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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
Reviews Trip Reports

Cedar Point on National Roller Coaster Day

Every August 16th, coaster enthusiasts celebrate National Roller Coaster Day, commemorating the day in 1878 when the first wooden roller coaster was patented. I couldn’t think of a better excuse to go coastering, so on Wednesday I flew up to Cleveland to stay with some relatives, and on Roller Coaster Day I headed to Sandusky to pay homage to Cedar Point.

A foreboding forecast

The week leading up to my planned trip, I kept an eye on the Sandusky weather forecast. For a while it looked like there would be intermittent thunderstorms that would clear up by afternoon, but just before I left town, the forecast shifted to all-day storms with a 90% chance of rain. I was left with two choices—trade out my Thursday ticket for a half-day on Friday before returning to Nashville, or brave the storm. I saved the decision for the last moment, and ultimately chose to go on Thursday. Thankfully, the weather held out the entire day and the park was nearly empty, making for very short lines. Even on the new ride…

The hyper hybrid

For years, enthusiasts have begged the park to give Mean Streak the “iron horse” treatment, and I was blown away with the design for Steel Vengeance when it was announced a year ago, naming it my number one most anticipated coaster for 2018. Rocky Mountain Construction took everything that made Mean Streak so unpopular and fashioned it into their wildest hybrid to date. Over the summer, I’ve kept the coaster’s POV on replay and craved every pop of airtime. And this week, I finally caught a ride on the IBox coaster.

Did Steel Vengeance live up to the hype? Yes, and as strange as it may seem, it even managed to exceed my expectations. The utter euphoria I experienced during the pull of the ride’s 90-degree drop made it hands down the best element of any coaster I have ridden. I’m still in such shock that I’m having to process exactly what happened in those two-and-a-half minutes. The first hills were gigantic sweeping airtime machines, the inversions were wildly smooth, and the final lap through the ride’s structure felt insanely fast. I’ll have to save my full Steel Vengeance review for another post, but be assured, this is a coaster no one should miss.

One thing I will point out now is that Cedar Point was very strict about their no phones rule on this ride. The ops at the front of the line told riders to get a locker if they had their phone on them, and one ride op said that if you were caught in the station with a phone three times, they’d call security. While I didn’t really mind getting a locker, it was disappointing to not be able to take photos from the queue, and keeping track of time became a struggle. Quick tip: If you’re ever at the park, be sure to get the all-day lockers so that you’ll be free to ride Steel Vengeance at any point during the day. I unwisely chose to buy a few hours at a time and it kept my rides restricted to those specific periods of time.

A ride in the rain

After riding Steel Vengeance a couple times and grabbing a bite to eat, I decided to head back to Millennium Force. It had begun to sprinkle and the line was so short that I was able to walk all the way onto the platform before reaching other riders. The rain increased to a full drizzle, and though I was wary of riding through it at 93 miles per hour, I decided to give it a shot.

The ride’s first hill afforded a familiar view of Cedar Point and Lake Erie before the train reached the apex and thundered over the edge. Thousands of raindrops stung my face and hands like pins and needles, forcing me to cover my face with one hand and squint through it. The ride was fun as always, zipping along with the sheer speed and power only a Giga coaster can offer. I got a couple moments of airtime and some great positive g-forces, but the drop didn’t deliver for me in the front or the back. While Millennium Force offers a thrilling and re-ridable ride, Fury 325 has a much better layout overall. Over the years, Millennium Force has gone from my number one coaster to sixth place, not because it has aged but because I have since ridden so many superior coasters.

World-class coaster or crowd-pleaser?

Next, I headed over to Valravn, another coaster that had opened since my 2015 trip. Like GateKeeper, the B&M dive coaster was very photogenic and could be seen from most of the park. Its proximity to the midway, paired with the novelty of a hanging drop, made it an extremely popular coaster among the general public.

Walking into the Valravn plaza, I was fascinated by the sweeping Immelmann directly overhead. The line, while much shorter than during regular operation, was considerably longer than my other rides of the day, but I knew it would be worth the wait to try it out. The ride ops had the trains cycling pretty fast, and upon entering the station, I was struck by the small size of the boarding area. I boarded the coaster in the front on the far left and pulled the second-generation over-the-shoulder restraint into place.

