Cedar Point

NEDERLANDS // ENGLISH

What happens if you put 18 great roller coasters on an island in Lake Erie? People will start to call it America’s Roller Coast and it will appear on every coaster enthusiast’s bucket list. Cedar Point is without a doubt one of the world’s leading amusement parks. The park is famous for thrilling, record-breaking rides like Millennium Force, Top Thrill Dragster and Maverick. Next year, the park will open another world-class coaster. Rocky Mountain Construction is currently working on Steel Vengeance, one of the world’s largest hybrid coasters. In other words: Cedar Point’s famous skyline is about to get even more fabulous.

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I’ve visited some amazing places during the last few years. I’ve been to every Disney resort, I enjoyed most major European amusement parks and I have visited every Universal park on the planet. However, the world’s most legendary roller coaster destination always remained uncharted territory for me. But that changed recently: on 20th August 2017, I was finally able to see Cedar Point‘s stunning skyline with my own eyes.

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This park is home to some of the most iconic roller coasters ever built. It’s very exciting to see them appear while driving along Cedar Point Drive.

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We’re Cedar Fair Platinum Pass holders in 2017, so we’re invited for Cedar Point’s Early Entry. As you may notice, crowds are very light during these early hours of the day.

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Crowds are light? Well, non-existent actually.

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Just take a look at all those sexy B&M curves… Raptor and Valravn are beautiful to look at, even when they’re closed.

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Cedar Point opens some very popular coasters during Early Entry. Interested in riding GateKeeper, Valravn, Maverick or Millennium Force right before everyone else? Then you should be present for Early Entry, available to Platinum Pass holders and Cedar Point Resort guests.

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Our first stop of the day is Millennium Force, Intamin’s Giga Coaster which (obviously) opened in 2000. Let’s start with the bad news: staff members will not let you enter the queue with backpacks or other loose items. In other words… you need to place you personal things in a locker and unfortunately, these aren’t free of charge.

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Lockers aren’t free, but Millennium Force’s thrills are. After paying 195 dollar for an annual pass, of course.

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Although Millennium Force is often nicknamed Millennium Forceless, I really enjoy our morning (and evening) rides. The first drop is perfect and the lay-out contains some very powerful curves. It hasn’t got as much airtime as most other Intamin Giga Coasters, but that’s not a problem in my opinion.

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Everything about Millennium Force is huge. The ride towers 95 metres above Lake Erie, there’s more than 2 kilometres of track and trains reach speeds of up to 150 km/h. Even the throughput is enormous: staff deliver some very quick dispatches and they run three trains, even during the calm morning hours.

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I consider Millennium Force as one of the most legendary roller coasters ever built and the experience didn’t disappoint. It’s smooth, it’s fast and it’s loads of fun. Great ride!

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From one great ride to another one… riding Maverick was our main goal during Early Entry, so we quickly head to the back of the park after our 2 consecutive rides on Millennium Force.

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Maverick is often considered as one of the world’s best roller coasters, so I’m very excited to be riding it today.

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If you only take a look at the figures, this ride may not seem overly extreme. Maverick is 32 metres tall, it has two inversions and a top speed of just over 100 kms/h. It’s no record-breaking coaster like Millennium Force or Top Thrill Dragster, but that doesn’t mean that it’s less fun. Quite the contrary: Maverick is one of the best roller coasters I’ve ever ridden.

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The first part of the ride, which is initiated by a super-fast lift hill and a 95° drop, is already pretty amazing. But most of the power and fun are saved for the second part, which starts with a very forceful indoor launch.

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Maverick is beautiful to look at and it’s incredibly fun to ride. It’s undoubtedly my favourite coaster at Cedar Point and I even think it’s one of the very best world-wide.

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All of the park’s most iconic roller coasters are open during Early Access, except for one: Top Thrill Dragster. During our guided tour on Sunday, we are told that this is due to an extremely long start-up procedure every morning. It’s also a rather unreliable ride with lots of downtime. We arrive at the entrance promptly at 10 AM, but staff members warn us that Dragster won’t be opening anytime soon. Bummer.

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One of Dragster’s direct neighbours is open, but it’s definitely not as exciting as a super-fast Strata Coaster. Corkscrew opened in 1976 and with its 3 inversions, it must have been a true icon back then. Nowadays, however, it’s a shaky experience including one very strange moment of airtime. It feels… well… typically Arrow.

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Roller coasters built by Arrow Dynamics aren’t that common in Europe, but that’s not the case in the United States. Iron Dragon is one of Cedar Point’s six Arrow creations and it’s just as bizarre as Corkscrew. Don’t expect anything too spectacular, but it’s a fine family coaster.

