Cedar Point Hidden Costs

Cedar Point: Cedar Point is everything it claims to be -- except affordable.

From Gina Boltz
Posted August 1, 2010 at 6:37 AM
I grew up going to Cedar Point and have been there dozens of times. Yesterday was the first time we've been back in a decade (we're older now). We took friends from Massachusetts there and were sorely disappointed.

Cedar Point is everything it claims to be: immaculate, beautiful, and is filled with great coasters and other activities. What it doesn't tell you is the hidden ways it's a huge waste of money.

After spending $47.00 per ticket, you must wait in line up to two hours for the most popular rides which last between 1-2 minutes. Figure it out -- with all the waiting, how many rides do you really get to go on?

Two rides our friend especially wanted to experience were closed. This was not posted at the main gate. Had we known, we would have returned another time.

CP used to offer more and a wider variety rides. Many are no longer there. Perhaps they were removed to make room for the coasters.

The prices of food -- egads! We spent $17.50 at one concession for two hot dogs, two drinks, and a handful of fries. In one gift shop, a box of candy that cost $1.00 at Walgreens was nearly $4.00. A bottle of water was $3.50.

The other fun activities like arcades and such are very expensive. So if you're tired of standing in line for rides and actually want to DO something, you'll need a small fortune.

Other things disappointed us too. Many employees, including ride operators and announcers, have foreign accents and are hard to understand. Other people complained about this, especially when it regarded safety instructions for entering and exiting a ride.

And, while normal park noises and sounds add a special ambience to amusement park trips, Cedar Point now blares music through speakers near restaurants, buildings, benches, and above waiting lines. Sometimes we couldn't hear each other talk.

While Cedar Point is still something every kid will enjoy, don't expect the price of a ticket to cover most expenses, and don't expect the full Cedar Point ride experience unless it's a slow day with short lines.

From Nick Markham
Posted August 1, 2010 at 7:06 AM
I hate to say this, but Cedar Point is not alone. Every theme park these days ups prices because, well, they can. They figure one won't leave the park just for a bottled water.

Oh, and as for the music, that is also common for every park to do.

I myself like the music, but as far as everything else you said, it is very sad, but very true...

From Joshua Counsil
Posted August 3, 2010 at 9:44 PM
I agree with much of what you said having visited the park the day after you, despite that I think the coaster selection is excellent.

The music is irritating. The lines are long and hot. The food is ridiculously over-priced (though most theme parks follow this trend). I ride operators are difficult to understand, not because they're foreign, but because they don't know how to talk into a mic.

I have a full trip report on the way.

From Elizabeth Gray
Posted August 4, 2010 at 6:55 AM
The food prices are still better than any Six Flags. However, you NEVER have to buy food in Cedar Point itself. If you exit to the beach near Wicked Twister and make a left. There is is a TGIF Fridays up the beach. If you are going to pay high prices for food, might as well get a "good" meal, a nice view and a real drink.

I usually get an Ultimate Mudslide and hope I don't puke later. :)

Which rides were closed? Top Thrill Dragster is never annouced if it is open or closed because of the nature of the ride.

I just went to Knoebles for the 1st time last weekend. That was one of the best parks for food and the prices were great. 5 of us and a baby ate a sit down meal for $40.00 bucks total.

From Derek Potter
Posted August 4, 2010 at 6:04 AM
Sorry your trip wasn't all you wanted it to be Gina. Perspective always helps with this kind of stuff. Many of these practices are common with all large parks. However, many large parks don't offer the quality that Cedar Point does. Let's take a look.

Music- I can't remember a time when Cedar Point didn't have music throughout the park. I'm not sure I remember a time when any park didn't have music. Perhaps a few of those speakers are misplaced, and they are guilty of crappy music from time to time.

Variety of rides- Aside from a couple of duplicate flat rides, Cedar Point has removed 3 major rides in the last 20 years. Mill Race was closed in '93 to build Raptor. Demon Drop was removed at the end of last year, and the other is White Water Landing, removed for Maverick and then replaced by Shoot The Rapids this year. Oceana closed in 1998, after losing 3 of it's 4 dolphins in a two year period. They've moved a few rides to other places in the park to make room, but mostly have just found room to build more coasters. The ratio of coasters to other rides has changed, but they really haven't torn anything down. I do agree that they could use a little more variety.

Ticket Prices- Cedar Point's gate price is $45. Their resort ticket price is $30, and their Wed/Sun online deal is $35. There are various discounts with local businesses as well. Perspective time...
Disney gate price- $82 (per park)
Universal gate price- $69
Busch gate price- Williamsburg $61..Tampa $75
Six Flags Magic Mountain- $59
Six Flags Great America- $54
I could go on and on. All of those parks have online deals too, but it appears to me that even at full price, Cedar Point isn't that bad of a bargain.

Foreign employees- Cedar Point has an exchange student program that they've used for years. It helps them to fully staff the park. Being in Sandusky Ohio, it's not always easy to find 4000 people to fill a 4 month position. I sometimes have a little difficulty understanding them as well. I've never seen too many of them operating rides though.

