SANDUSKY — GateKeeper has its fans.
Lots of them.
Two months after its debut, the record-breaking winged roller coaster welcomed its millionth rider Wednesday.
At the pace it’s setting, park officials said the new ride could shatter the 20-year-old single-season ridership mark of 2-million-plus held by Raptor, a suspended roller coaster that opened in 1994.
The lucky patron was Marie Saenz of Milford, Mich., who was strapped into her seat about 11 a.m. as she rode with family members, according to Bryan Edwards, marketing programs manager at Cedar Point.
“We knew we were getting close (to a million) and had the whole crew watching the numbers as people walk through turnstiles before entering the (ride) station,” Edwards said.
Cedar Point personnel were expecting the lucky rider to enter the park’s newest coaster from the right-hand side, but Saenz and her family surprised them by walking up steps onto the ride platform on the left-hand side.
“It was their very first ride (of the day). Everyone says it’s a uniquely-styled ride they haven’t tried before,” Edwards said of the ride, which has 28 passengers seated on two wings projecting out from a central frame. Riders are secured by over-the-shoulder restraints, but their legs dangle free.
Part of a $30 million investment that included a re-configured entrance plaza over which the coaster passes, GateKeeper was manufactured by Bolliger & Mabillard, a renowned Swiss manufacturer of thrill rides that include Cedar Point’s suspended Raptor roller coaster.
Many people might think that the park’s mega-coasters, including Millennium Force and Top Thrill Dragster, would hold the record for most rides in a season, but that’s not the case.
Millennium Force had 1.7 million riders in its inaugural 2000 year.
As GateKeeper’s millionth passenger, Saenz won a $500 Cedar Point shopping spree, a VIP tour of the park and exclusive access to the new ride for the remainder of the year.
Contact Steve Fogarty at 329-7146 or email@example.com.