Maverick Proves that Size Doesn't Matter for Roller Coasters

Cedar Point Ride May not Be the Biggest, but It Is One of the Best

Maverick at Cedar Point Roller Coaster
Cedar Fair Entertainment Company

Standing in the shadows of Cedar Point's impressive thrill machine arsenal, Maverick is relatively puny. With an initial 100-foot drop, the diminutive ride almost seems to be flirting with "family coaster" status, compared to the 300- and 400-foot profiles of the park's Millennium Force and mighty Top Thrill Dragster, respectively. But stats and looks can be deceiving.

Like a caffeinated bucking bronco, the surprisingly potent Maverick never lets up. Unlike a bronco, buckaroos aboard the coaster will find it incredibly smooth. The sleek and zippy ride positively screams; and its screaming riders invariably sport ten-gallon grins.

  • Thrill Scale (0=Wimpy!, 10=Yikes!): 7.5
  • 70-mph launch, inversions, relentless action
  • Coaster type: Launched terrain coaster
  • Top speed: 70 mph
  • Height restriction: 52 inches
  • First drop angle: 95 degrees
  • Height: 105 feet
  • First drop: 100 feet
  • Ride time: 2:30 minutes

21st-Century Schizoid Coaster

Located in Cedar Point's Frontiertown, Maverick is a bit schizophrenic. Its appropriately rustic-looking loading station, which the park retained from the White Water Landing ride that used to occupy the spot, looks like it could be an abandoned saw mill. The rockwork and landscaping, as well as the Old West-style music that plays throughout the queue, also fit the area. But the coaster's electric-red track, newfangled magnetic launch system, and thoroughly modern acrobatics (not to mention its $21-million price tag) would make a frontier cowpoke's heart skip a beat.

The ride's schizoid personality befits its name. While "Maverick" might recall the classic TV Western that featured James Garner, Cedar Point's Bryan Edwards says that the park chose the name more to invoke its meaning of non-conformity. "After all of our record-breaking coasters, we wanted to confound expectations with Maverick," he says. "Instead of going higher up, we purposely brought this coaster down to earth. But that doesn't mean it's not capable of providing great fun."

Maverick coaster Cedar Point

Beyond Straight Down

Maverick's trains are unusual. Purportedly designed to resemble steam-era vehicles, the stripped-down cars have low-slung sides that leave riders exposed. Each car has two rows and seats four passengers, and each train only has three cars. Over-the-shoulder harnesses keep riders secure, but give coaster daredevils enough freedom to raise their hands.

Foregoing a traditional chain lift, linear synchronous motors magnetically propel the train out of the station and up the 105-foot hill. It's not a breakneck speed (that comes later), but it's peppy enough to get riders' adrenaline rushing. The first drop is a doozy. While it's only 100 feet, the 95-degree angle keeps things lively. Inclined inward, the drop is 5 degrees more than straight down. Like the steepest coasters, as the last car crests the top, it extends slightly in front of the first car racing down the drop.

The train then swoops around, giving riders a panoramic view of Lake Erie, and climbs a second hill that delivers a stunning few seconds of airtime. Next up is a twisted horseshoe roll that sends the trains flipping in one direction, then the other. Wild, extremely banked turns get the train and its passengers careening, but the ultra-smooth coaster never gets rough.

Will Maverick Make You Giddy? Yup.

At the halfway point, Maverick's train gallops full-speed underneath the loading station and comes to a screeching halt—but only momentarily. Accompanied by the sound of TNT detonating, it kabooms out of the tunnel. This may not be a record-breaking coaster, but the 70-mph second launch isn't exactly Pony Express speed either.

Maverick makes a graceful swoop over a lagoon and is trailed by some percussive geysers of water. It snakes between some "cliffs" and revs through some acrobatic maneuvers which seem all the more daunting since they occur at perilously low heights. The coaster earns its "terrain" badge by spending so much time hugging the ground. After a few more highly banked, but smooth, turns, Maverick returns to the station with its posse of grinning riders.

It's subjective of course, but we think Maverick is one of Cedar Point's best roller coasters, edging out Millennium Force (which we find devoid of airtime and a major disappointment), Top Thrill Dragster, and all of the park's other thrill machines, with the exception of Steel Vengeance. A wooden-steel hybrid ride, Steel Vengeance is among the best coasters on the planet.