Cedar Fair the new company to hate?

Monday, April 21, 2008 7:06 PM

Hopman said:
If Crokscrew is an hour wait, you know CP's PACKED!

Working on that ride for the majority of the 2007 season, I can tell you that there are more reasons to why that line is an hour than just large crowds.

Until Lake Erie and Sandusky Bay dry up, Cedar Point has more atmosphere than nearly all other parks have. We can argue about trees and concrete for a long time, but let's be real here.

The park's infrastructure just isn't what it needs to be in just about every department I can think of at the moment: foods, accommodations, operations, admissions, human resources, and the list goes on.

I could go on and on about this, but we all know it all already. I'm just touching on the "real" problem.

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Monday, April 21, 2008 9:01 PM

Hopman said:
As for DT, a more fitting name could not be found for a coaster. Even Kinzel admits it was a mistake. Demo it & build a new "world's largest coaster"

Blasphemy, that's prove's DK's is even more clueless than I thought before closing Geauga Lake if he actually said that...

DT seems to get better every year - seems that the lack of upkeep actually adds to the theming and as the ride ages, the mid course brakes become less effective, resulting in the ride even more out of control than the park would prefer. I thought it was running better than ever last season - I think the thing DK probably regrets about the ride is all the expense of airconditioning the queues and station which probably costs triple the amount of running the simple 150 HP chain lift. If they could recycle some the negative energy resulting from poor customer service throughout the park and resorts, they could light the whole pennisula tenfold...

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Monday, April 21, 2008 9:38 PM
matt.'s avatar

gomez said:
I could go on and on about this, but we all know it all already. I'm just touching on the "real" problem.

We don't all know it already. I've personally never had a less than great time at CP so if there are real problems I'd be interested in hearing if you have more insight than the rest of us.

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Monday, April 21, 2008 10:36 PM
I think gomez is talking about the absolutely asinine belt setup added to corkscrew recently.

Ever since those were added, I've seen them run three trains, but they've never been able to dispatch fast enough to make use of more than two.


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Monday, April 21, 2008 10:41 PM
matt.'s avatar This part doesn't sound like anything to do with Corkscrew -


gomez said:
The park's infrastructure just isn't what it needs to be in just about every department I can think of at the moment: foods, accommodations, operations, admissions, human resources, and the list goes on.

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Monday, April 21, 2008 11:26 PM
Well, I'm one of the bigger CP fanboys around, but I can speculate on the guest-facing items.

Foods: This one is easy. The window locations are slow, inefficient, overpriced, and of dubious quality. Orders are communicated by shouting from the window to the back end, and tracked only verbally, so they are often wrong. The counter service/trayslides and table service locations are a little bit better, but do not compare well to most other amusement parks. The best locations are generally franchised/outsourced.

Accommodations: CP "Resorts" are not what most people would call a "resort". Even Breakers East/Tower, the top of the food chain, has rooms that would be lucky to be in a Holiday Inn, and more at home in, say, a Fairfield Inn or similar. Sandcastle did *not* age well, but perhaps the refurbishment has been kind to it. Resort charges are still done by hand, in triplicate. There are still only thin cheap plastic glasses in rooms costing upwards of $250 per night.

On the plus side Breakers Express is serviceable given its rates, and the cottages and cabins are pretty nice. Castaway Bay is probably the jewel in the CP lodging empire.

Operations: has been hit and miss over the years, mostly depending on leadership. A few years were pretty dismal, and the lawyers have been far too involved (c.f. Corkscrew, the new Raindrop policy on all the Arrows, etc.)

Admissions: tickets were nothing more than cash register receipts. Season pass processing was a joke---I must have had to fill out 4 different pieces of paper with my address each year; the order form, plus one each for the pass, the Joe Cool endorsement, and the Parking endorsement. Perhaps this will be better now that the Paramount gate system has been adopted chain-wide.

It will be interesting to see if the park realizes any benefit from the Paramount gate system. If so perhaps they'll actually get real Point-of-sale systems for the resorts rather than hand-written charge slips, and a real order-tracking mechanism for the window service locations rather than "Two hamburger baskets! One chicken strips, no fries!"


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Tuesday, April 22, 2008 11:02 AM
I tend to ramble on about everything, thank you Brian for covering it. That's exactly where I was going with it.
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Tuesday, April 22, 2008 3:12 PM
Most of what Brian explained are "back-of-the-house" programs or services that Kinzel has no interest in. I can guarantee you that the foods managers would like to improve...but they have to be given the tools to do so.

