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GateKeeper

Preview of Winged Coaster Coming to Cedar Point in 2013

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GateKeeper, the new winged coaster coming to Cedar Point.

The twin keyholes of GateKeeper, the new winged coaster coming to Cedar Point, will greet visitors at the main entrance.

Cedar Fair, 2012. Used with permission.
Updated October 10, 2012
As the self-proclaimed "roller coaster capital of the world," Cedar Point knows a thing or two about coasters. But with 15 thrill machines representing nearly every available configuration already sending riders screaming throughout the park, what could the Point do for its 16th coaster to generate some fresh buzz and new thrills? How about a winged coaster? Say what? Read on to find out how this unique ride will provide some wild elements and make a bold statement at the front entrance of the park -- hence, the name, GateKeeper.

Coaster Stats

  • Type of coaster: Steel winged
  • Height: 170 feet
  • First drop: 164 feet
  • Top speed: 67 mph
  • Track length: 4164 feet
  • Ride time: 2:40
  • Ride manufacturer: Bolliger & Mabillard (B&M)
  • Cost: About $30 million

See the Ride

DUCK!

There will be no missing GateKeeper. Visitors will see the new ride boldly going through its maneuvers as they approach the main entrance. Its boldest move, snaking through two "keyholes" in towers flanking the park's turnstile plaza, will be particularly eye-popping. As wild as it will be to watch, the keyhole elements should be thrilling -- and/or terrifying, depending on your thrill tolerance -- to experience aboard the coaster.

Let's back up a moment to better appreciate this outrageous maneuver. A winged coaster is so named because its seats are placed to the sides of the track, or the "wings," rather than above it (or below it, in the case of an inverted coaster). There is no car per se, just seats tethered to a chassis. So riders have nothing below them, above them, and, in the case of the passengers in the outermost seats, to one side of them. It's an unbridled coaster experience that brings riders one step closer to the sensation of flight (which reinforces the "winged" concept).

Because of the seat configuration, the trains on winged coasters are exceptionally wide. Ride designers exploit the considerable girth by incorporating keyhole elements. You've heard of head choppers, right? Winged coasters take the we're-not-gonna-make-it! concept to the nth-degree and deliver entire-train-and-its-passengers choppers.

Picture this: You are aboard the extra-wide train (preferably in one of the outside seats for maximum we're-not-gonna-make-it effect) hurtling headlong towards a narrow tower with an even narrower opening (hence the "keyhole" name). There is no way the enormous train could possibly fit through the tiny opening. At the last possible moment, the train turns 90 degrees sideways and -- barely -- threads the needle. In addition to screaming like a ninny, you instinctively pull your dangling legs in (remember, there is nothing beneath you) and DUCK!

Other winged coasters, such as X-Flight, have a keyhole element. But GateKeeper will have two. Even more diabolical: They will be located right next to each other. Just when riders barely survive within an inch of their lives (metaphorically speaking, of course), a second tower with another impossibly narrow opening will face them -- except this time they will be racing towards it upside down. "I know I somehow survived that first one," you'll be thinking. "But, we're not gonna make it through the second one!" Spoiler alert: The train will continue twisting to scarcely, hardly, by the skin of your bug-filled teeth pass through the second keyhole.

On the Wings of (Coaster) Love

In addition to its two anxiety-provoking towers, GateKeeper will hold the record for the longest track (4164 feet) and longest drop (164 feet) of any winged coaster. Before plummeting down the first drop and accelerating to a perky 67 mph, it will tilt passengers 180 degrees on their heads for good measure.

Among its other elements, the ride will include a couple of camelback hills for what will hopefully be some winged airtime, an inclined dive loop that will turn the train around and send it racing back towards the station, and a giant flat spin (don't you just love the convoluted, outrageous names parks and designers come up with to classify coaster features?) that will rotate the trains a full 360 degrees. But the most anticipated -- and wacky -- part of the ride would have to be the apparent near collisions with the twin keyholes.

A close runner-up in the ride's scream-inducing sweepstakes could be an in-line roll that will send the trains spinning 360 degrees directly over onlookers as they enter the park and precariously close to the two towers near the front gate. This ride seems determined to scare passengers, er, senseless, while placing them in harm's way with its signature towers. Cedar Point has long been known for its coasters and thrills. Next year, the new keeper of the gate will make the park's mission abundantly clear before visitors even enter the turnstiles.

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