Understaffing at Cedar Point hits nightmarish levels...

Tuesday, October 17, 2017 6:46 PM

GDUBS said:

I ended up quitting at the end of September. I apologize to you guys for contributing to the problem. I left because it was not economically feasible for me to commute to and from Sandusky each weekend from school. I lived outside of the employee dorms (thank god- they need to be condemned) so I was paying rent on my house as well. The amount I was making simply was not enough to satisfy the living expenses, let alone for school.

I was also being asked to work 30 hours in 2 days. This was not a feasible commitment to make while trying to handle my course load and extracurricular activities. A social life? Forget it.

Then there was growing dissatisfaction with my job. Management frequently shifted the blame of associate dissatisfaction to the location leadership. The park has been understaffed for the majority of the season. It caused a revolving door effect where people would get stuck with 16 hour OCs in the middle of the season, get frustrated and quit. As soon as the park would bring in another person, They would pull someone from me to cover someone who quit. Then factor in that the internationals are afraid to work here due to politics and that those that are here are only on 10 week visas. The internationals that were here left and the park is now where it is.

I was able to find a part time job close to my school that pays almost double what I was making at Cedar Point. The job is flexible around my classes, has a set schedule, and offers more professional growth options than Cedar Point ever did. I am able to get all my work done for classes, attend clubs, and generally enjoy college. I can even watch football on the weekends or have a drink with friends!

My suggestions for Cedar Point are:

  • To pay a decent wage. $10/hr for ride operators is a fair starting point for all that they do. Other positions in the park deserve more as well.
  • Provide professional development training to all associates to challenge them and help them grow. -Perhaps work with BGSU Firelands to certify development programs or give college credit.
  • Provide promotions, recognition, and raises to employees who stand out.
  • Provide associates with challenges and specific goals to motivate them. None of this broad "Best day ever" stuff. Things that give ownership and pride. For example, we want to upsell x% of drink purchases to have a drink cup.
  • Adjust schedules to allow for more time off and shorter shifts.
  • Provide safe, clean, private housing that provides a place to relax and not feel like you are living in a prison.

Cedar Fair had a net income of over $177 million dollars last year according to their publicly view-able 2016 10K income statement. I don't pretend to know the corporate strategies but it seems like there is room in there to help and improve the employee experience while still paying out dividends and having some liquidity.

No need to apologize. Congrats on getting out and improving yourself!

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Tuesday, October 17, 2017 7:04 PM

All hourly employees just received an email regarding a "double bonus" if they work this weekend. Double bonus translates to $2 an hour extra for every hour worked.

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Tuesday, October 17, 2017 7:15 PM

As a SP holder (15 plus years), I can honestly say that Halloweekends becomes a bigger event each year. For the past few years, we've only visited Halloweekends on Sundays and only twice per season. The last season we spent a lot of time at CP during Halloweekends was 2007. Fridays used to be completely deserted and Sundays were almost as empty. That's not the case anymore.

I'm not sure why the powers that be at CP don't anticipate 70,000 plus crowds every Saturday -- not just plan ahead because of Columbus Day or because the forecast looks good. If you think about, do you know what they are actually promising people for their $54 admission? They are not just getting the entire amusement park. They are getting admission to a dozen haunted houses. I personally think it's too cheap. I'm in Lorain County and the haunted houses that I can easily drive to average around $15 per person for admission. For $54 that is a BARGAIN. Plus, they get the park until midnight. It's absolutely no surprise to me whatsoever that the park would be absolutely packed to the gills on a Saturday.

And just to make one thing clear -- I have zero sympathy for anyone who wants to complain about ride lines on a peak attendance day -- everyone knows that the world goes out to play on Saturday. Just like the grocery store, and movie theaters, and beaches, CP will be packed on Saturdays.

I agree that staffing isn't the only issue, but it is certainly a big one, if not the main one. If they can't put out a quality experience, they shouldn't be promising one. While the Halloweekends experience seems to be getting bigger each year, it seems that there are less people who come away from it with a positive opinion.

We were there on Sunday (10-15). Many rides were closed because of the wind -- and boy was it windy. I didn't think the crowds were bad. But, the wait times for some of the rides would make you think the crowd numbers were up. Iron Dragon and Mine Ride were each only running one train. Not sure why, but it's not for me to say. I'm just curious is all.

The only food we purchased was Cheese On A Stick (front of the park by the Pizza Patio and Corral) -- there was no line and we waited less than 5 minutes for them. That was around 5:00.

The shops seemed adequately staffed. In fact, the Cedar Creek Trading Company (just past CCMR) had 5 gentlemen behind the counter. Not kidding -- 5 in the small gift shop. By the time we left one worker had gone, but still, I can't help but think that maybe they could have been used elsewhere.

