutely loving it and this is something really special. That moment where you crest the second lift hill and see the whole park spread out in front of you with the coasters poking through the trees is frankly magical. Finally, add in the setting out in the woods and the near-darkness and it just delivered everything I hoped it would. I even saw some deer in the forest while we were going up the second hill! 🥰

The Beast may not be the best ride in the park from a technical perspective, but as an experience it was unmatched, and brought about the perfect end to a perfect day. With that, we made our way through the now-closed park and back to our car.


Thoughts on Kings Island? Before this trip I was oddly more excited about visiting this park than Cedar Point, and I was right to be, because it is f**king fantastic. Maybe it was the weather, our improving health or the fact my meticulous plan was carried out to perfection, but this was hands down one of the best days I’ve ever spent at a park and I don’t think I’ve ever smiled so much at one. The only thing I probably would do differently with hindsight would be to ride Invertigo instead of one of the late re-rides I had, but missing out on that and a couple of junior coasters was a very minor niggle.

Inevitably comparisons have to be made to Cedar Point and in my opinion, Kings Island is a better park in almost every respect. The park is big but the circular layout makes it easy to navigate and you can get from one side to the other in 10-15 minutes. The setting surrounded by the woods is lovely and the landscaping is immaculate. They have nice themed areas and even mild theming on some of the rides. The food was much better and the overall atmosphere seemed more welcoming. The ride operations were phenomenal across the board, with almost all coasters having shorter wait times than advertised and the ride ops being efficient but also happy to accommodate requests for riding front or back row. Even little things like the all-day lockers only being $5 instead of $10, the Peanuts shop being better stocked and the security guys at the entrance being nice and chatty whilst checking our bag all added up to give the feeling that guest satisfaction was of the utmost importance.

The one aspect where KI does fall short compared to CP is in the coaster line-up. The parks three top-tier coasters (Diamondback, Orion and Mystic Timbers) are all very good but they can’t compete with Steel Vengeance, Millennium Force and Maverick (and again, presumably TTD when it’s open). Having said that, personally I found the KI supporting creds to be much more fun and re-ridable than the CP ones. Banshee beats Raptor, The Bat beats Iron Dragon, Adventure Express beats Cedar Creek Mine Ride and either side of The Racer tops Blue Streak. KI has nothing to compare with Valravn or Gatekeeper, but then CP doesn’t have anything like The Beast and Backlot Stunt Coaster.

What KI has in abundance that CP doesn’t though is space to expand. Build a ground-up RMC I-Box on the old Vortex plot and replace Flight of Fear with a multi-launch coaster from Mack or Vekoma that heads off into the old Son of Beast area, and suddenly Kings Island could have the best coaster collection in Ohio, if not the world. If that happens then I would be back in a flash, but even without those elite rides this is still a park that everyone should visit if they have the chance.

So a near-perfect day then, but as you might expect with how this trip had been going, there was still some drama. After leaving the park we grabbed some food and were about to get on the Interstate for a 2 hour drive to get to our hotel in Kentucky, but as we were waiting at a red light, a truck in front of us started rolling back. I beeped the horn furiously but to no avail, as the truck slowly crunched into the front of our car, then the light changed and it drove off!

Current mood:

We pulled over into a nearby car park to check the damage, and thankfully there was very little. The car already had a scraped front bumper and a bent license plate when we picked it up, and as far as we could tell, all the collision had done was straighten the plate up a bit 😆 So a scary moment but a lucky escape, and we had a zero-excess damage waiver on the rental agreement anyway, so we jumped back in the car and hit the road. Arriving at our hotel at around 11pm, we hit the sack almost immediately because the next day was going to be another big one as we were heading down to Pigeon Forge...
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Hyper Poster
We’re now on to the second week of this trip, with two big parks down and two to go. We drove down to Pigeon Forge for the next few days where we stayed in some ideally-placed accommodation. I’m putting a link here because it really was a great place.


