Millennium Force

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Millennium Force
Millennium Force (Cedar Point) 06.JPG
The 310-foot (94 m) lift hill and 122° half corkscrew overbank turn of Millennium Force
Cedar Point
Park section Frontier Trail
Coordinates 41°28′54″N 82°41′17″W / 41.48167°N 82.68806°W / 41.48167; -82.68806Coordinates: 41°28′54″N 82°41′17″W / 41.48167°N 82.68806°W / 41.48167; -82.68806
Status Operating
Soft opening date May 11, 2000
Opening date May 13, 2000 (2000-05-13)
Cost US$25,000,000
General statistics
Type Steel
Manufacturer Intamin
Designer Werner Stengel
Model Giga Coaster
Track layout Out and back
Lift/launch system Cable lift hill
Height 310 ft (94 m)
Drop 300 ft (91 m)
Length 6,595 ft (2,010 m)
Speed 93 mph (150 km/h)
Inversions 0
Duration 2:20
Max vertical angle 80°
Capacity 1,300 riders per hour
G-force 4.5
Height restriction 48–78 in (122–198 cm)
Trains 3 trains with 9 cars. Riders are arranged 2 across in 2 rows for a total of 36 riders per train.
Fast Lane available
Millennium Force at RCDB
Pictures of Millennium Force at RCDB

Millennium Force is a steel roller coaster built by Intamin at Cedar Point amusement park in Sandusky, Ohio, United States. It was the fourteenth roller coaster to be built at the park since the Blue Streak opened in 1964. Upon completion in 2000, Millennium broke six world records and was the world's first Giga Coaster, a roller coaster that exceeds 300 feet (91 m) in height. It was briefly the tallest and fastest in the world until Steel Dragon 2000 opened later the same year. The ride is also the second-longest roller coaster in North America after The Beast at Kings Island and was the first roller coaster to use a cable lift system rather than a traditional chain lift. The coaster has a 310 ft (94 m), 45-degree lift hill with a 300 ft (91 m) drop and features two tunnels, three overbanked turns, and four hills. It has a top speed of 93 mph (150 km/h).

Since its debut, Millennium Force has been voted the number one steel roller coaster eight times in Amusement Today's Golden Ticket Awards. Its lowest ranking in the poll has been two, a position that it has swapped with Bizarro at Six Flags New England numerous times over the years. Although Millennium Force has been surpassed in height and speed, it remains one of the tallest and fastest in the world.

History[edit]

The planning, design and development phases of Millennium took place over two years.[1] The first rumors that a new record-breaking roller coaster would be built at Cedar Point, which included speculation about a ten inversion roller coaster from Bolliger & Mabillard and an Arrow Dynamics MegaLooper, began circulating in early 1998.[2][2][3] A roller coaster from D. H. Morgan Manufacturing was also rumored.[4] On July 2, 1999, Cedar Fair Entertainment Company filed a trademark for the name Millennium Force,[5] which raised more speculation about what the ride would be like.[6] About a week later, the first track pieces were seen at the park, which confirmed that the ride would be manufactured by Intamin. Cedar Point officials also confirmed that it would not have inversions.[7]

Announcement[edit]

Millennium Force was announced on July 22, 1999, as the tallest roller coaster in the world, taking the record from Fujiyama at Fuji-Q Highland in Japan.[8] Don Miears, General Manager of Cedar Point said, "Millennium Force introduces the world to a whole new level of roller coaster riding."[9] The ride cost $25 million to design and build.[10] Millennium Force was built in the Frontier Trail section of the park and the Giant Wheel was relocated to make room for it.[11][12] Cedar Point, Intamin, and Werner Stengel designed the layout of the ride. After the ride was announced, several disputes about whether Millennium Force or Superman: The Escape was the tallest and fastest roller coaster in the world arose between Cedar Point and Six Flags Magic Mountain. Superman: The Escape is 415 feet (126 m) high and its speed is 100 miles per hour (160 km/h); however, it is a shuttle roller coaster, not a complete-circuit roller coaster.[13][14]

Construction and opening[edit]

Roller coaster train ascending a steel structure
The red train ascending the 310-foot (94 m) lift hill