The train took a little swoop out of the station and began up the steep lift. From the top, the coaster offered an incredible view of the entire park. Valravn was my first dive coaster, so I found the hang before the drop to be unique but it didn’t trigger my fear of heights as much as I had expected. The drop was pretty good, and the inversions were incredibly smooth, even with the train rattling in a few places. My favorite part of the ride was the zero-g-roll at the end, taken slowly enough to offer a moment of hangtime.

Overall, the ride was alright, but its tame feel and short layout hardly merited the line. I think a tunnel at the bottom of the drop like Yukon Striker or a splashdown finale would have added a lot to the experience, but I understand the struggle of squeezing a whole coaster into such a tight space.

Around the park

After getting off Valravn, I continued down the midway behind Raptor. It’s great to see how Cedar Point has opened up that area and taken it all the way to Blue Streak. Raptor was a walk-on, so I rode it in the back. The layout was absolutely solid, but I found myself fighting the forces of the ride to avoid head-banging during the corkscrews.

Next, I headed to Power Tower. As a huge drop tower fan, I get a thrill out of Cedar Point’s 240-foot model every time.

After that, I got in line for Top Thrill Dragster. Normally, the ride’s line is one of the longest in the park due to frequent downtime, but the ops had all six trains running and the line was moving right along. When I was about two trains away from riding, the ops closed the ride for inclement weather. I stuck around, and when the inclement weather turned out to be a five-minute sprinkle, they reopened the ride and slowly backed the trains into their previous positions. I rode in the front seat and the launch was as thrilling as ever, reaching 120 miles per hour in just four seconds.

Never this wild

After walking by Steel Vengeance to snap some more shots of the coaster, I headed to Maverick. I’ve never seen Maverick with short lines and Thursday was no different.  I had trouble justifying the wait until I got on the coaster and remembered just how good the ride is.

In the past, I’ve always ridden in the front, so decided to check out the back. And man, did it make a difference. The 95-degree drop nearly ejected me from the train and the airtime hill midway through the course was extreme. Everything I loved about Maverick before was intensified, and the way the train took on the elements reminded me of Steel Vengeance. It’s kind of fun to me how Cedar Point tied Maverick into the Steel Vengeance storyline (Maverick is Blackjack’s brother), because the rides were both similar and unique at the same time.

To make the ride even better, the effects like the flashing lights in the tunnel and the water bombs were working for the first time when I’ve ridden it. They added a nice touch and a hint of theming that I had missed before.

Overall, I loved Maverick and would’ve ridden it again had it not been for the length of the line. I moved it to fifth place in my top ten, just ahead of Millennium Force.

Finishing a great day

To end the day, I rode maXair and then lapped Steel Vengeance three times in a row. Having tried the front, middle, and back of the train, I found the back to be the best, with all the elements turned up another notch.

For my last ride on the way out of the park, I hit Iron Dragon to try out the new virtual reality experience that Cedar Point has been running after 7 pm every day. They were only running two trains, so the line was the longest of the day by far and it was amusing to see so many people stacked up for a suspended coaster.

The VR experience was phenomenal. I’ve had mixed feelings about VR on coasters but after trying it for myself, I am in full support. I think running VR for only part of the day is a good model as well. I’ll save the details on the experience for a later post, but it was well done and I completely forgot I was on a roller coaster until we pulled back into the station.

Final thoughts

Overall, my trip to Cedar Point was one of the best park days I’ve ever had. The temperature was 70s all day, the lines were short, and Steel Vengeance was every bit as good as I had hoped. Now that the park has an RMC, their lineup is well-rounded and worthy of the title of Roller Coaster Capital of the World once more. I couldn’t have asked for a better day at Cedar Point, and I hope to return in the near future!

Categories
News

Steel Vengeance Opens at Cedar Point [Update]

Yesterday, Cedar Point officially opened to the public, showing off the ride they’ve worked on for the past two years. Steel Vengeance is finally running alongside its coaster siblings at the Roller Coaster Capital.

Image © Cedar Point

Does it live up to the hype? All of the reviews I’ve seen so far suggest that Steel Vengeance is quite possibly the best roller coaster in the world. Check out what some of the first riders are saying:

It has everything coaster enthusiasts love: height, speed, tight turns, airtime, airtime, airtime, and did I mention airtime? And it does all of this with butter-smooth transitions. —Kyle from Coaster101.

My favorite element (hands up all the way): the outward-banked hill. I’m certain this is the longest and strongest sustained airtime moment I have ever felt. —John from CoasterCritic.

