Another May, another disaster of a CP opening weekend. In what has become an annual tradition CP totally botched their opening weekend as the huge crowds were met with tons of closed rides, rides constantly breaking down, lines being 30-60min for people who purchased Fastlane, hour plus waits for food, etc etc. And people took their displeasure to the internet as they even made the local news for not being prepared and poorly ran.
I have been to a grand total of one opening weekend at CP (2018) and have sworn will never go again. Without diving into a big rant i'll just say it was probably the worst display of theme park operations I have seen in my 30 years of basically living amusement parks, CP that weekend was making Magic Mountain circa 2002 look good. It was that bad. And from what I have read since then things have not gotten better. It's a huge problem for Cedar Fair to have tons of people getting the experience of their flagship being a poorly ran ripoff.
At the core of the problem is that CP, which is a huge destination park that needs tons of seasonal staff, does not have any way of properly staffing the place in the spring. Its two major population centers (Toledo and Cleveland) are both an hour away and neither of those are places where tons of people are looking for random jobs they can do a few months of the year including weekends in Spring/Fall to begin with. They do have onsite housing for employees and they have programs where kids from around the region + international employees come to live and work but obviously most college kids aren't going to be able to do this while school is still in session.
Looking at their operating hours this year they are greatly reduced particularly in August and September (although they may not have posted the September schedule yet, as it shows them closed the entire month after the first week). This seems to be an acknowledgement that without international employees they won't be able to properly staff the parks so they don't want to be open and deal with all of the complaints. Over the years they have done things like offer free onsite housing in May/October. This year they have a $500 signing bonus which is actually crazy if you think about it because that's like two weekends worth of pay for these kids.
My idea: they can't really "fix" this problem so they need to work around it.
If what they are currently doing with free housing and signing bonuses isn't working I can't think of any other way to bring in the big armies of seasonal staff they need for weekends in spring so I think they should break their season up into three sections. Hershey and Europa Parks actually do something similar where they have spring/ summer/fall/winter sections of their season and they have different offerings for each one and sell tickets at different prices. Pre-season should be weekends in May before Memorial Day, Summer Season would be memorial weekend-labor day weekend, and after that would be Halloweekends. For pre-season they would advertise that half of the park will be open from 10am-3pm, and then that half would close and the other half would be open from 3pm-8pm.
Of course they would have to complicate their ticket system a lot and play capacity/pricing games which i'm sure they don't want to do, but if the alternative is to have thousands and thousands of angry people bashing you on tripadvisor and all over the internet every spring then you gotta do what you gotta do.Tweet