Lifestyle

Every Roller Coaster at Cedar Point, Ranked

the raptor
the raptor | courtesy of Cedar Fair Entertainment Company
the raptor | courtesy of Cedar Fair Entertainment Company

Nothing says "vacation" quite like a terror-inducing thrill ride, and that's the specialty at Cedar Point, the self-proclaimed "Roller Coaster Capital of the World" -- it's kind of like The Hague, but with G-forces and lap bars instead of diplomacy and international affairs. Unless you're planning on spending an entire weekend in Sandusky, Ohio, though, you'll run into a snag: with an overwhelming collection of 17 coasters, and only so much time/intestinal fortitude to ride them, which ones should merit your attention?

To help guide you through the park, I've taken a hard look at each of Cedar Point's roller coasters and ranked them from "you can probably skip it" all the way up to "YOU GOTTA FREAKIN' RIDE IT." As for the intestinal fortitude, well, you're on your own.

pipe scream
courtesy of Cedar Fair Entertainment Company

17. Pipe Scream

Opened: 2014
Top Speed: 43 mph
Max height: 43 feet

Cedar Point classifies Pipe Scream as a roller coaster, but true park geeks (guilty as charged) scoff at the designation. It's really more of a "flat ride," an industry term for carnival-type rides: passengers spin around on a large ride vehicle that soars back and forth on a half-pipe, coaster-like track. If you're prone to motion sickness, though, Pipe Scream might induce a bit more than screaming.

wilderness run
courtesy of Cedar Fair Entertainment Company

16. Wilderness Run

Opened: 1979
Top Speed: 6 mph
Max height: 19 feet

Hitting a top speed of 6 mph, a ride on Wilderness run is a lot like backing out of your driveway -- and about as much fun. But it's not for you. It's for your really young kids. Unless you want to ride with them, skip it. If you do want to ride with them, though, good luck fitting into the seats.

woodstock express
courtesy of Cedar Fair Entertainment Company

15. Woodstock Express

Opened: 1999
Top Speed: 25 mph
Max height: 38 feet

Located in the park's Camp Snoopy area, this junior coaster is named after the Peanuts character, and not the mud-soaked music festival of yore. Lasting little more than a minute, the low-impact ride is best suited for pint-sized passengers... think of it as sort of a gateway coaster.

cedar creek
courtesy of Cedar Fair Entertainment Company

14. Cedar Creek Mine Ride

Opened: 1969
Top Speed: 42 mph
Max height: 48 feet

Many parks have similar mine train-themed rides. One step above a junior coaster, Cedar Creek's mild thrills make it accessible to bold young riders and wimpy older riders alike. If you are neither young nor wimpy, nor accompanying somebody who is young or wimpy, move along.

corkscrew
courtesy of Cedar Fair Entertainment Company

13. Corkscrew

Opened: 1976
Top Speed: 48 mph
Max height: 85 feet

One of the earliest modern steel coasters to include inversions, Corkscrew has unfortunately not aged well. You'll shake and rattle as much as you'll roll, and it's probably more enjoyable to stand on the midway and watch the train twist through its double corkscrew than it is to actually experience it.

iron dragon
courtesy of Cedar Fair Entertainment Company

12. Iron Dragon

Opened: 1987
Top Speed: 40 mph
Max height: 76 feet

Iron Dragon's trains hang beneath the tracks, but unlike the park's newer inverted ride Raptor, the cars on this suspended coaster have floors and are designed to pivot as they navigate the course's twists and turns. It's not particularly fast, nor does it pour on the thrills, but it's fun to swing to and fro and soar within inches of the lagoon for its finale.

blue streak
courtesy of Cedar Fair Entertainment Company

11. Blue Streak

Opened: 1964
Top Speed: 40 mph
Max height: 78 feet

Cedar Point dates back to 1870, and its first roller coaster opened in 1892. This 1960s relic, however, is the oldest thrill machine still standing. From its rickety wooden lattice, pale blue color, and the cupola that tops its highest point, it looks sharp and evokes the park's origins. Typical of vintage wooden coasters, it'll toss you around a bit.

gemini
courtesy of Cedar Fair Entertainment Company

10. Gemini

Opened: 1978
Top Speed: 60 mph
Max height: 125 feet

This '70s thriller is named after the Gemini space missions, from back when NASA did those kinds of things. With its timber lattices, it may look like a traditional wooden coaster, but Gemini actually uses tubular steel tracks. It's a racing coaster, which means that if the ride ops dispatch them at the same time, the red train takes off right alongside the blue train. Sometimes passengers in both trains get so close, they can high-five each other (blatantly violating the "keep your hands inside the moving vehicle at all times" policy). Despite its vintage, Gemini is surprisingly smooth and lots of fun.