Construction started in August 1999 when the site was cleared.[15] The removal and relocation of the Giant Wheel began in October on closing day; the first of 226 supports were installed on October 11, starting at the brake run.[1][16] Two hundred twenty-six footers, each about 5 feet (1.5 m) deep were dug; the largest ones were 56 by 56 feet (17 by 17 m).[1] The concrete construction was done by Mosser Construction.[17] The lift hill was topped off in early January 2000.[18]

The ride's construction took seven months, and 120 construction workers and project managers participated. Testing took two months.[1] The park conducted a "pull-through" by pulling a train along the course to ensure proper clearance. The ride was inspected and tested with water-dummies on the trains.[15] The first media event was held on May 11, 2000, and the ride opened to the public on May 13. When it opened, it broke six world records. It was the first Giga Coaster and was the world's fastest roller coaster, but was later overtaken by other rides.[19][20] About a month after Millennium's debut, Cedar Point introduced a new queuing system called "Ticket to Ride" to reduce the waiting times, which allowed visitors to buy a ticket then return later and wait in a shorter line.[21][22] In August, Cedar Point engaged John Hancock and Associates and Stalker Radar of Indianapolis to measure the height and speed of Millennium Force. The height was measured at 310 feet 11 inches (94.77 m), and the speed was measured at 93 miles per hour (150 km/h), slightly faster than what the park had been advertising (92 mph).[23]

Before the start of the 2004 season, Millennium Force's seat belts were modified because of an incident on the Bizarro roller coaster at Six Flags New England. The new seat belts were shorter and some riders had difficulties with them.[24][25] The roller coaster's layout was repainted over a three-year period of time, before the 2011, 2012 and 2013 season.[26] In 2012, the park added a new LED lighting system.[27]

Ride experience[edit]

Queue[edit]

Roller coaster train coming out of a tunnel
The blue train coming out of the second tunnel

Millennium Force's entrance is located behind the Cedar Point & Lake Erie Railroad's Celebration Plaza station. The queue is situated between the ride's last overbanked turn and the station. A DJ booth is provided to entertain waiting visitors; the park's "Jamming DJ's" take requests for family friendly songs from people in the queue.[28]It was then replaced by Cedar Point's FUNtv, which plays music videos of popular songs, the Gatekeeper/Maverick shuffle, park trivia, sports news, park advertisements, weather forecasts, and popular news headlines. About a month after Millennium's debut, Cedar Point introduced a new queue system known as "Ticket to Ride" (later FreeWay) to reduce the wait time. Visitors could buy tickets then return later and wait in a shorter line.[21][22] This system was discontinued in 2004 after several people complained it was unfair that others were going ahead of them in line.[29] In 2012, Cedar Point introduced its Fast Lane queue system on the ride; visitors can buy a wristband which enables them to wait in a shorter line.[30] The system was tested at Kings Island the previous year, where it received positive reviews.[29]

Layout[edit]

Millennium Force covers 13 acres (5.3 ha); it runs parallel to the shoreline of Lake Erie then travels to an island located inside the park, that also houses the Shoot the Rapids log flume and the Dinosaurs Alive! attractions.[31][32] There are two tunnels, three overbanked turns and four hills.[20][33] One cycle of the ride takes approximately 2 minutes and 20 seconds.[34]

Two roller coaster hills over a lagoon
The two hills that go over the lagoon and onto the island

While the train is being loaded with passengers, the catch car for the cable lift descends the lift hill and latches onto the middle car underneath the train. Once the train is cleared, the cable lift immediately pulls the train up the 45 degree lift hill at 15 miles per hour (24 km/h) to a height of 310 feet (94 m). The train drops 300 feet (91 m) at an 80 degree angle and reaches a top speed of 93 miles per hour (150 km/h) at the bottom of the hill. It then climbs 169 feet (52 m) through a right overbanked turn at 122 degrees from the horizontal axis, then travels through a tunnel as it passes over the Frontier Trail. It then travels over a 182-foot (55 m) parabolic hill, which provides a moment of zero gravity as it passes over a lagoon and down onto Adventure Island. While on Adventure Island, the train passes by the Dinosaurs Alive! attraction several times. It completes a 105-foot (32 m), 360-degree right-handed helix, followed by a left overbanked turn, passing the Shoot the Rapids water ride. It then completes a small right-hand turn before traveling over another hill to leave the island. The train then travels left through a second tunnel where the on-ride photo is taken, followed by a left turn and a small hill, passing by the queue. Finally, the train travels 68 feet (21 m) high through another right overbanked turn over the queue and is stopped by magnetic brakes. Passengers disembark the ride at the first station and the train moves to the second station where it is loaded.[20][34][35]

