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Steel Vengeance Review

Last Thursday, I finally got to ride Cedar Point’s new hyper hybrid from Rocky Mountain Construction, and I’m still in shock from the sheer power I experienced on the coaster.

As I approached the park, I was struck by how much more prominent the ride was on the skyline. From the start, it was obvious that this ride wasn’t Mean Streak anymore.

As soon as the park opened, I walked to the back of the park as fast as I could. There stood Steel Vengeance, towering over Frontiertown’s buildings and punctuating the air with the screams of terrified riders. The train thundered through inversions and wound through the wooden remains of Mean Streak.

I had heard that Steel Vengeance had just begun a no-phone policy after a rider’s device contributed to an injury on Twisted Timbers, but I wasn’t sure how strict the rule would be or how they planned on enforcing it. Two ride ops sat at the entrance to the ride and asked each rider if they were carrying a phone, instructing them to rent a locker or leave it with a non-rider. I was happy to oblige, but found it difficult to keep track of the time remaining on my locker without my phone, since I didn’t wear a watch. Also, I had hoped to take some good photos from the queue, but I had to resort to snapping a few shots from the entrance and the other side of Frontiertown.

While waiting in line, I saw quite a few security guards patrolling the line and trekking up to the platform every once and a while. A ride op explained that if you were caught with a phone in the station they’d kick you out of the line, and after three strikes they’d call security. In the end, being without my phone was a small price to pay to ride Steel Vengeance, and after tracking Mean Streak’s transformation over the course of two years, I was more than ready to finally catch a ride on the coaster.

After about half an hour, I reached the platform. A ride op was assigning seats but she was happy to acquiesce when I asked to ride in the front. I found this to be the case the whole day, which was great because it kept the line moving while respecting anyone who had a seat preference.

The train took off, rolling over two bunny hills before hitting the unusually loud chain lift. On the way up, I took in the view of Cedar Point’s impressive coaster lineup. Near the top, the entire ride layout came into view, giving us riders a quick glimpse into our imminent joy or terror. Before I knew it, the train reached the apex and slowly crept over the top before dashing to the ground at 90 degrees. In the front car, the drop was exhilarating but not quite ejecting.

The following hill offered a sustained surge of floater airtime at an off-axis angle and sent the train rocketing back toward the first drop. After two more airhills, the real fun began. I was wooshed through first zero-g-roll while climbing, then took a flying turn into the second zero-g-roll while dropping. That drop in particular was extremely disorienting and made for an extreme stomach drop.

After rolling through the mid-course brake run, the ride continued with a sudden plunge back into the course that made me catch my breath. The train dove into the ride’s wooden support structure, tempting me to yank my hands down in apprehension as I was sucked through a third roll. A few hills later, the train took a second pass through the structure, completing a similar roll and maneuvering a set of overbanks. One over-banked turn in particular really stood out, giving me a little pop of airtime while on my side. To finish off the ride, the train flew through a series of five airtime hills in a row, each taken at a different angle.

Sitting in the brake run, I realized that I couldn’t compare the ride experience to any other coaster I had ridden. I decided that it combined some of the best elements of Millennium Force and Maverick while adding in some wacky turns that only Rocky Mountain Construction could conjure up.

After getting off, I got right back in line to try the back row. In the back seat, the first drop was insane! The rest of the train began dropping while the back wasn’t quite to the top, meaning I was pulled aggressively over the top into a 200-foot drop. The ejector airtime I experienced on that drop was by far the best I’ve ever experienced and I would compare it to the negative g-forces on a drop tower.

The ride continued its course, taking each hill and inversion with more intensity than ever. According to the park, Steel Vengeance has the most airtime of any roller coaster, with a total of 27.2 seconds, and I felt like my body was out of the seat more than in it. I was in hysterics for the entire last lap around the ride’s structure, and I got off the coaster with an adrenaline high.

Later in the day, I rented a locker for two more hours and was able to get in three more rides on the coaster (once in the middle and twice in the back). Riding solo, I was able to meet some pretty cool people, some of whom had ridden the coaster dozens of times and others who were about to experience Steel Vengeance for the first time. Everyone I rode with got off with a big smile on their face and a new favorite ride at Cedar Point.

