Hello and welcome to my love story about Millie and Steve, two rollercoasters that the general public may know as Millennium Force and Steel Vengeance. I will try to keep this PG, only because I couldn’t get Fabio to pose for the cover.
I’ve always been super into amusement parks (and county fairs until I almost died at one) but even though I like roller coasters, I never really considered myself an ENTHUSIAST. Then I rode T-Express at Korea’s Everland and, for a wooden coaster, that thing impressed me more than any crazy-ass steel multi-inversion Jojo-rolled contraption ever has. It made me want to seek out other crazy wooden coasters, because up until then I equated wooden coasters with rickety old back-breakers. I started binge-watching rollercoaster videos on YouTube, becoming more and more obsessed. That’s how I started learning about the different manufacturers, but the one that stuck out the most to me was Rocky Mountain Construction (RMC). I was fascinated by the way they take old, rough woodies and refurbish them into these head-spinning feats of engineering magic. The first one I got to ride was Lightning Rod at Dollywood and it was a game changer for me, I have been on a mission ever since to ride all of the RMCs. I am an RMC fan girl all the way.
Look. When I find something that I like, I don’t just LIKE IT: I LIVE IT, I BREATHE IT, I DREAM IT. And, I watch YouTube videos until my Roku crashes, I read Wikipedia and personal blogs, I search Instagram hashtags, I adjust our budget so we can do weekend amusement park road trips (STOP GOING TO THE GROCERY STORE, HENRY – WE DON’T NEED FOOD WE NEED COASTER CREDITS. THIS IS THE GREATEST DIET EVER). It becomes my driving force, the thing that gets me through the work week and gives me something to anticipate.
I never had much of a burning desire to go to Cedar Point until last year, when RMC refurbished the old Mean Streak into Steel Vengeance. So when we finally went a few weeks ago, I was practically salivating on myself at the thought of riding this bad boy.
Because this coaster is still new-ish and world class to those who know some things about the coaster scene, the line for this was between 90-250 minutes all weekend. We kept putting it off and putting it off, but finally, around 8:00pm on our first day there, I told Chooch, “Look, if we want a night ride on this bad boy, it’s now or never, bud.”
I think it said it was an 80 minute wait when we got in line, because by that point, all the haunt attractions had opened so most of the people in the park were in line for those things. Well, 80 minutes was a lie. They must have changed the sign to 120 minutes as soon as we walked past, because we stood in that queue—which winds around underneath the tracks so you’re like, majorly cut off from the rest of civilization when you’re in that line—for so long that I started to forget what Henry looked like (he opted out) which is either good or bad depending on what kind of day I’m having when you ask me.
Luckily, they have TVs in the line, so we got to watch clips of horror movies, fight with each other over trivia, and watch random music videos while eavesdropping on people around us playing Heads Up (this one girl was SO LOUD and also extremely stupid—some of the things she couldn’t figure out were maddening to us bystanders). There was a mom in front of us with her elementary school-age son and an older boy who I think was in college and also may be have been a Spanish exchange student? Look, we had a lot of time to spy on people.
So yeah, after standing in line for…I lost track but I want to say it was about 90 minutes, then it happened.
I will never forget it because we had made it to the last part of the serpentine path, all the twisty-windy parts of the queue were behind us, and we were finally on the lone path to the station. (Granted, that lone path still had some turns, a metal detector, and steps, but still!) We were standing right next to the giant billboard that had the Steel Vengeance character on it along with all the record-breaking stats.
This is where we were standing when the dreaded THIS RIDE IS CLOSED FOR MAINTENANCE announcement came out of some hidden hell-speakers and we could barely hear it over the loud roar of idle conversation around us, but it didn’t matter because we KNEW.
“Huh, that train didn’t have anyone in it,” the guy behind us noted as an empty train soared past us. We were in the part of the line now that had an excellent view of the first drop.
