Cedar Fair hopes consumers come back to their amusement parks and spend more

Posted Wednesday, April 14, 2010 12:49 PM | Contributed by Jeff

Now that the economy is showing subtle signs of improvement could cotton candy and roller coasters make a come-back when parks open this spring? Cedar Fair Entertainment Co. hopes so as it grapples with $1.6 billion in debt that it now must find a way to manage on its own.

Read more from The Plain Dealer.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010 2:09 PM

Interesting comments already posted on Cleveland.com to this article. Isn't it ironic that the two things always mentioned by people (and I dare say these are non-coaster fanatics) are what happened to Geauga Lake Amusement Park and the price of food whenever a story is written about Cedar Point/Cedar Fair? Funny, Kinzel & Co. still don't get it.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010 2:29 PM

At least someone finally spoke up and asked who really pays gate price. Honestly, the people bitching and moaning in those comments aren't the people they need to worry about. It's the folks who can typically afford visiting the park, but have also been pushed to a point of poor value perception. In terms of gate, hell, I think they charge too little. But the in-park pricing on everything has been wrong for years.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010 3:47 PM

^^^I agree.

$7 for a hot dog is just crazy.

I also agree that the gate price is too low. It could be raised by $5 at cedarpoint, and still be a hell of a deal. It's what's inside the park that makes me mad. The issue with food is one of my biggest gripes. I would not mind paying higer prices for the food if it was actualy good. When I go to Disney, I get the dinning plan(about $40 per day), and I walk away happy because I feel I got my moneys worth.The food at Disney is very good, and even spending $40 a day I know I am going to get some good food. At cedar fair parks, I feel bent over everytime I buy food or drink. And that is why I no longer spend money on food at cedar fair parks anymore.

Other things that have turned me off to cedar fair parks, is that there parks are just bland and have no charm (bring on the charmland jokes). I guess what I mean, is that the parks are very cookie cutter. A cement and steel jungle with lots of trashcans and very few trees.Would it kill them to add some theming to the parks?

I would say that the best parks that cedarfair owns, are the former paramount parks, but they are even starting to ruin them. Knotts is also a nice park.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010 4:01 PM

Good point Jeff! They don't seem to get it when it comes to food prices. I stopped eating at Cedar Fair parks 2 years ago when we ate at the Game Day Grill at Dorney Park. It cost $75 for my party to eat there for lunch. After the park we went to the TGI's down the street to eat dinner. It was $10 cheaper there, and two of us had steaks. Since then it only makes sense to take the time to leave the park to eat.

If their prices weren't so high I'd eat in the park. There are parks that I go to, and plan on eating there. Knoebel's instantly comes to mind. I love their food there, and very reasonable. I eat at Hersheypark quite a bit too. Their prices aren't horrible, and I get a 15% discount with my season pass.

I was surprised at Kings Dominion this past Saturday that they didn't offer a discount on food and merchandise with a Platinum Pass. That should be a perk they offer to passholders. I bought a souvenir cup at Kings Dominion for 8.99, and $1.99 refills all season long. I opted for the all you can drink wrist band for $5.99. That's not a horrible value, but not good either. At Hershey's Springtime in the Park I bought their souvenir cup for $7.22 with the season pass discount, and .99 cent refills all season long.

Being at an amusment park you can charge more at a Subway or Chick Fila in the park then outside, but don't overcharge to the point that people feel as though they are being ripped off. Perceived value goes a long way to keep a customer happy. Cedar Fair(& Six Flags for that matter) make me feel as though I am getting a good value for the money I am spending to eat and buy merchandise in your parks.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010 4:02 PM

WTH? Recession coming to a close? Still losing 400,000 jobs plus a month there peeps and the only real Blip was temporary Census hiring.

The big parks struggled and many small parks filled a nitch, I do not see that changing anytime soon.

There are certain things in the economy that are seeing improvments not demand but because of necessity. Cars wear out, Furnaces need replacing.

Not a damn thing has changed except were another 2+ trillion in the hole, The states are bankrupt and some not paying their tax refunds, Cities, States and Unions near defaulting on pension plans and major plants are still laying off and moving at record pace..

This hasn't even started.
Chuck, hoping the parks do well but doesn't plan to spend another dime at a park like CF for awhile. I could, I choose not too. Still got a very bad taste in my mouth from a roll of film costing 8.50 at WOF in 2006

Last edited by Charles Nungester, Wednesday, April 14, 2010 4:03 PM
Wednesday, April 14, 2010 4:52 PM

"It's the folks who can typically afford visiting the park, but have also been pushed to a point of poor value perception."

YES! It isn't even always the price of the food, its the perception of poor value. I don't mind paying the same price for food at Disney, Dollywood, Busch Gardens, or even (at times) [some] Six Flags.

Cedar Fair's food sucks. HARD. It's overpriced crap. If I'm paying that much, I should at least enjoy it. I'll pay $13 for a cheeseburger combo at a park, if it isn't aweful food. Heck, I won't pay $3 for aweful food.

Not saying you were specifically referring to food, but that's part of my gripe about CFEC and it goes hand in hand with perception of value.

" Still got a very bad taste in my mouth from a roll of film costing 8.50 at WOF in 2006"

See, I don't have a problem with a convienience tax like that. If you forget to bring film or batteries, expect to pay that much. Heck, you go to Orlando and pick something like that up at a gas station, you're paying a premium. But you're paying $8.50 for film that is going to work like film (People still use film?)

If I'm paying $48 for pizza and drinks as a convenience fee for eating in the park, I want it to at least be good pizza that I could get outside the park, not terrible pizza that makes me want to leave the park to eat. It doesn't even have to be gourmet pizza, just your normal Pizzaria fare that you can order and have delivered. Not some katchupy sauced, nasty cheezed doughy bread mass produced pizza.

