Brit thrill seekers fancy the Point

SANDUSKY Some thrills are universal. For 77 members of Roller Coaster Club of Great B
Annie Zelm
May 24, 2010



Some thrills are universal.

For 77 members of Roller Coaster Club of Great Britain, the roller coasters of Cedar Point were worth a seven-hour plane trip halfway around the world.

The group visited the park Friday to celebrate their 20th anniversary of traveling far and wide for the highest, fastest, and steepest coasters they can find.

"We visit as many parks as we can," said Andy Hine, the group's chairman, "but we always do a Cedar Fair park because they're the only corporately-owned company that still feels like a family park -- and Cedar Point is the jewel in the crown."

Hine, 41, of London said Friday marked his 50th visit to Cedar Point. Through the years he's tested more than 100 American amusement parks and ridden 1,000 different coasters. He says he's climbed aboard them at least 35,000 times.

The club kicked off its visit with nearly an hour of unlimited rides on Millennium Force. When heavy rains started, the club members retreated inside for lunch -- but the intermittent downpours didn't seem to dampen their spirits. Eager to make the most of their day, they pulled out their ponchos and carried on.

"We're used to this back home," said Gareth Preece, 43, of West Wales. "Actually it's OK, because the more it rains, the more rides we get."

Marianne Nixon, 41, of Cheshire was visiting the park for the first time.

"I love it," said Nixon, on vacation from her job as a business administrator. "It's a good place to be -- a good escape."

The club's chairman was presented with a plaque from Cedar Point's vice president and general manager, John Hildebrandt.

"We're a park of family tradition, and we're proud to have the tradition we have with you," Hildebrant said as he addressed the members during lunch.

Alan Chilvers, 37, of Dorset said the group consists of approximately 1,500 members from 15 different countries.

"We're always a very social group," Chilvers said. "You make a lot of friends, and then you get to meet them all over again on the trips."

But for a group on vacation, they didn't take their leisure time lightly.

Chilvers said they met in front of their hotel just after 7 a.m. and carefully mapped out a route that would keep them cruising until close to midnight.

They were granted unlimited access to Millennium Force and Top Thrill Dragster for one hour after the park closed.

Rowan Sheppard, 44, whose wife and two children are also members of the club, compared his Cedar Point visit to an early Christmas present.

"For me, it's the number of coasters here," the South Hampton resident said. "In the U.K., we probably have four or five world-class coasters ... but here, there are 17."