Yeah no shit asshole, if you would stop talking about dumb video games for a second, you’d have heard the announcement! As people finally started to figure out what was going on, a small exodus happened and because of this, we kept moving further up in line.
Chooch and I kept waiting for the other to cry uncle and suggest to leave the line, because neither of us wanted to make that call. All I kept thinking was that it would be our luck that it would start running again after we got out of line.
Long story short (LOL yeah like my stories are ever short), we opted to stay in line and after about 30-45 minutes, the damn thing started running again and everyone cheered and fuck if it didn’t feel like we were REALLY A PART OF SOMETHING, you know? Like, the Donner Party.
No, not the Donner Party.
Maybe a hostage situation, though. But then the hostage guy ends up having a squirt gun so we can all laugh about it later as the popo haul his soiled ass away.
Something like that.
Anyway, we rationalized that we had moved up in line just as far as we would have if the ride hadn’t broken down, so it was all the same, really.
The ride attendant at the top of the steps was assigning people seats but we thought, Look, we stood in line for this long, what would it hurt to just ask if we could snag the back row?
So we asked.
And the broad was all, “Eh, sure go ahead.”
And we had the most epic, glorious, whirlwind night ride on what is now my TOP ROLLERCOASTER BAE OF ALL TIME. I’m not even going to try and describe it other than it whips you around with ungodly force and everything happens so fast that you can’t even wrap your mind around the logistics of it and then when you think you’ve gotten your bearings, you’re suddenly being lurched through an inversion that makes you feel like dish water being sucked down a drain, and then suddenly you’re back in the station, fingerbrushing knots out of your hair and looking at your riding companion like, “IS MY FACE IN ONE PIECE!?”
Chooch actually ran his hands through his hair and made this wild-eyed I’VE HAD AN EPIPHANY expression like he was about to convert to the Kabbalah or some shit, and honestly, I personally nearly wept.
It was that good.
I felt like Steel Vengeance had actually rescued me from a burning building or something and then, oh god, oh no, was I getting a crush on Steve?!
Meanwhile, Henry was sleeping on a bench like a regular old back-alley wino, just kidding, he was actually awake and not at all concerned even though we had been missing in action for two and a half hours and he had our phones so we had no way of telling him what was happening, but since this was Cedar Point, he assumed that the ride had broken down because that’s what rides do at Cedar Point. So I guess he probably just ate a bunch of soft pretzels and scrolled through Reddit on his phone, because somewhere along the way I didn’t pay enough attention to him and he turned into the type of person who loses himself in asinine threads of Internet memes. Coo-coo-cool.
We were just like, “O-M-G YOU HAVE NO IDEA HOW FUCKING SICKENING THIS RIDE IS, HENRY! YOU MISSED OUT BIG TIME! GOOD LUCK SLEEPING IN THAT BED OF REGRET TODAY!”
The next day, Henry wanted to see if Steve was all that we made it out to be, but as you might be aware, our plans of getting in a morning ride on this bad boy before the crowds rushed in was dashed when Steve was closed during early entry.
And then he proceeded to be down for most of the day it seemed. We kept tracking him through the Cedar Point app and sprinted over to him as soon as the status changed to “open.” It said that the standby time was 45 minutes.
LIES. LIES LIES LIES.
We 100% stood in line for nearly as long as Chooch and I did the night before. This time, right as we shuffled past the Steve billboard thing, an announcement came on.
But it turned out that it was just a “slight delay” while they added another train.
Not more than 10 minutes later, another announcement cut through the gaggles of groups engrossed in Heads Up and the weird mom and son who were arguing with each other the entire time they were in line.
IT WAS FUCKING DOWN AGAIN.
“You have to be fucking kidding me!” I cried dramatically. I could actually feel the synapses firing inside me and I imagined peeling my skin off and shooting into the air using nothing but the sheer force of my anger.
“You guys can leave, you’ve already ridden it,” Henry said calmly, but I noted a twitch in his ‘stache. “I’m invested at this point.”