I absolutely love all the activities they have for kids. Love them. No one in my family has any use for these, but I think they do a terrific job at giving kids a great, Halloween experience (another perk for the $54 price tag).

The only negative I encountered on Sunday was the poor older woman working the restrooms by the arcade. She was literally running from stall to stall with TP, then back in with a mop, then back into another one for something else. I told her that I knew that was a thankless job and told her that I appreciated her hard work. She literally started to CRY! She thanked me for saying that and said she needed to hear that more than ever because "after yesterday, I wasn't sure I ever wanted to come back". So clearly, Saturday was rough not only for guests, but for workers as well.

If they decided to not include Halloweekends as part of the SP at some point, I don't think it would bother me. As I said we only go once or twice anymore because it's turned into a really big deal, and I'm not sure they are keeping up with the growth.

I love the suggestions of offering more positions to retirees, and the idea of being more flexible with scheduling. Back in 2013, I actually applied for PT work at CP. I work the usual 9-5 M-F and thought working a couple of evenings or a weekend now and then would be a blast. They had no interest in me because I didn't fit into their grid blocks of time. Maybe if they were more flexible it would help get and keep employees. I think if they thought about treating their employees a little better, they might get more of them. Just as CP wants their guests to have a great experience, they should want their employees just as happy. Because without them, where and what are they really?

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Tuesday, October 17, 2017 8:29 PM
99er's avatar

GDUBS said:

I was able to find a part time job close to my school that pays almost double what I was making at Cedar Point. The job is flexible around my classes, has a set schedule, and offers more professional growth options than Cedar Point ever did. I am able to get all my work done for classes, attend clubs, and generally enjoy college. I can even watch football on the weekends or have a drink with friends!

This is a huge factor in not being able to find staffing in the fall. The options for better pay and schedule flexibility are too good close to home/college for those the park wants to attract from a distance. It doesn't make any sense to drive an hour or more for a job that pays less than what you could make in your college town.


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Tuesday, October 17, 2017 9:05 PM
Pete's avatar

Tony Stark said:

More staffing certainly would have helped the poor souls who had to wait 45 minutes for a cup of a Coke or a crummy hot dog.

More staffing would have directed customers into the queue lines of rides that were actually running, instead of having thousands of customers roaming all over the park looking for a operating ride or an open food or drink stand.

Well, I've been at CP during days of huge crowds where the park was at full staffing and the food lines were still horrendous. I'm not making excuses for the park, but the food trucks more than made up for whatever CP food stands were closed. If the park was at full staffing I doubt we would see the food trucks, they are definitely there to increase food capacity due to staffing issues. The Coke Freestyle stations were not that bad, I never waited more than 5 or 10 minutes for a drink.

I highly doubt you would see CP staff on the midway directing people to different rides. Never happened, never will. As far as closed rides, the only ones I noticed were Dragster, Sky Ride and Windseeker. Most everything else was open. With your comments of "thousands of customers roaming all over the park looking for an open ride", were you at the park that day? I highly doubt it since that didn't happen. Most rides were operating.

There were actually plenty of people there that looked like they were having a good time. But, of course, many came to ride as many rides as they could and went home disappointed because of the very long lines and limited opportunity to ride. Again, more staffing would have done very little to help with the ride capacity issue.

It is what it is. We actually had a nice time at the park Sat. Saw a couple shows, had Burritos in Frontier Town after about a 40 min. wait (you would have waited that long at Chipotle with the same crowd), went through Cut Throat Cove and Blood on the Bayou later in the evening and had a nice meal at TGI Fridays to finish the day. Never made it to the Surf Lounge but was there on Friday night :). But, if you came to CP on Saturday expecting to ride a lot you were mostly screwed.


I'd rather be in my boat with a drink on the rocks,
than in the drink with a boat on the rocks.

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Tuesday, October 17, 2017 9:58 PM

I like the idea of dynamic pricing for these Halloweekend Saturdays. Room prices at the resorts fluctuate based on demand throughout the season, yet ticket prices are the same. I forget if it was someone on pointbuzz or another site who said it, but "supply and demand the s*** out of it!"

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Tuesday, October 17, 2017 10:36 PM

And as for the local kids who need jobs? There are plenty of seasonal opportunities in town for them. They can work at Cracker Barrel, get the schedule they need and make more money. Who needs the grief at CP?

It hurts me to know that it’s not a good place to work anymore, because it used to be just this side of awesome. I also noticed more than a casual indifference from some employees, especially rode ops. While some put on their best faces, most looked so detached and discouraged. I’m not a nuisance, but I will speak kindly to ride ops, thank them, maybe crack a joke. None of that was working for me on Saturday. Seriously, they looked like they’d had it and were dreading the long day ahead of them.

Without the end of season bonus, what’s keeping them there, anyway?