Without a doubt, Steel Vengeance is at the top of my bucket list for this summer. With a 205-foot vertical drop and a plethora of twists and inversions, the coaster combines the best elements of Millennium Force and Maverick while still throwing in the wild unpredictability RMC is famous for. According to Cedar Point, Steel Vengeance features 27 seconds of airtime—the most of any roller coaster.

Ready to see the ride in action? Here’s the official POV from Cedar Point:


Update: Due to a minor train collision in the station on Opening Day, Cedar Point temporarily closed the coaster for inspection. Since then, Steel Vengeance has only been running with one train as Rocky Mountain Construction works on fixing the issue. As a result, lines have been extremely long and the park has removed Steel Vengeance from the Fast Lane Plus program.

Update 2: As of June 1st, Steel Vengeance is now running with two trains once more and has been returned to Fast Lane Plus.

Read next: Time Traveler and Twisted Timbers Now Open

Categories
Announcements Lists News

Top New Roller Coasters for 2018

It’s a new year, and that means theme park fans are putting their 2018 park trips on the calendar and keeping those coaster POVs on repeat. With every year comes a host of new coasters, and if 2017’s lineup was lackluster, this year is determined to make up for it. With over 150 coasters opening in 2018, I had a harder time than usual narrowing down my top picks, but I managed to filter them down to the best of the best. Here are my top 15 most anticipated coasters for 2018.

Harley Quinn Crazy Coaster

Six Flags Discovery Kingdom announced that they would be building the world’s first Skywarp model. The ride, designed by Skyline Attractions, will feature two trains that duel as they race through a 62-foot vertical figure eight. The coaster will be powered by drive tires and the trains will be connected to keep them at a consistent distance from one another. Interestingly enough, the ride’s Raptor track will be manufactured by Rocky Mountain Construction.

Electric Eel

SeaWorld San Diego plans to add their tallest coaster yet, a Premiere Rides Sky Rocket II. Electric Eel will launch riders backward and forward through the station before cresting a 150-foot hill and spiraling through an inverted heartline roll.

Tantrum

After removing their popular Thunder Rapids log flume, Darien Lake promised to replace it with something even better. They went on to announce Tantrum, a 100-foot Euro-Fighter from Gerstlauer with a beyond-vertical drop and an Immelmann.

Fēnix

A relatively small B&M wing coaster will be coming to Toverland for 2018. After climbing to height of 130 feet, the coaster will take riders through a dive drop, Immelmann, and zero-g roll.

Wing coasters are known for their elaborate train designs, and Fēnix will be no exception. The bright orange trains will feature detailed phoenixes between each row.

Wicker Man

The newly-announced wooden coaster coming to Alton Towers will be packed with theming and special effects.

As the UK’s first new wooden coaster in 21 years, Wicker Man will incorporate wood and fire in a unique way. The ride’s trains will weave through a 60-foot “wicker man” structure that appears to burst into flames.

Wonder Woman Golden Lasso

As one of the first new Raptor coasters from Rocky Mountain Construction, Wonder Woman will treat riders to the first-ever single-rail experience.

With track composed of one wide steel beam, the coaster will seat riders in single file and offer unprecedented views of the train’s surroundings. Wonder Woman will start with a 90-degree drop before executing a dive loop, a cutback, and a corkscrew.

RailBlazer

RailBlazer might be a near clone to Wonder Woman, but California’s Great America’s single-rail model will have a few extra details like ATV-inspired trains and a silent lift hill. Themed to the Californian wilderness, the ride will incorporate scenery and rock structures that the coaster will dive through.

Overall, I’m excited for the potential of RMC’s Raptor coaster. Its compact design and realistic price tag make it a great choice for small parks like Great America.

HangTime

A dive coaster of sorts, HangTime will take riders 150 feet into the air and hold them in a dropping position. The ride will feature a 96-degree drop and five inversions, including a rare negative-g stall loop.

Knott’s Berry Farm isn’t skimping on the lighting package, either. At night, HangTime will come to life with disorienting chase lighting that races the train through each element.

Valkyria

Liseberg’s new dive coaster will take a bold stance as a valkyrie, a winged creature from Norse Mythology that chooses the outcome of a battle. After a 164-foot drop, the ride will swoop through three inversions.

Like most dive coasters, Valkyria will have a relatively short layout. I must say, though, Liseberg is doing a great job tying the ride into their new mythology area. If they implement the attention to detail we see on the station in the concept art, they’ll have a well-themed coaster on their hands.

