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Millennium Force


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More Millennium Force photos below... View all Millennium Force photos

Millennium Force Specs
Operating Since:
May 13, 2000
Manufacturer:
Intamin AG
Cost:
$25,000,000
Gigacoaster
Length:
6595 ft
Height:
310 ft
Largest Drop:
300 ft
Angle of Descent:
80 degrees
Speed:
93 mph
Inversions:
0
Trains:
3 trains
9 cars per train
4 riders per car
(2 rows of 2 seats)
("Stadium" Style Seating)
Ride Duration:
2:45
Ride Capacity:
1600 riders per hour
In the year 2000, Cedar Point unveiled their newest coaster, a monumental achievement in rollercoaster planning, design, and construction. Opening as the tallest and fastest rollercoaster in the world, Millennium Force broke existing records by a large margin. As the first coaster ever to surpass the 300 foot mark, the park and the manufacturer coined the term gigacoaster to mark the new milestone, just as Magnum 200XL had done in 1989, it being the first coaster to break 200 ft and spawning the term hypercoaster.

For the new millennium, the park's owners wanted something large, unique, and attention grabbing that would cement their place as the largest and best rollercoaster park in the world. (Note: 2001 was the correct start of the third millennium, but Dexter is more than willing to let that slide <g>.) The park spent years working with the ride's manufacturer, Intamin AG, to plan the technical details, work through the engineering challenges, locate, clear and landscape its place within the park, and the many other details that were required to fulfill their goal of creating the new attraction, which was intended to bring all eyes to Cedar Point. The resulting creation covers 13 acres of the park over 1.25 miles of blue steel track.

Although the 300 ft record was broken just three months later (by Steel Dragon, opening at Nagashima Spa Land in Japan), Millennium Force still stands as an amazing achievement and worthy addition to the park, complementing the many other types and styles of rollercoasters located there. The sight of the lift hill inspires awe for even the most jaded of coaster fanatics. In addition to breaking the height and speed records of previous coasters, Millennium Force incorporates several unique features that add to the ride's enjoyment.

As the Millennium Force circuit has no loops, the trains feature airy, open-style cars with no overhead harness. Individual lap bars allow a feeling of freedom while riding. To enable all passengers to have a "great view" while during the course, the two back seats of each car are slightly higher than the two in front, achieving a "stadium seating" effect popular in many movie theaters.

The length of the lift hill inspired Intamin to develop a new lift system that would move the trains to the top faster than the conventional motor-and-chain mechanism. Millennium Force marked the first time this innovative "elevator-cable" lift system, which uses cables to bring pull the trains up the hill rather than a chain. An exciting touch was added to the operation of the final design, as the speed of the trains increases suddenly and noticeable at a point near the top of the hill, generating even more excitement (and fear) among anticipating riders.

The first drop, 310 feet at an angle of 80 degrees, gives the impression of falling almost straight down. The curves are taken at a banked angle larger than 90 degrees, the resulting "overbanked turns" actually pointing riders slightly toward the ground. The first of these turns, 169 feet in the air, accomplishes a 180 degree turnaround, pointing the trains back toward the station. The trains then run across a section of track that is straight and very low to the ground, increasing the sensation of speed. This leads to a left turn located within a long tunnel which takes the trains to the next 182 foot tall straight hill. A small airtime glide at the top takes the trains across the park lagoon and onto the small island where the ride continues. Racing through several overbanked turns on the island, the circuit then heads off the island over another tall straight hill and into a second large tunnel. Emerging from the darkness, the trains hop over a small bunny hill before speeding past the queue line and into the final very high overbanked turn and into the final brake run. A new magnetic braking systems stops the trains rapidly before they glide past onlookers to head into the boarding station.



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More Millennium Force photos above... View all Millennium Force photos

Dexter's enthusiasm for Millennium Force begins with the placement and layout of the ride itself. With a lift hill and many sections of extreme height it would seem that the new ride would dwarf everything else in the park. Indeed, the coaster is visible from almost any vantage point within or near the park. Yet its location along the edge of the park, beyond many tall trees, keeps the ride from being overpowering while visitors travel to other park attractions. It therefore in no way lessens the thrill and impact of the many other fine coasters and rides at Cedar Point.

