Cedar Point closes roads for first time in history as the park reaches capacity

Posted Sunday, October 20, 2019 10:06 AM | Contributed by Jeff

For the first time in its history, Cedar Point turned away visitors Saturday afternoon because the park got so crowded. Just before 4 p.m., the park announced that the two roads leading into Cedar Point — Cedar Point Road and Cedar Point Drive — were temporarily closed due to standstill traffic.

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Monday, October 21, 2019 12:34 PM
Jeff's avatar

ShaneDenmark said:

Jeff- I miss Oiumet... I really liked the direction of CF under his watch.

You can't really miss him, because he's executive chair... that's a more hands-on position than a typical board member.


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

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Monday, October 21, 2019 12:37 PM

I know he is still on board somewhere. But I wonder how we went from several years of building up one strategy to have a premium product to just saying F it, open the gates and fill the place up consequences be damned? I’ve said it here and elsewhere, I’ll say it again... Increased attendance does not always equal increased profits...

Last edited by ShaneDenmark, Monday, October 21, 2019 12:48 PM

But then again, what do I know?

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Monday, October 21, 2019 12:51 PM

At this point we just know the short term effects of gold passes (and that isn't even clear in terms of how much of recent crowds were driven by ever increasing popularity of Halloween events, good weather, etc). So people saying the gold pass/pricing was a mistake are only viewing it in the uncomplicated.

Maybe Cedar Fair/Point just don't understand the long term concept (even though its being taught every day to first year students at pretty much every business college). Seems unlikely. Could they be wrong? Absolutely. Much more art than science.

I think its more likely that management considered the negatives associated with the gold pass offering (pricing, unlimited trips for remainder of 2019 and all of 2020, etc. and the benefits offered to renewing passholders all during what has become an extremely popular point in the season with staffing issues because much of your staff is gone for the season) and went ahead with it anyway because they view it as best for the long term. Positives outweighed the negatives. Weather no doubt played a role but they had to have at least considered the possibilities. Its not like getting good weather weekends in September/October has never happened.

What factors in their analysis led them to the gold pass offering? We don't have that info. I think it would have been very interesting to be a fly on the wall for those meetings.

Does Disney follow the Gonch/Iger model? From what I have seen and heard, Disney no longer has empty/light crowd days. Just crowded days and very crowded days. Try as they might, thinning the herd with higher prices hasn't worked. Not true for the vast majority of businesses.

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Monday, October 21, 2019 1:03 PM

GoBucks- For every Platinum that just wanted free parking, early entry, and CP Shores but didn’t travel to other parks that has now renewed as Gold, they have to sell another Gold pass just to break even what that former Platinum previously spent. Same holds true if that previous Platinum “downgrades” their dining plans to Gold; they have to sell another Gold dining plan to break even what that former Platinum previously spent. May sound like a niche, but look around the coaster sites. A lot of people got a 50% discount going from Platinum to CP Gold. Cool for them, and I’m sure CP sold more than enough Gold passes etc to make up the difference, but the term “gate integrity” comes to mind here. It’s easy to give the gate away and hope people spend more in the park, but it’s REALLY hard to go back to the previous pricing model when/if this doesn’t work as you hope. Raising prices back to what they were before the. Low out Gold Pass is like trying to stuff a turd back into your butthole. Once it’s out, it ain’t going back in and will only make a nasty mess if you try.


But then again, what do I know?

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Monday, October 21, 2019 1:22 PM

I agree with all that (other than noting coaster sites because I think they are very much skewed). But I guess my point is that those aren't really sophisticated/complex concepts. Management clearly understands them. In addition to that, management has data in terms of how many Platinum passholders were only going to CP (for what its worth I was one of them this year but renewed for a Platinum pass on Friday), how often they are going, what they are spending (at least if they scan their pass when buying). They have all kinds of data about all kinds of other spending in the park, at resorts, etc. And with all of that data, management moved forward with the gold pass offering (at that price point and benefit levels). Could be the case they do not understand that which you just stated (and that which many others online, social media, etc have stated). Or it could be that the data simple says something different. Could also be they are wrong in analyzing that data, the impact the gold pass will have, etc. Again its more art than science. But we don't have that data or any of the analysis of it. Would be interesting to me to have that. Can make lots of guesses as to what they are seeing. But much better to have the data.

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Monday, October 21, 2019 2:08 PM

My question / thought has been why would CF / CP drop their pass price like they did? This isn't a company who typically hands out the gate? They have never discounted their pass paired with, parking & water park quite like this before?
So why now? Were their numbers down with the extremely wet / colder start to the season? Were they forecasting a lower return for 2020? Are they going to spend all of next year teasing a new ride hoping to cash in on 2021?

Also can CP Shores handle this type of crowd? I am expecting the water park to be at capacity for most summer days next summer.

I am truly curious what everyone thinks?