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Cedar Point may be known as America’s Roller Coast and it seems a true thrill destination, but they’ve got a fair amount of family entertainment as well. Most of the family-friendly rides are located at Camp Snoopy, a children’s area in the back of the park.

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Woodstock Express is one of the least noteworthy coasters at Cedar Point. This standard Vekoma family coaster isn’t themed at all and the ride is rougher than I imagined it to be.

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The second coaster at Camp Snoopy is called Wilderness Run. Although this is the park’s smallest roller coaster, this might be the most challenging credit to get. Adults aren’t allowed to ride unless they’re accompanied by a child. Luckily, our guides at the Sunrise Thrills Tour are more than happy to make an exception for those two Belgian coaster fans.

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One of Cedar Point’s oldest operational roller coasters is the Cedar Creek Mine Ride. This mine train was built by Arrow Dynamics (who else?) and it’s characterized by uncomfortable transitions and strange straight portions of track. It’s the American version of PortAventura’s El Diablo and it feels just as pointless.

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In the photo below, you can see thirty people wondering how long this pointless madness will last.

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As I mentioned before, Cedar Point could be described as some kind of Arrow Dynamics Capital. Gemini is one of the manufacturer’s biggest accomplishments: it’s a double hybrid roller coaster that opened in 1978.

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Gemini may seem a little bizarre at first and there are a few uncomfortable transitions, but this ride actually surprised me in a good way. I always have a thing for racing roller coasters and the experience was a lot smoother than I expected. I really enjoyed our rides on this gigantic coaster, which is packed with airtime.

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Skyhawk is another crazy airtime machine. I’m usually not that fond of flat rides, but I gladly make an exception for this type. It’s called a Screamin’ Swing and it provides great fun. The fact that there’s hardly any queue, makes it even better.

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It gets hot in Sandusky during the Summer months, which explains the rapid river’s popularity. However, we don’t feel like getting soaked, so we skip a ride on this one.

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This is easily the least impressive big ride at Cedar Point: Power Tower should actually be called Powerless Tower, because it’s very boring.

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WindSeeker isn’t on our to-do list, but that coaster in the background is. Magnum XL-200 broke quite a few world records when it opened back in 1989 and it remains an impressive ride until today. With a height of 62 metres, a total track length of more than 1,5 kilometres and a top speed of over 110 km/h, it’s still a very solid coaster. It’s definitely not the smoothest ride ever built, but its location at the beach makes it a true icon. Furthermore, we get to feel some fairly intense airtime. Don’t miss this legendary roller coaster.

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Talking about legendary roller coasters…

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Top Thrill Dragster is finally making its test runs, so we quickly head to the ride’s entrance.

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Does Top Thrill Dragster need any introduction? Apart from the fact that it’s one of the world’s shortest coaster experiences, it’s also one of the most breathtaking. Just like Magnum XL-200, it was a record-breaking ride. At the time Dragster opened in 2003, it was the tallest (128 metres) and fastest (193 km/h) roller coaster on Earth. Both records have been broken since then, but Top Thrill Dragster has kept its fame as one of Cedar Point’s highlights. That’s why queues get rather lengthy and it certainly isn’t the most reliable ride at the park. I’d recommend to ride it as soon as it opens, because operations get ceased regularly.

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We get to ride Top Thrill Dragster just 3 months after discovering Ferrari Land’s Red Force at PortAventura World. Although the differences in height and speed aren’t that enormous, Top Thrill Dragster feels totally different. The launch is more powerful and the twisted drop adds some intensity to the ride. Although the fun lasts for less than 30 seconds, these are some of the most delightful seconds in coaster history.

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We decide to get our lunch at Midway Market, a buffet-style restaurant located near the park’s main entrance. The best way to get there is by using Cedar Point’s old-fashioned Skyway. This may sound odd, but I always enjoy these kinds of attractions. They offer amazing views over the park and your feet get some well-deserved rest.

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Clear blue skies, beautiful flower beds and shiny B&M steel… I don’t think views can get any better than this.

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Cedar Point shouldn’t be described as a theme park, but it’s definitely a beautiful place with great scenery.

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After our lunch – which didn’t exactly meet our expectations – it’s time for another series of world-class roller coasters. First up: GateKeeper, a B&M Wing Rider that soars directly over the park’s main entrance.

