Wild thrills in Ohio
Cedar Point, Sandusky, Ohio, has introduced Maverick, its 17th rollercoaster and the most at any single park in the world. Paul Ruben profiles one of the latest linear synchronous motor (LSM) launch coaster from Intamin.
IntaRide LLC, Intamin’s local subsidiary, also set a world record, removing, redesigning, replacing, inspecting and testing a problematic section of rough track in just a few weeks, allowing Cedar Point to open Maverick in a timely fashion and likely saving its season.
Maverick, a “terrain” coaster, delivers a ride unlike any other, hugging the ground and offering two launches. The $21 million coaster is 105 feet tall with a beyond-vertical 95-degree drop. It is one of the largest ride projects in Cedar Point’s 137-year history, and one of its most exciting coasters too.
“Cedar Point is the rollercoaster capital of the world,” points out John Hildebrandt, the park’s vice-president and general manager. “We opened the world’s first 200ft coaster, Magnum, the first 300ft coaster, Millennium Force, and the first 400ft coaster, Top Thrill Dragster. We wanted a coaster that would deliver a unique ride experience, one that had wide appeal, and a ride that would fit well with our existing mix of coasters. Maverick fit the bill.”
“It’s different from our other coasters in many ways,” he adds. “It has two launches, including one hidden; it has one of the steepest drops of any rollercoaster, 95 degrees; it has a unique combination of corkscrew rolls, banked turns, and eight airtime-filled hills.”
Guests are seated in one of six three-car, 12-passenger steam-era–style trains. Two trains are often racing through the ride at the same time. They are propelled up the first hill using linear synchronous motors before plunging 100ft at speeds reaching 57 mph. The wild course twists and turns between rocky canyon walls, over water and around trees. Other features of the ride include a first-of-a-kind twisted horseshoe roll that combines two 360-degree corkscrew rolls sandwiched around a 72-degree banked turn and S-curves. In addition to the launch up the first hill, LSMs are used to accelerate the train through a 400ft-long dark tunnel at up to 70mph.
Maverick is the first rollercoaster built in the Frontiertown section of Cedar Point since Mean Streak was introduced in 1991. With its multiple elements and terrain-hugging layout, riders on the new coaster are treated to a thrilling journey over more than 4,400ft of red steel tubular track on 5.5 acres with quick but smooth changes in direction. Magnetic brakes slow the train before the tunnel and then stop it at the end of the journey. Passengers must be at least 52 inches (1.3 metres) tall to ride.
“The guest reaction to Maverick has been terrific,” Hildebrandt reports. “It’s exceeded expectations. I have spent a lot of time this summer on the ride platform and standing at the exit talking to guests. Many say it’s the best ride in the park, which of course is saying a lot. If you go to the enthusiast websites, it’s all good. If I need a pick up, I just walk over to the Maverick and talk to a few guests. We even put together a radio commercial made up of guest comments about the ride.”
“For me,” he adds, “the best part of the ride is the launch in the tunnel. It’s unexpected, it’s lightning fast, and you have no idea where you’re headed
until you fly out, bank left and zoom down over the pond to the canyon. Maverick is non-stop action, and it’s full of surprises. There’s no time to
recover, yet the transitions between elements are smooth.”
Hildebrandt recalls that, overall, the construction process of Maverick went well. “As pieces of track started to arrive last summer, we stored them in a field next to our Breakers Express hotel across the Causeway in Sandusky. The local newspaper and coaster enthusiasts had a lot of fun trying to figure out specifics about the ride based on the various pieces and parts. Lots of interesting speculation was posted on the internet.”
Days after it opened, however, the coaster was closed on May 8 so that four rough sections of steel track could be reconfigured and fabricated. “The modification to the ride delayed opening by two weeks,” acknowledges Hildebrandt. “During pre-opening testing, IntaRide informed us they discovered a section of track which needed modification. To fix the problem, four new sections of track had to be designed, fabricated, shipped from Europe to the US. IntaRide, along with a number of suppliers and our own team, made a great effort to get this done in a very short period of time. This was no easy task. I’m proud of what we accomplished.”
Incredibly, the new sections of track were installed in time for the May 26 Memorial Day weekend, the traditional launch of the summer season in the area. The original heartline roll was replaced with an “S-curve” that does not have an inversion. This element keeps riders above the track as they quickly change direction, manoeuvring through a right turn and into a left turn. The train then continues along the original track layout. No other sections of the ride were modified.
“We were thrilled that Maverick was up and running for the holiday weekend,” admits Hildebrandt. “Our guests were very understanding and patient with us as we made these changes and now the reward is theirs – a ride on Maverick!”
The new coaster is certainly not the first the Swiss supplier has delivered to Cedar Point. “We had a track record with IntaRide/Intamin: Millennium Force, Top Thrill Dragster and Wicked Twister,” notes the park’s GM. “I think IntaRide absolutely delivered on the ride experience. Just ask our guests who have ridden.Maverick makes Cedar Point an even better amusement park. It will certainly give us an opportunity to attract more visitors. It solidifies our position as the park with the best coasters and thrill rides. People come from all over the world to ride our coasters.”
For other park operators considering adding a coaster similar to Maverick, Hildebrandt concludes with this advice. “Assemble a great project team. It’s the key to success. And try to think of everything – and then think some more.”