Posted Tuesday, October 15, 2013 9:30 PM | Contributed by Jeff
Cedar Point officials are reviewing the popular park's parking and traffic procedures after last weekend's huge crowds led to hours-long waits to exit. Irate Cedar Point guests complained on Facebook and elsewhere, even as they sat in their cars with nowhere to go.
Read more from The Plain Dealer.
I'm surprised that they haven't adopted the Knotts model, where the Haunt event is seperate from the regular admission. Close the park at 5:oo PM, admit the Haunt ticket holders at 7:00 PM. All season passholders are blacked out, although they can get Haunt tickets at a discount with their passes.
Saturdays are their busiest days while Fridays and Sundays are slow. It looks like they are trying to alleviate some of the Sunday traffic by staying open until 10pm on Sunday nights now but apparently it isn't working. Perhaps they should blackout their busiest Saturday nights for pass holders.
Am I the only one that found it hard to believe that people were stuck for 4 hours? I've been there in years past when the parking lot was full and cars were parked in the grass by the toll booth, and we were still able to get out in a reasonable amount of time.
People that are pissed off tend to exaggerate. Maybe they looked at their watch when they decided to start leaving the park, looked at it again when they got back to their hotel, and rounded up 3 hours and 20 minutes to 4 hours.
Maybe people really did wait that long, but again I find it hard to believe.
It seems to me that the majority of the complaining is not about how crowded it was inside the park, but rather how long it took to get out. There are some reports that it took as much as 4 hours to get out. If that is true, then there is a big problem. When there are that many people there, it will take a while to get everyone out, but 4 hours is very much excessive.
It is my perception that the people who took the longest were parked in the back (Soak City). I think its a common occurrence on the most busy days like we saw on Saturday for the people parked in the back to sit there, going nowhere, until the main lot has emptied.
The way Perimeter road is set up, it is a single lane outbound all the way from the back, until the toll booth. There are also exits from the main lot onto Perimeter Road near the front and middle of the parking lot. So you have a lot of people from the main lot getting priority exiting onto Perimeter Road making it so the people in the back just sit there.
I think a good solution would be to widen perimeter road from the front of the main lot near Blue Streak to the toll booth. The extra lane would be in the the outbound direction. This would allow one lane through from the back of the park, one lane for people near the front of the main lot, then the people near the back of the main lot can exit directly onto the causeway.Last edited by 0g, Wednesday, October 16, 2013 8:40 AM
Move parking to the mainland, put in some mass transit (like Disney has), and you have lots of room for expansion, much less congestion, and possibly the return of trees!
You also have a much more captive audience that is more likely to the eat park food rather than haul it through the system.
I'm surprised that they haven't adopted the Knotts model, where the Haunt event is seperate from the regular admission.
Relatively speaking, Knott's is a small park. I'm sure it doesn't take nearly as long to get people out of there at 5pm as it would at CP.Last edited by Fun, Wednesday, October 16, 2013 9:09 AM
A few years ago we were stuck in the Soak City lot on 4th of July. In that time we sat with the engine off and were able to watch all of Toy Story and Toy Story 2 before we were able to turn on the engine and move. So in our case it was close to 3 and a half hours.
Everything reported on this doesn't surprise me. I learned my lesson and won't ever go to the park on a day that I know is historically crowded. If I do go on a crowded day, I'm parking in the main lot close to the toll booths.
Despite this being a not too common occurrence, I don't believe Bryan Edward's comment about this "never happening again." You cannot possibly prevent this from happening again without changing the park's physical location or adding some significant routes around and out of the park. Now I'm sure some changes will be made so that there aren't 4 hour waits to get out of the parking lot and I'm curious how far they will go.
It seems logical the problem is the Causeway and Chaussee, but I think the real issue is the parking lot itself. Thousands of cars trying to leave a parking lot that only has a handful of exit points. On top of that, there is no rhyme or reason as to which way cars should drive within the lot. It ends up being a free-for-fall. Contrast that with Magic Kingdom, where a logical system of one-way roads make things a much smoother experience. Reports I've heard were that once traffic reached the Causeway, it wasn't a big deal.
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I think creating blackout days for season pass holders would do very little to help the overcrowding problem. We don't have any official percentage numbers of pass holders in the park on Halloweekend Saturdays, but I bet the majority of pass holders know to avoid the park like the plague on those busy days. An extremely unofficial sampling of pass holders I know say that they visits Fridays because things are walk-on or Sundays because they aren't so crowded either.
Turning people away would help with the traffic problem, but it would also cut into the profits and I don't see the park wanting to do that. As others have mentioned it would piss a lot of folks off too if they weren't allowed in. You'd then have an abundance of complainers back on Facebook bitching and moaning about how far they drove to be turned away.
Since there weren't major complaints about the inside operations of the park, I'm guessing it wasn't at capacity. I also read a Cleveland.com article that backs that idea up by stating the park didn't break any records on the 12th. Clearly the issue is more about the free-for-all exit scramble, the slim exit space available and the bottle necks it can create. In my opinion that's where the park should be focusing it's corrective action. Not so much blackout dates and price increases.
Since backups like this only happen once a year or so it probably isn't necessary, but I wonder what it would cost to widen that causeway. Would it cost as much as a $11 million dollar coaster?
