Cedar Point - 5/10/08

Associated parks:
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Monday, May 12, 2008 12:28 AM
I'll keep this brief, but here are a few observations from opening day at Cedar Point.

First off, we actually got our season passes processed Wednesday, just before the mini-golf Red Cross thing. It was very fast, and very efficient. I was actually surprised at the number of people they had working there. The system seemed to execute just fine for both parking and entering the park.

Let me get this out of the way. Someone decided it was OK to let those time share assholes do their pitch at the park, between Magnum and Witch's Wheel. I can't stand these guys, and I will not hesitate to be as rude as possible to them. Come on man, this isn't Six Flags. You're already raping me for a soda, don't subject me to this crap too.

We started the day with my video gear in tow, to document the Planet Snoopy ribbon cutting. I hope to get that video posted in a couple of days.

The old Peanuts Playground I always thought was a bad cover up over the old Berenstain Bears area, so ever though it comes at the expense of Geauga Lake, this was a much needed improvement to that part of the park. The rides look great, and it's a nice looking area. It's almost staggering to think about how many kid rides there are in the park now. Hopefully they'll market the hell out of it.

After ditching the camera in the car, we started by walking through the back of the park. Maverick was still nursing an hour line, and appeared to not be running very consistently. I saw some trains go empty, but it didn't seem run much all day. One nice thing to see: The water canons on the turn over the pond were firing, if not at the same strength as last year.

We started the season with the Cedar Creek Mine Ride. This was our first exposure to the strange new policy of ride operators saying "check" when they check a restraint. This is apparently something they're doing throughout the company, and it seems kind of silly to me. Were restraints not getting checked before because people weren't saying check? I don't get it.

One really nice thing was that the ride op who was spieling gave a pep talk to a young kid in the seat behind us who was very nervous about riding. It seems like no big deal, but imagine the difference that could make in that kid's day. I was really happy to see that.

By the time we worked our way up the Frontier Trail and past Millennium Force, it was pretty clear that this was not going to be a light crowd day. We met Pete for lunch at Famous Dave's.

Dave's seems to be running pretty smoothly already, and I recognized a young woman there from last year who I think is a Famous Dave's corporate level trainer. After the chaos of the first two seasons in there, I'm pleased that overall they seem to be on their A-game in terms of service. We've gone there quite a bit without incident since last year.

After lunch, we ran Pete out to the Venetian Marina to pick up his boat after some service, as he was going to drive it back to the CP Marina where he's normally docked. On the way out we saw the reason behind the crowds: A seriously two-thirds filled parking lot, including a whole lot of buses. You never know what opening day will be like, but if the weather cooperates, a big crowd is certainly not unusual.

By this time we also noticed a lot of stuff not open or broken down. maXair is obviously not ready. Even Blue Streak saw some down time. It seemed very unusual to see a ride down every time you looked. I wonder if it's a symptom of the shorter off-season. I'm sure they're happy to have Dragster up and running though. I actually don't recall seeing it down at all.

Once we returned to the park, we started to seek out rides we don't typically ride, given the crowds. First was the Tilt-a-Whirl in Camp Snoopy. It did not tilt or whirl very much. Our car got all the way around only once the entire time. What a disappointment!

Heading back up toward the front, we snagged a ride on Corkscrew, which I think I completely missed last year. I still find the sudden need for seat belts after 30 years without strange, but the retractable belts minimize the pain for the riders. For the ride ops, ouch, that's a long way to bend down. The ride is what it always has been. Love the air time pop.

Next we hopped on Super Himalaya, which as Diana pointed out, has no sign. I wonder what happened to it. They had that stone looking sign that had "Himalaya" on it vertically for the longest time, even making the move from over by Gemini pre-Camp Snoopy. I think it has probably been a decade since I've been on it. It was one of the first rides I really had the balls to ride, since I was kind of a wuss in my early years.

We were pretty shocked to see a nearly full queue for the Matterhorn, so we passed. Instead we landed on Ocean Motion, unfortunately being assigned to a middle seat. It was pretty lame.

The waits for Wicked Twister and Disaster Transport were longer than we were willing to deal with, unfortunately, so we skipped them. I wish more than anything that they'd tear down Disaster Transport. I hate that ride. I hate the way an ugly box blocks the lake.

Finally, Diana got to try shi... I mean... cheese-on-a-stick. She's a cheese lover, so I thought this would be perfect. But you know what? She didn't like it. I feel validated. I don't know how anyone can stand to put that into their bodies.

Walking around the games area, I wanted to check out the shop at near Demon Drop for new stuff in merchandise. Nothing really popped out at me. I used to buy at least a shirt or shot glass or something every year, but it has been awhile. The year before last I got the "I Like 'Em Fast" shirt with the MF and naked-lady-truck-mud-flap silhouette. I think that's the last thing I bought.

