An Insider's look at the new dining plans at Cedar Point

March 12, 2014, 9:22 PM · One of the favorite discussion topics among theme park and amusement park fans has always been food- the variety available, the quality and especially the cost of eating at a park. Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio was once known for its fine dining, but that was many years ago, and while there are still some very good, very high-quality restaurants to be found at Cedar Point (Bay Harbor Restaurant and Famous Dave's at the Cedar Point Marina and Tomo Hibachi in the Breakers Hotel) Cedar Point has for years been fighting an uphill battle for culinary respect. This year it is adding an option to address the issue of value in eating at America's Roller Coast.

Famous Dave's
Famous Dave's has been a popular meal-time choice for visitors to Cedar Point. Can new meal plans help keep more visitors inside the park for lunch and dinner?

Cedar Point is rolling out two new dining options this year: an "All Day Dining Plan" and "Single Meal Deals". For $29.99 plus tax (bringing it to a grand total of $32.16 per person per day) guests at Cedar Fair's flagship park in Sandusky, Ohio can purchase the All Day Dining Plan and eat to their heart's content all day long at their choice of seven dining establishments in the park. The locations honoring the plan are Lakeside Express, Pink's, Corral, Coasters, Round-Up, Gristmill Refreshments and Dragon's Inn. An All-Day Dining wristband entitles the wearer to an entree and side dish at any participating location, but soft drinks are NOT included. There must be a 90-minute wait between purchases.

Information from Cedar Point's website states that "Menu choices include (the following combos): Cheeseburger, Colossal Dog, Chicken Finger, Perch, Cheese on a Stick, Hot Dog on a stick, Specialty Dog, Bacon Chili Cheeseburger and Pizza." It doesn't say if that is an all-inclusive list or if other items served at these restaurants (all of which are counter service with some having indoor seating while others at strictly walk-up counters with outdoor seating adjacent) can be purchased with the Plan. It also doesn't say what the "side" with the entree is.

The other new dining option this year is a "Single Meal Deal", which is available on-line only and costs $13.99 plus tax ($15.00 total). It allows one meal at any of the above locations, but does include a 20oz. fountain drink.

The choice of dining locations seem to be well spread out throughout the huge park. I was glad to see that Pink's has been included, since they have terrific hot dogs and sides, and Coasters has great burgers in a 1950's diner atmosphere (including vintage cars parked in front of the art deco restaurant). The other locations are your basic counter service "burgers and fries" places, but all have seating areas directly adjacent with many tables under umbrella cover.

Cedar Point doesn't open until May 10th (assuming the glacier that Lake Erie has become this winter doesn't wipe it off the map...that's a joke by the way), so I won't be able to check out these dining options first-hand and evaluate the value of them until Ohio thaws out. I discovered that Cedar Fair is also offering these dining options at other parks in their "family" with a variety of prices. Kings Island in Mason, Ohio charges the same for the all day option while the single meal is $12.99; Michigan's Adventure, a much smaller park on the west side of Lower Michigan, charges $23.99 for the all day option and $11.99 for the single meal.

It will be interesting to see how popular these dining options are with guests.

Replies (18)

March 12, 2014 at 10:09 PM · Is this the first column by James Koehl? I really enjoyed it. I'd love to see more from him. It was great seeing some info on Cedar Point. That was a place my husband visited a lot as a kid and I hear stories about it all the time, but have only been there once.

I really like James' style. The dining plans always confuse me, since I never know if they are a good value or deal for my family. The Disney Dining Plans just make my head spin. To me, they make things too complicated and I don't like how they created the nightmare reservations system in the parks. My parents used to take me and my sibs to WDW every few years and they said they don't remember it ever feeling like a hassle to eat somewhere, but when we all went as a family a few years ago when my boys were little and they encountered the current situation with the meal plans, my folks just hated dealing with it. I was too little to remember the logistics of what it was like before the dining plans and as an adult they have always just been there in place for me. I kind of wish they would go away but know they never will.

I want to see more columns from James Koehl! This is a guy who knows how to provide information with a clever joke that has the right spirit to it for this great site. I think this might be the kind of style that another writer tries for, but he just goes too far with the negative energy for his own good. Maybe James can give him some pointers.