Last edited by Tekwardo, Wednesday, April 14, 2010 4:56 PM
Wednesday, April 14, 2010 5:44 PM

That's exactly what I am saying.

I do not mind paying more for food in the park, I just expect to get a half way decent meal for the high prices. What they serve now is not fit to be served in a soup kitchen.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010 5:53 PM

Coasterfantom2 said:
After the park we went to the TGI's down the street to eat dinner. It was $10 cheaper there, and two of us had steaks.

You technically still ate at Cedar Point (they own that Friday's), and you could've gone to the one in Breakers which was about or close to the same pricing.

Famous Dave's is still the best bang for the buck anywhere at Cedar Point, and they bring the food to you instead of you waiting in line for it. (Although you'll be waiting for a table if you go during the rushes.)

Wednesday, April 14, 2010 8:07 PM

^^ Jeff it wasn't at CP it was at Dorney Park. There's a TGI's down the street from Dorney. I have eaten at the TGI's at the Point and would rather pay the money for that as opposed to the places in the park.

Next time we go to CP we'll try Famous Daves. I read one of your trip reports in the past where you talking about it, and I have heard that from other people.

We left Kings Dominion, and ate lunch at the Subway across the street at the truck stop. It was decent enough, and can't beat the $5 footlong. I was going to check the price at the subway in the park, but never got around to it.

We ate at the Cheesecake Factory in Towson MD on our way back home. I'd rather spend money on a place like that.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010 8:16 PM

Coasterfantom2 said:

We left Kings Dominion, and ate lunch at the Subway across the street at the truck stop. It was decent enough, and can't beat the $5 footlong. I was going to check the price at the subway in the park, but never got around to it.

Someone has an iron constitution to eat at that Subway :) I just as well pick up a hotdog at the 7-11 down the street as it pretty much tastes the same..

So many bad experiences through the years at that subway.. But will give benefit of the doubt that they finally stepped up.. Maybe CF cleaned them up too ;)

Wednesday, April 14, 2010 11:23 PM

Never been to that Subway, but my bet is it doesn't differ all that much from any other Subway.

Thursday, April 15, 2010 12:33 AM

Actually, the best bang for your buck last year was the Johnsonville bratwurst deal that ended up being $5 for a small brat, bag of chips and a 12 ounce drink. THAT deal is hard to beat ANYWHERE. Pity it was only available on certain days and at certain times...but it was a good model for great value.

And yes, for a meal, Famous Dave's is pretty good. Expensive, but portioned accordingly, and very high quality especially compared to anything inside the gate.

--Dave Althoff, Jr.

Thursday, April 15, 2010 1:55 AM

The thing I love best about online comments:

People start off by saying they haven't been to a place for 5,10, 15 years. BUT they'll proceed to tell you exactly what goes on there. Who does this, what does that, how much they charge, how many people are there, what the other people there are like, blah, blah, blah.

It doesn't matter if it's an amusement park, church, hospital, used car lot, even living in a certain city or town-- it's the people who don't go there who know the most about it.

Thursday, April 15, 2010 7:08 AM

Jeff said:
At least someone finally spoke up and asked who really pays gate price.

You'd be surprised. I've spend some time selling tickets at CP, and I'd estimate that close to 75% of all guests who buy tickets on site pay full price. Obviously many more buy discount tickets ahead of time, but it still surprised me considering how easy coupons are to come by.

Thursday, April 15, 2010 7:53 AM

I love famous daves... I go to the one locally here in Cleveland all the time, usually every other week if not more. It is a few bucks cheaper than CP pricing (which makes it harder to go to the one at CP, for me), but compared to park pricing, the CP location is a good value, for sure.

The best value by far around CP is East Of Chicago Pizza Buffet... It's not only excellent, but like $9 a person after drink and taxes. All you can eat, and it's great pizza... Taco Pizza, Peanut Butter and Jelly, Buffalo Wing, and of course all the normal pizzas.... Chet and Matt's is also good which is a few miles away and has a great Sunday Brunch Buffet with Pizza and breakfast foods. However, I don't like it as much as E.O.C, personally.

There are lots of good options, but they are all OUTSIDE of the park. The food at CP is terrible and really need to improve it... I think they would be suprised how you could actually make some money with good food in your parks! Not to mention the pricing is just horrible.

Friday, April 16, 2010 6:27 AM

Although it's not bad, East of Chicago is cardboard compared to Chett and Matt's because theirs is so good. EOC has always had a discount for CP season passholders (and employees) which I believe was $6.99 for a drink and buffet last year.

Chett and Matt's has lunch buffets Monday-Friday and dinner buffets (with wings!) Sunday-Friday.

Famous Daves and TGIFridays on the beach are by far my favorite places to eat on Point. They also have far more sensible beer prices than what can be found inside the park.

Friday, April 16, 2010 11:25 AM

CF "hopes consumers come back to their amusement parks". Really? Seriously?

Those of you who still own CF units at $15.00 congratulations and I admire you for hanging on through the Apollo debacle. But why do you STILL hold them? Get out now (especially before the May 6 earnings announcement). Then get back in when the price tumbles.

Friday, April 16, 2010 12:09 PM

Chett and Matt's really defies the odds when it comes to good pizza. I just can't explain why it's so damn good. And in Sandusky, no less. (Or are they technically in Perkins?)

Friday, April 16, 2010 12:15 PM

Chet and Matt's is unlike any pizza I've ever eaten, and I've never found anything quite like it. I don't understand how someone can eat it and not enjoy it.


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