by Brian Bass
Outlaw Run sparked excitement way before any press release or official announcement was made. As the lift hill went up and the 153 was installed last summer, the speculation and details flooded the forums. Every construction update my anticipation grew greater and greater. I remember the first picture I saw of the half-completed drop and thinking how incredible it looked. Once the official announcement was made and they shocked the world with the full layout, especially the double barrel roll, I knew I had to experience this coaster. Flash forward to March 13th, 2013…here I am, just 15 days after having my tonsils removed, standing in awe of the impressive structure that is Outlaw Run.
We entered in the back of the park through a service road entrance, resulting in seeing the double barrel roll element first. “It's massive,” is all I kept thinking to myself. I was not aware of how great the incline was for this element, and as we journeyed up to the entrance of the ride I found myself unable to turn away from this mesmerizing structure. We spent the majority of the day capturing the atmosphere, the details, and the amazing individuals behind the creation of this innovative yet world-class thrill ride. It was a surreal moment when I was finally able to sit down, lower the restraint and experience Outlaw Run. There is no easy way to describe the experience, nor can I do justice to this amazing coaster…but I shall try.
The lift hill was much quicker than I expected, and the pre-drop at the top is the perfect lead into what might be one of my favorite first drops on a ride. It's fast, it's intense, and most of all it's fun. Every element provides a purpose and excitement. I was most fascinated in the 153 element and it honestly felt very similar to entering a barrel roll, and was much larger than I perceived. I couldn't believe the amount of ejector air throughout the entire duration of the ride, especially on the wave turn. Aside from the first drop, diving through the structure entering the wave turn was my favorite segment of the ride, but that's not to take away from the amazingness that is the entire layout. We hit the final high speed low float, which caught me by surprise and provided a wonderful pop of air, then it was into the barrel roll.
The first one is taken with wonderful speed and while going uphill, is a graceful element yet provides a visual unlike any I've seen before. What really caught me off guard more than anything on this ride, was on the back half of train, the amount of hang time on the second roll. It seriously felt double in length just due to the time spent in the roll because of the quick loss of momentum. As we entered the breaks and slowed to a stop I just sat in awe of everything I just witnessed. Impeccably smooth, fun for the whole family, intense but with a very high re ride factor and although short, a very satisfying layout. All day we watched as we media and workers circled from exit to entrance over and over again, trying out the front the back and everywhere in-between. Silver Dollar City has a winner on their hands, and Rocky Mountain, with their first full custom design, boldly proves their existence in the world of coasters and I can't wait to see where they go next.
*edit* Today I had the fortunate ability to experience the front row, and it easily brought this coaster way up on my top 10. From the drop to the last roll the front row provides an incredible, insanely awesome experience that no POV or single post can come close to doing justice to. It's a fast paced, action packed intense layout but can be experienced over and over again…especially in the front!
by Andrew Rybarczyk
This weekend at an off-season event, Cedar Point officials hinted that they were strongly considering a dark ride in the near future and possibly even one for next season. Anyone attending Cedar Point knows that this is one piece that has been missing since The Pirate Ride set sail on its final voyage in 1996. The dark ride has evolved since then from simple scenery lit with theatrical lighting to the more modern day equivalent that adds many elements of interactivity. Many parks have been really trying to one up each other with what constitutes a classic dark ride. Some of my personal favorites are Men in Black from Universal Orlando and Gobbler Getaway at Holiday World. So when I heard this news, I began to contemplate where I thought Cedar Point should go with this proposed dark ride. Why not honor the legacy with a reinterpretation of the most themed ride ever placed at Cedar Point, Disaster Transport?