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Monday, October 21, 2019 2:39 PM
Jeff's avatar

GoBucks89 said:

Does Disney follow the Gonch/Iger model? From what I have seen and heard, Disney no longer has empty/light crowd days. Just crowded days and very crowded days. Try as they might, thinning the herd with higher prices hasn't worked. Not true for the vast majority of businesses.

It's hard to say, but I think everyone has been surprised that the crowds haven't really thinned. That said, maybe this is the year. At least in Florida, the increase in pass pricing seems to have at least caused some people to downgrade. Galaxy's Edge almost immediately stopped doing timed entry into the land, and waits for Smuggler's Run have generally been less than an hour. There have been some seasonally unusual hotel deals, too. I guess we'll have to see. Epcot is still packing them in and parking people in the grass during F&W, even though half of Future World is basically closed.


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

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Monday, October 21, 2019 3:10 PM

That you have to seek out pockets where Disney price increases may be thinning the herd a little and where it may happen this year is telling. As we have discussed many times here, its a wonderful "problem" to have. I just don't think the smaller crowd/higher per caps necessarily works well with regional parks. And to the extent it does, there are potential minefields which are not applicable to Disney.

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Monday, October 21, 2019 3:17 PM

Mforcebob said:

My question / thought has been why would CF / CP drop their pass price like they did? This isn't a company who typically hands out the gate? They have never discounted their pass paired with, parking & water park quite like this before? So why now? Were their numbers down with the extremely wet / colder start to the season? Were they forecasting a lower return for 2020? Are they going to spend all of next year teasing a new ride hoping to cash in on 2021?

Like I suggested, maybe (hopefully) it's a one-off Thank You for 150 years? A special once-in-a-lifetime promotion to shatter attendance records. If that wasn't the original intention, maybe a quick lesson it will turn into one. I mean they didn't want to be Six Flags two weeks ago, right?

My homepark doesn't even open October. But they lease space within their facility to sub-par pop up type circus haunts that pack in crowds. This year there are two completely different companies, set up right next to each other. Each charging $50 to walk through a tent, in a closed amusement park that takes half an hour to walk total(an hour experience! it's marketed... yeah, when you add in the exterior lines). There is a half dozen pop-up haunts of equal price point within my county. Five years ago there was 1. Ten years ago there were none.

My point is, it is amazing how much people are currently willing to pay for anything marketed "Halloween" type event experiences. Weather be damned, the lines were already locking down the causeway. The Gold Pass was a windstorm to a dry falling leaves tinderbox.

Time for Snoopy's not so scary Halloween parties. Stock the bar in Boneville.

It will all even out and be okay by next June ...hopefully.

Last edited by Kstr 737, Monday, October 21, 2019 3:21 PM
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Monday, October 21, 2019 3:46 PM

I can't imagine complaining about a park not charging me enough.

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Monday, October 21, 2019 3:52 PM

Mforcebob said:

My question / thought has been why would CF / CP drop their pass price like they did?

Influx of cash to buy Six Flags.

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Monday, October 21, 2019 5:02 PM

Someone probably did the math already on PointBuzz, but to satisfy my curiosity I looked up an archived version of CP's passes page from last September.

Last year's regular season pass, with only entry to CP, no free parking, no early entry, and only one free visit on the year of purchase was $137.

As we all know, this year's gold pass with admission to CP and CP Shores, free parking, early entry, and unlimited free visits during the year of purchase is $99.

I think it would have been a huge deal had they kept last years pricing and added on all those perks. But lowering the price by $38 too? Did someone jump the gun and assume they were bought by Six Flags when they came up with this?

Last edited by PhantomTails, Monday, October 21, 2019 5:06 PM
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Monday, October 21, 2019 7:32 PM

GoBucks89 said:

Maybe Cedar Fair/Point just don't understand the long term concept (even though its being taught every day to first year students at pretty much every business college). Seems unlikely. Could they be wrong? Absolutely. Much more art than science.

Isn't that something they should be teaching in their resort and attraction management program?

For those of us who bought a platinum pass at the start of the year, early entry was limited to platinum pass and resort guests. It felt like it was a slightly exclusive hour. The early entry has been implemented this way for as long as I can remember. Then, come the end of the year, it feels little like Darth Vader in Empire: "I am altering the deal" and letting almost everyone in early. For a long time, I had felt like the extra ~$100 or so for the platinum pass was worth it solely for the 1 hour of early entry and parking at Cedar Point. Now, with the extra crowds there are during early entry, I'm not so sure. They went and devalued the platinum pass for everyone that had bought them after the had taken their money - and no refunds.

Second, what is the water park going to be like next year? On the nice, warm summer days, CP Shores would be fairly packed, and that was when it was pretty much limited to the platinum pass & resort guests. What is going to happen next year when EVERYONE who bought a pass before October, and probably later, can get into the water park? If Cedar Point this fall is any indication, I don't think I'll even want to think about visiting the water park in 2020.