I can assure you the hotel managers would like to offer more upscale amenities...but the CEO has to approve the budget.

We all know Point of Sales systems are simple and beneficial but the CEO has no mind for technology and if he can't define an ROI he will balk.

As for operations, lawyers/insurance companies are far too involved in just about any company these days so it stands to reason that amusement parks won't be exempt. There are plenty of things I do in my work that I wouldn't unless it was deemed mandatory by an insurer or an attorney.

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Tuesday, April 22, 2008 3:32 PM
As wahoo suggests, I suspect a change at the top might see some fairly revolutionary advances in infrastructure around CF.

I'm surprised though, that no one has managed to convince The Man about ROI on POS terminals in the resorts. Surely, someone should be able to show how Disney and Universal can increase per-room spending when guests can just "charge it to the room."

Likewise, it seems as though a competent foods manager could show the decreased shrinkage and increased order throughput by having orders filled out correctly, rather than having to constantly confirm/remake them, and how that results in serious ROI on an order tracking system.

The fact that no one has leaves two possibilities. One: every executive hired in foods or accommodations has been incompetent in terms of business sense. Two: Kinzel just doesn't like the idea of spending money on back-of-house technology, even if the rational business argument says he should.

I think the chances of #2 being the answer are a lot higher than the chances of #1.


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Tuesday, April 22, 2008 3:46 PM
Hey, I can find the biggest flashlight in the world...shine it RIGHT into Stevie Wonder's eyes...and he isn't going to see anything.

I think VERY highly of Kinzel but there are a number of things about him that just make me throw up my arms in complete befuddlement. I don't think it is generational because plenty of his contemporaries embrace technology. I just don't know what it is but you hit the nail on the head. He doesn't think highly at all of back-of-the-house, infrastructure or anything even remotely linked to those items.

I would argue that Cedar Fair has lost lots of the competent managers/executives because they grew tired of his disregard of these types of things.

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Tuesday, April 22, 2008 3:50 PM
In this case, I suspect that his experience being successful in front-of-house issues is his own worst enemy when it comes to back-of-house stuff.
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Tuesday, April 22, 2008 3:55 PM
Well, he came up through foods I believe. So, I think he has the mentality of "what was good enough for ME is good enough for THEM". (Not unlike how I think he views employee housing.)

Is that so Dick? Well, you are using microwaves now aren't you? You aren't warming things up with a Bunson Burner. Elementary school kids are paying for their school lunches at POS terminals with debit cards. I'm SURE you can handle it! When you go out to California to visit Knott's you aren't riding a mule to get out there...are ya?

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Tuesday, April 22, 2008 4:30 PM
Jeff's avatar Actually, I think the POS case has been made, and he buys into it, but not this year. From what I gather, the corporate IT director they gained from Paramount Parks really gets it and has sold the concept. I can't imagine it's that far off.

Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Phrazy

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Tuesday, April 22, 2008 4:38 PM
matt.'s avatar

Brian Noble said:
POS terminals

This always makes me giggle.

Anyway, thanks for spelling some of this out for me guys. I think that much of my ignorance about most of this stuff is how I tend to visit CP lately - I go for a bit with whoever wants to come and then it's off back to my brother-in-law's cabin for a bit or doing something else until going back to the park at night. I hadn't even realized it until now but I haven't spent a full-fledged, hardcore, all-out 2 days at the park in about ten years. Which is no fault of the park, I just usually have family around so it's a different prioritizing.

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Tuesday, April 22, 2008 4:57 PM
If that is the case Jeff then...gee..great. Only a decade and a half behind the curve. :-)
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Tuesday, April 22, 2008 4:57 PM
rollergator's avatar

Jeff said:Actually, I think the POS case has been made, and he buys into it, but not this year. From what I gather, the corporate IT director they gained from Paramount Parks really gets it and has sold the concept. I can't imagine it's that far off.

Considering where WE were when the sale of the PPs was announced, I still say Dick's a little late in catching up....but, better late than never I guess.

At least I'm hearing good things about pass processing and admissions working their way into the (vastly superior) PP framework...

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Tuesday, April 22, 2008 11:49 PM
kpjb's avatar Yeah, they really need to fix it so you are able to charge stuff to your room.

Also, at the very least, have some PPV movies in the rooms instead of 1980's-era 12-channel cable tv.

If you're not going to have any nightlife to speak of, at least give me something to do. Not everyone wants to hang out at Friday's all night. I can do that anywhere. (...and choose not to.)

That being said, am I the only one who likes to see vast expanses of concrete? It just looks so much cleaner and upscale than blacktop and asphalt.


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