At one point I got to chat with an off-duty ride op for Magnum who was getting in his Steel Vengeance rides for the day. We got to chatting about industry news and other parks across the US, and then he pointed out a few things about the coaster I hadn’t noticed before. For one, the wooden supports sway quite a bit just after the train rolls by, which is normal and serves to relieve the stress from the passing trains. The op said that the park had recently added a reinforcement beam and that it was now swaying much less than before.

He was also able to give me an update on Steel Vengeance’s third train, Chess. On opening day, two trains had a minor collision in the station at a minimal speed, and though no one was injured, Cedar Point was forced to shut the ride down nonetheless. The park switched to two trains while they worked on a fix. According to the ride op, the third train is now ready to run and they have the go-ahead but they’re having trouble getting the mid-course brake run to work, so with three trains they’d have to start one long after the previous like on Millennium Force. So it’s unlikely that we’ll see three-train operation again until next season.

While in line, I also enjoyed checking out the storyline segments that the park added to the queue to explain the ride’s theme. I wasn’t able to get a picture of the signs since I didn’t have my phone with me, but there was a themed poster for each of the three characters (Blackjack, Chess, and Digger) explaining their tie into Frontiertown and their need for vengeance from Blackjack’s ruthless brother Maverick.

There weren’t many themed elements in the ride’s station, but the trains had a great steam engine front car and one of the characters’ names was scrawled on the side of each train. A western voiceover played when each train departed the station, and the loading screen touted fun catchphrases like “A Mean Streak lies beneath.”

In the end, I found a new favorite coaster in Steel Vengeance. The ride had all the elements I crave in a coaster, from the ejector drop to the disorienting inversions and endless airtime hills. In typical Rocky Mountain Construction fashion, the ride managed to combine all these elements with flawless transitions. However, some of the turns on the ride came up so suddenly that I barely had time to prepare myself for their sheer intensity. Steel Vengeance is by no means a rerideable coaster like a B&M Hyper, but I was still feeling great after three rides in a row.

Overall, I couldn’t ask for more from Steel Vengeance, and I thought that the ride experience was absolutely flawless. If I was able to change any part of the ride, I wouldn’t tweak a thing. The length, speed, and intensity were about as good as it gets. I rated Steel Vengeance a first-ever 10 out of 10. I could wax on forever about this ride, but the short of it is that you simply need to experience it for yourself. Steel Vengeance just might be the new best roller coaster on the planet.

Rider tips

  • This tip is pretty obvious, but try to hit the ride as soon as you can after the park opens. Most of the crowd follows the midway past Millennium Force and through Frontiertown, so heading by Top Thrill Dragster and cutting down the Gemini Midway might be your quickest route. Some people even park in the Cedar Point Shores lot for even faster walk to the coaster.
  • Be prepared to part with your phone. The ride ops aren’t going to let you into the queue with a handheld device of any kind, so unless you have a hidden pocket that’s securely fastened, you’re best off renting a locker. Don’t make the mistake I did, but rent a locker for the full day so that you’ll be free to come back to the ride at any point.
  • Try riding in the back row. While I was there, a ride op was assigning seats, but they usually let you sit wherever you want if you ask. In the back of the train, the first drop and airtime hills are absolutely insane. On the way up, a left seat will give a better view of the lake and the right will offer a glimpse at the ride layout and the park beyond.

Have you ridden Steel Vengeance? Feel free to post your review in the comments section below.

Categories
Construction featured News Rumors

Five 2019 Developments to Watch

With June just around the corner (where did time go?), several amusement parks are already preparing to make way for new rides and attractions. Here are five developments to keep an eye on over the summer.

Dollywood Park Expansion

Image © Coaster101

Earlier this year, Dollywood began clearing a five-acre plot of land behind Thunderhead, opening up the woods at the back of the park. According to Dollywood spokesman David Taylor, the park plans on adding about eight new attractions in the area.

Blueprints discovered by a local news station reveal that the entrance to the new park section will be just in front of Mystery Mine and the new rides seem to be aimed at families, with something of a river theme. Considering the lack of family-friendly attractions on Wilderness Pass, this is a great move by Dollywood.

One of the new rides in the area has been discovered to be an exact clone of Orkanen—a new Vekoma Suspended Family coaster.

As for Dollywood’s next big coaster, I would expect an opening date of 2020 or 2021. A B&M Hyper or even a Chance rides Hyper GT-X would make a great new addition for the park’s thrill seekers, but we’ll just have to wait and see what Dolly has up her sleeves.