Turning people away is really not a lose-lose situation. Yes, it's unfortunate for the people who are turned away, but on the other hand did they really want to pay for a lousy, overcrowded experience? No. You're saving money and your time. You'll also learn from the experience and plan better in the future.
But it really would be. You are comparing the experience these people had with the idea of being turned away instead. With 20/20 hindsight, it's easy to draw the right conclusion.
But when you are talking about people just driving up to the park, who have no idea what the experience would be like inside, and having them be turned away...I refuse to believe that in general people would accept that willingly. I suspect the backlash would have been greater than what happened last weekend.
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Would it cost as much as a $11 million dollar coaster?
More I figure. It's something in the range of $3 - 7 million per mile per lane, assuming they have additional right of way to expand without having to widen the land itself which is very expensive.
*Note I haven't estimated construction costs in a while and building costs in my area aren't necessarily comparative to rural Ohio, but in general the design/construction of a road built to code is very pricey.*
One of the challenges that Cedar Point has is that, while not bad, the causeway does drop onto city streets. If you think of a lot of other parks, their entrance goes directly onto a major Freeway or major boulevard (think Kings Island, Kings Dominion, Great America, Busch Gardens, etc.) Cedar Point drops directly onto city streets with a lot of traffic lights. So, even if people can get to the causeway, traffic is going to be slow to get out.
I'm also not certain, but at one time, there was an alternate exit from Cedar Point which did not take you across the causeway. I remember my dad always going that way as a kid, and I took it a few years ago. The problem with that route was complaints from the residents living in the area.
You're talking about the Cedar Point Rd. Otherwise known as the Chaussee and it is still used. There is no longer signage predominantly marking it's entrance off of route 6 for arriving traffic, but it is certainly used to help move traffic off point at the end of the day.
I think we could see a change in the pricing model for both regular tickets and season passes to deal with the large crowds on Halloweekends. I could a see a scenario where CP raises the regular admission price, maybe even significantly. Then offers "substantial" discounts for the slower mid-week times, and smaller discounts for less crowded weekends. More of the dynamic pricing model that we're starting to see in the world.
I can also see, and I'd expect to see this sooner rather than later, a change in the season passes, to add a new tier that includes parking, and water parks, but does not include admission on holidays, busy Saturdays in the summer, and Halloweekend Friday/Saturdays. If you want to add that access, sure, just pay more. This is similar to how Disney sells annual passes for local residents, with known blackout periods. If you don't want the blackout, then it costs more.
Didn't Great Adventure have a one-day thing a few years ago where they jacked up admission, but limited the number of people in the park?
The fact they haven't repeated it/tried it at other Six Flags parks would suggest the idea didn't work--at least not at that price point/on that particular day.
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Raising ticket prices wold be the solution, however that day a good portion of the tickets were $25 for Whirlpool employees. Along with that Saturday had an exceptional number of group sales. Its not that ticket prices should be raised. it was just that they were significantly lowered that day for a good portion of the guests.
Carrie J. said:
With 20/20 hindsight, it's easy to draw the right conclusion.
The hindsight or learning after the fact about how bad the experience would've been is when you accept it and like it. I've never said they accept it willingly, but they don't have a choice.
I've been turned away from a "Sold Out" Disneyland on more than one occasion and I'm glad I was turned away. Reports from those inside where not positive. Earlier this year I drove to Knott's for a day in June and upon seeing the parking lot I turned around and went home.
Fun- Knott's gets huge crowds during The Haunt, but doesn't have the exit problem since they seven different surface lots in totally different areas that exit to different streets. However, on a Saturday evening in October it can take you an hour or more just to drive 1/2 mile on Beach Blvd leading towards the park.
Cedar Point really has a problem when the majority end up leaving all at once. A typical road lane can handle at best about 2,000 cars per hour, so if you have two exit lanes you're only going to be able to exit 4,000 cars under the best conditions in an hour.Last edited by egieszl, Wednesday, October 16, 2013 12:51 PM
Walt beat me to it... the WDW lots are brilliantly designed to both park people and get them out efficiently, all while using trams and not putting pedestrians a risk. I've been in the Epcot lot, nearly full lately with Food & Wine, and skated out with minimal issue. The four lanes out to I-4 aren't even used.
I thought someone told me that CP owns a lot of the land between Cleveland Rd. and 250, where they could potentially extend CP Drive. No idea if the city or state would pay for such a road.
Even if the lots were redesigned to combat the free for all exiting at the Cedar Point parking lot, I still don't think it's going to fix the problem on these busy days. All its going to do is move the bottleneck from the parking lot to the city roads.
The park only has two exit points: going east is Cedar Point Rd, which is one lane and going south is the two lane chausee to Cleveland Rd. Other heavily attended parks have direct access to highways and more than three lanes worth of traffic coming in and out of the park.
Jeff, is sort of onto something, some sort of expressway between the Rye Beach Rd. and US 250 exit, but even that doesn't seem feasible because of the neighborhoods in that area and I'm sure there would be a ton of opposition to bypassing US250.
I would think the city/state's decision to build a new road would depend on whether or not park traffic was a nuisance to the locals, not to CP's patrons. My guess is that high traffic after 10 pm on a Saturday isn't a big problem for the residents in the area of the Causeway/Cleveland Rd. intersection. Therefore, this is mostly Cedar Point's problem, not the city of Sandusky's.Last edited by Bakeman31092, Wednesday, October 16, 2013 3:14 PM
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