“This was flood-lit and so forth. As I’m walking toward it, it’s an intimidating presence. It’s like, ‘Oh my gosh. What am I about to get into?’” said the Akron man, who arrived at Cedar Point at 4:30 a.m. when it was still dark.
“When you are climbing up that lift-hill with that loud, loud chainlink sound, that’s intimidating enough, but when you first start to go down that first drop — it’s 90 degrees at one point — it’s like ‘Oh my gosh.’ It literally takes your breath away,” Burkes said.
“I basically had to catch my breath as I (was) riding,” he added.
Cedar Point debuted Steel Vengeance during Media Day on Wednesday. The steel-on-wood coaster is on the site of the Mean Streak and made of wood from the former wooden coaster.
At 205 feet tall, 5,740 feet long and reaching a maximum speed of 74 mph, Steel Vengeance is the world’s tallest, longest and fastest hybrid roller coaster. Cedar Point’s newest ride also boasts having the world’s steepest drop (90 degrees) and deepest drop (200 feet) for a hybrid coaster.
Steel Vengeance also has four inversions — another world record.
“This ride is amazing,” said Andrew Rybarczyk, who believes the coaster “doesn’t let up.” “From start to finish, there’s intensity throughout the entire ride. The inversions take you by surprise; you don’t expect what they’re going to do and when you go through them, it’s complete fun.”
Rybarczyk, who works for coaster-net.com, is a Media Day veteran.
“I’ve been to quite a few over the years. I’ve been to the openings for GateKeeper, Valravn and Steel Vengeance here and to Kings Island for Mystic Timbers,” said the Chicago resident who drove about 4 1/2 hours to reach Cedar Point.
Rybarczyk kept track of the possibilities and teasers for Steel Vengeance over the summer.
“We’ve been anticipating this ride for a while,” he said. “When Mean Streak closed, we knew something big was happening with it and kinda expected it to be turned into a steel coaster. So over the last few days, I’ve been super excited, just thinking about being able to ride this.”
As Rybarczyk got in the train Wednesday morning, he said “it all paid off for me.”
“Like I said, I was super excited to ride this ride. When I got in the car, you could feel the energy,” he said. “I couldn’t get to sleep last night because of that energy pulsing.
“From start to finish, it does not let up,” Rybarczyk added. “I’ve been on over 400 roller coasters and this is one of my top three right now. This is going to be worth the wait.”
This was Michelle Oliver’s first experience with Media Day. The Detroit-area woman has been to Cedar Point for family, school and band trips.
“It’s been fun,” she said. “Any time you do something for the first time, there are always unexpected twists and turns. … Most of the time, those were on the coaster.”
Oliver took off her glasses to ride Steel Vengeance.
“I was partly blind as I’m going through all this,” she said. “Riding in the dark, you can’t anticipate what’s coming up next. … It was in the dark, in the fog and my glasses were off, so I couldn’t see anything.
“Unlike Mean Streak, it’s not jerky. You’re not jerked one way and then the other; it’s a very smooth ride, but it’s still unexpected and fun,” Oliver said.
Having done her live feed for WDIV in Detroit, she was excited to ride Steel Vengeance again.
“It’s a really great coaster. Unlike others where there’s that one big element and the rest is just kinda like filler, this kept a lot of continuous excitement throughout the entire ride. And I really love how your butt hardly ever touches the seat,” said Oliver, who considers Steel Vengeance appropriate for preteens and older.
“It depends on how hard core your family is I guess, but I would say I would think of this as an older family ride,” she added.
While the new coaster has a significant drop, Oliver said it’s not as terrifying as the Top Thrill Dragster or Millenium Force.
“I wouldn’t say it’s too scary,” she added.
Burkes, who was representing the Greater Ohio Coaster Club, rode Steel Vengeance four times on Wednesday.
The first three times he rode the coaster it was dark outside.
“I knew the first half, but the second half, I was completely lost,” Burkes said. “Next thing you know, I’m going through the woods and so forth and then I’m going upside down and nearly upside down.”
Burkes was asked about the support beams that seemed to be so close they might hit riders’ heads.
“It’s supposed to give you that visual effect, like you’re going to hit the boards. That makes the ride more intimidating.
“This is a very, very thrilling ride. I would not put this in the family category; this is really basically for the … advanced rider and so forth,” Burkes said, citing the steep drops and unexpected curves and loops.
“It’s the type of coaster that coaster enthusiasts love. It has all the elements: It has the positive Gs; it has negative Gs; it has excellent pacing; it has lateral Gs; loops,” he added.
Burkes has ridden about 410 coasters in his life.
“It’s a wonderful experience that every person, very coaster lover has to experience. It is wonderful — really, really great. Cedar Point did very well with this addition.”