We hopped up on Sky Ride, which had a much shorter line down at that end. Again I was surprised at the much friendlier than expected ride operators. In fact, when we got off, Diana noticed the ride op's tag said Brooklyn, which is about where Diana's house is, so she said she was from there. He was very enthusiastic, quickly mentioned where he lived, and it was just a nice interaction from someone not acting like a robot. I hope this continues throughout the season.

We ran into Pete again, who said his boat was running much better. We hit the Space Shot side of Power Tower with almost no wait. The queue times were really heavily loaded on the big rides, and it didn't help that some of them were down a lot. But I do love those S&S towers. I've been on them in all kinds of shapes and sizes, and I always enjoy them.

Next up, the CP&LE Railroad. They added on-board speakers to the trains for music and a bit of narrative during the ride. The first problem is that they're too loud. When they're giving instructions from the station, you can't hear them. When the "conductor" starts to speak, she's talking too close to the mic, and the speakers are being over-driven and you mostly hear distortion. This is a long standing problem at this park. Over-blown speakers, cheap mics and a lack of training on how to speak into them results in noise. That said, it's a good idea, but they need to learn to do it right.

Making our way back, I got a text message from Catherine that she was in the park, and Cosmo (her dog) was in Pet Chek. Cath was 45 minutes away from riding Millennium Force, but we were pretty tired at that point from carrying things, being up early, etc. Plus we were a little frustrated by the crowd size (something conditioned into you by visiting Friday nights in October). To kill a little time, we went up to the place with funnel cakes next to Cedar Downs.

I'll cut to the chase: The service sucked. I just find it mind boggling that Cedar Point can't figure out counter service. They sell four items! The pricing everywhere is out of line (soda is 40% more than at Disney or Universal). I ordered a funnel cake and a soda, and the girl forgot the soda. I ordered two things! The line was out into the midway too. If in this kind of operation there are people not in constant motion, you're not doing it right. Your efficiency sucks.

And by the way, pricing at the new Subway location is eight bucks for a 6" sub, and they for "only" six bucks more you can get a 22oz. soda and a bag of chips. Inviting the direct comparisons for out-of-park location pricing is a recipe for disaster. Mark my words on that. $14 for a sub, drink and chips is insulting. Compare it to whatever you want, people will only perceive this as price gouging. My lunch at Famous Dave's was less, and someone was there to bring food to me.

After visiting with Cath for a little while, we headed out. We stopped at the Pet Chek to see Cosmo. I love that little dog! The attendant in there was very clearly a dog person, and was very nice.

Overall, the park seems on top of things on operations, struggling, at least initially, on maintenance, and outright failing at counter service food. I suppose you could say, well, it's opening day, but if that recent statement in the press is true that 90% of guests are there on a daily admission ticket, that's not the kind of impression you want to leave. I'm sure the maintenance issues will get resolved quickly, but after this many years, I have no reason to believe foods will get any better, and that's unfortunate.

It was good to be "home."

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Monday, May 12, 2008 12:44 AM
That was brief? :)

I am not in a hurry to get back to CP, but it would be nice to visit within the next couple of years.

Is cheese on a stick exclusive to the CF parks? CP? Never seen them at other parks and didn't see them on my few visits to CP. Does it look like a corndog?

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Monday, May 12, 2008 12:47 AM
We ate at Famous Dave's too, the service rocked and the food was nothing short of heavan. The wife and my bill came to 43 bucks but with the quality and quantity of the food I didn't mind. Was much better then spending 30 bucks for a slice of pizza and a pop for each of us.
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Monday, May 12, 2008 1:16 AM

Jeff said:
Finally, Diana got to try shi... I mean... cheese-on-a-stick. I don't know how anyone can stand to put that into their bodies.

Through my mouth-hole and as quickly as possible. ;)

Not sure this is a treat for cheese lovers. More for fans of deep fried whatever.

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Monday, May 12, 2008 8:32 AM
Is it comparable to eating mozzarella sticks?
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Monday, May 12, 2008 9:01 AM
This sounds very much like my visit in August of last year. Overpriced food, lines much too long for the liking, and crappy counter service. You hate to say to yourself "I'm sorry I decided to come today" when your day is only half over. That being said, it's a great park when the crowds are lower - you can actually ride some of the newer rides, rather than ones you've ridden a million times since you were a kid. It's always a bad sign when you resort to the Corkscrew and the Tilt-A-Whirl.

