Standing in the shadows of Cedar Point’s impressive arsenal of thrill machines, Maverick is relatively insignificant. With an initial 100-foot drop, the diminutive ride almost seems to be flirting with “family roller coaster” status, compared to the 300-foot and 400-foot profiles of the park’s Millennium Force and the mighty Top Thrill Dragster, respectively. But statistics and appearance can be misleading.
Like a caffeinated bronco, the surprisingly powerful Maverick never gives up. Unlike a bronco, the buckaroos aboard the roller coaster will find it incredibly smooth. The sleek and fast ride positively screams; and his screaming riders invariably sport ten-gallon smiles.
- Emotion scale (0 = Wimpy!, 10 = Yikes!): 7.5
- 70 mph pitch, reversals, relentless action
- Mountain type: pitched terrain mountain
- Top speed: 70 mph
- Height restriction: 52 inches
- First angle of fall: 95 degrees
- Height: 105 feet
- First drop: 100 feet
- Travel time: 2:30 minutes.
21st century schizoid coasters
Located in Cedar Point’s Frontiertown, Maverick is a bit schizophrenic. Its rustic-looking charging station, which the park retained from the White Water Landing promenade that used to occupy the site, looks like it could be an abandoned sawmill. The rock work and landscaping, as well as the Old West-style music that plays along the tail, also fit the area. But the roller coaster’s electric red track, novel magnetic launch system, and thoroughly modern stunts (not to mention its $ 21 million price tag) would make a frontier cowpoke’s heart skip a beat.
The walk’s schizoid personality corresponds to its name. While “Maverick” might recall the classic Western TV featuring James Garner, Cedar Point’s Bryan Edwards says the park chose the name more to invoke its meaning of nonconformity. “After all our record-breaking roller coasters, we wanted to confuse expectations with Maverick,” he says. “Instead of going higher, we brought this roller coaster down on purpose. But that does not mean that it is not capable of providing great fun.
Maverick trains are unusual. Supposedly designed to look like steam-era vehicles, the disassembled cars have low sides that leave passengers exposed. Each carriage has two rows and seats four passengers, and each train only has three carriages. Over-the-shoulder harnesses keep riders safe, but give roller coaster daredevils enough freedom to raise their hands.
By forgoing a traditional chain elevator, the linear synchronous motors magnetically propel the train out of the station and up the 105-foot hill. It’s not breakneck speed (which comes later), but it’s dynamic enough to get your riders’ adrenaline pumping. The first drop is a doozy. While it’s only 100 feet, the 95-degree angle keeps things alive. Inward sloping, the drop is 5 degrees more than down. Like the steepest roller coasters, when the last car reaches the top, it spreads slightly in front of the first car racing down the drop.
The train then takes a nosedive, giving passengers a panoramic view of Lake Erie, and climbs a second hill that offers impressive seconds of airtime. Next is a twisted horseshoe roll that sends trains flipping in one direction, then the other. Wild and extremely steep curves make the train and its passengers turn, but the ultra-smooth mountain never gets difficult.
Will Maverick make you dizzy? Yep.
Midway, Maverick’s train gallops under the loading station and stops, but only momentarily. Accompanied by the sound of TNT detonation, he exits the tunnel. This may not be a record-breaking roller coaster, but the second 70mph launch isn’t exactly Pony Express speed, either.
Maverick gracefully plunges over a lagoon and is followed by some percussive water geysers. It glides between some “cliffs” and accelerates through some acrobatic maneuvers that seem even more daunting, since they occur at dangerously low heights. The roller coaster earns its “terrain” badge by spending so much time hugging the ground. After some more steep but gentle turns, Maverick returns to the station with his group of smiling riders.
It’s subjective, of course, but we think the Maverick is one of Cedar Point’s best roller coasters, beating the Millennium Force (which we found ourselves out of airtime and a major disappointment), Top Thrill Dragster, and every other thrill machine in the world. park, with the exception of Steel Vengeance. A hybrid ride of wood and steel, Steel Vengeance ranks among the best roller coasters on the planet.