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Tuesday, October 17, 2017 11:36 PM
ImpulsivePhoenix's avatar

With the weather looking good this Saturday, it probably will be packed again. Possibly a bright side is all days this weekend look nice, so people that skipped on Sunday last week due to weather forecast would go this Sunday instead.

I'd think last weekend would be crowded regardless if it gets cold or possibly even rainy.


Sacrificing playing video games to ride roller coasters.

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Tuesday, October 17, 2017 11:52 PM
We-o-we-oooo's avatar

The fact that lines would still be long with 70k even with 100% staffing is a legitimate one, but the caveat there is the perception.

If the park is slammed and there are long lines at every attraction & point of sale-and all are operational and fully staffed-most will conclude that the 'problem' is an overly crowded day, and many will opt for a different day next time around.

Under the same circumstance & attendance numbers with multiple attractions and points of sale closed or undermanned, the onus of the 'problem' is shifted to the park; people think the issue isn't with it simply being crowded but that the park is unprepared, and many will choose not to return.

Perception is reality.


Girl: "l want to ride that yellow one again... Twisted Wicker"
Me: "It's a roller coaster, not a broken clothes hamper."

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Wednesday, October 18, 2017 1:18 AM
Cargo Shorts's avatar

Curious what it would actually cost CP to pay everyone $5-$10 more an hour. Approximately how many heads does it take to fully operate the park? Everything open, full complement of scareactors, security, custodial, full food service, all of it.

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Wednesday, October 18, 2017 1:26 AM

Are you trying to say that it is common knowledge that the park is busy during Halloweekends unless you haven't yet been to Halloweekends?

I for one wouldn't consider taking a job that was temporary. With 6 operating days left. During harvest. Did you know that agriculture is big in the counties around Cedar Point. It's hard to compete for temporary labor during harvest. Not saying that the free market doesn't require raising wages at all. But it also requires some type of customer anticipation of the product they'll receive.

I foresee this weekend being bigger than last weekend. I've also waited in long lines to ride with my winter coat on. 32 degrees at midnight. Long lines. Not this weekend. Leaving the winter coat home.

Best weekend ever!

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Wednesday, October 18, 2017 1:31 AM

My comment was directed at the one above it not Cargo Shorts. But if screamsters were payed 15-20 an hour. Nobody would come to the park. It would be to expensive. People still come to the park even when it's not in their best interests. They just don't know any better. In the rain. To windy to operate the rides they wanted to ride. They don't know any better.

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Wednesday, October 18, 2017 2:31 AM
MichaelB's avatar

Cargo Shorts said:

Curious what it would actually cost CP to pay everyone $5-$10 more an hour. Approximately how many heads does it take to fully operate the park? Everything open, full complement of scareactors, security, custodial, full food service, all of it.

There are roughly 200 hours to be worked during all of Halloweekends if you're working all the hours the park is open.

71 rides, we'll say an average of 2 ride ops per ride. That's 142 workers for rides alone.

About 40 permanent restaurants, we'll say an average of 6 workers per restaurant. There's 240.

I'd say between the Coke machines and non-permanent food choices there's around 20 places, and we'll average 2 workers a piece. There's an additional 40.

Sweeps, no clue where to begin. But, we'll say 100 for all intensive purposes.

Stores and merchandise, also no clue on this. I'll put a number of 100 on this too.

With 12 attractions between indoor and outdoor scares, and I'll say an average of 15 screamsters per attraction that adds another 180.

I'll exclude skilled workers (entertainment, maintenance, and the like) since I would find it hard to believe they'd be getting paid the starting rate, as well as the majority of security since they're third party. Additionally you have your leads/supervisors whom I imagine are also a bit above the starting rate, exclude them too.

Bringing us to 622, I'll call it 650 to make it a nicer looking number.

Paying them all $8.95 an hour for 200 hours, brings the payroll to a whopping $1.16 million.

Pay those poor souls $10.50 an hour instead of $8.95 for a 17% increase in pay. They're now shelling out $1.36 million. Say they can attract an additional 50 employees at that wage that they desperately need and the number becomes $1.47 million. A whole increase of $310k.

Yes, my numbers are probably off and conservative. $500k is probably a more realistic number. Heck, even worst case scenario I couldn't see it being more than $1 million. That's peanuts out of $177 million in Q4 to improve guest experience. And, I'm sure they could even offset the increased costs with the additional product that could actually be sold with adequate staffing and increased productivity.

Last edited by MichaelB, Wednesday, October 18, 2017 2:32 AM
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Wednesday, October 18, 2017 2:41 AM
XS NightClub's avatar

$14.99 for a hot dog meal that has product costs under $1... and yet their offered wage is less than McDonald’s starting wage, which also offers flexible schedules, permanent employment, promotions, etc...
$300-$2000 a night for a room with a housekeeping cost of $11 Per room.
CF could justifiably offer substantially more then McDonald’s or the Holliday Inn off the causeway. They just don’t want too.

