One of Sandusky’s great claims to fame is the Cedar Point Amusement Park. Widely touted at the best collection of roller coaster rides in the country, we put this place on our bucket list. Of course, all of this planning and research was done pre-COVID.
Arriving nearby, we planned our Cedar Point assault. Normally, we hit amusement parks early and hard, skipping quickly from ride to ride to get as much done as possible before the crowds trickle in around noon. THIS year, all of our normal tactics simply couldn’t work. First, the park is only open on weekends at this time of year, so going mid-week to avoid crowds isn’t possible. Second, the Fast Lane (line skipping) pass wasn’t available this year. We would have paid extra for that if we could. Thirdly, the park was only open from noon to 8 pm. No early bird getting the worm this time. We would just have to suck it up.
After reading bad reviews, we adjusted our expectations downward. Unfortunately, Cedar Point didn’t even meet our lowered expectations. We spent the entire day waiting in lines.
It wasn’t that the park was SO crowded, although it was weekend-busy. Part of the problem is that not all rides, attractions and food venues are open at all. Of the coasters that ARE open, the ride throughput is extremely slow, at maybe 30% of normal capacity, to facilitate social distancing. The ride cars are loaded half full (at most) and then shut down every 15 minutes or so for cleaning. That is all well and good to prevent contagion, but the darn lines just ….. don’t …… move ……
Here’s how our day went. We arrived a half hour early, skipped through the entrance easily and went to the far end of the park (at least a mile from the entrance!) to wait in the access pass line for the ride “Maverick”, Jeff’s #1 pick. For the top 4 rides, you had to wait in line to get an access pass, which would give you a 1 hour time window to enter the ride line — to wait again for the actual ride. After waiting for about 40 minutes, we acquired access passes for 1-2 pm. We scooted a half mile away to his #2 coaster, to pick up an access pass for THAT one, also 1-2 pm. Darn. That’s going to be tight.
Back to Maverick to wait for our 1 pm window. About 20 minutes before our time, the ride went down for a mechanical problem. No worries, I thought. Let’s run back to ride #2, use THAT pass, then hopefully get back here by 2 pm. Back to ride #2 and it’s down for a mechanical problem. OK, let’s ride another coaster while we’re waiting — the coaster across the way showed a 15 minute wait. Easy peasy. Except while in line, THAT ride went down for a mechanical problem and the 15 minute wait turned into 40+ minutes. After our 60 second ride, we checked on ride #2, still down. Half mile back to Maverick and it is working now, it is before 2 pm, so we got in line. Yay! Only to have Maverick go down with a mechanical problem again! 4.5 hours after arriving at the park, we finally rode Maverick. Ride #2 never even reopened that day. We gave up on coasters.
We had opted for a special bundle package which included entrance ticket, parking, and 3 “tastings” from their special Fall event menu. Essentially, the food part was free. So we turned our attention to getting our free tastings. Now, I’m used to Epcot Food and Wine festival which offers special tastings at food booths, separate from the normal food venues. Here, the “specials” were provided at the normal restaurants, which were already fewer than usual. So, you guessed it — long lines. Everywhere. For our 6 tastings, we went 5 different places which are flung out all over the park. Every time, we waited. And the food was hit or miss: the soups in a bread bowl was great and the special fries were decent, but the hot chocolate was watered down, the special burger was cold, and the funnel cake was overfried/crunchy. By the time we got the last food item, the park was closing.
In 8.5 hours, we rode exactly 2 coasters and got our 6 free tastings. We didn’t even have time to see any of the shows. Our entire day was spent walking and standing in line. I wouldn’t exactly call it a fail, but it was close. I’m sure in non-COVID times it’s a great time, but right now, it’s pretty much a disaster. The fall and Halloween decorations were nice, though.
Disney has spoiled me for anything less.
That was only one day of our stay here. We also took the ferry to Put-in-Bay on nearby South Bass Island. We rented a golf cart and drove it all over the cute little island. There are some neat little parks and trails, and a small but vibrant town section. On one of our nature hikes I saw my first giant puffball mushroom. They are unmistakable once you’ve seen then, and I understand they are edible. I thought about harvesting one, but that goes against my “leave no trace” principles! It was a fun day.
Next destination: Spartan factory service for our routine chassis maintenance.