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.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012 11:01 AM

It's wonderful to see some of these necessary changes finally happening. If only it happened sooner. We may not have lost (some of) the people that left or got fired. Maureen, Tony and Lexi to name a few. I'm sure there were many others behind the scenes (that I'm not aware of) that the Chain would have benefited from, had they stayed.

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Wednesday, April 4, 2012 11:15 AM

Jeff said:
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.

...and, in turn, how your employees treat your guests.

(In no way intended to condone poor treatment of guests OR employees - just sayin' that *stuff* typically rolls downhill).

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Wednesday, April 4, 2012 11:42 AM

The tie thing I totally see. It's an amusement park, and you should dress the part.

I'm really surprised by the elimination of the 6-day work weeks during the summer. I always thought that was standard industry practice across the board.

I wonder if it is being done as a cost saving measure, so people have one fewer day of overtime per week. That could severely affect some people's paychecks. If it's just for salaried people, then it amounts to them getting a nice raise.

Last edited by kpjb, Wednesday, April 4, 2012 11:43 AM
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Wednesday, April 4, 2012 1:09 PM

Mike, Famous Dave's is on point in the marina area. Walk out the parks marina gate, cross the street and you're there.

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Wednesday, April 4, 2012 1:35 PM

kpjb said:
The tie thing I totally see. It's an amusement park, and you should dress the part.

Yes. They should have bow ties that spin.

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Wednesday, April 4, 2012 2:11 PM

Elimination of the 6 day work week? There may be no greater employee morale booster than that decision right there. Heck, it was a significant reason why I left the company. I simply could not imagine raising a family knowing I could never take a summer vacation with my children, would only see them one day a week, would not be able to be their Little League coach and likley miss many of their activities, etc.

The tie? Heck, take it or leave it. I wear a tie 4 days/week now anyway and as a hotel manager I felt that was appropriate dress.

But a two day "weekend" (regardless of which two days it was) would have been critical to my motivation. It was perhaps the most significant thing I noted on my exit interview.

I will assume this is for the FT staff and not the seasonal staff. (By the way, the FT staff did NOT earn overtime for working six days a week so there is no cost savings here that I am aware of.)

Ok, Ouimet's lip service is quickly turning into action and I really applaud these decisions. If you are reading Matt, give me a call and I will think about moving "home".

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Wednesday, April 4, 2012 2:23 PM

wahoo skipper said:
I simply could not imagine raising a family knowing I could never take a summer vacation with my children, would only see them one day a week, would not be able to be their Little League coach and likley miss many of their activities, etc.

...now as a hotel manager...

Wait. You took a job as a hotel manager to get away from those kind of work requirements!?

I think my wife is doing it wrong.

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Wednesday, April 4, 2012 2:26 PM

This is for full-time people, as best as i can tell. I don't know if this means they're ditching the two weeks off at the holidays, but I don't even think it matters (most people budget for vacation use around that time anyway).

Paramount Parks did no enforce 6-day weeks, as far as I know. I don't think Six Flags did either, back in the day.

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Wednesday, April 4, 2012 2:30 PM

No. Sorry, poor sentence structure.

When I WAS a hotel manager at CP I felt the tie requirement was appropriate.

Now I wear a tie regularly as a Park Director which is a little uncomfortable in Florida as I spend much of my day outdoors...but as long as they keep signing the checks I'm happy to wear anything they ask me to.

I can't overstate how significant that new schedule will be for the FT staff if this is true and it applies to all departments.

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Wednesday, April 4, 2012 2:31 PM

I think I'll still show her the post anyway. :)

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Wednesday, April 4, 2012 2:33 PM

The two week holiday break was nice, I admit, but if I had my choice I don't there is any question I would have preferred the two day "weekends" year 'round.

Not only was the one day off a week insufficient time with the family, but then anything you really HAD to get done was limited to that one day. I didn't have kids back then but for my peers that did I know it was a hardship.

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Wednesday, April 4, 2012 3:08 PM

Just curious was the 6 day work week a year round thing? I always assumed it was just a seasonal thing, that after the park closes they went to a 2 day weekend.

I have no problem with working 6 day weeks during the season, when needed. Making it mandatory then I think it actually undermines productivity.

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Wednesday, April 4, 2012 3:27 PM

It was not year 'round but it was a significant portion of the year. I would say it was May (maybe even April) through Labor Day. I have no problem with the idea that there may be times when six or even seven days may be called for, but a competent manager should be able to make those decisions on his/her own.

When you go into that business it is safe to say you go in with your eyes open. It wasn't sprung on me. It is just the way it was. But as others pointed out I think morale will be improved which may mean better relationships with the seasonal workforce, the guests and each other which means a better experience for everyone.

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Thursday, April 5, 2012 5:49 PM

Dave's is franchised out to CP. When someone buys into their franchise, they have certain standards to abide by. But, can also have some differences. One of the many things I have learned after visiting 110 of their restaurants. Not all are the same. Each owner can put his/her personal touch to it.

Now, CP almost lost it several years ago after the manager left and went to another location. The service went down hill and apparently FD's threatened to either convert it to a corporate location or close it period. The park talked the manager into coming back. He is still managing it. I was even told by corporate FD's that Steve is the reason CP's is still open. That really says alot. Considering the employees are only there a few months, he does a great job in getting people trained to FD standards. I would hate to lose it. I think it is a great place to get away from the crowd and relax to a good meal.

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Thursday, April 5, 2012 8:54 PM

Jerry, the man who's been to more FD's than many enthusiasts have ridden coasters ;)

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Thursday, April 5, 2012 9:08 PM

I guess that explains why Famous Dave's is the only restaurant I'll visit at the park.

~Rob

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Thursday, April 5, 2012 11:32 PM

It's pretty much the only place I'll eat, too. Especially after Bay Harbor served my kid spoiled milk (he barfed in front of the boatfolk).

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Friday, April 6, 2012 3:22 AM

Dave's is easily my favorite on-point restaurant. I enjoy Friday's as well, but Dave's is generally tastier for about the same price.

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Friday, April 6, 2012 7:14 AM

Never been there. I'll have to check it out.

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Friday, April 6, 2012 9:42 AM

I think Famous Dave's is pretty overrated as far as BBQ joints go, but I guess at a park that typically gets berated for its average food, it's a decent choice.

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