Beware: Early Ride Closings No Joke!

It really varies by department/job I'm sure and it may not even be the same anymore, but in rides in the early 2000's, there were different shifts and there was a line schedule (budget) for each location (a location is either one major ride like a coaster or a couple smaller flat rides that are close together) depending on the day of the season, expected crowd, etc. So at Magnum in 2004, we'd open with 7 or 8 positions (2 or 3 load, 2 unload, controls, entrance, and crowd), then at 11:30, two additional people would come in to run breaks so we'd be at 9 or 10 depending on if the Freeway position was in use at the time. Then at 8PM when breaks are all done, we'd go back down to 7 or 8 people. Sometimes if it got empty at the end of the night, we'd be able to cut the crowd position to have that person clean. Back then we were allowed to cut the third load position just before close to send that person on a track walk. The rules are probably different now. The shifts available were as follows: Open-6, Open-8, 11:30-Close, 1:30-Close, Split Shift (Open-1:30, 6-Close), Open-Close. The leadership at each ride was tasked with making the schedule each week with whatever crew they had assigned to them, trying to accommodate day off requests, keep hours relatively even, etc. They'd try to give you a non-closing shift before your day off and a closing shift after your day off. I'm not sure if they still do this so manually or if they have a better system for it now. I'd say 60 hours was pretty common, but during the early season and late season when staffing was not at peak, but the park was still open every day, 70-80 hours was pretty common.

Last edited by MDOmnis,

-Matt

For people passionate about the park and industry it's an experience of a lifetime and a lifetime of pride. But with hours like that I absolutely see why people don't want to do it.

Joe E's avatar

Back in the day, May meant everyone is working O-C especially if park was only open till 8. That close could mean 8 , 8:15, 9, etc depending on the crowd level. (And we had to walk to work on the causeway, uphill both ways!)

If ride, stand, or area was staffed and open that day, it was open at till lines closed at 8 or crowds dies down. You might work a bit later than park close, but you’d get back at a reasonable time to relax and sleep to get at it the next day. (Late closes are a different story obviously)

Point being, closing a 15 minute line 15 minutes early isn’t going to solve any staffing issues. Only thing it does is the employee for that ride or area works from open to 8:19 vs 8:04. (And probably world rather work the extra 15 minutes than having to explain the policy).

Perhaps they don’t want early season burnout for their employees, and while most will go home around 8-8:30, they want to have a consistent policy for all crews. Maybe on hiring they pledged more consistent hours and that was a way to get more on board. It seems unlikely it’s strictly for cost saving, but that above 15 minutes is helping nobody out but the operating expense line. Perhaps there is a deep state conspiracy that Qanon floated that is actually true…. Cedar Point bought Louie’s and they are closing the park early to get their employees to pile in at 8:30 and drink away their increased wages. (ok this is the most likely of the above!)

Since there does appear to be a pressing need to get employees out early on closes, my hope would be they keep the ride and stands with only a 15-30 minute line open till close. You could close the longer lines based on their wait times minus 30 minutes early. That way everyone still goes home about 30 minutes after close, and 90% of your rides will close at park. Either way I am sure they hear the feedback and will hopefully adjust in some ways.

Last edited by Joe E,

Gemini 100- 6/11/01

Going further back, we didn't open to the public until Memorial Day weekend. The Friday before Memorial Day they had a deal with radio station CKLW in Detroit/Windsor. The sold discounted tickets, and they had to take special buses to the park. They were the only ones in the park, still it was a fair sized crowd as I recall. The new hires got to deal with real people before the "real" opening day.

That's basically what Ohio State Day (and before that Longaberger Day) have been lately. 2020 was the first year they didn't have one of those days.

I hope they get the food lines situation straightened out in Frontier Town. Walking from the train station to the start of Frontier Trail was like wading through the crowds at Woodstock! The placed was PACKED, and most of it was people standing in extremely long lines at the booths or at the various food places. Lots of weaving around and "excuse me."

Yes, I really hope they are careful not to burn out the employees that they do have. My first season at CP, my department was so badly understaffed that I was working open to close every day and going more than a week without a day off. Apparently they had hired an appropriate amount of people, but many either just never showed up or else quit within a few days.

As excited as I was to be working and living at Cedar Point, my enthusiasm was soon stamped out by sheer exhaustion. I had to eventually quit just so that I could get a few nights of good rest and start feeling normal again.

If they don't have the amount of staff needed to fully run the park, then they should significantly cut back on the number of people they let into the park as well as the hours. Only open from, say, 12-8 so that the available employees have some time to rest and recover.

Kevinj's avatar

Since this change was announced, I thought we mostly collectively assumed it was about preventing burnout from the skeleton crew they currently have, and not a cost-saving change being implemented from now until the end of time.

Give the park a couple weeks of operation.

Reading a lot of the comments, it's almost like there has never been an opening weekend (during a pandemic!) before.

Last edited by Kevinj,

Promoter of fog.

Cassandra L said:

If they don't have the amount of staff needed to fully run the park, then they should significantly cut back on the number of people they let into the park as well as the hours. Only open from, say, 12-8 so that the available employees have some time to rest and recover.

