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Raptor


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Raptor Specs
Operating Since:
May 7, 1994
Manufacturer:
Bollinger & Mabillard
Cost:
$11,500,000
B&M Steel Inverted
Length:
3790 ft
Height:
137 ft
Largest Drop:
119 ft
Angle of Descent:
45 degrees
Speed:
57 mph
Inversions:
6
Trains:
3 trains
8 cars per train
4 riders per car
(4 across seating)
Ride Duration:
2:16
Ride Capacity:
1800 riders per hour
In 1994, Cedar Point added its first B&M coaster: A large, sprawling, steel inverted ride themed for a large, dark, bird of prey. Raptor became an instant hit and regularly finds its way onto rollercoaster "top ten" lists. Located near the entrance of the park, past the carrousel, Raptor is the first major ride that one reaches during a visit to Cedar Point. Many insiders still consider Raptor to be "the best ride in the park."

What makes Raptor so universally praised? Although the layout and structure of Raptor is visually impressive, it is no moreso than many other impressive rides that B&M has designed for parks around the world. The appeal of Raptor lies in its synergy: Its combination of theming, position, ride elements, rhythm and style. The coaster contains many of the standard B&M signature elements. The lift hill drops riders sharply after a tight, highly banked, 90 degree turn. A classic 100 ft tall vertical loop follows. Following a zero-G heartline roll, trains enter the popular B&M cobra roll which turns the trains back toward home after inverting them twice. Following that, the trains take a graceful curving glide up into the midcourse brake run, to be quickly released on the other side. Two corkscrew rolls are included during the rooftop glide leading back to the beginning and ending of the ride. The final maneuver is a very fast downward spiral, with increasing G-forces experienced at the bottom. The trains then flip quickly up to return to the boarding station.

One of the most exciting elements of Raptor is its structure and location. Rather than being built within an area dedicated to the ride, or heading "out" and then "back" through an unused area of the park, Raptor heads directly for and above the main midway of the ride. Running parallel to the midway, most of the track is laid out directly above the concession stands and other attractions that line the midway strip. Park guests pass under the path of the ride to reach the Silver Dollar restaurant, the entrance to Blue Streak, and the Calypso flat ride. Covered only by a screened awning, guests passing under have a first hand view as the trains exit the vertical loop head straight towards them before passing overhead on their way toward the next inversion and the cobra roll.

If the location of Raptor prompts excitement from visitors on the ground, it has an even greater effect on those traveling on the ride. The feeling of travelling over the rooftops of the midway structures gives a true feeling of flight. More specifically, the feeling of being lifted and carried away in the talons of a large bird. As with other rides at Cedar Point, the theming of Raptor is more than just decoration and a paint job, it really fits the experience of riding.


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Raptor is one of Dexter's favorite coasters, and is definitely his favorite steel inverted coaster. Several other inverted B&M's have caught Dex's attention as they open with taller, faster, larger rides, but each time he finds that while incredible, they don't seem to hold all of the magical elements that Raptor has captured. The layout of Raptor, while including the vertical loop and cobra roll, doesn't feel as if it fits the standard B&M mold, which, while thrilling, tends to take on a mechanical nature after riding the many existing examples. The thrill of gliding high and low over the tops of buildings is not as apparent on other rides. Even the midcourse brake run doesn't feel as if it is the standard circuit breaker included only for ride safety. During his first ride, Dex was so disoriented through the cobra roll, that the direction and structure of the midcourse brake led him to believe he was back at the boarding station and that the ride was over. Imagine his surprise when he immediately dove back toward the ground, beginning the journey toward the actual conclusion of the ride. Several friends of Dexter have reported a similar experience during their first ride on Raptor.

Although B&M inverted coasters are not specifically "airtime" rides, there occurs a dip under another section of track that causes a surprising feeling of falling. And the final helix is a true climax to the ride, rather than a denouement, whipping the trains around in full view of the people waiting in the ride queue. The G-forces at the bottom of this spiral are notable, and upon exiting the element the trains are quickly whipped upward and 180 degrees around to immediately hit the final brake in front of the boarding station. From the sharp right snap that occurs when leaving the lift hill before heading steeply downward, to the forceful roll back to vertical that occurs ahead of the final brake, Raptor is one incredible, beautifully paced ride.

Dexter particularly loves watching the trains as they reach the final brake. Best visible from a comfortable window seat in the Silver Dollar cafe and restaurant, trains make that final 180 degree turn up toward the brake run with the trains banked almost parallel to the ground. They are brought back to vertical with such speed that while watching it seems as if incredible force would be required, as one watches each car of the train twist and follow in rapid succession like a line of precision soldiers.

As much fun as the ride brings, it takes on an even more magical quality at night. Located near the park gate, many visitors will try to get in one last ride before leaving the park. The crowd thins as patrons leave and occasionally several rides in quick succession are possible. Attendants organize to board the trains quickly to allow as many as possible to ride before the park closes. Once the gate to the ride is closed, it becomes an exciting sight when reaching the stairs up to the boarding station, to watch the long line of people waiting in the queue behind. Remembering how seemingly slowly the queue seems to go during the day, it appears that the line behind would take an hour or so to completely clear, but it quickly gets swallowed up by the voracious appetite of this ride. It is a tribute to the amazing hourly capacity of modern rollercoasters.

One final attention to nighttime detail is not obvious to park visitors. At night, the cobra roll at the far end of the ride is brightly lit from a spotlight on the ground. The cobra roll is one of the most beautiful elements of the ride, so the park planners must have intended to make sure that this section of track was visible to guests during evening park hours. However, when riding Raptor at night, part of the added thrill is flying in the dark, unable to easily see where one is or where the track leads. To accommodate this, the spotlight is extinguished by a quick fade as trains traverse the cobra roll, so that riders do not have that point of light to identify their position relative to the ground below. This is easy to see, and amusing to watch, standing on the ground in the park midway. As trains exit the vertical loop and heartline roll, the spotlight quickly fades to black. It fades back on after the train completes the element and rises into the midcourse brake. Watching this, one might consider the attention to detail that goes into the design and construction of modern coasters in popular theme parks.

There is just something very special about the atmosphere at night, the sharp park lighting cutting through the haze of evening, the smell of the air coming in from Lake Erie, and the atmosphere of racing fanatically from the exit of the ride to the entrance hoping to get in one last ride before the gate closes for the night. It evokes a thrill and memory of being on one of the boardwalks in Dexter's home state of New Jersey.

During park sponsored rollercoaster club events, special time at night, after closing, is often allotted to one of the other rides in the park. It seems traditional to end the long night on Magnum XL-200. But on "regular" days, Dexter will not give up his own tradition of taking his last closing rides on Raptor. Nothing compares.


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