Characteristics[edit]

Manufacturer[edit]

Millennium Force is a Giga Coaster model designed by Werner Stengel and built by Swiss manufacturer Intamin.[34] It was the first of a series of roller coasters, including Top Thrill Dragster—the tallest and fastest roller coaster in the world in 2003—that Intamin built at Cedar Point.[36] As of 2013, Millennium Force is one of only two Giga Coasters built by Intamin.[37]

Trains[edit]

Roller coaster train on a small hill
The final airtime hill next to the station

Millennium Force operates with three stainless steel, stadium-style seating trains colored red, blue, and yellow.[9][33] Each train has nine cars that seat four passengers, allowing a maximum capacity of 36 people per train and 1,600 riders an hour.[34] Each seat has an individual, hydraulic, T-shaped lap bar and seat belt which rests across the rider's lap.[34] Each train weighs 19 tons.[1]

Station[edit]

The station has two platforms, one for unloading and one for loading. Two trains are loaded and unloaded while the third train is running the course. There is also a separate line in the station where riders can wait for the first seat.[38] The loading platform has red overhead lights, which are located above the train.[39] Millennium Force's theme song is played in the station while riders are boarding.[40]

Track[edit]

The steel tubular track is 6,595 feet (2,010 m) long and the lift is approximately 310 feet (94 m) high.[34] The track is blue and the supports are silver, and consists of 229 pieces of track, each weighing between 11,000 and 17,000 pounds (5,000 and 7,700 kg).[1] Intamin supplied the track with hollow structural sections (HSS), which is used in all the track pieces, supports and towers. Millennium uses three different track shapes. The simplest sections are two-pipe track, made with two running rails connected by 6-inch (15 cm) square HSS cross-members. The ride also uses three-pipe track, which has two running rails with a backbone of round HSS, which forms a triangle. The third type of track forms a square and is considered the strongest. It has two running rails with two backbone tubes.[41]

Lighting[edit]

Steel structure illuminated at night
Millennium Force, illuminated at night (2012)

When the ride opened in 2000, Cedar Point chose High End Systems, headquartered in Austin, Texas, to light the ride. Rob Decker, Cedar Point’s Corporate Director of Planning & Design, said that they thought they would have to mount multiple floodlights on the tower. However, they were able to install thirty EC-1 floodlights at the base of the lift hill structure which provided lighting throughout the ride's structure. Of the six main support towers, three had six EC-1s, and three towers had four EC-1s. The three tallest towers had another unit in the middle.[42]

Over the years, the lights were not maintained and grew noticeably dimmer. In 2012, Cedar Point introduced a new nighttime show, Luminosity — Ignite the Night!, to "re-energize" the park at the end of the day. New LED lights from Sunrise, Florida-based Chauvet Professional were installed to illuminate the ride. Twenty COLORado Range and ten COLORado Ridge wash lights were installed at the base of the lift hill structure.[27]

World records[edit]

When it opened in May 2000, Millennium Force broke six world records and used a new magnetic braking system instead of friction brakes found on most roller coasters.[20][33] This new system enabled a shorter brake run, which slows the train from 65 miles per hour (105 km/h) down to a standstill in six seconds, to be built.[43]

Millennium Force held the records for tallest and fastest complete-circuit roller coaster until August 2000, when Steel Dragon 2000 opened.[44] Millennium Force held the record for tallest and fastest roller coaster at Cedar Point until 2003, when Cedar Point debuted Top Thrill Dragster, which at the time was the tallest and fastest roller coaster in the world.[45]

As of 2013, Millennium Force has the sixth tallest lift, the eighth fastest speed, the fourth-longest track, and the fifth-highest drop among steel roller coasters in the world.[46][47][48][49] It is the longest steel roller coaster in North America, and the second-longest roller coaster behind The Beast at Kings Island.[50]

Roller coaster train on steel track
The yellow train in the second overbanked turn on the island

Coaster records[edit]

Millennium Force has held records for the following:[33]