Well, I wasn’t leaving! I had major FOMO just thinking about Henry riding Steve without me. So we all opted to stay in line. People started exiting in small waves. A ride attendant walked past us, en route to the entrance where a CLOSED sign needed to be erected (lol). “Just so you know, this isn’t just a small problem,” he monotoned to everyone within earshot. “It’s probably going to be at least an hour.”
We all exchanged looks. Even more people left, so we moved up significantly in line and shrugged.
Henry and Chooch argued about every single thing.
But then, less than 30 minutes later, they sent a test train. Everyone cheered. Then, they sent a fully-loaded train, and everyone REALLY CHEERED. The line started moving for real. Of course, they opened the Fast Lane right so loads of people filed through on that side and I was SO PISSED because the rest of us had demonstrated extreme levels of patience and endurance by waiting this out and Cedar Point could have rewarded us by at least keeping that line closed off for a few more minutes, goddammit.
I have never been the type of person who would stand in line for THAT LONG for a RIDE so I must really be thirsty for Steve and his wood. Henry and I snagged the back seat and as we buckled ourselves in, I yelled, “YOU’RE GOING TO LOVE THIS!” and he was just like, “WE WILL SEE ABOUT THAT” because Henry does not know how to have fun or display any sort of emotion aside from exhaustion, irritation, and disgust. Maybe envy whenever he sees someone wearing a better beverage t-shirt that him.
But when we hit the midcourse break run, he looked at me and mouthed, “WHAT THE FUCK” and I was like, “RIGHT?!!!?” Holy shit, this ride. It’s everything. I was so fucking annoyed every other hour during our weekend at Cedar Point, but THIS RIDE was redemption. I would go back to Cedar Point every fucking weekend and be jerked around by the shitty operations if I knew I could ride this at least once each time.
It’s that good.
It’s world class.
There is a reason why so many of the experts and enthusiasts rank this as #1.
I AM TEARING UP JUST THINKING ABOUT YOU, STEVE. WAIT FOR ME! I’LL BE BACK.
Meanwhile, Chooch’s favorite ride that weekend was actually Millie, a/k/a Millennium Force, though he said it was difficult to choose between the two. The first time we rode Millie, on our first day at Cedar Point, we had the back row and I experienced a pretty good greyout, to the point where I ran down the exit ramp in search of Henry, who had ridden on the train before ours, just to excitedly scream, “I GREYED OUT, DUDE!!!”
I have never greyed out on a ride before, and it was so awesome!
Millie is pretty fucking beautiful. My favorite things about her, aside from that wicked first drop, was the cool 1970s space-y soundtrack that plays in the station, and the killer views of Lake Erie that the lift hill offers. Honestly, for as many times as that park let me down that weekend, I can’t deny that the atmosphere is unbeatable. I mean, it’s not at DisneySea’s level of beauty, but it is pretty fucking close. Oh, and the ride operators on Millie were phenomenal. They were entertaining (on our second ride, one of the operators asked, “Who knows the manufacturer of this ride?” and Chooch and I screamed, “INTAMIN!” before anyone else could answer even though we knew there wasn’t a prize but we were born to be first, OK; the ride operator was like, “FRONT ROW GOT IT!” and we rode that wave for a good 45 minutes) and super efficient. They had three train ops down to a science.
Chooch and I had a good ride in the front row on our second day, but I think I preferred the back. We are definitely backseat riders for the most part, on most coasters, but I do really love front row at night. We unfortunately didn’t get any night rides on Millie, so clearly we have to go back at some point. Like, this weekend. OK, probably not this weekend. I think Henry will murder me with his eyeballs if I even ask, lol.
I think I actually might be in love with Steve. Sorry, Henry.
Chooch just ran by and I said, “Chooch is there anything you want to say about Millie?” and he said, “Uh yes!” in a way that I expected a saccharine sonnet to come wisping out of his mouth, but instead all he said was, “It was good.”
WOW. Just so you know, he teared up looking at it from the car window when we drove away, so.