Cedar Fair managers are ready, but anxious, to welcome guests to the company's flagship resort, Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio, starting tomorrow, July 9.
Ready, because media guests were offered a self-guided tour of the front portion of the park, where we witnessed the carefully-planned-and-executed health and safety procedures that have been installed for guests returning for their pandemic-delayed roller coaster and elephant ear fix. Anxious, because we at the event could feel that the Cedar Point administration is anxious to be sure that they have done everything in their power to provide a safe and enjoyable experience to their returning guests, coming to “A Place Like No Other” that in many ways looks the same as last year, but different in others.
The procedures are much like those at every other park that's reopened. At this time, guests must have reservations made ahead of time, using the Cedar Point app. On arrival, they must use the Main Gate. The Resorts Gate, near Cedar Point Shores (which is not opening this season) is reserved for Hotel Breakers and the Lighthouse Point and Camper Village guests only. The other two gates, the Beach and Marina Gates, will not be open this year. After distance waiting in a winding queue, guests will enter a large, air-conditioned tent for temperature screening. We were asked to stand on a spot in front of a white screen, and a camera placed about 10 feet away scanned us - and gave a body temperature much more accurately than the hand-held thermometer we use at work. We then proceeded to security, which seemed to be handled in the same fashion as in the past.
I can’t report on how tickets are handled, since we had media credentials and were waved into the park, but I believe that they want everyone to - if possible - have your tickets or passes already on your phone app to be scanned in, allowing for contactless entry into the park. I added my season pass into my phone last night and it was quick and hassle-free. I know others did have problems, especially when there were multiple members of the same party, so if going be sure you have everything loaded in and current ahead of time.
The tour was a self-guided chance to explore five areas of interest which showed a good cross-section of the changes instituted by Cedar Point to ensure as much as possible the safety of guests while adhering to the plans required by local and State of Ohio health regulations. Those areas were:
Point Plaza - At the main front-gate shop for souvenirs and collectibles, park officials showed off social distancing markers in the store and the procedure for guests to self-scan, bag, and pay for their merchandise. They also showed some of the new merchandise for the 2020 season. Although there was no mention of the pandemic, there were generic face masks for sale, and Cedar Point-specific masks ($9.99 each) will be arriving next week. The park also will begin selling - and eventually trading - collectible pins, and complete selections of starter sets were on display.
maXair - It wasn’t running, but you could go through the queue to see how the social distancing markers were placed on the ground. You also could see that the park had reduced the available seats by two-thirds. Every rider will have two empty seats on either side of them. And for those of you who know me, the answer is... no. I still won’t ride maXair.
GateKeeper - Running, but always empty, probably just for atmosphere. You could enter the queue just to see the same distancing markers as on maXair. I have no idea how the seating will be handled on the ride itself.
RelaxZones - These are areas where you can take off your mask. Other than while actively eating or drinking, this is the only place in the park where you can do so. The Lakeside Lawn (where the Oceana Station was located) is now a collection of distanced chairs - a few with umbrellas - and several hand sanitation stations. I suspect this area was chosen because of its wide-open space.
French Quarter Confections - A new building at the front gate, where in the past you could get taffy, cotton candy and fudge, is now an indoor confectionary shop featuring waffles, donuts, funnel cakes, and elephant ears - along with the candies and snacks that always could be found at this location. Just like outside, the ubiquitous distancing signs are on the ground, and the tables located outside were well-distanced from each other to meet health requirements. BTW, the funnel cakes and elephant ears that I shared with my buddy and photographer Scott E. were terrific!
The rules for guests at Cedar Point are not complicated. You must wear a mask at all times, except while eating, drinking or in a RelaxZone. You must maintain social distancing with other guests not in your party. You must have, at least at this time, a reservation to be admitted into the park, and you must pass the temperature check before being admitted.
This is now a personal thought. Right now Ohio is being baked with one of the longest stretches of 90+ degree weather in years. It’s miserably hot, and Cedar Point is no exception. The pandemic is not Cedar Point’s fault - not the park management's fault, not the employees’ fault, not other guests’ fault. Don’t get mad at them. Nobody wants to wear a mask. Nobody wants to have to make reservations. Nobody wants there to be six feet of social distancing between riders, nor to send out what looks like two-thirds empty coasters. It is what it is. Just deal with it.
If you can’t stand the heat while wearing a mask, then don’t go. We all understand, and personally I do feel bad for you. While I wish that we didn’t have to wear them, or that everyone could wear them with no problem, this is just the way it is this year. If everyone cooperates, works together and we get this pandemic under control, hopefully then next year we can all be back at Cedar Point, complaining about the long lines at Steel Vengeance, dodging the seagulls in the parking lot and having an amazing time at Cedar Point, a place that really is “like no other.”
Will I be going back this year as a guest? I don’t know. I do worry about myself - I work in a pharmacy that provides services for hundreds of nursing homes, and we’ve lost hundreds of patients to this pandemic. Believe what you want, but it’s real - and deadly for far too many. My wife has several medical conditions that leave her immunocompromised, and I live in fear of bringing the virus home to her. She would probably not survive it. I feel confident that Cedar Point has done everything it can to lessen the chance of someone catching it, but all their efforts will only work if people follow the rules - stay home if you’re sick, wear your mask, socially distance, and use the hand sanitizing stations throughout the park...and use your common sense. The platitude that has been thrown around since this all started is true - we’re all in this together.
Perhaps it takes an event like this to make us truly appreciate and realize what a gem we have on America’s North Coast.
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