  • First ever complete-circuit roller coaster to top 300 feet (91 m)
  • Tallest complete-circuit roller coaster (310 feet (94 m))
  • Longest drop on a complete-circuit roller coaster (300 feet (91 m))
  • Fastest complete-circuit roller coaster (93 miles per hour (150 km/h))
  • Steepest non-inversion banked turn on a roller coaster (122°) (Half Corkscrew)
  • First roller coaster to utilize a cable lift system

Park records[edit]

Cedar Point amusement park has held records for the following (May 2000 statistic on left and May 2013 statistic on right):[33]

  • Most rides at an amusement park (68/73)
  • Most roller coasters at an amusement park (14/16)
  • Most steel roller coasters at an amusement park (12/14)
  • Most feet of roller coaster track at an amusement park (44,013 ft/54,358 ft)

Operation[edit]

As both a high altitude and high velocity ride, Millennium Force is affected by unfavorable weather conditions such as rain, lightning or strong winds; under these conditions the ride is closed, but in light rain it can remain open.[38] There is no minimum age requirement, but passengers must be between 48 and 78 inches (120 and 200 cm) to ride.[51] Persons over a certain weight or waist size are not allowed to ride if the seat and lapbar harness cannot accommodate them, 40" waist for men and size 18 for women.[38] Passengers on Millennium Force may not take loose articles onto the train and are required to wear shirts and footwear. Headphones must be removed before boarding.[38] Passengers are advised not to ride Millennium Force if they have recently had surgery, heart trouble, high blood pressure, neck or back trouble, or any medical condition that may be aggravated by riding, or are pregnant.[52]

Influence[edit]

Millennium Force changed the way roller coasters were built. More rides were built with cable lifts, which require less maintenance, can support more weight, and can run faster than a traditional chain lift. Millennium Force also led to more coasters over 300 feet (91 m) tall being built. Top Thrill Dragster opened three years later, breaking the 400-foot (120 m) height record. Dragster was also built by Intamin,[45] which did not build another "Giga Coaster" until 2010, when it built Intimidator 305 at Kings Dominion.[53] Intimidator 305 is similar to Millennium Force; it has a cable lift and a similar layout, but has shoulder harnesses instead of the lap bars on Millennium Force. Leviathan opened at Canada's Wonderland in May 2012; it is over 300 feet (91 m). Leviathan is a gigacoaster manufactured by Bolliger & Mabillard,[54] and uses a chain lift, not a cable lift.[35][55][56]

Reception[edit]

Millennium Force has one of the longest lines in the park, with passengers waiting over four hours when the ride debuted.[57] The ride received positive reactions from visitors, many of whom said it was smooth and very comfortable. Others said, "It'll scare the daylights out of you".[58] In its first six years of operation, Millennium Force had over 10 million riders.[59] As of August 2012, Millennium had given more than 21 million rides.[60] Several television shows, including the Travel Channel's Extreme Terror Rides,[61] Bert the Conqueror,[62] Off Limits,[63] the Discovery Channel's Extreme Rides,[43] and the National Geographic Channel's Super Coasters[64] have featured Millennium Force. Out of over 500 roller coasters that Werner Stengel has engineered, he stated that Millennium Force is his favorite.[65] Robb Alvey, a notable roller coaster enthusiast, called it a "milestone in roller coaster history".[66]

Rankings[edit]

Millennium Force has consistently ranked high in coaster polls and has won numerous awards. Millennium Force and Bizarro at Six Flags New England have held the top two places in the Golden Ticket Awards since 2001. In the Travel Channel's Insane Coaster Wars, Millennium Force was voted the "fan favorite" in the Extreme Heights and The Top 10 categories.[66][67] In 2013, Time ranked Millennium Force as the top roller coaster in the United States.[68]

Golden Ticket Awards: Top steel Roller Coasters
Year 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
Ranking 2[69] 1[70] 1[71] 2[72] 1[73] 1[65] 2[74] 2[75] 2[76] 2[77] 1[78] 1[79] 1[60] 1[80]
NAPHA Survey: Favorite Steel Roller Coaster
Year 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011
Ranking
1[81]
1[81]
1[81]
1[81]
1[81]
1[81]
1[81]

Notes[edit]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]

Preceded by
Fujiyama
World's tallest complete circuit roller coaster
May 2000 – August 2000
Succeeded by
Steel Dragon 2000
Preceded by
Goliath
World's fastest complete circuit roller coaster
May 2000 – August 2000
Succeeded by
Steel Dragon 2000