by Andrew Rybarczyk
I can remember back to March when Tony Clark said that next year's Winter Chill would not want to be missed. Immediately my mind began racing as to what that meant for 2015 and beyond. Since then, we've been treated to a number of different clues, pictures, and teasers that deal with what possible attraction could be added to Cedar Point in 2015. Sadly though, I am no closer to having a definitive answer than I was back during the winter. However, some options have clearly become front runners amongst many online communities. So for your viewing pleasure, I have compiled a list of possibilities along with what I believe the likelihood of them becoming reality actually is.
Aquatrax - The running joke of the coaster community has been the installation of a 500 foot looping Aquatrax that usually takes it beneath water. Obviously, that won't happen, but what if the team at CP wasn't being dishonest when they've come out multiple times and said an Aquatrax was being installed? We all know the problems that have plagued Shoot the Rapids both with operation and reception from some guests. Would it be too farfetched to think that it could be retrofitted to be made into more of a coaster with splash down elements? Another idea would be to create a whole new Aquatrax styled coaster alongside StR that starts somewhere on Frontier Trail and uses parts of the giant StR pool as part of its splash down elements. This is a long shot for a reason because its extremely unlikely that we will see this come to pass.
Large Coaster Installation - Back in the winter, I thought this was more of a possibility than now. My thoughts centered around the CP five year plan and GateKeeper. It was said in our From Dreams to Screams: GateKeeper documentary that GateKeeper was not planned. In fact Matt Ouimet asked for the CP brass to scour the IAAPA floor to find a ground breaking new ride to add for CP. If you believe this story, you have to wonder what was planned for not only 2013 but also for the next few years. We know most parks have a five year plan and it seems GateKeeper wasn't a part of that. It would stand to reason that maybe 2015 was scheduled to be the next big coaster installation after Maverick in 2007 and not the 2013 season. There's plenty of speculation regarding the movement of Challenege Park elsewhere. Some believe that Ripcord will be moving to where the current Point Pavillions stand (This is further backed up by the removal of Fear Faire for this year's Halloweekends lineup). Skyscraper, the go-karts and the mini-golf course would also be removed. This opens up a huge tract of land for a possible shifting of the Soak City parking lot, which could open up a bunch of new land for a coaster starting on Frontier Trail and shooting out towards the parking lot.
Waterpark Expansion: A long with the previous line of thinking, it could just as easily mean a waterpark expansion is on the way. Now I believe this will happen eventually, but I question if it will be in 2015. Soak City is in need of some new attractions. The water slides being painted vibrant colors a few seasons ago gave it a new look and feel and new slides could make it even more of an attractive option for resort guests and park goers. We all know, the waterpark does pretty well as is, but hasn't been given much love. A racer slide was added in 2012 but the previous new slide was added in 1997. I'd guess that many of you reading this now didn't even know how to read back then! The point is that the park could use a new section added and the removal of Challenge Park could allow for that to happen. The removal of the Bon Aire section of Beakers could also allow the addition to be placed where the current mini-golf stands as well. The biggest question is will this happen in 2015? Probably not, but I would be watching for this to happen in the next 5 years for sure.
Mean Streak Iron Horse - This week CP has played up tomorrow's announcement as being at "high noon." For me this has revived speculation on the proposed Iron Horsing of Mean Streak. I wouldn't be shocking anyone if I said Mean Streak isn't on the favorite list of many enthusiasts. I would respectfully disagree under the right conditions though. Last October, staffer Steven and I had an amazing night ride on Mean Streak with a full train of people that just happened to have the first hill's trims turned off. This ride can pack a punch but is being held back by the park's concern that the ride could tear itself apart if allowed to run free. RMC could fix that with creating an iron horse layout that would take the problems areas and convert them into airtime elements. Texas Giant and Mean Streak were both designed by Curtis D. Sommers and had very similar layouts with only slight variations that changed the direction of the train at two points. People also herald New Texas Giant as one of the best steel coasters in the world. RMC has also experimented and learned a lot since their first creation in NTG. Cedar Point could add a new world class steel coaster while mostly retaining the beauty that Mean Streak offers. I also think that this is a possibility for 2015 because earlier in the year many people were pointing out that RMC was expanding their business with both factories and workers. Despite this assertion, RMC is currently on the docket for only two conversion projects which I believe seem less than the one conversion, one completely new construction project they have completed for the last two years. So where are all of these new resources going that RMC supposedly has? Maybe Steel Streak is the answer.
Mantis Conversion - The most unappealing option to me being heavily discussed is the conversion of Mantis into a floorless coaster. Now, I am in no way saying that Mantis shouldn't be converted because in its current state it can be very uncomfortable or even painful to many riders. My point is why spend the money? The ride has a decent enough ridership though lower than many of the park's other coasters but a conversion to floorless wouldn't simply be putting new trains on the track. The entire station would most likely have to be torn down to accommodate the moving floor and equipment needed to make the ride "floorless." Another option, would to simply put a B&M sitdown train on the track (ex: Kumba or Wildfire) and maybe give the ride a new theme and paintjob. This would be cheaper because the train in theory could just be added without any major station modifications. Another bigger idea would be to change to the new trains and add an event house after the MCBR to give the ride some more excitement. In any of these cases, I think the end result would be taking a below average ride and making it simply an average ride at best. Take that money and spend it on ANY of the previous things mentioned in this blog and you'd be better off.
Dark Ride - For two years we have heard talk of a dark ride being added to CP. With the great success of Wonder Mountain's Guardian at Canada's Wonderland, I am shocked we haven't heard of a similar ride being added to another Cedar fair park yet. This style of ride has a great many benefits. First it has a very small footprint. Although Guardian is big, the footprint it uses in the mountain is very small meaning that it could be placed almost anywhere at CP. The old Pirate Ride building comes to mind. Maybe even the spot across from Snake River Falls on Millennium Island could work. There are even a number of buildings in Frontier Town that could be re-purposed and expanded to fit the ride. Second, the ride fills that gap left by the removal of Disaster Transport and Paddlewheel Excursions where families can experienced a ride together. Third, as we've seen at Canada's Wonderland, the ride can be re-purposed with new themes and stories for different seasons. Guardian for Halloween Haunt has become a zombie shooter and I could totally see Cedar point going a similar route with their dark ride.
So folks, there you have it. What's funny is there is still a good possibility that its none of these options and something that no one has really even considered. As we march towards the parks 150th anniversary in 2020, I think we are in for some great rides and surprises and hopefully 2015 will start us off on this great trek! Join us tomorrow as we cover the announcement and discuss it in our forums!