Looking back at Disaster Transport, many will say that nothing is truly being missed in its destruction. The ride itself was a mediocre roller coaster and possibly even a lower end bobsled coaster. It was fun to go on to maybe scream your brains out in the dark, escape the heat in the air conditioned queue (when on, otherwise avoid it like the plague), or to be used as a starter coaster for the family. In recent years, those were the only real reasons to ride but let's go back a bit to when the ride first debuted as Disaster Transport. In 1990, Disaster Transport got a huge renovation that tried to make it into the Space Mountain of the Great Lakes. Anyone who reads Avengers may be able to draw some humorous comparisons with that as well. I had never ridden Avalanche Run, but I did ride DT in those early years. What blew me away as a child was the queue line itself. All the stuff going on while you waited, including robots, moving repair bays, video storylines and black lights just fascinated me. Over the years as the ride's wait time declined, Cedar Point cut the queue down further and further each year. First they cut most of the middle and made Disaster Transport in 3D, which basically meant you bought glasses and walked through painted hallways made of corrugated metal. Then eventually they cut the whole beginning and had you enter right into the final room, the Repair Bay. Even at the end, it was a far cry from the glory it once had.
The story in this tricked out queue was that you needed to be evacuated to Alaska because of some impending disaster that was striking the entire world. I believe with a few tweaks, this story can be used to create a pretty cool dark ride featuring those interactive features found on rides like I previously mentioned. Disaster Transport: Return to Alaska could be set in the same general universe as the original ride. This time though, you are not trying to escape "disaster" but also fight back against it. Using your ships unique laser guns, you have to fend off space invaders, incoming asteroids, and all other sorts of obstacles in your way with your goal of once again finding safe haven in Alaska. The ride vehicles themselves could use totally new configurations but the same general color scheme and logos used on the first. If you integrated ride mechanics like those found on MiB or Cat in the Hat, you could even have the car spin and have a voice-over yell "We're losing control!" Most importantly, the ride ops need to bring back the neon orange jumpsuits when you board the car and you definitely need to return to Alaska at the end.
Cedar Point is no stranger to reviving old names as in the most recent case of Shoot the Rapids. Why not revive an old concept again with Disaster Transport that people who have attended Cedar Point for years are familiar with. With this format, you can also better tell the story and have people understand it better through interactivity. I think it also gives the park the opportunity to take what many consider to be a failure and re-write its legacy a bit into something that families and enthusiasts can enjoy for years to come.
by Andrew Rybarczyk
I have always been a Dick Kinzel fan. It was his vision that made Cedar Point what it is today and gave me the opportunity to fall in love with roller coasters. In all of my limited dealings with him, he could not have been nicer or more gracious. Most important though, you could see his love of Cedar Point, his love of roller coasters, and his love for his guests every day. Routinely, Mr. Kinzel would be walking the midways interacting with guests. So when he announced his retirement, it was indeed a dark day in my household. The future suddenly became uncertain. Even more so when his successor was announced, a man from the hated mouse company. The announcement of Matt Ouimet as the new head of Cedar Fair and my beloved Cedar Point would have to earn this spot obviously not in the companies mind but assuredly in mine.
Mr. Ouimet's first few decisions also did not sit well with me. Luminosity, a stage show was announced to replace the aging "Hot Summer Lights" show that had gone through various incarnations through the years. That in and of itself was not a poor decision. Deciding to tear down the oft beleaguered WildCat to put up seating was. I understand WildCat has had its issues, was aging, and was overlooked by many (even myself included at times), but did that warrant its destruction? To top off this, after seeing Luminosity, it became even more evident to me that Wildcat's death indeed was in vain. Luminosity for me was pretty much an epic fail especially in the early weeks of its tenure. It had just too much going on all at once but more offensive was the stage monstrosity constructed. During the day, the steel trusses just looked cheap and out of place in this section of the park that is more historic in nature because of the fixtures and architecture surrounding the train station. Later that season, the decision was made to remove Disaster Transport. Once again, not a favorite coaster by many but still one that represented a "starter" coaster for many families. To the point, Mr. Ouimet gained the nickname "Coaster Killer" around my household for having destroyed two coasters in one year. To say the least, this was NOT a promising start for the new captain of the ship.