It looks weird from the outside, being above a store on the main Parkway, but it was only about £60 a night and is just a short walk from the Old Mill area and the Pigeon Forge Transit Centre. I talked about this in my previous trip report from 2017 but here you can buy an all-day travel pass for $3 and get on the trolley to Dollywood, saving you a fortune in parking. It also goes into the park via the employee entrance, underneath Lightning Rod and drops you off right by the front gate.




Having driven down from Kentucky in the morning, by the time we got to the park it was around 3pm but because we’d visited before and had a two day pass this time, this was intended to be a laid back visit. The park’s Harvest Festival event was underway and so it was open until 9pm each evening, giving plenty of time to get some night rides later on.



First up was some unfinished business from our last visit and the only real source of cred anxiety. Back when we visited in 2017 this was happening:


So first order of the day was to get on Lightning Rod, and thanks to its retrack it was open and running reliably, with a queue time of under 10 minutes when we arrived.



Anna joined me for an initial mid-train ride, and first impressions were… somewhat underwhelming. I was expecting more punch from the launch, and was surprised how much it slows down at the top of the hill, and while the main drop and wave turn were great, I didn’t get as much airtime as I was expecting and the whole thing was over before I could take it in. Clearly more rides were required but they could wait until later.



During the Harvest Festival there is loads of additional live entertainment on and as she’s a big fan of country music, Anna had noted several performances of interest. The first of these was at the Celebrity Theatre and was only on that day. The Frontmen is a band consisting of three guys that fronted popular country acts in the 90s, and they did an hour long show of their biggest hits. It all meant nothing to me but was reasonably listenable-to aside from some uber-cheesy ballads.



After the show I headed back to Lightning Rod and joined the single rider queue, which I have to say is very poorly implemented, but in a good way. The main queue, SRQ and Timesaver pass queue all merge at the same point at the bottom of some stairs that lead up to the station. A staff member batches people up the stairs from there, attempting to bundle single riders in with an odd-numbered group from one of the other lines, but then when you get up to the station there’s nobody batching so you can choose your own row. This means that not only can you just go and ride whatever row you like on your own, but two single riders that know each other can easily be sent up the stairs in quick succession and then just go and sit together on whatever row they like! So effectively the SRQ is a free fast track if you use it right.


Anyway, back to the ride and this time I got on the back row, which was much more impressive than my earlier ride. I was flung from my seat on the main drop and the quad down, while the wave turn and sideways airtime hill also delivered. The ride is very short and quite tame compared to most other RMCs, but it was growing on me. Also worth noting is that it was quite a bit rougher at the back, which has been my experience on most RMCs – if you want a smoother ride then the front of the train is the better option.

Next we headed up the hill through Craftsman’s Valley to ride Anna’s favourite coaster – Wild Eagle. Five years ago this was one of the gateway rides that resulted in her becoming more and more brave about riding big coasters, so she was very excited to re-ride. We started on the front left as that was our preferred side all those years ago.



Happily she still loved it and I’m fond of this one myself because of the association with our previous visit. It’s hardly Top Ten material for me but I do like that it’s very different to most other wing coasters, with no wingover drop and more focus on big inversions than near misses. Having been disappointed by Gatekeeper it was a relief to find this still ran smoothly and it’s still my second favourite B&M wing after Fenix.


Anna had another show she wanted to watch so we headed back down towards the Back Porch Theatre and she watched denim-clad trio The Woods while I went to get some food for us both.



As part of the Harvest Festival the park offers a tasting pass that allows you to try five of the special seasonal dishes they have on offer around the park for $35. The offerings aren’t huge but one is good enough per meal, which means for $35 we were able to use the pass for two meals at the park during our visit, as it’s also valid for more than one day.


Along with our two savoury meals that evening we also indulged in the maple bacon funnel cake, which was equal parts disgusting and delicious. 😋


By the time the band had finished and we’d eaten our food, the sun was setting and it was time to experience the park at night for the first time. The big draw apart from the rides is the Great Pumpkin Luminights. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so here’s about ten thousand words worth of photos that say way more about how good this was than I ever could.