You would think the park would train their employees to efficiently serve customers. I can remember multiple 20-minute waits at the "Happy Friar" for fries and soda; what got me is that you had to stand in separate lines if you wanted more than one item. But as long as they are still packing in the crowds I don't see any incentive for them to change.

I would NEVER pay $14.00 for a sub and chips combo from Subway. You are right, it's better to go to a sit down restaurant. It's better food and usually better value. If they are going to charge $14.00 for a sandwich it had better be pretty damned unique.

And I think cheese on a stick is one of those wonderous things that I looked forward to the most whenever I went to CP. I'm going to have to find it somewhere else now that I've moved out of Ohio. It's got to top the chart of "all time worst-for-you park foods."

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Monday, May 12, 2008 11:22 AM
Well sure they have incentive to change. Serve more people, faster, make more money. You think that'd be obvious to them.
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Monday, May 12, 2008 12:03 PM

Jason Hammond said:
Is it comparable to eating mozzarella sticks?

No. It's either american or pepper jack. I love mozzarella sticks and didn't care for CHOST at all. I get sick to my stomach just watching my husband eat one. Blah.

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Monday, May 12, 2008 3:27 PM
Great tr. What is Famous Dave's anyway? Some kind of hot dog joint? And I agree about the Subway thing. Then again, there food is horrible anyway, so I wouldn't even try a sandwich.
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Monday, May 12, 2008 4:04 PM
Famous Daves is a BBQ/Ribs place. Its located by the marina entrance.
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Monday, May 12, 2008 4:38 PM
It's actually located basically in the Marina, it's some of the best BBQ you can find this side of Memphis, there are also Famous Dave's in Toledo and Cleveland.
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Monday, May 12, 2008 4:47 PM
What? No $5 foot long at Subway? 8 bucks for a 6 inch sub, ouch! I think it is safe to say we will be packing a lunch and eating in the car on our trip this year.
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Monday, May 12, 2008 4:59 PM

Amnesiac said:
What? No $5 foot long at Subway?

Notice the whole "at participating locations only" warnings ;)

I can barely put up with the prices at Chick-Fil-A (since they have some quality, opposed to what everything else CP offers inside that park), but it's nuts! If you are going to charge so much money for food, make it worth it to buy it, make it valuable! Improve service, make the seating areas nice, get the food out quick, etc. If I have to spend $5 on a hot dog and a drink, how about I buy it, they process me quickly, I sit down and someone comes out to give it to me? What, that'd be one additional person to hire, it gets people moving quickly instead of standing at the window waiting for their food to come, and gives us a higher perceived value.

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Monday, May 12, 2008 9:47 PM
I guess if you consider crappy, over-peppered, and dried up like my grandma's butt to be qualities, then hey, Chick-Fil-A has qualities out the wazoo . . .
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Tuesday, May 13, 2008 12:53 AM
We started the season with the Cedar Creek Mine Ride. This was our first exposure to the strange new policy of ride operators saying "check" when they check a restraint. This is apparently something they're doing throughout the company, and it seems kind of silly to me. Were restraints not getting checked before because people weren't saying check? I don't get it.

This started after the Perilous Plunge accident and has been happening at Knotts every since. As you've surmised the policy now seems to be chain-wide. My hunch is that the verbal "check!" was requested by either the park's insurance company or lawyers and serves one main purposes: it reduces the risk that, should an accident occur, a guest can't claim their restaint was not chekced.

It's also eases guest's worries about safetly. For those of you who don't think many guests are worried about restraint failure take a look at how many of them forcefully grasp and hold down lap bars and OSTRs (both in the station before the ride-op has checked and during the ride) or tighten seatbelts as tight as possible. Watch how nervous some guests get when restaints are opened and then need to be rechecked, or when they dont lock right away when they get in their seat.

*** Edited 5/13/2008 4:56:10 AM UTC by Mamoosh***

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Tuesday, May 13, 2008 6:10 AM
I am probably the biggest cheeseaholic on the planet and I didn't care for s*** on a stick either. I thought it was an insult to cheese. :)

$14 for a 6 inch Subway sub, chips, and soda? WTF?

-Tina

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Tuesday, May 13, 2008 1:48 PM
Thanks for that visual, Mike. What tiny bit of appeal that nasty processed chicken had is completely gone!

Mamoosh said:
My hunch is that the verbal "check!" was requested by either the park's insurance company or lawyers and serves one main purposes: it reduces the risk that, should an accident occur, a guest can't claim their restaint was not chekced.
Well sure they can. There's no contract there. That, and if the ride I'm on hurts me, it doesn't release the company from any liability.
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Tuesday, May 13, 2008 2:11 PM
I think trying to make a legal-liability move make sense is kind of like spitting into the wind.

On Dragster.

With no glasses on.

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