October 20, 2014

Medina
Showers
51°F

Cedar Point’s Mantis coaster set to close, but maybe not for good

(PHOTO PROVIDED BY CEDAR POINT)

The Mantis stand-up rollercoaster at Cedar Point will close in October, but some think it will remain operational after it’s renamed in tribute to LeBron James. (PHOTO PROVIDED BY CEDAR POINT)

The Mantis isn’t long for this world.

Or is it?

That depends on who is doing the talking.

On Tuesday, Cedar Point officials announced the stand-up rollercoaster that has given more than 22 million rides since opening in 1996 will close at 8 p.m. Oct. 19.

The short statement from Bryan Edwards, Cedar Point’s public relations manager, said the ride “will soon give its final rides” until Oct. 19 when it “shuts down permanently.”

Exactly what happens after that is open to interpretation.

Eric Gieszl, of ultimaterollercoaster.com, thinks Mantis isn’t going anywhere.

“This could merely be a marketing ploy,” Gieszl said. “This may just be to get some press, which makes sense.”

Since the Cedar Point announcement makes no specific mention of dismantling the ride, Gieszl believes Mantis could continue under a new name.

In July, Cedar Point officials said they would rename one of the park’s 17 roller coasters in honor of LeBron James if the NBA superstar returned to the Cleveland Cavaliers, which he did.

“The wording is very vague as what their intentions are,” Gieszl said. “Personally, I think it’s premature to remove such a major coaster.”

Given the popularity of the park’s biggest coasters — Top Thrill Dragster, Millennium Force and Magnum XL-200 — Gieszl feels Mantis is the prime candidate to get the LeBron honor.

Dennis Spiegel disagrees.

Head of the Cincinnati-based International Theme Park Services Inc., a consulting, development, and management services firm for the theme and amusement park industry, Spiegel thinks the ride’s history is prompting the decision.

“It has had a history of issues, none of them severe or major,” Spiegel said. “These things are very costly to maintain.”

Since new attractions are the lifeblood of theme and amusement parks, the companies that own and operate them are always looking for the next big thing, Spiegel said.

“Repeat visits are what our parks live on,” Spiegel said. “Parks are looking to replace rides with bigger, better attractions.”

Convinced a new ride is in the offing to replace the Mantis, Spiegel cited the winged roller coaster Gatekeeper, which debuted in 2013 and replaced the Space Needle and Disaster Transport, longtime Cedar Point fixtures.

While they disagree over the Mantis’ fate, both men say the ride has been declining in popularity over the years.

“The novelty of riding a stand-up may have passed,” Gieszl said. “It always seemed a little gimmicky. You ride it once, and you’re ready to move on to other things.”

Spiegel agreed.

“Theme parks today are looking for ways to introduce new product, which means they have to find locations,” Spiegel said. “This gives them (Cedar Point) enough land to put in something new.”

Rumors have long circulated that Mantis could be converted into some other type of roller coaster, according to Gieszl.

“I don’t see Cedar Point, a leader in the industry, marketing that type of conversion as a new ride,” Gieszl said. “I don’t see them retro-fitting any roller coaster.”

Discussion on the possible renaming of Mantis led both men to recall the ride’s “first” name — Banshee — when it was first announced in September 1995.

“That story has been around for years,” Gieszl said. “Several days later they announced the name would be changed due to negative connotations.”

“They said it was demonic,” Spiegel said.

The term “banshee” has long been linked to Irish folklore as a female spirit whose appearance and loud, fearful wailing foreshadows an impending death.

Banshee debuted this year as the world’s longest inverted roller coaster at Kings Island, another Cedar Fair park, the parent company of Cedar Point.

The Kings Island website incorporates the image of a witch-like female into the ride’s logo.

“They brought it back,” Spiegel said of the name. “It’s a great ride with huge ridership.”

Contact Steve Fogarty at 329-7146 or sfogarty@chroniclet.com.