I can only imagine the reaction at the board meeting when they read “Employees are all tuckered out” as a reason for lower than expected revenue.


ROUNDABOUND.

I'm sorry but I have to agree with Cassandra L on this. The park can't (or at least shouldn't) use staffing as an excuse for lousy operations when they also control capacity. If they can't provide an at least average guest experience because they're understaffed then they shouldn't allow so many people in the park.

I know it's early in the season and I truly hope things get better but what happens if the staffing issues remain all year? Is the park going to continue "overbooking" the amount of guests? How worse is that in the long run then the short-term revenue loss?

I'm going this weekend and I'm unfortunately going with low expectations so I'm not going to be disappointed regardless and hope I'm pleasantly surprised. Worse case scenario I'll be hanging at the Beach Bar at Breakers instead of the park. Not a bad a weekend at all but it's a shame I'm already in that mindset.

Yeah there’s definitely a lot of folks defending the park amongst many of the social media CP fan clubs, but I imagine many of them are pass holders and most of them assume everyone knows and expects that opening weekend will be a disaster. The problem is that the more people who just accept this lower standard will inevitably continue to indirectly impact poor operating decisions by the park. Meaning: as long as the overall experience seemed positive we won’t let the few unhappy guests change our mindset. And if you’ve read any of Tony Clark’s responses to last weeks negative headlines that’s exactly what the park is saying. And in all fairness; that’s how they’re supposed to spin it.

However; this weekend is completely “sold out” which makes me wonder how much worse it’ll be since last weekend, as busy as it was, was a complete train wreck, but wasn’t “sold out”.

Last edited by mgou58,

It kind of looks like they HAVE significantly cut hours and days the park is open this year. The park is closed during the week through all of May which differs from past years and the 8 PM closings go far deeper into the season than ever before. Additionally, the park is closed again during the last two weeks of August. It also looks like Tuesdays and Wednesdays until the last week of June are in doubt right now. Still no official announcement on that topic that I've seen, but something strange is going on. They are probably dealing with essentially one shift worth of people to staff what they have open at this point. I don't really see anything changing in the very short term. There's some changes to Ohio's unemployment requirements at the end of June that might move the needle although some would probably argue with me on that, but it would probably be a few weeks after that before the effects show up. There's also the fact that they could not bring in any internationals this summer. Remember all those people in Facebook groups complaining about international employees? This is what happens when you don't have them. :(

I loved my time working at Cedar Point during college. I did it for three summers and yea it was hard work, but it was also some of the most fun I've had in my life. For whatever reason, it doesn't seem to be as appealing to people these days even with increased wages.

I do agree though that there were too many people in the park last weekend for the staffing they had. I ran into a similar situation at Busch Gardens Williamsburg in early April so CP isn't alone in this.

Last edited by MDOmnis,

-Matt

Oh great I'm taking my family to BGW next month. Sigh.

djDaemon's avatar

mgou58 said:

Yeah there’s definitely a lot of folks defending the park amongst many of the social media CP fan clubs, but I imagine many of them are pass holders and most of them assume everyone knows and expects that opening weekend will be a disaster.

I would wager that opening weekend has among the highest proportion of pass holders of the season, so yeah, one would think they would have fully expected it to be a disaster.

Not that the park is without blame given the reservation system, but literally every opening weekend is rough! I honestly don't understand why any pass holder, and certainly any member of PB, would go into opening weekend expecting anything other than a disaster. And yet every year we have the same conversation.

The problem is that the more people who just accept this lower standard will inevitably continue to indirectly impact poor operating decisions by the park. Meaning: as long as the overall experience seemed positive we won’t let the few unhappy guests change our mindset.

Do you want to know the only surefire way to make sure the park gets the message that you're not happy? Stop giving them your money. :-)


Brandon

Kevinj's avatar

Scott Cameron said:

Oh great I'm taking my family to BGW next month. Sigh.

Me too.


Promoter of fog.

Given that even Sunday is "sold out" to pass holders this weekend, I wonder if they have reduced the number of people they are allowing into the park.

I have two friends who were there last weekend and were there again today. Today was considerably less crowded and had significantly more food/drink locations open. Much like a second operating weekend in a normal season (2019 and earlier) things were smoother, faster, and overall the park offered a much better experience. But it seemed very obvious they slashed the total number of reservations for the day.

JK125's avatar

I was there today and parking lot was just out a row past the tower. At 5:00, the fast line for Steel Vengeance was longer then the regular line. I got off and rode it again and both lines were just going into the merged straightaway. It was a 15 minute wait for fast lane or regular. Magnum was running 3 trains and had a minimal wait. Walked into Back Beat BBQ as opposed to last week when the line was way out the door. Roagarou was also running today with all three trains. Maxair still was not running.

I’m glad for those who had a better experience but it doesn’t mean much when the park has drastically reduced capacity thus making things appear better. If they weren’t limiting capacity they’d be in the same boat as last weekend.

True but limiting but limiting capacity is the only thing they can do with the staffing the problems they're having. So if they really did limit capacity I applaud them for doing the right thing. Hopefully raising their pay rate solves their problem, as I expect it will.

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