By SARAH WEBER
Colby Waldroup left his house near Pittsburgh at 3:30 a.m. Saturday morning to witness Cedar Point open its gates for its 141st season.
By 9 a.m., the 17-year-old and a pack of his friends waited behind a gold ribbon at the park entrance, eager to be unleashed for a day roller coaster bliss.
Waldroup and his friend Brandon Christie, 18, said they planned to zip over to the Millennium Force as soon as the ribbon dropped.
Fan's video preview of the season HERE
Animated preview of Shoot the Rapids HERE
PointCast interview about Shoot the Rapids HERE
Many other park patrons had the same idea.
Hundreds of people stampeded into the park to their favorite rides after a short opening ceremony. Platinum pass holders entered immediately after remarks from park officials to ride a special selection of open rides. Folks with regular tickets enjoyed a serenade by The Ohio State University Marching Band while waiting for the park to open to the general public at 10 a.m.
By late morning, families bobbing through the midway enjoyed the scent of the season's first Cedar Point French fries.
Children scampered ahead of their parents, urging the adults to hurry to the next ride. Some park patrons lounged under shade trees to watch the hustle and bustle.
Park spokesman Robin Innes said the weather, sunny with temperatures in the 70s, was perfect for the occasion and the turnout looked good.
He said the people who come for the opening ceremonies usually zero in on a certain ride to initiate the season.
The debut ride this year -- the flume ride Shoot the Rapids -- won't be ready until May 29 while engineers resolve a problem with the boats not fitting in the water flume, but there were plenty of the old standbys ready for riders.
"People will head to Millennium, they'll stop to go to Raptor here on the left," Innes said. "The little ones will go to Planet Snoopy."
Jodie Gambill and her son Wesley, 4, Dayton, got to Snoopy's Deep Sea Diver ride early enough for Wesley to grab a solo voyage.
"This is the first time we've ever been here," she said, watching her son grin through spins in the yellow submarine.
When asked if there were any rides she aimed to tackle, Gambill said, "I'm just going to enjoy the day."
The Sanner family from Meyersdale, Pa., said being there for opening day was just a happy accident.
"It was just a good weekend," Bill Sanner said. "It worked with the school schedule."
His son, Brody Sanner, 9, and family friend Devin Kretchman, 8, fidgeted with anticipation as Bill and Missy Sanner got their bearings at the park entrance.
Brody held nothing back when asked what he was excited to ride Saturday.
"Everything," he said with enthusiasm.