Twisted Cyclone

In 2018, Six Flags Over Georgia will become the latest Six Flags park to receive an IBox coaster.

While Twisted Cyclone will feature quite a few disorienting maneuvers, including a signature reverse cobra roll, the ride’s layout is noticeably shorter post-conversion. One can’t help but wonder whether Six Flags went low-budget with the transformation. Regardless, the ride is certain to be a welcome addition to Georgia residents who have yet to ride an RMC.

Icon

Designed by Mack Rides, Icon at Blackpool Pleasure Beach will feature a weaving course with two launch sections and an endless series of high-speed over-banks. If there were an award for most efficient layout, Icon would be a likely candidate. The ride will pack in two launches and two inversions while circling inside of Big One’s footprint.

Time Traveler

Beginning with a 10-story vertical drop out of the station, Time Traveler will become the world’s tallest, fastest, and steepest spinning coaster. As the first Xtreme Spinning Coaster of Mack Rides, the coaster is a thrilling new take on the classic family ride. I’m excited to see Silver Dollar City investing in a ride that thrill seekers and their kids can enjoy together.

Twisted Timbers

In 2018, Kings Dominion will join the RMC bandwagon by giving Hurler the iron-horse treatment. Post conversion, the ride will stretch even longer than its wooden predecessor. With a barrel roll drop and a compact layout, Twisted Timbers makes me think of a slightly bigger version of Storm Chaser at Kentucky Kingdom. And that is by all means a good thing.

Hyperion

The new Intamin mega coaster coming to EnergyLandia will feature a 260-foot drop and a seamless layout. The ride will combine Skyrush-inspired turns with the sweeping drops of a B&M hyper coaster.

While we may not have seen many new Intamin coasters here in the United States, Hyperion is proof that the manufacturer is still capable of designing relentless rides that take thrills to the limit. In particular, the Stengel Dive turnaround is a unique element that I would love to see on more coasters.

Steel Vengeance

In 2018, Cedar Point’s Mean Streak will be reborn as the world’s first hyper hybrid coaster, standing at 205 feet tall. RMC outdoes themselves every year, and 2018 will be no exception. Featuring four inversions, Steel Vengeance will be three minutes of out-of-control maneuvers. The ride will never let up—even after the mid-course brake run, the coaster will take to weaving in and out of the coaster’s support structure, providing near misses as it bucks from side to side.


Which new roller coaster are you most excited about for 2018? Leave a comment below!

Categories
Construction News

Construction Continues on Steel Vengeance and Twisted Timbers

Cedar Fair’s first IBox coasters are quickly taking shape, with crews hard at work at both Cedar Point and Kings Dominion. Earlier this month, track installation was completed on Steel Vengeance, and now the Twisted Timbers site is buzzing with activity. The parks have taken to social media to share their progress, and the new coasters are truly works of coaster-art.

The 205-foot hill on Steel Vengeance towers over Lake Erie and puts Mean Streak’s former height to shame. Imagine the ejector air riders will experience on that 90-degree drop!

Cedar Point also shared a few pictures of the track winding its way through the ride’s structure on its final lap around the course. The near-misses will be plentiful on Steel Vengeance for sure.

Now that all of the track has been laid, the park will turn its attention towards adding catwalks and railings to sections of the ride like the lift hill and mid-course break run. When Cedar Point closes for the season, they will add mechanical components such as the chain lift, sensors, and braking systems. At the rate construction is going, Steel Vengeance will be ready for testing in early 2018.

Meanwhile, Twisted Timbers is beginning to take form at Kings Dominion. Ledgers have been installed throughout the layout and the ride’s lift hill has been topped off.

 

It will be exciting to see the coaster’s barrel roll drop up close as construction progresses. For now, we’ll have to content ourselves with the early renderings of the coaster and count off the weeks until Opening Day 2018.

Do you have any thoughts about the progress Rocky Mountain Construction has made on Steel Vengeance and Twisted Timbers? Leave a comment below.

Read next: Everything Cedar Fair Announced for 2018

Categories
Announcements featured News

Everything Cedar Fair Announced for 2018

Last week, Cedar Fair’s parks made their announcements for next year’s new attractions. With Cedar Point, Kings Dominion, Knott’s, and California’s Great America each getting a major new roller coaster, 2018 is sure to be a big year for the chain. Let’s take a look at what each Cedar Fair park will be adding next year.