The highlight of this walk through the park for me had to be Mystery Mine – my jaw dropped when I first set eyes on it. 🤩





Before we got to that point though I had grabbed a ride on Thunderhead as we walked past. This was my favourite ride at the park on the previous visit and had also been my favourite woodie until it was recently dethroned by Wildfire. I’d heard that it had got quite rough so was expecting my high opinion of it to drop, but after a back row night ride I was delighted that it was just as good as I remembered. There are a few rough spots for sure, but overall it was still on the right side of roughness for me, giving a wild feeling ride without being painful. The ride is packed with airtime and the station flythrough was fab, so I was happy to keep it as my second favourite woodie for the time being at least.


After making our way through most of the wonderful illuminated displays, next up was a night ride on Wild Eagle. We grabbed front right this time and were treated to a fantastic view across the park from the top of the lift hill, with all the rides lit up, before plunging down into the darkness and swooping over the trees. As we all know, a night ride instantly improves any coaster and this one was no exception.

We made our way through the remainder of the Luminights and back to the front of the park for the final ride of the night.


Third ride of the day on Lightning Rod and I was towards the back of the train, and this one really made it catapult up my rankings. After the launch you’re plunged into almost complete darkness and thrown through the elements at what feels like blistering speed compared to a daytime ride. Every moment of airtime felt more pronounced than before and the quad down was outstanding. From a rather meh ride earlier in the day, this was now a Top Ten coaster for sure and reinforced something I wrote back in 2017, which is that I think you have to ride RMCs a few times to really “get” them (except for SteVe, that’s awesome straight away 😁)


That rounded off our first day at Dollywood, with a fun mixture of rides and shows making for a fairly relaxed visit, which we hoped to repeat a couple of days later.
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Hyper Poster
The next day was a day off visiting parks because (a) we’d visited four parks in the last five days, and (b) Dollywood is closed on Tuesdays this time of year :D

We needed a rest day anyway so we took it very easy for the first half of the day, making the most of our accommodation which had the comfiest bed we have ever slept in – it was like sleeping on a cloud. 😴


We also had a huge whirlpool bath that we made use of later in the day to rejuvenate our weary bodies.


For the rest of the day we headed up to Gatlinburg and the surrounding areas of the Smokies. We visited Elkmont Historic District, an old settlement that was largely abandoned in the mid-1900s and what remains is the perfect setting for an 80s slasher movie.






We also drove down the Roaring Fork Motor Trail, a one-way loop road that takes in some great views of the Smokies and more creepy old cabins.




Once back in the relative civilisation of Gatlinburg I couldn’t resist trying some Ole Smoky Moonshine and with a tasting experience that gave you nine shots for $5, it was well worth it. 😵‍💫 Needless to say, Anna had to drive us back to Pigeon Forge after that!






In the evening my plan was to ride a couple of the local mountain coasters but the queues at both the ones we visited were huge, so we ditched that idea and instead had a wander around The Island, where I also didn’t ride the SBF Visa Spinner because I couldn’t be arsed to spend $5 to ride another one of those things.😆





Hyper Poster
On to Wednesday, and it had been a week since my first positive COVID test, so I thought I’d do another to see if I was virus-free. Nope, still positive. 🤷‍♂️

Another day in Pigeon Forge then and our second day at Dollywood, but before we headed up there, I went back to ride the Rocky Top Mountain Coaster first thing while it had no queue.


There are loads of these coasters around Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg now and they’re all crazily priced at around $15 a ride, so I was only ever going to do a couple and this one is the longest one in the area and I had a money off coupon, so why not? I liked that they’d made an effort for the spooky season with a creepy queue line and a few fun moments throughout the ride too.



As well as being the longest, this ride has the most lift hills of any mountain coaster in the region, with four. These unfortunately broke up the flow of the ride somewhat and while it was enjoyable, it wasn’t as good as the Goats of the Roof one down the road, which I rode back in 2017.