The planning of the ride queue also adds considerably to the experience of the ride. Like Mantis, much of the queue takes place with the ride surrounding the people in line. The line wraps within the last overbanked turn of the ride, which brings the trains around 180 degrees to reach the boarding station. Waiting passengers therefore watch at very close proximity as trains zoom over that last pop, which also causes riders to cheer, many with their hands held high. This is an excellent bit of "choreography," further enhancing the anticipation of riding. The trains, which are still travelling extremely fast even at the finish of the ride, make that high overbanked turn as those waiting turn to follow and watch the course of the train. The final brake run also occurs outside of the station, in close proximity to the queue, allowing those still waiting to witness the force of the sudden stop, and watch as the current passengers cheer and clap on their way toward their dismount. Although of course the point of a coaster is to ride, the excitement offered during the ride queue makes the time pass more quickly. Riders exiting the coaster pass under the track, below the small bunny hop near the end of the ride that might have been planned to accommodate the construction of this exit.

The station is set up with a separate area for passengers to dismount before the empty train rolls forward for the next group to board. This allows the three trains to be boarded and dispatched quickly, and important element given the long lines the ride potentially draws (during the opening season, waits for boarding were up to three hours, a long wait even for visitors to Cedar Point where at worst the lines are usually no longer than one or two hours in Dexter's experience). Unusual for Cedar Point, there is no separate queue for the first seat of the coaster. Riders sit wherever there is an available seat. This was undoubtedly also done to prevent jams and delays within the station.

For each entering train, exactly 36 passengers are let through the turnstile into the empty station, where they are escorted by the attendants to fill each gate in the waiting area, even if that means breaking up parties with odd numbers of guests. Everyone is set and ready to board as the train rolls into the boarding area. Making absolutely sure that each train departs at full capacity keeps the line moving as quickly as possible. (Note: this strict method of boarding was in place when Dexter visited the park during the ride's opening season, when attendance and lines drawn by the new coaster's were likely at their largest. Dex does not know if this policy has been relaxed during following years, or if waiting for the front car is currently allowed.)

Once boarded, the only thing left is to wait for the train to dispatch. Trains leave the station and immediately hit the lift hill directly ahead. The elevator lift system is quiet and quickly pulls the train up the hill. As described above, at some point during the rise the train suddenly increases speed, encouraging cheers or excitement from the passengers.

At the peak of the hill, one has a brief moment to enjoy the sight of the park from this unprecedented vantage point. To the right the entire park is laid out. Below to the right, the huge twisted track of Mantis appears dwarfed and tucked into a small armpit of the Millennium Force layout. To the left, Lake Erie and the horizon.

The majestic view from the top ends quickly. There is no leveling shelf off the lift hill, just a smooth glide over the rounded top. The angle of the drop feels steeper and steeper and the train races toward the ground. The access road that follows the coast of the park passes near the base of the coaster, giving the impression that one if barrelling straight down into oncoming traffic. A smooth, curving dip brings the trains to the first turnaround, a very tall overbanked curve. If one looks down off the right of the train, they actually looking below and under the coaster track at an upside-down horizon, offering an amazing sense of disorientation.

Once near the bottom of the turn, riders experience the thrill that Millennium Force is all about. Speed. Unrelenting, unbelievable speed. The track at this point hugs the ground, greatly increasing the sense of speed, as the wind pushes back skin, lifted arms, and facial features. Directly ahead is the first of the tunnels.

The speed of the train does not seem to give up during the remainder of the ride. Over the lagoon to the island, the turnaround curves there, and the trip back home are beautifully proportioned with great synergy. Millennium Force has been criticized for lack of airtime, but it is not devoid of negative G's. The peaks of each hill over the lagoon give a nice gliding pop at the top, as does the small hop after the second tunnel. The ride may not offer the extreme airtime that many coaster enthusiasts seek, but this ride is not about airtime, it is about pure speed, and every element for the ride, from the low riding track to the tall overbanked turns are designed to thrill in that regard.

Dexter appreciates the design of Millennium Force, and it definitely ranks high on his list of favorite coasters. There are other coasters at Cedar Point that do offer combinations of speed and airtime, Magnum, for instance includes incredible airtime bumps on its return to the station. By designing Millennium Force more with speed in mind, it greatly satisfies those who are real speed junkies (such as Dexter) without merely being a larger version of Magnum. In this way it forges its own unique style of thrills without making the other rides obsolete. It draws attention to itself without reducing enthusiasm for other park attractions. In this way the style of the ride matches Dexter's earlier description of the location of the new ride. It is definitely a Force to be reckoned with, without reducing the enjoyment of time spent in the rest of the park.


The Cedar Point Website offers a large amount of information regarding Millennium Force, including a personal construction diary by Monty Jasper, the park's VP or Maintenance and Construction as Millennium Force was built. It also features a full photo gallery documenting the construction process


All pages, images and info © Copyright 1997 - 2009 David W Creighton.
All rights reserved.