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Did I mention that Cedar Point likes to break records? When they designed GateKeeper, they opted for the tallest, longest and fastest Wing Rider and also the one with the most inversions. And if you ask me, it’s also one of the most photogenic rides in the entire park.

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This generally isn’t B&M smoothest coaster type and that isn’t any different here at Cedar Point. I wouldn’t describe GateKeeper as a rough experience, but the general flow just doesn’t feel completely natural. My advice: choose one of the seats on the inside, since the ride is a lot more enjoyable there.

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Apart from the smoothness, GateKeeper is a very decent coaster. It’s beautiful to look at, fun to ride and it provides a dynamic touch to the park entrance.

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Shuttle coasters… you like them or you hate them. I’m one of those haters, just because I don’t like to go backwards during a roller coaster ride. However, I decide to give Wicked Twister a chance and I have to admit that this coaster is quite fun. The launches are powerful and the ride lasts just long enough. Not my favourite coaster type in the world, but I consider it as an original take on a classic swinging ship.

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Did you know that the best photos of Wicked Twister can be taken from the nearby ferris wheel?

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The same Ferris wheel provides beautiful views of Lake Erie and, of course, coasters!

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One of Cedar Point’s most popular roller coasters is called Raptor. I don’t know why, but this B&M inverted coaster seems to have the longest queues in the park during the afternoon. Luckily for us, the 150-minute queue disappears almost completely during the evening hours.

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Why is Raptor so unbelievably popular? It’s not the tallest, fastest or best themed inverted roller coaster on the planet, is it? I need just one single ride to solve this mystery. Because wow, what an amazing experience! Raptor is fast, smooth, super intense and the lay-out remains surprising until the final brake run. It may not be as tall as Katun or as well-themed as Black Mamba, but it sure is a winner.

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Blue Streak has been in the park since 1964, which makes it the oldest operational coaster at Cedar Point. And although it doesn’t seem interesting at all, it truly is an enjoyable wooden coaster. It’s got great airtime, it’s surprisingly smooth and the ride lasts just long enough.

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Another great thing about Blue Streak is the queue. In fact, there’s hardly any wait time today. I like!

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Another great coaster with an empty queue is Rougarou. This used to be a stand-up B&M called Mantis, but it was completely revamped in 2015. The trains got replaced by floorless trains and the colour scheme was changed. Unfortunately, these efforts didn’t make the ride more popular, but that doesn’t mean that it’s a bad roller coaster.

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Rougarou has B&M’s typical smoothness, a good lay-out and a few forceful inversions and curves.

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It’s bizarre: Rougarou is awesome and it would be a highlight at any European theme park, but it feels like an infill-attraction here at Cedar Point. That’s the strange consequence of having that many great coasters within one single amusement park.

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Sexy B&M curves, a good-looking colour scheme and empty queues… Rougarou has them all.

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Oops… we arrived at Cleveland Airport yesterday, but our bags didn’t. Apparantly both our suitcases were still in Toronto, but Air Canada promised to deliver them directly to our Sandusky hotel. That’s why we take a break from Cedar Point’s coaster mania in afternoon to check whether our bags arrived or not (luckily for us, they did!). At the time we get back to The Island, the sun has disappeared and the lights have been turned on.

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Obligatory selfie at the entrance…

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Summer evenings at Cedar Point are nothing less than magical. Especially the Midway has a unique vibe after sunset.

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The only big roller coaster we didn’t ride on Saturday is Valravn. The wait time for this gigantic B&M dive machine was approximately 75 to 90 minutes throughout the day, which seemed a little excessive to us. Besides, we both knew that we would ride it queue-less the next morning.

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Our attempt to catch a night ride on Top Thrill Dragster isn’t successful either. After conquering a lengthy queue, the ride breaks down while we’re at the loading platform. Too bad.

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Despite our missed night rides on Valravn and Dragster, our first day at Cedar Point was amazing. I was a little scared of the crowds on a Saturday in August, but things worked out just fine. Thanks to the park’s huge capacity and a very efficiently working crew, queues for most major roller coasters didn’t surpass the 45-minute mark. And do you know what’s even better? We’re coming back tomorrow… early.

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Extremely early, actually. On Sunday morning, we’re participating in the so called Sunrise Thrills VIP Tour. The tour starts promptly at 6.30, so we arrive at the main entrance at approximately 6.15 AM. Too early for a person like me, that’s for sure. But it provides some unique photo opportunities and the guided tour seems just too interesting to be missed.

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Ever wondered how an amusement park looks like 3 hours before opening time?

