April 28, 2024, 12:13 AM ·

I vividly remember my first ride on Top Thrill Dragster at Cedar Point. The launch was so incredibly fast that all I could manage to say (I should say, shout) was, “Oh my Lord!” After the experience was over and we were passing the queue line, I hollered at the waiting throngs, “It’s worth the wait!”To the long lines waiting to ride Top Thrill 2, I repeat what I said — it’s worth the wait!

Cedar Point and Zamperla, the Italian firm that rethought and rebuilt the much-loved but sadly cursed Top Thrill Dragster, have created an incredible experience from the original concept and structure of Cedar Point’s iconic TTD. Of the original ride, only the 420-foot high “top hat” and the steel supports over the loading station appear to have been incorporated. A new 420-foot “spike” now rises at the Iron Dragon end of the site, and the old, often problematic single hydraulic launch has been replaced with a triple LSM launch. A switch track allows one train to be unloaded, and a second to be loaded, while the third is moved into place and launched.The first launch sends riders forward, towards the top hat at 74 mph, not quite enough to reach the top. It stalls out at about the 130-foot mark (according to the Zamperla rep that I asked, and he could only guess), and this gives what every rider of the old TTD prayed for — a rollback! The train drops straight down backward until it reaches the LSM motors, which propel it at a speed of 101 mph and up the new spike to a height of nearly 400 feet (once again, a guess by Zamperla, but higher than the neighboring Power Tower). Again, gravity wins, the train stalls and gives riders their second weightless moment. The train then freefalls directly down the track, back onto the LSM motors, and with a speed of 120 mph, there is no chance of not being launched over the top hat.This is the portion that I felt was the most exciting (spelled, terrifying) to this ride warrior. The train races so fast over the top hat that riders experience what, to me, was the longest air time I’ve ever felt. You are out of your seat at the top the entire time, and by the time the train begins its downward plunge on the far side of the hill, you still haven’t returned to your seat! I felt like I was free-falling for at least the first third of the downward descent and didn’t find my seat until the track rotated to get the train in position for the final stretch of the ride.[If you would like a full-ride front-row POV, here it is.]This year, and probably for many years to come, riders need to expect long waits for this experience. The extensive queue area is largely covered with what appear to be sturdy canopies, and to reach it riders must remove all objects from their pockets — and I mean ALL objects. You can have nothing in any pocket, zippered or otherwise. Lanyards? Nope. Hats? You’ll never see them again. Glasses are only allowed with an athletic strap holding them tightly against the head. TSA security could take lessons from the ride ops at TT2, and riders will be thoroughly checked and wanded before being allowed anywhere near a seat. Shoes must be worn — no flip-flops, no bare feet, nothing without a strap across the heel to hold footwear onto the foot. There are lockers near the entrance, but last I heard, they are not free and will cost $2 for 2 hours.They take this very seriously, and don’t blame the ride ops for enforcing these rules. After the serious incident a few years ago, Cedar Point is taking no chances.Cedar Point knows this will be the hottest ride in the park, IMHO eclipsing the popularity of Steel Vengeance during its inaugural year. Fast Lane Plus will allow riders only one Fast Lane ride per day, and any subsequent rides must wait in the regular queue. I strongly encourage hitting the nearby (remodeled for 2024) bathrooms before entering the queue line. One thing more that might challenge (and possibly terrify) Cedar Point guests waiting to ride TT2 — since there will be no phones allowed at all in line, people will be forced actually to talk to each other while waiting. Be brave, Ride Warriors! Perhaps you can practice in the car while driving to Sandusky.Top Thrill 2 is two minutes of adrenalin-powered excitement. It is a worthy successor to Top Thrill Dragster, and Cedar Point should be rightfully proud of this incredible coaster experience.* * *
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