It was huge. No, huge couldn’t even begin to describe the massive wooden city that had in the last year sprang up from the mild Ohio woodlands. There were towers 125 feet tall with twists and turns. Every so often the sound of fury and thunder arouse from the surreal forest of wood and metal. It was unlike anything I’d seen before.
At the age of 14 I was standing at the foot of Cedar Point’s newest roller-coaster, the Gemini. At the time it opened it was the tallest, highest, fastest, steepest and meanest roller-coaster in the world. Later they had to change it to the tallest racing coaster, but at that time it still held the record and it was huge. The park’s other wooden roller coasters seemed tiny in comparison. The mild Mine Ride boarded on boring. The Blue Streak fit the original definition of thrill ride, a seat of the pants scary ride. You never knew if the ride would finally come off of the tracks or if you’d fly out of the car. But still, it was just a simple loop, not much of a ride, really, if you looked at it. The Gemini, though, was huge and complex.
My friend Brad and I sat in the front car for that first ride. As we came over one hill, arms stretched over our heads, we discovered that there had been a major miscalculation – we were headed straight for a beam! We both ducked. A little while later, in the last seat this time, we could see the cars in front of us drop below the beam and laughed. We rode again and again. They hadn’t set up lights on the newly opened coaster so our last ride of the day was in the pitch dark.
This was one of the few visits to the park I can still remember in all of its detail. The Gemini is still one of my favorites, even if it does seem mild by today’s standards.
Last weekend I visited Cedar Point for the first time in almost a decade. Unfortunately we were rained out before I got a chance to ride the Gemini.
I did ride one wooden coaster, the Mean Streak. It takes the Blue Streaks’ seat of the pants experience and amplifies it with a 161 foot drop and 1.7 million board feet of pine. It is mean and shakes the daylights out of you. Perhaps too much – don’t go right after lunch. (No, I didn’t get sick).
Another coaster hung me upside-down 170 feet off of the ground while speeding me straight down, upside-down towards the pavement. One ground hugging coaster twisted my around with EM assisted acceleration. And another dropped 310 feet at 93 mph. That last ride, the Millennium Force, has consistently been voted the best steel roller-coaster since it was built with only a few years in the number 2 slot. It is a lot of fun.
While all these coasters are great, i still have a soft spot in my heart for that first wooden giant, which seems so small today, the Gemini.
Photo from Cedar Point’s web site