Right now, I just don't see how this is going to go well for Cedar Point beyond making a few extra bucks off the pass sales this year, and maybe setting an attendance record next year.

Last edited by 0g, Monday, October 21, 2019 7:33 PM
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Monday, October 21, 2019 8:43 PM

PointMan said:

I can't imagine complaining about a park not charging me enough.

Hey I like a discount as much as the next guy. But sometimes giving away the product at such a low price is no bueno. CP always felt like more a premium product, especially compared to my local bargain basement parks. So I didn’t mind paying for that premium product. Darien Lake has been giving away the gate for years (even before their first Six Flagging). Once you’re in the park you’re treated to long lines, crap operations, lousy food, and miserable staff. It doesn’t seem worth the bargain basement price a lot of the time.

Here’s another example. I worked for a car dealership group that gave free oil changes for life with every new and used vehicle sold. As a service tech, we constantly told them that they were breeding a culture of “if it’s not free it’s not for me”... Folks would literally come just for their free oil change. Nail in your tire? Nope, I’ll take it to my mechanic. Safety inspection is expired but the car passes inspection? Nope I’ll take it to my mechanic. Brake light bulb is out? Nope I’ll take it to my mechanic. The owners saw the free oil changes as a great tool to sell the cars, even though it was destroying their service departments. I see the Gold Pass kinda the same way. I’m sure there will be HUGE crowds, but it will really impact the experience and I bet per capita in-park spending (and likely hotel spending, too) will plummet. I gots my $99 pass, I’ll eat PBJ in the car and drink water.

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Monday, October 21, 2019 10:03 PM

Full disclosure: I have not been to Cedar Point in 3 and a half years. Before kids my wife and I would head to Cedar Point two weekends a year. We live five hours away from the point but only an hour away from Six Flags Great America. Cedar Point was a better value because of the experience. I proposed to my wife at the point and had my bachelor party at Lighthouse Point.

Our last trip to the point was May of 2016. Historically we had visited in May because the crowds were light and the weather was decent. However, the last trip we had terrible weather; cold temperatures, high winds, and sleet. We were able to catch a lap on Gatekeeper and Valravn on Friday night. On Saturday and Sunday of that weekend none of the larger rides were open.

All told we ended up paying nearly $800 for our family of four for two nights at a hotel and tickets to Cedar Point. I understand that the weather was beyond Cedar Point's control but that weekend was a terrible value. With kids it has become too much of a gamble to book a weekend in May. In the meantime we have become season pass holders at Six Flags and have regularly used those passes.

Long story short, at $99 per person Cedar Point is a more attractive option for my family and less of a gamble with the weather.

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Tuesday, October 22, 2019 5:11 AM

All jokes aside, there is a (unlikely) scenario (alluded to above) which could explain this, and would play out as follows: the board realizes that the Market is going to demand a merger ( SF attempt 2.0, or some Private Equity attempt), and there is no escape. That being said, the only short term thing to do is juice up earnings (hard to do at this point in the season, OR stack the deck for next year with season pass sales that far exceed prior years. (Again ignore fate integrity, guest experience, etc). In this scenario it’s all about short (Perhaps amazingly short) term interests as an attempt to boost valuation even higher and capitalize for senior mgt and board as holders of large numbers of units.

not saying it’s likely, but it is one scenario that fits this unusual marketing strategy which is soooo different than CF’s previous model and behavior.

Last edited by CreditWh0re, Tuesday, October 22, 2019 2:25 PM
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Tuesday, October 22, 2019 4:10 PM

Og has a good point about early entry. Once the gold passes were being sold early entry for platinum passholders did lose value for people who had already purchased it under the expectations that the extra hour would only be for platinum passholders and resort guests. They really should have left early entry as a more exclusive benefit to some extent the current situation could arguably be considered false advertising to those who had already purchased a platinum pass or booked a room at Cedar Point property partially based on this expectation. Since the sale of the gold passes they are not getting what they were told they would be getting for their purchase when they made the purchase.

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Tuesday, October 22, 2019 5:44 PM
Bakeman31092's avatar

Does early entry for gold pass holders apply for next year as well?


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Tuesday, October 22, 2019 6:28 PM

YUUUUUUUUUUUUP

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Tuesday, October 22, 2019 6:44 PM

Gold Pass early entry is 30 minutes before open. Platinum Pass early entry is 60 minutes before open.

For early, did they tell you that you would get in early with only certain groups or that you would get in early? Under their terms and conditions, do they have the ability to make changes?

In the years I have owned Platinum Passes, I have gotten there for all or part of early entry about 1/2 the time. In my limited experience, some days there are more people there than other days. Some days have more rides open early than other days. Actual ability to ride during early time varies as a result. Guess my expectation is that I get in 60 minutes early.

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