March 12, 2014 at 10:25 PM · FWIW, you can click any front-page writer's "byline" (his or her name at the top of the post) to see a short bio and list of the most recent posts he or she has written for the front page.
March 12, 2014 at 10:30 PM · @ Annette: First off, James has been writing here for, say, three years. He certainly helps people like me who are beginners to Cedar Point on how to make the most out of a trip while finding out which deals are worth doing. Mr. Koehl, kudos and keep up the good work.

Secondly, James and Jeff are actually friends in real life, which is why James usually defends Jeff when you "attack" him. You are entitled to your opinion, but this is certainly not the place to do so. Personally, I'm glad to live in a world where we can enjoy both for their unique styles.

March 13, 2014 at 3:45 AM · With a name like "James" how can the guy go wrong? He can't. Appreciate the Cedar Point update, bro...

But, I gotta ask, is the Coasters at Cedar Point different than the Coasters at nearby Worlds of Fun? I hope so, cause the burgers at WoF are school cafeteria quality - at best. Of course, I have not visited my home park for a couple years, so perhaps Matt Ouimet has mandated better ingredients and better prep in my absence?

Oh, they just built a Famous Dave's within walking distance of my house. While there are better BBQ places in KC, the Texas Manhandler at Dave's is a sandwich with which one should not trifle. Yum. Too bad it is not included in the meal plan or purchasing it would be a no brainer. Does the Famous Dave's at Cedar Point have the same menu as the rest of the chain?

Last question: you mentioned other Cedar Fair parks have a similar meal deal as the park formerly known as the Coaster Capital of the World. We can continue the discussion offline, but at some point I do need to find out from you if there are good dining choices at Cedar Fair's other Ohio park, Kings Island.... Banshee is calling mightily to me and my family!

(Hmmmm, I seem to recall our very own Robert Niles wrote some articles about food at King's Island a few years back. I may need to do some digging....)

March 13, 2014 at 6:25 AM · @James Trexen - Is what Jeff does really "a unique style"? I sure wouldn't call it that. To me, what James did was funny, with the acknowledgement of how bad the winter has been and how much ice has been on the Great it was an Ice Age happening. It was funny.

When Jeff does the Blog Flume, he says things like, "Disney California Adventure is still open and surprisingly hasn't burned down and had horrible tragic deaths there". It's just not funny. I'm sure Jeff is a nice person, but he's not funny.

James' little joke was clever and well-placed. It added to the article. Jeff's weird, negative remarks detract from his columns. I enjoy the information he's given...and then the column stops for violent images of things burning down and people being maimed or whatever...and then it's back to telling us about a ride in development...and then a stale jab at Disney costing a full year's salary to visit or whatever. It feels like the Blog Flume is built around these weird, negative images he wants to put out into the world instead of how James did this column, where he had awesome information and really provided something interesting and then put some expertly placed jokes in.

That's why I think James could teach Jeff a few things.

March 13, 2014 at 9:07 AM · With the birth of the writer came the inevitable afterbirth: the Literary Critic.

Annette, you don't like the Blog Flume Filter. Noted. Other folks do. Not every article is perfect for every person. Thankfully we get to pick and choose what we read and no one is forcing our hand.

However, since this article ('An Insider's look at the new dining plans at Cedar Point) is written by somebody not named Jeff, we should probably focus our comments on the subject of this article and not our writing style likes and dislikes, yes?

March 13, 2014 at 11:00 AM · Excellent reportage as usual, James. From what you quote about the menu choices, it's clear that they were not chosen with vegetarians in mind. This is why I will not purchase a meal plan at any theme park. I can understand places such as the retirement home where my 90-year-old mother lives not offering vegetarian entrees, as vegetarianism was practically unheard of in her generation, but the times they are a changing and it's time for theme parks to get with it.
March 13, 2014 at 11:07 AM · For every critic, we get more critics. Why can't we respect each other's opinions? That's why we post. We shouldn't tell each other that we should refrain from giving an opinion of an opinion because... Are we such fragile flowers?
March 13, 2014 at 11:10 AM · I think Jeff's writing is both informative & adult humorous. Many of his comments require a good background knowledge of theme parks and a strong intellectual capacity. Jim's articles, as always, are well written & very informative. It's nice to have different writing styles on TPI. It helps keep things interesting. But then, there always appears to be someone that needs attention by tearing down Jeff's writing. One suggestion, if you don't like a writer's reports, don't read his articles.
March 13, 2014 at 11:40 AM · "One suggestion, if you don't like a writer's reports, don't read his articles."

