What Is Up With CF Food Service?

Monday, May 12, 2008 3:07 PM
Brian: You've caught my point that Soggy missed.

The first and most obvious issue is that if you think $3.59 is too much to pay for a 22-ounce fountain drink, then DON'T BUY IT. Food choices may be limited when you're in the park, but at Cedar Point at least...and in fact at most major parks...a cup of water is still free from stands that have it available, and at Cedar Point it actually tastes decent. Less obvious is that there are food options around the park. To pick on Cedar Point again...don't pay $9 for a PB&J at Joe Cool when you can get a 6" sub for $7. It's still highway robbery, but at least there is SOME value there. Check out the chain establishments. At Kings Island, a cheese coney at the Lunch Basket (Skyline) is the SAME PRICE as a cheese coney at my local Skyline franchise. There are deals to be had. Sometimes the deal isn't cheap food, it's just food that is worth the price to be paid. In my last post, I mentioned something about the $2 burger sold for $10...well, if you know where to look you can also find a $8 burger being sold for $10 and that's a whole lot easier to stomach (so to speak). (Anybody know why Cedar Point sells four different kinds of french fries?)

Oh, one other thing...

Two years ago, I visited Worlds of Fun. One of the things I noticed there was a large number of apparently local food joints operating in the park. That's the park where I was able to get a really good value out of a fresh Gyro. Perhaps it's the exception to the Cedar Fair food rule, but I found Worlds of Fun to have some decent food choices.

--Dave Althoff, Jr.

Monday, May 12, 2008 3:19 PM
Soggy's avatar Dave: Yes, I did miss that point. Thanks for elaborating...

At the same time, however, I still don't like the fact that the best food in the park is not theirs. Remember when the KI Festhaus actually served good German fare? [eyes misting]

Pass da' sizzrup, bro!

Monday, May 12, 2008 3:59 PM
eightdotthree's avatar My girlfriend and I actually GO to Kennywood for dinner some nights, I can't say I would ever do the same for many other parks.
Monday, May 12, 2008 4:12 PM
I would go to Kennywood for the food.

Damn, now you've got me thinking about that pot roast sandwich. :)

My author website: mgrantroberts.com

Monday, May 12, 2008 5:57 PM
I'm sorry for the fact that I called you a lier. This is are second full season under the CF flag. Last season really didn't count because we were in the 'honeymoon' season. This season. it's all CF.
I might be blind because I work there. But I do have to say that the main point of my post, was that CF is way better than Paramount ever was. It takes a lot of time to work out all the bugs and season after season of bad work habits. But I feel that as a whole we are starting to get there.
I don't really know about the other CF parks, like I said for most of the years that I have worked there we have worked under Paramount,and Paramount was bad.
The food I feel at KI is way better than a lot of parks that I have been too. It is a lot better than CP. Ki's LaRosa's pizza is better than the kind outside of the park. A lot of people have told us that! Skyline is just to die for. We got red of UDF and put in Graeters Ice Cream, that was so smart.There chicken tenders are some of the best I have ever tasted. Now I have only had them at Backstage Cafe (were we eat), but I eat them all the time.
KI has this in my mind (now even more so) down home local amusement park feel. The local chains just make it feel better.
The prices at KI, are close to or the same as if you went to a reds game. Our beer is $7 there beer is $7, it's the same. So are prices compare to other tourist places in the area, so I feel that there not way overpriced.
I know that some times you might see some employees bare hand food and stuff but I can tell you that is not the norm, if I ever saw one of my lines doing that, he or she would here about it from me, and they would be so sorry that they did there. I also make my lines wash there hands at least every 30 to 45 mins, when they change there gloves.
As for the lines, we are getting better with that too. We now have a runner for the cash people so they can stay on cash and someone eles can run and get the food. It's the start of the season so there are some bugs we are still working out. It's a new owner so there are bugs that we are working out.
Monday, May 12, 2008 6:15 PM
Jeff's avatar Here's a flash... people don't care how long it takes for a service they're paying for to get its act together. For the guest who goes once a year, it doesn't matter if it's opening day or closing day, or any day in between. The experience and service delivered has to be tops.

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

Monday, May 12, 2008 6:32 PM
matt.'s avatar

Lord Gonchar said:
Make that $43 gate at CP $50 and then knock a buck off of most food items inside the park.

This is a point I made before but it was quite a while ago. That 20 oz. bottle of Pepsi is never going to get better. No matter how good it tastes, no matter what the pricepoint, there's no way to improve it so a higher price is never really going to feel quite legit to us as consumers. Sure, we'll pay it, to a point, but you just can't make a soda better like you can make your overall experience better (and thus, your gate price higher, in theory.)

Jeff said:
The experience and service delivered has to be tops.

Yup, and here's the thing -

Why in the wild world of sports are you making it HARD for me to spend MY money? If anything these places should be encouraging impulse buying as much as possible but instead they're making it totally laborious to open my wallet.

I hate to bring it back around to Disneyland (Ok, actually I love doing that) but we must have spent $30 over two days just eating carrots, apples, bananas, pickles, and pineapple. It was

1. Nice to eat something that felt like real food
2. Easy to carry around on the way to other rides (not messy, easy to share, too)
3. Relatively cheap and good value AND
4. Easy to get!

Every single time I handed the person a $5 or a $10 and bing bang boom I had whatever it is I wanted within 60 seconds.

Certainly have of us have a reputation for being tight asses but seriously, I think if you offer us something relatively tasty and easy to procure we'll bite. Just make it easy to spend my money! Act like you actually want it!

Monday, May 12, 2008 6:39 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

matt. said:
I hate to bring it back around to Disneyland (Ok, actually I love doing that) but we must have spent $30 over two days just eating carrots, apples, bananas, pickles, and pineapple.

