Ouimet plans to innovate at Cedar Fair

Posted Sunday, April 1, 2012 6:15 PM | Contributed by Jeff

Although he spent 17 years as a trusted Disney lieutenant running its historic Disneyland theme park and popular cruise line, it is clear that in Sandusky, the 54-year-old Matt Ouimet knows he finally is captain of his own ship: Cedar Fair, the nation's third-largest amusement park chain with 11 parks, including the flagship Cedar Point, plus six water parks and five hotels.

Read more from The Toledo Blade.

For more on Cedar Point, visit PointBuzz.

Sunday, April 1, 2012 6:41 PM

It's like he's been reading our threads for years.

"We want to remind people that time with family, time with friends is precious. This is the place to spend it," Mr. Ouimet said. Over time, Mr. Ouimet said he plans to build more rides that families, from a young child to a grandmother, can enjoy together.

"The food in the parks, to some degree, has been an afterthought. So this year we're going to have in our major burger places all fresh burgers, never frozen," he said. "So with those, the french fries, and we've got some other little surprises that we're going to do for the food, we're trying to make that part of it a little better."

"From a system technology standpoint, the rides were as technologically advanced as anything you'll see in the industry. From a back of the house standpoint, we were probably behind the curve," Mr. Ouimet said of Cedar Fair's previous technological efforts.

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Sunday, April 1, 2012 9:45 PM

He's saying all the right things.

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Sunday, April 1, 2012 10:26 PM

He's also made the observation that the beach is under-utilized. Cedar Point has a lot of beachfront property, and the average park guest really has no incentive to use the beach. While I realize the fabled boardwalk will probably never happen, it would be nice to have a beachfront place to eat that is easily accessible to the park guests. i.e. one that doesn't require you to leave the park.

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Sunday, April 1, 2012 10:35 PM

Maybe they can drive people onto the beach, then delete some sand, and a bunch of Cedar Point geeks can drown in the water. "Help - I'm drowning!"

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Monday, April 2, 2012 2:22 AM

"We want to remind people that time with family, time with friends is precious. This is the place to spend it," Mr. Ouimet said. Over time, Mr. Ouimet said he plans to build more rides that families, from a young child to a grandmother, can enjoy together.

...And we will begin with taking out one of our oldest and most unique family rides, Paddlewheel Excursions?

I like what he says. Let's hope that he's allowed to do it.

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Monday, April 2, 2012 4:48 AM

He's the anti-Dick in regards to food. I'm excited.

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Monday, April 2, 2012 10:21 AM

I'm glad he mentioned giving some attention to the beach. As a kid, my family went to CP at least once a year, but we never set foot on the beach. As an adult, I have found the beach is a great place to take a break and relax before hitting the next ride. My parents didn't even know how to get to the beach until I showed them a couple of year ago and they have been going to the park since the 60's. The beach itself is always in good shape, but if they added some cabana's, plus easy access to food and drink service, it would be really nice.

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Monday, April 2, 2012 10:37 AM

0g said:
While I realize the fabled boardwalk will probably never happen...

For the record, I made up the boardwalk and ran with it, planting some additional seeds with a certain rumor site, just to prove I could. It was more than ten years ago. I'm not proud. :)

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Monday, April 2, 2012 12:28 PM

What year was that Jeff? I've got a drawing somewhere that I did of the entire Collesium area including the beach that I did in my high school architecture class. It was a proposed redevelopment of that area which essentially turned it into a "Lost Cedar Point" section of the park inspired by Lost Kennywood. It included a boardwalk and a re-do of the Cyclone. I'm just curious to see if I got the idea from you or if it was just me reading the "Queen of American Watering Places" book too many times.

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Monday, April 2, 2012 1:49 PM

I don't remember exactly. It was a long, long time ago, at least ten years.

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Monday, April 2, 2012 7:25 PM

It's not as if people within the company were not saying, feeling, and/or thinking what has been on websites like this for years, it just shows you how obvious it is that Kinzel, for all the good he did, way out-stayed his welcome as captain of the ship.

I give him credit, of course, but I think what he is communicating to the press is not his own words per se, but the collective voice of everyone in the company who can finally have an opinion.

That said, the fact that this is the new reality shows how good of a choice he was.

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Monday, April 2, 2012 11:24 PM

Amnesiac said:
He's saying all the right things.

Yes he is, but he is certainly acting on alot of those right now too. I honestly have no doubt that he is going to do whatever he can to fulfill those statements if this past off-season is any measuring stick to go by.

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Tuesday, April 3, 2012 9:21 AM

It's not as if people within the company were not saying, feeling, and/or thinking what has been on websites like this for years

Fair point, for sure.

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Tuesday, April 3, 2012 8:07 PM

One thing I hope stays the same is the cloth napkins at the sitdown restaurants. That was something that Kinzel always wanted. I was told that one time at Famous Dave's, they had regular paper napkins wrapped around the silverware and Kinzel came in, saw it and had a cow. I have always liked the cloth napkins. They add a little class to the places.

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Wednesday, April 4, 2012 2:33 AM

I don't recall Dave's having cloth napkins when I ate there last fall. Fridays certainly did though.

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Wednesday, April 4, 2012 8:08 AM

CoffinBoy said:
...they had regular paper napkins wrapped around the silverware and Kinzel came in, saw it and had a cow. I have always liked the cloth napkins. They add a little class to the places.

The things that man chose to care about boggle the mind. No matter that his employees lived in substandard conditions, but let's make sure there are cloth napkins...at a bar-b-q joint no less.

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Wednesday, April 4, 2012 9:05 AM

I don't get to CP as often as many do, or know as much about it. But Famous Dave's is before you hit the causeway and not in the park proper, right? Are they actually affiliated with the park? If not, what right would Kinzel have to say what napkins they should be using? I apologize if there's behind-the-scenes stuff I don't know about the synergy of the relationship between the two brand names.

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Wednesday, April 4, 2012 10:44 AM

This just in... six-day work week requirements in summer and ties have been abolished. I think that speaks volumes about the difference in how you treat your people.

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