Last edited by XS NightClub, Wednesday, October 18, 2017 3:07 AM

Sandusky Fan.

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Wednesday, October 18, 2017 2:45 AM
99er's avatar

MichaelB said:

Yes, my numbers are probably off and conservative.

On staffing levels you are way off. For example a fully staffed day for Screamsters alone is around 400. Still though it wouldn't be anything the park couldn't handle as far as pay goes if they offered a higher rate. But when it comes to pay you can't just raise the wage of in-park employees only. So you would have to figure in everyone it takes to operate locations outside of the park so those are staffed too. For a fully staffed Cedar Point you are looking at close to 3,000 employees.

Last edited by 99er, Wednesday, October 18, 2017 2:50 AM
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Wednesday, October 18, 2017 4:51 AM
ImpulsivePhoenix's avatar

I don't want to look too far ahead weather wise, but it's looking like and I just have a feeling the last weekend which will be crowded anyways will be the long awaited cold one. It could change but it looks like a typhoon is going to cause big dips of cold air next week, will it last til weekend, not sure yet.


Sacrificing playing video games to ride roller coasters.

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Wednesday, October 18, 2017 6:44 AM
djDaemon's avatar

CP Maverick said:

And who's to say they didn't anticipate that business the previous Saturday (Columbus Day weekend) and when it didn't show up, they made adjustments to their projections?

That would be moronic. In what universe does it make sense to ignore years of data based on one day?

We had a similar situation the weekend "IT" came out, with crowds doubling industry predictions for the weekend.

This comparison makes no sense. Movies are individual events, subject to a huge number of variables. There is basically one variable that determines how busy CP will be on an October Saturday: weather.

CP Maverick said:

Those are perishables and they get deliveries during the week. With two full weekends left, they have plenty of time to burn through stock. Running out is an indication of higher business than expected.

No, it's an indication that they are trying to get by with minimal cost, at the expense of the guest experience. There's no excuse for not being prepared for huge crowds this time of year.

Pete said:

It is what it is. We actually had a nice time at the park Sat.

Right, because you visit the park far, far more frequently than the average guest. Do you honestly think someone making their one annual visit had a "best day" experience Saturday?

...had Burritos in Frontier Town after about a 40 min. wait (you would have waited that long at Chipotle with the same crowd)...

What Chipotle location do you visit that has 40 minute waits?!?!?


Brandon

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Wednesday, October 18, 2017 9:01 AM

I don't know what a fully staffed park at peak time is in terms of numbers, but I think the numbers above are way low. Rides alone is probably at least several hundred people. A ride like Magnum is probably at least 11 people during the peak of the day fully staffed (with two people sending breaks) and 9 early in the morning and late at night. MF is probably about 14 during peak and 11 early/late. Dragster (another ride with unload) is probably similar. Even a ride like Wicked Twister is probably running a 7-9-9-7 schedule when fully staffed. In the old days, they'd have a cleaning position that they'd mix in at a lot of locations when they had the numbers.

My guess is it probably takes about 2500 people to have the park close to fully staffed (rides, food, trash, admissions, merch, security, etc). I know they shoot to hire 5000ish each season, but obviously not everyone is working ALL of the time and they probably never get that many hired so I know it's not that high.

So the cost of paying everyone more per hour is not insignificant given the number of hours per day. Figure 25,000 man hours per day and I'm sure that's on the low side. I certainly don't think paying $10 more is reasonable. But maybe pay whatever the fast food joints in the area do. If I was a kid, I'd rather work at CP than Burger King, but not for 30-50% less pay. It all has to be weighed against what it costs them in lost future visits and reputation if they don't pay up and also against what they're losing each weekend when people can't buy food/drinks/etc and decide to leave pissed off at 5 or 6 instead of eating dinner at the park, staying until midnight and buying souvenirs on the way out and having happy memories of their day.


-Matt

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Wednesday, October 18, 2017 9:19 AM
e x i t english's avatar

Pete said:

had Burritos in Frontier Town after about a 40 min. wait (you would have waited that long at Chipotle with the same crowd)

I get what you're saying, but nope. There's no way I'd wait 40 minutes at Chipotle. If the line reaches out the door (which is about a 15 or so minute wait) I'm out.

Usually, by the time I decide to get food, I'm already pretty hungry (Chipotle is usually right after the gym) and a wait like that? That leads to hangry, which is a whole different story.


Por favor mantenganse alejado de las puertas...
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Wednesday, October 18, 2017 9:34 AM
Cargo Shorts's avatar

Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don't want to. — Richard Branson

All will be well after the huge upcoming "biggest tax cut in history" and companies finally have enough money to for a huge boost to all their employee compensation packages. Right?

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