One suggestion, if you don't like a critic's writing, don't read the critic's post.

March 13, 2014 at 12:00 PM · Anon: It's one thing to critique a writer. But Annette has "repeatedly" criticized Jeff's writing, even referring to him in articles he hasn't written. It verges on a vendetta of sorts and I think the constant bashing of someone that is contributing articles on his own time is in very bad taste.
March 13, 2014 at 5:37 PM · The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.

Oscar Wilde

March 13, 2014 at 5:43 PM · Jeff: You're a great sport & a class act. Please keep your superb reports coming.
March 13, 2014 at 7:11 PM · Jeff, TPI needs you like the desert needs the rain. Peace.
March 13, 2014 at 8:34 PM · Wow! And I thought this was a throw-away article that nobody would pay attention to! James Rao (whose last name I am proud to be able to say I know how to pronounce correctly)- I'm not nearly as familiar with Kings Island as I am Cedar Point (since it's about 3 hours away compared to the less than 1hr to Cedar Point) but they seem to have a very extensive list of eating establishments that take the dining plans offered- more locations actually than Cedar Point. This is not all-inclusive and I got it from their website, but some of them are the Coconut Cove CafĂ© in Soak City (which is included in admission to KI, unlike CP's Soak City which is a separate admission), several Skyline Chili locations, Festhaus (a huge German beer garden), Hank's Burrito Shack (located in the Oktoberfest section for some reason!), several pizza locations and the Juke Box Diner, similar to Coasters at CP. My favorite restaurant at KI is the Reds Hall of Fame Grille, featuring famous Cincinnati Reds ball players (sorry- don't know about Pete Rose being in there) but it doesn't take the dining plan.

The Coasters restaurant at CP, and all the restaurants in the park, now use only fresh hamburgers, not frozen as in the past- this is something that started at least last year and possibly earlier. I noticed the difference.

Lastly, Famous Dave's at Cedar Point. It is located smack dab in the middle of the Cedar Point Marina, and has an outdoor dining patio along with a very large indoor dining area, decorated like all Famous Dave's locations. We love to eat outside, surrounded by an amazing variety of private boats from small sailboats to cabin cruisers to huge yachts that would make the Queen of England say, "Holy C%@6! Look at the size of that thing!"...well, maybe not. I believe the menu is the same as at all other Famous Dave's, and we usually try to have a meal there several times during the season. It's outside the park, but the Marina Gate is right across the Perimeter Road from the Marina and it's a very short walk there. If you think about it, and if you have to pay for parking, take your parking receipt to
Famous Dave's and (at least in the past) the waiter will "validate" it with a discount on your bill. That is often enough to cover the tip...a money saving suggestion.

I hope that this covers everything. I just got home from work, where I was stuck for three days with this last winter storm to hit Ohio. I need sleep.

March 13, 2014 at 10:33 PM · With that sleep, maybe you'll remember to log in next time, James. ;-)
March 14, 2014 at 3:17 AM · Uh, yea, sorry about that. My 40 minute drive home took nearly two hours last night due to black ice. And I get to do it all over again this morning!
March 14, 2014 at 3:46 AM · Thanks for the info, Mr. Koehl ('Kayl'). I've found a few TPI posts related to Kings Island food, but most from circa 2009 or previous. I am thinking things have changed quite a bit since then, as they have at Cedar Point.

I may have to head up to Worlds of Fun at least once this season just to see if the same food improvements have made it to the smaller Cedar Fair parks as well. Fresh, not frozen, burgers could be a significant improvement.

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