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Thousands of guests pass through the park’s Midway each day, so it’s quite extraordinary to witness this area in a state of total tranquility.

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One of my main reasons to book the Sunrise Thrills Tour, is the fact that participants get to climb the lift hill of Valravn. And to make sure our walk at a height of 68 metres is a safe one, we need some special equipment…

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The view from Valravn’s highest point is well worth the price and effort, if you ask me.

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Fun fact: this is currently (August 2017) the tallest piece of track on a B&M Dive Machine in the world.

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Most riders probably don’t think about enjoying this view during their ride on Valravn. But if you ever wondered how the park looks like from above, the picture below provides the answer.

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Aerial view of one bad Arrow coaster, a mediocre Arrow coaster, an uninteresting S&S tower ride and a fast food restaurant which can be found at (almost?) any Cedar Fair park.

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Top Thrill Dragster’s incredible height becomes even more noticeable from this angle. In the left corner, you can also see some brand-new RMC track while Cedar Point is working on its Steel Vengeance project.

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Although many coaster fans don’t seem to like Millennium Force, no one should ever doubt about the fact that its location is unparalleled.

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These are the moments that deserve a photo, right?

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This was undoubtedly the most beautiful sunrise I’ve seen in a very long time.

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Funny but true: although we’ve spent approximately 20 minutes at the top of this majestic roller coaster, we still haven’t ridden it. I hope that will change in the next few hours…

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But first, our guide takes us behind the scenes. Wheels, chain dogs and brake fins… we’ve all heard of them and we’re able to view them from very nearby this morning.

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Hey, this view looks familiar since our Coaster Insider Tour at Busch Gardens Williamsburg, earlier this year.

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One of the main reasons to participate in such a tour: nerd shots!

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These trains are eagerly waiting for their passengers. And guess what: we will be the first riders of today!

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What I think about Valravn? Well… its first drop is fantastic, but the rest of the ride doesn’t impress me that much. Don’t get me wrong: B&M dive machines are always great fun and I like the fact that this version lasts longer than its competitors, but I don’t think I enjoy it better than a ride on Baron 1898 or Oblivion – The Black Hole. Every dive machine starts with such an amazing element that every other part of the ride just feels somewhat unnecessary. That’s why Valravn is probably my least favourite big coaster here at Cedar Point.

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Although Valravn doesn’t amaze me that much, I have to admit that it’s a true beauty. When our tour guide takes us to the ride’s backstage area, we’re treated with some unique points of view.

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Our tour continues at Top Thrill Dragster, which is being tested for a brand-new day…

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… and Millennium Force, where we get unique vantage points for pictures. If you’re interested in taking photos, this tour is definitely worth the price. These backstage routes provide some perfect photo opportunities that can never be reached by regular park guests. However, if you’re expecting lots of private coaster rides, I wouldn’t recommend to book the Sunrise Thrills Tour. Unlike the similar tour at Busch Gardens Williamsburg (where every major coaster can be ridden twice without waiting in line), you only get a few rides here at Cedar Point. That’s the first ride of the day on Valravn, one ride on Maverick (with access through the exit) and participants also get two additional Fastlane-vouchers. That makes Busch Gardens’ value for money rate considerably better.

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Although I may have expected a few extra coaster rides, I don’t regret the fact that we’ve participated in the Sunrise Thrills Tour. From a photographic point of view, it definitely delivered unusual perspectives. And that extra round on Maverick? It was just as mind-blowing as yesterday’s two rides. What a perfect roller coaster!

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We spent two full days on Sandusky’s coaster island, so we got plenty of time to ride every main roller coaster more than once. And believe me… I enjoyed it a lot. Some of my coaster-loving friends didn’t believe that Cedar Point would be my kind of amusement park. ‘There’s no way that you’ll like Cedar Point if Tokyo DisneySea and Disney California Adventure are your favourite parks on Earth,’ they seemed to think. But dear friends, you were wrong. It’s true that I still have a thing for dark rides, fireworks and Disney magic, but I’m perfectly able to enjoy the thrilling and coaster-minded atmosphere here at Cedar Point as well. One thing that particularly amazed me, was the overall atmosphere and the kindness of almost every staff member. The park really does every possible effort to ensure that guests have a wonderful day. I’ve had the same experience at most other Cedar Fair parks (with Kings Dominion being the only exception), but Cedar Point really stands out from the rest. In other words: I’m glad that I finally got to see this legendary coaster heaven with my own eyes…

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… and if you ask me, I’ll be back soon. Thanks for the great weekend, Cedar Point!

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To be continued at Kennywood.

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