rougarou
courtesy of Cedar Fair Entertainment Company

9. Rougarou

Opened: 1996
Top Speed: 60 mph
Max height: 145 feet

Passengers on this former stand-up coaster used to stand on bicycle-like saddles, which were particularly challenging for male riders who needed, uh, testicular fortitude to withstand the coaster's crotchal assaults. In 2015, Cedar Point traded out the trains and turned Rougarou into a sit-down, floorless coaster whose stripped-down cars are essentially seats bolted to a chassis. Now, passengers soar through the ride's loops and other inversions with their legs dangling, and their crotches intact.

wicked twister
courtesy of Cedar Fair Entertainment Company

8. Wicked Twister

Opened: 2002
Top Speed: 72 mph
Max height: 215 feet

With its blistering 72mph speed, its twin, twisted, 215ft-tall towers, and its heady G-forces, Wicked Twister is definitely one of the country's most extreme coasters. The launched ride catapults passengers forwards and backwards on its U-shaped course, revving faster and climbing higher with each successive pulse of propulsion. Oh, and did I mention it's also the tallest and fastest inverted coaster in existence? Well, it is.

raptor
courtesy of Cedar Fair Entertainment Company

7. Raptor

Opened: 1994
Top Speed: 57 mph
Max height: 137 feet

An inverted coaster, Raptor's train hangs suspended beneath the tracks, and like Rougarou, its exposed cars are little more than a collection of seats on wheels. It's quite a sight as 32 passengers, their legs freely flailing, get tossed upside down in a 100-foot teardrop loop -- and that's only one of Raptor's six inversions.

magnum
courtesy of Cedar Fair Entertainment Company

6. Magnum XL-200

Opened: 1989
Top Speed: 72 mph
Max height: 205 feet

This was the first thrill machine to break the 200-feet-tall threshold, and ride fans were stunned by Magnum's seemingly incomprehensible height when it opened in 1989. Next to today's much taller behemoths, the hypercoaster (a term coined to describe the ride's new breed of extreme height and speed) seems almost quaint. Its ride has become a bit rough through the years, but Magnum still delivers plenty of its characteristic, out-of-your-seat airtime, along with stunning views of Lake Erie.

gatekeeper
images courtesy of Cedar Fair Entertainment Company

5. GateKeeper

Opened: 2013
Top Speed: 67 mph
Max height: 170 feet

Cedar Point is so crazy about coasters, it built one that straddles its front gate. Known as a wing coaster, GateKeeper features seats that are located to the left and right of the tracks on the train's "wings." Among its elements are two "keyhole" towers towards which the extra-wide train barrels headlong. Just when it seems like you couldn't possibly fit through the narrow openings, the train turns sideways and barely threads the needle.

valravn
courtesy of Cedar Fair Entertainment Company

4. Valravn

Opened: 2016
Top Speed: 75 mph
Max height: 223 feet

Valravn is one of a handful of dive coasters -- no, its seats don't smell like cheap perfume and stale beer. Its unusual floorless train climbs 223 feet, crawls to the edge of a 90-degree precipice, lingers for a few knee-knocking moments as passengers contemplate what awaits them, and then dives straight down; inversions and a second, smaller dive follow. For maximum knee-knocking views, it's worth waiting for a front-row seat, especially the ones on either of the cantilevered ends of the train.

top thrill dragster
courtesy of Cedar Fair Entertainment Company

3. Top Thrill Dragster

Opened: 2003
Top Speed: 120 mph
Max height: 420 feet

When it debuted back in 2003, Top Thrill Dragster was the world's tallest and fastest coaster; it was overtaken in both regards by Six Flags Great Adventure's Kingda Ka two years later, but the ride experience for both is almost identical. Using a hydraulic launch system, the car accelerates from 0-to-holy crap (read: 120mph) in a scant four seconds before climbing straight up a 420-foot looping tower and free-falling 90 degrees down the other side. The whole thing is over in 30 seconds, but at the height we're talking about, even three seconds would be well worth it.

millennium force
courtesy of Cedar Fair Entertainment Company

2. Millennium Force

Opened: 2000
Top Speed: 93 mph
Max height: 310 feet

At 93 mph, Millennium Force also boasts ferocious speed -- but unlike Top Thrill Dragster's wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am quick burst, the giga-coaster (so-named because it was the first full-circuit coaster to climb over 300 feet) climbs a more conventional lift hill and sustains its fierce speed and face-melting G-forces for almost 2-and-a-half minutes. At 182 feet, Millennium Force's third hill is taller than most coasters' first drops.

maverick
courtesy of Cedar Fair Entertainment Company

1. Maverick

Opened: 2007
Top Speed: 70 mph
Max height: 105 feet

Sure, every other coaster in the top 10 is taller than Maverick -- some by a considerable margin -- and many of them are faster as well. That said, this ride packs a lot into its comparatively small frame, including two take-your-breath-away launches; a beyond-straight-down first drop; nice pops of airtime; and some inversions and over-banked turns. The whole experience is well paced and gloriously smooth. It is, in my estimation, not only the best coaster at Cedar Point, but one of the best in the country.

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A travel writer who specializes in the amusement industry, Arthur Levine has been the Theme Parks "expert" at About.com (now TripSavvy.com) since 2002. Follow his next ride @aboutthemeparks.