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A Higher Power (Tower).

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Note: This Ride Review is a companion piece to the Cedar Point 2011 trip report.)

"You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, 'I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.' You must do the thing you think you cannot do."

– Eleanor Roosevelt

This is one of my favorite quotes and while I don't live by it nearly often enough, I do try to, on rare occasions. Riding Windseeker represents such an occasion.

When Doug first spelled out plans for the nation-spanning Season Pass "Wheels on I-80" trip, I was on board without hesitation, especially for the two days at Cedar Point. But then the whole issue of podcasting and the park's new attraction and all that came up, and I began to feel some hesitation. And fairly quickly, I decided that I simply was not going to ride Windseeker. I'd sit in on the podcast, and talk about the coasters, and Shoot The Rapids, and the new Pink's hot dogs, and what have you, but not Windseeker, not as an experienced rider, anyway.

Then I watched some video of Windseekers in operation at other parks. And became more committed than ever to my "Not in this lifetime" decision.

Until very recently, I hated heights. LOATHED them. Read (or re-read, I hope) my reviews of the Kissimmee SkyCoaster and the Stratosphere Big Shot should you question this. More than one Ferris wheel riding companion has been ruffled by my sweaty palpitating, those few times I've actually gotten on a Ferris wheel.

But, there we were on the second morning of our stay at the Point, and winds were light, and Windseeker was running with almost no line, and our group decided the time was right.

Maybe deep down inside, I knew I really would do it, all along. And after riding Skyhawk and maXair, I was feeling like I'd made some kind of breakthrough, perhaps. And Darrell, who hates heights as much as I do, he said he'd ride it once.

"You must do the thing you think you cannot do."

I had to make a pitstop and lagged behind a bit, and by the time I'd caught up, most everyone else was already riding. Shannon, Doug's wife, waited to ride with me. A good thing, because she wasn't fazed by Windseeker at all.

While these seats are far more substantial that the flimsy little benches hanging from Star Flyers, I was deeply unhappy by the lap-bar-only situation (big freefall towers all have OTS restraints; Skycoasters wrap you up good). It was thoughtful of Mondial to include the bare "grab bar" that extends up from the crotch-cuddling black pad, but still: deeply unhappy.

We hopped in, Shannon on the outside, me on the inside. My mantra: "In two minutes, this will all be over... in two minutes, this will all be over..." Shannon, cool as a cucumber, pretty much told me to stop being such a drama queen. I was not able to comply.

And up the tower we started to rise. Doug, watching from the sidelines, took that moment to tell us how hard the wind was blowing at the top. Well played, my friend. Well played, indeed.

There is music broadcast from somewhere on the cargo rig, some of it from the "How To Train Your Dragon" soundtrack (which I did see on DVD that night - great movie!). I do not remember hearing any music, I am sorry to say.

Gently spinning, gently floating ever higher...and my knuckles were whiter than toilet-basin porcelain. That said, even at only a third the way up, the view was dazzling: the sandy beach, the Hotel Breakers, Lake Erie, rides as far as the eye can see... It's one hell of a way to take in the full glory of this enormous park.

Halfway up, just about, and the ring started to spin a litle faster.

I wanted to look up and see how much tower was left, but I didn't... blissful ignorance trumped perverse curiosity, especially when the arms were noticeably angling outward.

"Just keep looking at all the pretty trees, the shimmering water, oooh, there's Power Tower, and Top Thrill Dragster, breathe nice and deep... stay calm... "

And we finally stopped rising, the arms in "full bloom." This was as bad as it was going to get.

And - surprise - it wasn't bad. It was actually pretty good. I was able to lift my hands off the grab bar, spread my limbs out, feel the air moving around me. And the view was even more enthralling, 30 stories into the sky..

I was still a little tense, mind you. But leaning over and looking straight down did not cause my bowels to evacuate.

For better or for worse, you're not up there that long; when we started to descend, I was both relieved and bummed. And back on terra firma, manhood proven, I was ready to strut the midway, chest out, Tony Manero-style.

The thing I thought I couldn't do? DONE AND DONE.

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Would I recommend Windseeker to anyone who is deathly afraid of heights? No. Do I encourage anyone who's on the fence to give it a try? Absolutely. This attraction is, at the very least, the most awesome observation tower in the world. And you won't get to observe a landscape much prettier than the one here in Northern Ohio.

Come Spring 2012, we'll see if my Windseeker machismo wasn't a fluke... Lex Luthor, you're next, dollface.

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  • MAX. HEIGHT: 301 feet
  • RIDE DURATION: Approx. 1.5 minutes
  • CARS: 32 swings, two passengers per swing.




© Robert Coker.
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