NOTE: For those of you who are buzz crossovers, this was originally posted over at c-buzz as well....
(just press play while you read)
The Days: Sunday, July 27th (very packed park), Monday, July 28th (moderately busy), Tuesday, July 28th (even less busy)
Here we go again...
After getting back home to NE Ohio from a week on the East Coast, we spontaneously decided to plan a 3-day getaway to Cedar Point. The kids are getting older, which means they have schedules and sports and other things in July and August. But more importantly, we were armed with complimentary (it’s a long story) two-day, use-anytime-through-2021 Fast Lane Plus bands for our family of four due to an “incident” at the park in 2020, so it’s a use it or lose it scenario, and now seemed like a good time to use it. The 150 celebrations just began (parade, etc.), so lets go play.
It’s good at what it is…
Our go-to at Cedar Point is either Hotel Breakers or the cottages at Lighthouse Point. Those were sold out, so we opted for Breakers Express; a property I had never stayed at in any of its forms. The price (about 180/night) was in line with other “decent” places to stay much further away. We really just needed a place to crash for two nights. Overall, we left with a good impression of this hotel. We had a corner room on the first floor, and while it was packed (there was a baseball tournament happening at the Sports Complex) we found the place really quiet. The pool was well-kept, very clean, and served its purpose for our girls until it closed at 11 pm, and the staff was really helpful. It is what it is, and it’s good at what it is. We snagged food at the next-door Thirsty Pony each night, and I would recommend this Breakers spin-off to anyone looking for what we were looking for.
Should we talk about it?
Before we talk about the weather (much less the government), a few quick notes about the park to talk about.
1) The cast members. OK, I know they’re just “employees” up here in Ohio, but there is something different in the air. Maybe it’s the potential $20/hour, maybe it’s different recruiting efforts forced by the pandemic, or maybe it’s both, but from ride ops to sit-down dining to little food stands (like the retro juice bottles), I saw more smiling faces and hustle then I have witnessed since…well since at least the Green album you are listening to right now. But in all seriousness, this was really noticeable, mostly at the food stands, which are usually plagued the worst by employees that remind you of the Sloth from Disney's Zootopia. We actually got food/snacks relatively quickly, and food lines were actually moving at a decent clip. Maybe it's an anecdotal anomaly from our three days at the park, but from what I have heard from other park-goers I don't think that is the case.
2) Speaking of great employees, we got to know “Andrew” (not sure why I am doing air quotes, because that is his name) at the Last Chance Saloon quite well over our three-day period. It happened to be our go-to when the rains came in (which happened frequently), which led to a lot of Elvis Juice and a lot of laughs. The moral of the story: be nice with your bartender, because you never know when he/she might decide to empty the popcorn bin for your kids when you are trapped in a storm. Cheers, Andrew!
3) I don’t really like parades, but I can tell you that the parade is really, really, well done and executed. I would expect this level of stuff at Disney. I can see why Jason McClure was so pumped about this last year. The show at the end of each night is also really fun to watch, at least for one night. The kids loved it. Adults even liked it. I think some seagulls were even taken aback.
4) I would love to say good things about Snake River Expedition, but we never got on. We skipped it our first two days, since the attraction does not take Fast Lane (and we wanted to make the most of the two days we had it), and on the third day it was down for mechanical reasons, and then weather the entire day. Bummer.
5) Fast Lane Plus. Believe it or not, it's 2021 and this was our first time using it. It's not that I am somehow opposed to it, it's just that our visits our almost exclusively in late Spring when it's simply not necessary or even worth it. Granted we did not pay for this perk this time, but man...I'm not sure if I could ever visit the park on a "very busy day" like it was on Sunday without it now that we have gone to the other side. It's like staying on Point when you never did before, or having season passes for the first time. I would say the big boys were all cut to about 25% of the regular queue time (25 minute wait for Steel Vengeance vs 100 minutes, etc.), but the REAL often-not-discussed payoff was for the flat rides in the park. Parents...are you in the room? You know what I'm talking about. Those little rides with soul-sucking operations because they are usually only staffed with one...maybe two...employees? Yep. I would say FLP saved us as much (if not more) time so the kiddos could Scramble and Matterhorn and Tiki-Twirl themselves till their hearts' content. Just look how happy they are. And mom and dad didn't have to age 2.5 years while they waited to ride.
Maybe it's just me, but I also did not see evidence that the park has "oversold" Fast Lane on our trip. Again, anecdotal, but I hear this statement a lot, and using the very-busy-Sunday as a barometer, I didn't get that impression.
If this is it, please let me know.
And that’s where we will end Act 1 of our walk down musical lane. I will leave you with this sad, forlorn image of a man. A husband. A father of two. A guy who took his family to Cedar Point for three days. On that third and final day, the skies threatened all day long, so much so that by 6:30 (ish) when this picture was taken the park was essentially shut down with all major rides closed with no sign of opening. The look on that face says it all: all major rides across the park were down with “inclement weather in the area”, and the rains came. And came. And came. And we went to the Last Chance Saloon again and drank more beer (that's actually when the popcorn thing above happened).
Is this really how the vacation is going to end?
Promoter of fog.
Nice trip report my man. I'm looking more forward to our trip now based on your experiences in the park after being pretty worried about operations and staff earlier in the season.