This auspicious start though began to be tempered by Mr. Ouimet's next few decisions. One of the biggest was the addition of GateKeeper. This new roller coaster would be the first since Maverick was built in 2007. Not only was it one of the new B&M Wing Riders, but it also would feature a new front gate built into its design. It is exactly the type of first impression that the general public should get as they enter "The Coaster Capitol of the World." Another impressive decision involved a multimillion dollar commitment to improve the Cedar Point resorts. Being that I have always stayed "on property" when visiting, this announcement began to get me excited about the future of those properties. The last is the addition of Coca-Cola as the official drink provider. Now obviously a matter of taste, but I think this is a huge upgrade over Pepsi!
It seems that Mr. Ouimet's decisions are also making the stockholders happy as well. Cedar Fair has had a record year for attendance while also modestly reducing its overall debt. Ouimet's decision to increase the dividend paid to its stockholders has gained the attention of many investors considering that the ratio of price to dividend is becoming more favorable. Ouimet also seems to be saying and doing the right things financially. Investors are listening and with the announcement of 500 million dollars in unsecured loans being offered by the parent company, it seems that Ouimet is taking a financial gamble that could pay off big for the company, for Kings Island, and most importantly all of us fans.
by Andrew Rybarczyk
On Monday night I just happened to be browsing my Twitter feed as I usually do. The general hilarity was of course ensuing and then something caught my attention. A tweet exclaiming the return of Tony Clark to Cedar Point. It was as if life was moving in slow motion. Could it be? Is he really back or is this some kind of hoax? I could not open Cedar Point's OnPoint blog fast enough to see if it was true. To my absolute excitement, indeed the man who started it all was back OnPoint. Immediately, tweets were retweeted, text messages were sent, and joyful screaming could be heard by all the neighbors. You may be asking why at this point or you may be joining in the celebration. In either case, let me fill you in.
Tony was the originator of the Cedar Point blog, OnPoint, with his partner Tyler. These two gave us an inside look into the park's workings. It may have been done before, but I can assure you it was never done better than this tag team's contributions. They gave the community an unprecedented look behind the scenes of Cedar Point with pictures and videos in each and every blog. They dropped us hints (many placed as red herrings) when new rides were to be announced. They gave us updates on ride construction. As time went on, the blog just kept getting better and better. PointCast became one of the true standouts on the blog and joined my must watch list of videos each time a new episode was released. I like many others felt that this blog bridged the gap between people who loved Cedar Point and the park itself. I felt a part of Cedar Point and through the blog, even when I was not in Sandusky I could still imagine that I was there. The blog was so successful that Cedar Fair tried to replicate the same winning formula at the other parks in the chain. Some were quite good and some faded off.
Good times were rocking and rolling like Maverick on a hot summer's night. Alas, it was not to last and as they say, all good things must come to an end. Tony and Tyler who had done so much for the coaster community including working late shifts to personally greet each member participating in the passholder's ride nights announced that they were discontinuing the blog. Tony left to take a job working for the Fox Milwaukee affiliate while Tyler was going to focus more on his work in the Cedar Point offices doing his real job. Sadness swept over my household. Even though Cedar Point would try to reinvent the blog twice with two separate hosts, it just was not the same without T&T.
Today, Tony announced that he is back at Cedar Point as the new Digital Communications Manager and with that he is also resuming his role as lead blog host. I assure you that it is because of Tony Clark that I sit before you today and type this blog. I loved Cedar Point before, but it was Tony that introduced me to so many opportunities that I had no idea about. He reported about ride auctions to open rides and events like Coasting for Kids. It were his words and actions that me made feel a part of Cedar Point. So it is with great excitement, that I personally welcome Tony Clark back to Cedar Point. Thank you Tony for all that you have done in the past and good luck in all you do in your new post at Cedar Point!