GateKeeper logo at Cedar Point. Photo by Ryan Haidet, WKYC-TV.
SANDUSKY -- Cedar Point's front entrance will never be the same.
Upon entering the Sandusky scream park, a new monster machine soars overhead as screams echo along Lake Erie's coast.
After nearly a year of anticipation, two ride demolitions and months of closely watched construction, Cedar Point has officially unleashed GateKeeper -- a new roller coaster for 2013.
Photos: GateKeeper soars to life - http://on.wkyc.com/173u6I5
"One of the tricks of the trade is knowing your audience and using their innate fear to generate excitement for the roller coaster rider," Rob Decker, corporate vice president of planning and design for Cedar Fair. "Fear is a very powerful emotion. Many guests come to our park to ride attractions as a form of escapism by challenging their fears while riding our super machines and record-breaking roller coasters."
GateKeeper takes its riders up a 170-foot hill before rushing the brave thrillseekers toward the park's redesigned main entrance at speeds nearing 70 mph. Its twisted, wicked path includes six massive inversions and tight twists through a pair of keyhole towers over the park's entrance.
The winged coaster, which lasts approximately 2 minutes 40 seconds, offers the sensation of flying as riders are seated on the sides of the track with nothing above or below them.
With their feet dangling freely, thrillseekers are able to kick the Sandusky sky.
GateKeeper, the park's 16th roller coaster, breaks several records, including tallest drop, longest track and most inversions of any winged coaster on the planet. It is the first roller coaster introduced at Cedar Point since Maverick debuted in 2007.
"This coaster is amazing and will give our guests so many thrills, on many different levels," director of park attractions Colleen Murphy says. "From the amazing view of Lake Erie to the twists and turns going through the keyholes, it has something for every thrillseeker."
Once the sun sinks, GateKeeper illuminates in a splash of color. The ride is equipped with LED lights and the train's front creatures feature glowing, red eyes.
Overall, Cedar Point says GateKeeper and renovations to the main entrances represent an investment of $30 million.
To make room for GateKeeper, crews demolished the Disaster Transport indoor roller coaster and the Space Spiral rotating observation tower last year.
Cedar Point opens for the 2013 season on Saturday, May 11.
Elements of the ride:
- Wing over drop: Once riders crest the top of the lift hill, the coaster train will rotate 180 degrees to the right, turning them upside down before plummeting toward the ground at speeds in excess of 65 mph.
- Immelmann: A maneuver where riders enter a half loop, go through a half twist and curve out in the opposite direction from which they came.
- Camelback: Riders will fly over a giant, 105-foot-tall camelback hill that will be filled with airtime (weightless sensation).
- Giant flat spin: A 360-degree flip that will provide two different ride experiences for guests on each side of the train.
- Zero-G roll: A flying element that takes riders through two support towers that will dominate Cedar Point's new main entrance.
- Inclined dive loop: A tight, 180-degree turnaround pushes riders through an overbanked turn and rockets them back toward the station.
- 360-degree in-line-roll: An element that will take riders extremely close to the new massive support towers while flying over guests who are entering the park below.
- Camelback drop: A quick drop that will help propel the train and its guests through the ride's final spiral element.
- Spiral: Gatekeeper's track rotates 360 degrees before bringing the coaster train back to the ride station.
GateKeeper construction facts:
- The park announced the ride on Monday, Aug. 13, 2012.
- The first track pieces arrived on Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2012.
- The first track piece was erected on Monday, Nov. 5, 2012.
- The ride's lift hill was topped off on Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012.
- The final piece of track was placed on Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013.
- The first train arrived to the park on March 4, 2013.
- GateKeeper went "live" with power on March 22, 2013.
- The ride began testing as engineers monitored speed, functions, braking, lift hill performance and stopping positions from April 4 - May 1, 2013.
- The media gets to ride on Thursday, May 9, 2013.
- Track length: 4,164 feet.
- Lift hill: 170 feet.
- Angle of lift hill: 40 degrees.
- Vertical drop: 164 feet.
- Maximum speed: 67 mph.
- Time: 2 minutes 40 seconds.
- Capacity: Approximately 1,710 riders per hour.
Will you be riding? What is your favorite attraction at Cedar Point? Tell us your thoughts by leaving a comment in the section below.