Project Alpha-Digital at Carowinds

According to Lance Hart and the coaster sleuths at Screamscape, Carowinds is planning a dual-launch steel coaster from Mack Rides, codenamed Project Alpha-Digital. Judging by the layout Screamscape dug up, the ride will have four or more inversions, two launch sections, and possibly a top hat element.

Image © Europa Park

If this rumored coaster turns out to be a reality, and it looks like it will based on the Mack Rides parts that have been arriving, this coaster would really take the park’s coaster lineup to the next level. After visiting Carowinds in 2015, I wrote that one of the things that most stood out to me about the park was the absence of a launch coaster. Now, it looks like the missing ride has finally turned up, taking the place of the park’s long-gone White Lightnin’ coaster.

Project Madrid at BGW

Image © Busch Gardens Williamsburg

Last year, Busch Gardens Williamsburg requested approval for a 315-foot structure in an expansion area codenamed “Project Madrid”. While we don’t know any details about what new rides or attractions will be included in this expansion, it seems likely that Project Madrid refers to a new park section themed to Spain.

What about the height request? If the 315-foot height refers to a new ride, it could point to Busch Gardens getting a B&M Giga coaster like Fury 325 or a drop tower similar to Falcon’s Fury at sister park Busch Gardens Tampa. Conflicting filing found by BGWFans suggests that the park might be planning an amphitheater on the cleared land instead.

Kings Island’s Giga Rumors are Back

Remember all those rumors from 2016 pointing towards Kings Island getting a B&M Giga? They turned out to be a little premature, as the park ended up adding a GCI wooden coaster instead. But now the rumors are back, fueled by the park’s removal of their Dinosaurs Alive attraction and a telling clue left by management during the off-season.

With the space at the back of the park opened up by the removal of Dinosaurs Alive, there’s plenty of room for an out-and-back layout behind the X-Base area. The ride’s station would likely be near the old Dinosaurs entrance, with the lift-hill heading East towards the outside of the park.

Then there’s the message Kings Island wrote in the snow during their off-season. In full view of one of the park’s live webcams, someone shoveled the word “GiGA.” Whether this is a red herring or a genuine hint remains to be seen, but it certainly points to activity in the near future.

It’s too early to jump to conclusions, but I, for one, would have mixed feelings if Kings Island announced a Giga for 2019 or 2020. They already have Diamondback, which is a solid B&M Hyper and very similar in concept to a Giga. I would be more excited to see them invest in a launch coaster of some sort or maybe an RMC. I’m still disappointed that they added Mystic Timbers instead of an RMC Topper Track coaster, and now they’re unlikely to add another wooden coaster any time soon.

On the other hand, B&M coasters are extremely reliable, and Cedar Fair has become wary of the issues that plague innovative coasters. After seeing the success of Leviathan and Fury 325, Kings Island really couldn’t go wrong to add a Giga themselves.

Dive Coaster at Canada’s Wonderland

Image © Busch Gardens Tampa

It’s been years since Canada’s Wonderland added a major roller coaster, but the all signs are pointing towards a B&M Dive Coaster for 2019. In January, they filed a permit for a new attraction and began clearing land.

To start off construction, the park installed track in a new underwater tunnel in the lake occupied by Vortex. Judging by the width of the track, it has become clear that the ride will indeed be a Dive Coaster similar to Valravn at Cedar Point. Whether the tunnel will be part of the first drop or incorporated with a later part of the layout, it is certain to make for an exciting element.

As for the theme, fans hoping for Ziz may be disappointed. The park already has Behemoth, the Biblical beast of the land, and Leviathan, the beast of the sea, so Ziz, or the beast of the air, would complete the trio. However, Canada’s Wonderland has begun to tease the coaster with signs inside the park promoting the “Historic Chilkoot Trail”. Unless the park is planning to tie that in with the legend of Ziz, it looks like we’ll be getting another RailBlazer nature-themed ride.

Regardless of the name, the new dive coaster is sure to be a great addition for Canada’s Wonderland. Since it’ll be their first big coaster with inversions, I would imagine that they’ve got plans for some great elements. [td_smart_list_end]


What new-for-2019 addition are you most excited about? Share your thoughts in a comment below.

Read next: Top 15 New Coasters for 2018