Warning signs posted at Cedar Point remind visitors: Many rides at Cedar Point are dynamic and thrilling. Hopefully you knew that before buying a ticket 😉 And the newest coaster, Valravn, is not among the least!
Maddie and her cousin Mia happily volunteered to accompany me bright and early one recent morning for the Valravn unveiling and media preview. On the way, we decided to describe it as a dream-like opportunity to ride a coaster with no line. Once there, the girls didn’t have much time to spend tying their shoes over and over again as we waited to board the big, bad Valravn. Yet they did.
“Angel, your shoes are not going to fall off,” I assured Maddie. But Mia correctly pointed out Valravn has no floor, allowing your feet to dangle freely through the air – and also potentially removing some ill-tied footwear as you fly upside down and all around at unbelievable speeds.
The girls had wanted to sit in the middle of Valravn’s trio of eight-seat cars, though on our first ride, we were seated right up front. Uh-oh! Their eyes swelled, hearts raced wildly and they stuttered numbly — but too late, the Cedar Point employee was already buckling us into front row seats. And so we did what normal families do when they are all about to die together on a crazy roller coaster: We looked into each others’ eyes, we held hands, we moaned softly, wistfully, we sighed. Then BAM! Game on…..
What a stunning, thrilling ride. And smooooooth, too. The play-by-play: After being strapped in snuggly, feet dangling and vulnerable, the floors drop and gates open, sending you out into the wild blue yonder, up 200-plus feet. After the climb, take a deep breath and enjoy the beautiful view of Marblehead, Lake Erie, the sand bar and Cedar Point. Then take another deep breath as Valravn dangles you at the edge of the first 90-degree, 75 mph drop, pausing an excruciating three or four seconds, which seems like an hour — before letting go…(this brief pause elicits plenty of yipping, yapping, muttering and screaming) …then the long, long, long drop that lasts forever, or maybe just about two seconds but seems like forever, then an inverted loop…a couple dizzying barrel rolls…another climb and another drop and one really sweet zero-gravity moment right after that.
Special guest Cory Brenson, Chicago, arrived at 4:45 a.m. and by 8 a.m., had taken seven rides. “It’s very smooth,” he said. “And quiet. The drop is just incredible – I’ve never been on a vertical drop like it. There’s really no back seat so you can see everything coming.”
Mia’s favorite, number one, best part? “Um, going upside down and where you can see the lake,” she says. And Maddie? “The drop. No, the view, I like the view. And the ending. That, too, don’t forget the ending, where you can’t feel your own weight.”
While Valravn sets new records for dive coasters, including the longest drop, fasted speed, longest track, highest drop, most inversions and highest inversion, it set a personal family record for number of smiles, number of dashes back to the entrance and number of screams. My personal Valravn favorite is the look on Maddie’s face just before the first drop as we’re all hanging in the air, helpless and motionless: Eyebrows arched, knuckles white as she grips the bars, upper lip jutting out, lower lip curled in, paused briefly in time and waiting, waiting, waiting for the impossible drop into oblivion.