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Saturday, July 12, 2014
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Published: Wednesday, 7/2/2003

Stuck at the starting line

What a drag. Cedar Point shocked the amusement park industry and reaffirmed its claim as the world's best park when it unveiled its spectacular Top Thrill Dragster ride this spring. But if mechanical problems aren't overcome soon, the Dragster's first year of operation will be even more seriously compromised than it already is.

The ride cost $25 million but it revolutionized the world of roller coasters. It's the world's tallest and fastest - when it's working - shooting enthusiasts from zero to 120 miles per hour in four seconds, rocketing them 420 feet straight up and over the top, and then bringing them back straight down at the same speed.

The manufacturer, Intamin AG of Switzerland, and Cedar Point officials are working to get the Dragster back in service by the busy holiday weekend, but the prospect remains problematic.

Coaster fans are understandably as disappointed as Cedar Point's staff. But as frightening and intimidating as the ride may seem, the public needs to be assured it is completely safe. The Dragster hasn't operated in almost two weeks, and in fact was out of commission more often than not in the month of June.

The downtime comes after a massive publicity campaign that excited coaster enthusiasts around the world and made the ride's unveiling a major happening and the subject of much anticipation.

Fortunately for Cedar Point, the park is a mecca for amusement park fans, with or without Dragster. The park's popular Millenium Force coaster remains among the world's elite thrill rides. But unlike year-round parks like Disney World, Cedar Point is seasonal and park officials were counting on a full summer of “best-in-the-world” publicity.

The park has had a bit of bad luck lately. Last year the amusement park took apart a ride called the VertiGo after one of its 265-foot support posts snapped and a 200-foot section of steel crashed to the ground during the winter off-season.

But bad luck beats a tragedy. Hopefully a little Swiss mechanical magic will get the Dragster back in business soon.

In the meantime, Cedar Point is wise to make certain the new roller coaster is in perfect working order before allowing patrons in search of the ultimate thrill to climb aboard again.



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