Next up before heading up to Dollywood was the Toy Box Mini Golf, a recently-opened course with lots of holes themed to retro toys and games. As with most American mini golf courses, the holes themselves are pretty unremarkable but the theming was really well done. And I won :D





This was the hottest day of the trip so far with temperatures well into the 20s so it felt like a lovely summer day as we headed up to Dollywood at around 1pm. We weren’t expecting it to be too busy as queue times had been fine on Monday and surely most of the visitors would have headed home midweek. But no, we were dead wrong, as the park was pretty packed with families, which we found odd as we didn’t think there would be any school holidays around this time of year. As a result we didn’t get anywhere near as many rides as we’d hoped for, but we tried to make the best of it.

First up though, it was lunchtime so we used the final two credits from our tasting pass on these seasonal Pumpkin and Sausage pizzas.


After that it was time for dessert and one of Dollywood’s must-dos.


Some things on this day would disappoint, but the Cinnamon Bread wasn’t one of them!😋



Time for some rides then, and while our food went down we queued for the tamest cred in the park other than the kiddie one.


This is more cheesy dark ride than coaster but we were quite shocked by some unexpected ejector airtime on the last of the drops towards the end of the ride, especially as you barely have a restraint. I don’t remember that from last time around!

Following Blazing Fury I went to grab my first ride of the day on Lightning Rod, which had a more sizeable queue than the day before, but using single rider again I was on in 10 minutes. After another very good ride this was now cemented as my third favourite RMC. The short duration is a shame but the elements it does have all deliver some top level thrills.


For the next couple of hours we moved around the park in a somewhat haphazard fashion, trying to grab rides on coasters when they had the shortest queues. Next up was Mystery Mine.



I’d not been impressed with this on our last visit, being disappointed with the stop-start nature of a ride that can’t decide if it’s a dark ride or a thrill coaster. Since then it has been partially redesigned, with the new layout kind of plonked over the top of the existing one.


I’m not really sure why this was done – possibly to reduce some of the headbanging – but it didn’t make the ride any better. You still get periods of slow movement through the indoor sections, followed by the vertical lift hills and then some jerky, faster parts that bash your head about. It’s just a weird experience that is paced terribly and while the theming is fantastic, the ride itself is a dud. If we ever return to the park then I definitely won’t bother riding it again.


From there I moved on to a coaster that is well worth riding – Thunderhead.



The daytime ride wasn’t quite as good as the previous evening, although riding mid-train did result in a little less roughness, but again it’s a great coaster (international) and I’m sad that I didn’t get time to ride it again during the remainder of the day.





Next up was the oldest thrill coaster in the park and one whose entrance you could easily walk past if you weren’t paying attention. I’d ridden this last time around and still couldn’t quite work out how to get into the queue!




Anna didn’t ride this last time but joined me this time and we got the back row. Five years on and this Arrow looper is still going strong, giving a relatively comfortable ride, a great dive into the tunnel and some serious intensity through the loops, with Anna saying she greyed out as we were whipped through them. It’s a short ride, but a decent one.


While we were queuing for Tennessee Tornado, we noticed that the queue for Dragonflier had finally dropped to a reasonable 35 minutes, having been at 45-60 for most of the day, so we headed over to ride the park’s newest coaster and the only remaining new cred.


By the time we got through Wildwood Grove to the entrance, the queue time was back up to 45 minutes, but it had taken us ten minutes to walk to it so there was no point backtracking at that point. We joined the hideous cattlepen queue full of horrible children and their parents and waited… and waited… and waited.


The operations on this ride were absolutely abysmal, and as we stood bored in the queue line I started timing between train dispatches, which was averaging out at almost 2 minutes. We were in that supposed 45 minute queue for 85 miserable minutes, surrounded by equally agitated families and wasting time that could have better been spent waiting for better rides. :mad:


As for the ride, it’s decent enough – I’ve already ridden the equivalent model at Energylandia and this one was much the same but without the lake and with quite bland landscaping overall. They are quite intense on the helixes for sure and a cut above the average family coaster, but at a park with Dollywood’s family-friendly vibe a coaster like this really needed to be a custom model that allows for two trains, rather than the off the shelf version. In summary, f**k that thing and the amount of time it cost us waiting for it!