The Price of Food- Name one park (besides Holiday World) that doesn't overprice their food. They all do it, and people pay for it. All of those big coasters and other rides cost money to operate and build, and parks have to find ways to make profit. They can't charge McDonalds prices because they aren't operating a McDonalds, unless of course you want to pay a hundred dollar ticket price instead of $47. Higher than normal food prices are a necessary evil in most cases, although in some they aren't.

Long Lines- Cedar Point moves about 3 to 3.5 million people in about 4 months. That's a rough average of about 25,000 people a day. On weekends though, like the Saturday you went, the crowds become far bigger. I can only imagine what a peak season Saturday is like, because I stay away on those. Believe it or not, the Cedar Point ride ops are some of the most efficient in the business, and they usually run their rides to capacity on busy days. That's a couple thousand people per hour for many of the coasters. In short, our friend Gina here had the misfortune of going to the park on one of the busiest days of the year. The crowd was probably half the size on Wednesday or Thursday.

This is exactly why sites like Theme Park Insider are helpful. People can share their experiences and offer their opinions, and others can learn from them and respond with their own experiences. There's a wealth of information on this site, all you have to do is look. If you can't find it, all you have to do is ask. I'll wrap up with a few tips from a Cedar Point veteran.

-Don't buy tickets at the gate. You can always find them cheaper either online, through a hotel, or a discount through a business.

-Don't go on the weekend. Cedar Point becomes an absolute zoo on the weekends. Spring weekends, summer weekends, Halloweekends...all are crowded. If possible, go between Monday and Thursday. Your experience will be much more complete and fulfilling.

-If you want to do everything, budget two days. It's a big park with a lot of attractions. There are some exceptions. In late August, the crowds are down enough to be able to do most of it in one day, provided you get there early and leave at closing.

-Stay at one of their resorts. Your tickets will be cheaper, you'll have early entry, and you are right there. Aside from the main towers of the Breakers, the room rates are pretty competitive with the other hotels outside of the park. I recommend Breakers Express if on a tighter budget.

-Pack light. A few of the rides require that you get a locker, and again...it's a big park.

-Get there when the park opens, and start on the north side. That's the back of the park, opposite the main entry gates.

Follow those guidelines, and you'll have a better stay at Cedar Point.

From Elizabeth Gray
Posted August 4, 2010 at 8:11 AM
@ Derek "Name one park (besides Holiday World) that doesn't overprice their food."

I can name two.. KENNYWOOD & KNOEBLES.

From Derek Potter
Posted August 4, 2010 at 10:08 AM
I'll rephrase the question...Name one big park that doesn't overcharge for food.

There is a certain economic reality that makes a park like Cedar Point different from a park like Knoebels. Smaller operations don't hack on food because they don't have 15 plus coasters and 400 acres full of attractions to maintain. A place like Cedar Point costs several million dollars to operate every year. That includes wages for 4000 people, utilities, insurance, taxes, marketing, etc, etc, etc. If Kennywood and Knoebels were that big, I guarantee their food prices would be high as well.

That's not a knock on the little guys at all. I really like going to the smaller parks too. I am an eternal defender/promoter of the smaller operations around the country. Kennywood and Knoebels are two of the best. All theme park fans should visit both places.

From Robert Niles
Posted August 10, 2010 at 6:51 PM
One big park that doesn't overcharge for food?

Based upon what I saw today: Islands of Adventure. The table-service restaurant food prices there are insanely low compared with counter-service prices elsewhere in the industry. And on par with table-service prices I find outside the park.

From Becky Conat
Posted August 11, 2010 at 10:11 AM
I am sorry that Cedar Point was disappointing to you.

The only thing I can suggest for a better trip next time is not to go in the height of the busy season. I always suggest Sundays and then also to go in May (not opening day) or September.

There is a picnic area off the left by the main entrance where you can store a cooler and food on the picnic benches for free all day.

Since we go on non busy days we usually get to on all the coasters we want, usually with 2 rides on Millenium, SkyHawk, Maxair and our other favs.

Really if you go during the busy time you should set aside 2-3 days if you want to ride everything, especially since rides do break down occasionally.

I am going to Six Flags Chicago next weekend, so I will take note of prices and see how they were compared to our CP trip this spring.

Also, You shouldn't ever have to pay full price for CP. Always go to a Meijers (they are everywhere in Ohio) before hitting up the park. You can get tickets cheaper and don't have to wait in the ticket purchasing line.

From Rick Barber
Posted September 1, 2010 at 1:22 PM
I have to agree with you Gina, and it's not just Cedar Point. It is all the Cedar Fair parks. Their bottom line appears to be just money and not the customer and the customer's experience from what I've seen. They get you at the gate, with season pass prices and policies, and inside the park with food and souvenirs. If you buy a season pass it's only good for the year that you buy it for as in 2011, it's not good from the date of purchase if you bought it in 2010 (except they will let you have a single day admission with that pass in 2010). I haven't found another major chain that does that yet - all the other chains completely honor it from the date of purchase. That doesn't make them 'bad', it's just something people should be aware of since it doesn't appear to be the 'norm' from my research.