Nothing would make me put the credit card away faster. ;)

Seriously, eating crap is part of the park experience to me. I just want quality crap.

Monday, May 12, 2008 6:41 PM
matt.'s avatar The point isn't what the food is, the point is how it's presented and how easily procurable it is and how (subjectively) good it is.


"I want that!"

Hand over money.

Eat. :)

But seriously I made it a point to eat plenty of garbage, too, don't worry... *** Edited 5/12/2008 11:09:45 PM UTC by matt.***

Monday, May 12, 2008 11:16 PM
I did the same Matt. The meat skewers in front of Indiana Jones Adventure are great too!

Disneyland has amazing food, but then, they have to compete with the fact that a short 5 minutes walk from the gates of the park will get you about every restaurant chain. Mc Donald's, Subway, Quizno's, pizza place, all you can eat buffet, etc.

Disneyland has those large "cafeteria" style restaurants where you grab a tray, real silverware, walk up to a station, get your food fresh and good on real plates and then exit and pay. Even during busy times, its a 3-5 minutes affair and then you got shaded tables outside. What more do you want? Huge servings, great food and I was more than happy to hand my 15$ for a huge plate of food and a large soda (2.59$ plus tax there).

Monday, May 12, 2008 11:56 PM
Mamoosh's avatar I just want quality crap.

How ironic...I am quality crap! ;)

Tuesday, May 13, 2008 1:50 AM
Well I got 2 Cheese Burgers, pound of fries and 32oz coke at Carowinds Sunday and droped 23 bucks.. and didn't even get a kiss..

No I don't have a kid, but I still want to ride!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008 5:01 AM
For $23 bucks, I'd expect it to come with a Fastpass & and be half decent!

Coaster Junkie from NH
I drive in & out of Boston, so I ride coasters to relax!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008 6:22 AM
coasterqueenTRN's avatar Chik-Fil-A is just....scary. Yuck. ;)

I never really understood why people would want to eat at a Subway or Chik-Fil-A or Skyline (or any other fast food chain) in a park when they can usually find the same thing down the street from the park for HALF the price and better service and quality.

If I am going to spend money on food in a park I would prefer something that they made, but that's just me. ;)


Tuesday, May 13, 2008 8:55 AM
matt.'s avatar Uh...as far as fast good goes Chik-Fil-A is the bomb and the service is impeccable.

I wouldn't normally get defensive but we've already had two no-votes for the Chik and it's making me feel a bit huffy. :) *** Edited 5/13/2008 12:55:30 PM UTC by matt.***

Tuesday, May 13, 2008 9:17 AM
I can't speak too strongly about the Cedar Fair food quality since I have not visited the other parks in the chain yet. I think there is room for improvement at Kings Dominion.

I don't know how much leeway Cedar Fair gives its parks to manage their food supply choices and vendors. It seems, on one hand, each park can use local vendors (ex. Tofts at CP) and then, on the other hand, they use national vendors chain wide (Chick-fil-a, Subway, Panda Express, etc). I assume it is a combination of both.

I wish CF would truely find a balancing point between the quality of the bulk foods they buy and the profit they make. Buying the worst tasting food at a cheaper price and selling at a higher price does not endear yourselves to the park patrons. I realize I will have to pay a higher price in the park and will budget for it. But, I will minimize my food purchases if the food is not of decent quality, not served at the proper temperature, and not served to me in a reasonable amount of time.

Its rare to find the level of food quality and service levels that a Busch park provides. But, I think CF can do better. It almost seems they need to get a food specialist (a chef?) who can work with the chain to balance the overhead food costs and who would search to find good suppliers in order to provide a decent meal, and still make a profit on food sales. I am not looking for a gourmet sit down meal, but a hot decent meal for the money spent.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008 9:42 AM
Jeff's avatar Chik-Fil-A is greasy crap and suX0rz teh big one!!11! :)

You know, the thing that changed my opinion about the potential of fast-ish food was Chipotle. Yeah, I know, the fat content is high depending on what you get, but here you have an example of relatively simple ingredients coming together to make something that doesn't suck. In fact, it's above average non-suck. They can charge a premium and people will wait for it. There's no particular technology or specialized appliances to make it either. Granted, they do buy the better organic stuff where they can, but my point stands that they can make something yummy in a simple and efficient fashion.

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

Tuesday, May 13, 2008 9:59 AM
Chipotle rocks.

As for why people would spend more to eat the same thing in the park when they can do down the street? Convenience, for one thing. For some of us, a "reasonable" markup is worth the time savings of not having to go out to the car, drive down to the Subway/whatever, order, eat, drive BACK to the park, find parking (which may be closer than we were before but more likely is further away), re-enter the park, etc.

Especially with the price of gas steadily going up -- you could very well be burning your "savings" driving back and forth...

Now, At a place like Kennywood, where the food outside the park is easy walking distance (partially negating my "hassle" argument :) ), it's still worth staying in the park because it's not fast-food-chain crap and it's cheap enough :)

"You seem healthy. So much for voodoo."

Tuesday, May 13, 2008 10:14 AM
Lord Gonchar's avatar Yeah, convenience is a big one. I hate leaving a park and returning. Hate it.

Making your way out of the park, getting the handstamp, getting to the car, getting out of the lot, finding a place to eat, eating, driving back to the park, finding a parking space again that's never as good as your original one, getting through the gate - I'm actually willing to accept a little more than a 'reasonable' markup to just avoid the whole hassle.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008 11:05 AM
I think this is another one of those times when the answer of "leave the park or not" depends on your exchange rate between time and money.

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