For images of Raptor, click here.
When Cedar Point decided to make a coaster in 1994, they decided to stick with what they are best known to do. They wanted the tallest, fastest, and best coaster. They got Raptor, a 137-foot-tall, 57 mile per hour masterpiece.
Raptor used to be the first roller coaster people noticed when they entered the park. Now it's shadowed by Top Thrill Dragster in the distance. People would run to Top Thrill Dragster and skip over Raptor, which does not hold records anymore.
But records do not make a ride and Raptor proves that.
The entrance to the queue takes us directly underneath the lift hill and the first set of switchbacks take us right next to the double helix. Soon enough we head up the stairs and pass directly below riders done with their flight. Water drips from the corner of the station where the hose is kept? Why do they need a hose in the station? Raptor goes upside down six times and is continuously twisting and turning as it pulls four Gs through its course. Even people with the slightest bit of motion sickness might feel a bit queasy after this ride.
A 23 steps up and we're in the station where we can choose to turn left and wait for the front half of the train, or turn right and wait for the good half of the train. We're going to the very back of this bird of prey.
A train full of riders exits and another train, our train, enters. Some clicks are heard, air hisses and the air gates open as people exit down the stairs. An outside seat, preferably the right side, makes for the best ride. A friendly ride host will check your restraint and seat belt and give the all clear:
"There's the floor, you're out that door! We'll see you back in 2:32."
Awesome. A drop and turn to the left follow the station and we begin our ascent up the lift hill. We are offered with great views of the park, Lake Erie, and we get one shot of Power Tower and Top Thrill Dragster lining up perfectly. Look at the two rides right at the peak of the lift. Perfect.
But don't look too long. The front half of the train dips into the beginning of the first drop, making us fall like a ton of bricks. This is where the right side of the ride shines. We are flung way to the right and plummet down the 45-degree, 119-foot drop. We level out and bottom out, pulling some great G forces. We enter the 100-foot-tall vertical loop and get to kick the sky! The exit of this loop seems to pull more Gs than the bottom of the first drop.
A quick rise brings us to my favorite element: the zero-G roll. How great it is to be flying upward then quickly twist to the right and start to fall again. People in the middle seats may get the best sensation in this element, but the outside seats are where the madness is. Instead of simply twisting 360 degrees around, we're also tossed into the side of our seat. Your body experiences some sweet lateral Gs here. Before we can think of what happened, we're tossed down and into a small straightaway.
Of course we're going wickedly fast here so the straightaway is not noticeable. Enter the first cobra roll on an inverted coaster.
This crazy element tilts riders upside down two times and sends them back in the direction from whence they came. It's difficult to describe. Just ride the darn thing.
We tilt straight up into what seems like the first half of a vertical loop, then we slam to the left and level out. Right in the middle of the cobra roll we are doused with another level of high Gs. We tilt and invert to the left again and begin to fall to Earth. Since we're in the back, we are treated with a great drop, once again. The front of the train falls down with some nice speed, but we are yanked out of the cobra roll and fall straight down very quickly.
We level out again and bank to the left for a rising right turn. We bank quickly the other way and turn into a big, rising helix. The end of the helix presents us with the mid-course block brakes. The folks at Cedar Point decided to make our ride extraordinary up until the very end so the brakes are not on at all.
A steep diving turn to the right follows the brakes and we enter our first corkscrew. We rise, twist to the left, and fly through the "snap" portion of it. The peak of the corkscrew is very quick and sharp so we flip through it with immense speed. Up next is a little breather section and a good foot chopper as we tilt over the first drop. A straight drop is next and be sure to smile for the camera!
We're near the ground again and prepare to enter the high-speed finale. We are greeted by another corkscrew that tilts us to the left. A small, leg-kicking dip is next and then we enter pure madness.
Whoever came up with ending an inverted coaster with a downward double helix is a genius. Raptor enters the highly banked right turn and begins to drop. The G forces pick up and we level out. But we still have about 270 degrees left to turn! We are banked at nearly 90 degrees and flying at an incredible speed. Our feet start to tingle and just before they fly off, we unbank and bank to the right into a left turn. The final turn of the ride offers some nice foot choppers and a quick transition from banked to unbanked. This is where many riders complain of head banging, but there is a simple solution: brace yourself.
We enter the final brakes two and a half minutes after beginning our flight. Raptor is truly an incredible ride and it offers non-stop thrills. B&M knows how to make an inverted coaster and Raptor is among the top of the fleet.
Now if only Cedar Point would let us ride again when there is no one in line ...
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