Also...by Elvis Juice, please tell me you are talking about BrewDog Elvis Juice? They sling that at the Last Chance Saloon?? We booked a room at the Doghouse in Columbus for one night in between our trip to KI and then CP this year, and opted for Elvis Juice on the in room tap! Can't WAIT.
I can confirm BrewDog Elvis Juice at the Last Chance Saloon on tap. It was perfect on a hot/humid day.
Promoter of fog.
This all great Kevin but I think what we all really want to hear about is your experience with the Be Made Whole Again Department in 2020.
Must have been good to warrant 8 FLP. 🤣
Truth be told, Cargo, I never went to the department at all, it kind've came to us. Shoot me a message if you want to hear the story.
Here comes Act 2.
Promoter of fog.
Some of you already know how this ends...
After the Rain
Even as the rain subsided, the weather did not relent, and “inclement weather in the area” and sporadic lightning in the area kept everything in the park shut down. It was about 7:00 in a park that did not close until 10:00 with nothing to do except mosey on down to the Last Chance Saloon one more time (see the popcorn pic above). After another beer (and so much popcorn we took some home), we started to wander out, and it dawned on me that this was probably it. We would make our way to the main midway and eventually make our way home having done nothing memorable on this last day in the park.
Calm after the storm
I would never pretend to be a good photographer, nor do I know anything technical about picture taking. But as we made our way from Last Chance Saloon through the Frontier Trail I quickly realized that the park was a ghost town. I’m not sure how many of you have had the pleasure of being in a park when it is devoid of guests, but I found Frontier Town on this night to be down-right calming. It’s almost as if the pendulum from mass-guest-hysteria on a crowded day suddenly gets shifted into the opposite direction, and the only sounds you can hear are the ones you make yourself.
So I took some pictures.
The Rainbow Connection
The time is now about 9:00, and the 13 and 9-year old have agreed that it’s probably time to call it quits. We decided to stop at the Sweet Spot to get a treat for the 2-hour car ride home. That’s when Kylah (the 13-year old) noticed Cedar Downs opened up. What a beautiful, nostalgic way to end the day right? Of course it would be.
After that race, we made our way up to the front of the park for a final potty break (I’m a parent), when I looked up and saw this:
It was a sign. I knew someday I would find it. The rainbow connection…the lovers…the dreamers…
At this point, it’s about 9:20, and we start hearing the park come back to life. Keep in mind the park closes at 10:00, and nothing has been open since just after 6:00. First we heard Raptor climbing the lift hill, and then Valravn. We all agreed to head back to Millennium Force to see if we could snag one last ride before heading home. There was a small line of about 25 guests, and around 9:40 a train scooted up the lift hill and the line opened. With smiles on our faces and hope restored, we knew we would end our trip on a positive note, taking one last lap on Millennium before heading home.
The girls even snagged a front row seat on this last ride of the trip.
Perfect ending, right?
The best medicine…
You know those great songs that, just when you they think are over, start all over again into another verse? Tell me the first time you listened to Guns n’ Roses’ Patience you didn’t think it was over until the final chorus kicks in (you’re lying). Well…
Balance had been restored. We wouldn’t leave the park bummed out having done nothing, but instead with a lap in the dark on Millennium Force. If you haven’t yet, press play on some Bad Medicine (above) , and skip to the 4:10 mark. You just rocked out like it was 1988. But wait. Wait a minute…you’re not done! And neither were we.
When the train came into the station, the guests started chanting “one more time!, one more time!”, and the ride ops obliged. This reminded me of some good ol’ days in the 90’s marathoning Gemini and/or Raptor, and the crew just let it keep going. In the end, what would have been a bummer end to the day (and our 3-day trip) with no rides the last 3-4 hours ended being a magical ending to the day, as the crew let us marathon MF a total of six times before finally saying goodnight around 10:25.
What an awesome crew, and what an awesome ending to our trip.
Promoter of fog.
Great trip report! After not getting to go last year, and just returning from a trip with my daughter, I was curious what you thought of the food improvements? We didn't get to try it all, but they definitely made food quality a bigger focus since we were on point last. The C.F. Texas in Corral looked great, but my daughter picked off all the bacon before I could try it.
mrlouie; belated reply.
I thought across the board "dining" (that word means different things to different guests at CP) was significantly better. The most observable difference was the hustle and the lack of sloth-like moments at the spots like Happy Friar (quick-service). As always, this could be anecdotal, but it seems to be a common positive refrain.
Some things we enjoyed included:
1) The perch at Miss Keats Smokehouse. It was fresh, not overdone, and consistent. We liked it so much on one day we went back. Service there was also friendly and fast.
2) Melt. I'm not sure how "CP" this establishment is, but it holds its own compared to our local (Canton) Melt. Landed here in part of the 3-hour rain delay mentioned above. Unusual for us to do a big "sit-down" in the park. I like the historical pieces scattered around the joint. Spent about 20 minutes telling my daughters stories as we walked around looking at it all.
3) The pizza in Frontier Town. I have to say, I have never tried this. That said, I really, really liked it. The piece was big, and it was that soft foldable New-York-type of slice that go after. Nice service there as well.
4) Did I mention the Elvis Juice at Last Chance Saloon?
We saved most of our appetite for Thirsty Pony after the park, but for the first time in a long time nothing really went sideways or disappointed with dining.
Promoter of fog.
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