If Top Thrill Dragster is like Axel Rose -- showing up briefly or not at all, capable of blowing your mind but more likely to leave you angry and disappointed by its inability to perform -- then Magnum XL-200 is like Alice Cooper: revolutionary in its day, now sturdy and dependable, often imitated but rarely equaled, and blessedly free of the prima donna histrionics that plague its descendents.
Magnum combines the best of whats old and whats new. Its bread and butter are the classic three chords of the roller coaster experience: steep drops, ferocious airtime, and relentless pacing. Its genius, however, is melding these elements with the height, speed, twisting dives, and swooping directional changes that only steel can deliver. The result is a hybrid that defies easy characterization. Its a steel coaster that traditionalists can love, while giving generation B&M a taste of the hard-rocking past without leaving them too traumatized to enjoy the rest of their day. While most modern hypers glide, Magnum barrels. It tracks flawlessly but puts you in touch with the wheels beneath you, pinging and echoing up its long, shallow lift hill and rumbling resonantly over more than 5,000 feet of track. Tunnels have become sort of a cheap diversion on many roller coasters, but here, they are deployed to their maximum psychological effect. To say more would be spoiling the fun for the uninitiated. Also deserving of special mention is Magnums archly retro rolling stock: big, boxy, shockingly white, and hilariously appointed with a front windscreen and steel discipline bars, with which your thighs will become very familiar. I suggest starting in the very front seat to take in the amazing views of Lake Erie and the surrounding park, and then moving to the very back, where the increased sensations of speed and airtime will make you feel like youre on an entirely different ride.
Im happy to report that as of opening day 2006, Magnum had a fresh coat of bright orange paint and was running with its customary, untamed vigor. Thanks to its temperamental brethren down the midway, the lines for any seat on Magnum rarely exceed 15 to 20 minutes. By all means, roll the dice on Top Thrill Dragster. Youre at least guaranteed a suntan and lengthy conversation. But when you tire of the on-again, off-again theatrics of the billion dollar babies and youre ready to raise your fist and yell, you cant do better at Cedar Point then Magnum XL-200.