The Dragonflier debacle meant a revision of our plans as we decided not to eat our evening meal at the park and instead just get the remaining rides we wanted and leave early. Sadly, the expectation that families would start to leave the park and cause the wait times to drop was crushed as we arrived at Wild Eagle to find it had a 25 minute queue. This is a ride that we’d never previously seen longer than a ten minute wait for on our previous days at the park. Just what the hell was going on?


The answer was more slow operations, with the ops going through a bizarre process of unlocking the restraints for the incoming train and opening the air gates at the same time so that everyone is all mixed up stowing and collecting their bags, then once everyone has boarded, going through a series of announcements of “exist gates closed”, “air gates closed” and so on until the train was finally ready to dispatch. This is probably standard practice but seemed so inefficient and frustrating when you actually have to wait for the ride!

Anyway, we got a front row, left side night ride which was just as fun as the previous evening and then headed down for our final ride of the night on Lightning Rod. Anna joined me but we used the single rider queue as a fast track as previously described, and for this last ride of our visit to Dollywood we went for the front row.


Man, that zero car looks lame – can’t they fit the old one now the track issues are resolved? 😆

Well, it had been a frustrating day at times but we saved the best until last, as that ride on Lightning Rod was the best of them all, diving down the drop into the darkness and being first through those crazy elements. After my similar experience on SteVe a few days earlier, this just helped solidify my belief that the front row is where it’s at on RMCs.

With that, we made our way out of the park and back to the trolley (which also had a big queue) and eventually our accommodation, then finally got our evening meal from a nearby Taco Bell at about 10pm. Not quite what we had planned but it turned out OK in the end.


Some final thoughts on Dollywood after our second visit. Firstly, it was great to get back there because the park is lovely overall and the vibe is so friendly and the food is great. Being familiar with the park layout and having already done most of the rides previously made for a pretty relaxed couple of days and the Harvest Festival is well worth a visit if only for the night rides and Luminights.

Rides-wise it’s a mixed bag. It was great to finally get on Lightning Rod and while it did take a while to get into, ultimately I was a fan. Re-riding Thunderhead was another highlight and both Wild Eagle and Tennessee Tornado are solid supporting coasters. On the flip side, Mystery Mine is a piece of s**t and Dragonflier was just not worth the tedious wating time. The park is obviously more geared towards families than coaster goons, as the upcoming new addition shows. One day they might build a big Hyper or even Giga, but I’m not sure it would really fit as the fact that Lightning Rod generally had the shortest queues of all the coasters there shows that high intensity thrill coasters don’t really fit the target demographic. I said it last time I visited and I’ll say it again – they would benefit more from a modern dark ride than another big coaster at this point.

The downside of this visit was definitely the operations. Until that second day we’d not seen it because queue times had been short, but when this park gets busy, the cracks really start to show in the operations. Nobody should be having to wait almost 90 minutes for a Vekoma family coaster or 30 minutes for a B&M with not that long a queue. I’d heard about the flaky ops here but not experienced them first-hand until now, and it did leave a sour taste at the end of that second day. Aside from that there’s little to complain about at this park – the location, staff, food and shows are all fantastic and Dolly is a legend, so everyone should give this park a visit if they get the chance. Just try and go on a quiet day! ;)


Donkey in a hat
A good trip report can, on occasion, bring a small tear to the eye, and reading about your Beast experience (and the memories it brought back for me) did exactly that. 🥲
Bravo Sir!


Hyper Poster
A good trip report can, on occasion, bring a small tear to the eye, and reading about your Beast experience (and the memories it brought back for me) did exactly that. 🥲
My work here is done... :)

Actually it isn't, still one more park day to cover but I don't think that will stir many emotions :D