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GateKeeper readied to ride

Melissa Topey • May 6, 2013 at 8:00 AM

There are many descriptions for GateKeeper: record-breaking, front-end statement, cutting edge.

And these three to the list: on time, on budget, and reliable.

Click here for the best coverage anywhere including the Climbing the GateKeeper photo gallery, past articles and video.  

Rob Decker, Cedar Fair’s corporate vice president of planning and design, said GateKeeper is the type of project everyone in the amusement park industry wants to have, every year.

“But economically, you can’t,” Decker said.

Cedar Point’s new ride came in on time and right on budget, at $30 million.

“It went according to plan,” Decker said. 

The ride promises a dominating presence over the front of the park, a location Decker had always wanted to restyle. 

The 4,164-foot coaster should operate smoothly on opening day, and hopefully the remainder of the season.

Decker said he and company officials talked to workers at Gardaland, an amusement park in Italy that in 2011 unveiled a Bolliger & Mabillard wing coaster. After analyzing and studying the wing technology, Cedar Fair’s leaders found it a reliable and suitable project. 

“This is at the front gate,” Decker said. “It has to be up and running.”

The coaster rips through the air at close to 70 mph, its signature keyhole towers sure to elicit screams from guests who perceive a near-miss with the structures. 

“It’s a duck-your-head-and-pull-up-your-feet reaction,” Decker said.

Since becoming Cedar Fair’s leader about two years ago, Matt Ouimet has always declined to choose a favorite ride at any Cedar Fair parks. 

Suffice to say, GateKeeper is a game-changer — even for Ouimet.    

In an interview with the Register this week, Ouimet said the new ride could be a defining mark at the park for decades.

“After riding it, it was everything I hoped for,” he said. “You get the thrill.

“Some rides are extreme,” he said. “This is just exhilarating.”

GateKeeper timeline 

May 29, 2012: The Sandusky Register obtains a memo, written by Cedar Fair CEO and president Matt Ouimet to Cedar Fair’s board of directors, hinting at a new winged coaster that will dramatically change the appearance at Cedar Point’s front gate. 

August 13, 2012: Cedar Fair officially unveils plans for the new winged coaster, GateKeeper.

October 2012: Workers break ground at the site. 

Oct. 22, 2012: The first shipment of azure and strata-blue track arrives.

Nov. 30, 2012: GateKeeper’s lift hill is completed.

Feb. 28, 2013: The ride’s 4,164 feet of track is completed, matching up perfectly as it’s finished off in the middle.

April 4, 2013: Test runs begin on GateKeeper trains.

May 1, 2013: The Ohio Department of Agriculture’s Division of Ride Safety certifies the ride.

GateKeeper stats

•4,164 feet of track

•170 feet high 

•164-foot drop

•Top speed of 67 mph

•1,710 riders served each hour 

•Ride time of about 2 minutes, 40 seconds 


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