Dollywood's food is easily 1/2 that of Cedar Point, and if you're a Gold passholder show your pass anywhere in the park to get an instant 20% off. No park bucks to pre-buy or deal with. Yes, Cedar Fair parks do have more thrill rides to maintain than Dollywood but Dollywood has lots of shows with live talented people that are expensive, too. If you ever go to Dollywood, you'll feel like family there, the staff is so friendly and makes you want to come back even if they don't have as big of selection of rides. The trade-off with Dollywood is the higher prices to get into the park.

Six Flags gives you a really good price on season passes that let you get into any of their parks from the time you purchase the passes. You know they're going to be expensive inside the park since it's so economical to get into the park but they do have a nice selection of thrill rides.

So if thrill rides are your thing, then the Cedar Fair parks are something that you should look at attending at least once to get your thrill. If you are looking for value for your dollar across the board then I recommend that you look at all of your options and make the best choice for you.

From Mike Gallagher
Posted September 1, 2010 at 12:56 PM
Rick said: "If you buy a season pass it's only good for the year that you buy it for,"

Umm, yeah, that's why it's called a "season" pass.

Rick said, " it's not good from the date of purchase"

If you walk up to a Cedar Fair (whatever park) ticket booth and buy a pass, you are a season pass-holder and can walk right in when you have your pass in hand and validated. I've done it at Dorney AND KD. Can you back up your above statement?

From Rick Barber
Posted September 1, 2010 at 1:30 PM
Sorry, I'll clarify (and I edited my post above to clarify). If you buy a season pass for the following season it is only good for the following season, not from the time you buy it even if it is near the end of the previous season. They will let you in the park for that one day but not for any other days that season.

If you buy a 2011 season pass right now, it's not good for the rest of 2010 at most Cedar Fair parks like it is at any park I've ever bought them from. Anywhere else has always accepted them for the rest of the existing season and not just the following season.

I just mentioned it so others were clear about it because lots of other people that go to other parks aren't used to that. The parks that I've gone to are happy to get you into the park at the end of the season they are open anyway and paying to be open. They hope you (and I always do) buy food and other things to help them make money at the end of the season. The policy just doesn't make sense to me. If anybody knows business they know it's harder and more expensive to get new customers than to keep existing customers. Cedar Fair's policy of season pass renewals is great! I just don't understand the policy as it pertains to newbie season pass owners.

It comes across to me that they just want me to buy a gate pass so I can go for a whole weekend in October 2010 because I don't have a season pass. Why shouldn't a 2011 season pass let me get in for the month of October?

From Mike Gallagher
Posted September 1, 2010 at 1:28 PM
Didn't think you were making anything up. Thanks for clarifying. I can only state that I bought my 2007 CF Platinum Pass at Kings Dominion on a Saturday in October '06. I was admitted that day, and Sunday too.

Perhaps the policy has been adjusted. Who knows? I just wanna ride!

From Rick Barber
Posted September 1, 2010 at 2:38 PM
Hehe, I hear you there! From what I gather the policy has been changed.

Anyway I see that season passes are on sale for some Six Flags parks. If you buy a 2011 season pass they'll let you go there the rest of the year and also throw in some nice stuff.

From Derek Potter
Posted September 1, 2010 at 6:23 PM
At Kings Island they usually run an end of season special. If you aren't a current passholder and you buy next year's season pass, you get into the park free for the rest of the year. Of course that's usually only a week or two, but still a good way to sell passes.

As far as Cedar Point's food, they have to charge for something people. They have a ton of overhead...probably more than most other amusement park complexes in the world. Their gate price is only a shade over 40 bucks, their season passes are pretty cheap, and their parking isn't completely outrageous when compared with other amusement parks. They have to have money from somewhere to maintain all of those rides. Their utility bills alone have to be through the roof, not to mention all the maintenance they have to do. All the hotels, the marina, roads, a beach, waterpark, several coasters and thrill rides among other attractions, restaurants, employee housing, payroll for 5000, utilities....etc etc etc. Their operation is bigger than most parks in the world today. That said, I think they charge a pretty fair price for most things. Could the quality of some of the food be better, sure. Is all the food bad at Cedar Point? Absolutely not.

From Gina Boltz
Posted November 4, 2010 at 2:43 PM
Thank you for all your comments and pointing out other options, such as coolers and TGI Fridays. Very interesting.

And yes, we did have discount coupons, but for those who don't, the regular price still stands.

Also, one of my above statements was incorrect. There were 3 coasters shut down that day, not 2. Which makes it even worse.

Regardless, if we had followed all your wonderful ideas, a 2 hour wait for a 2-minute ride is still unacceptable at ANY theme park when one pays that kind of money to get in.

And not posting which rides are shut down is unacceptable, too. Cedar Point is a rip off in itself, but it's just plain wrong when customerslearn their favorite rides are closed only after purchasing a ticket.

We will never go back, nor will our friends from Massachussets.

From Hermione Potter
Posted November 4, 2010 at 3:48 PM
Gina, I hope you never visit Orlando then. A 2 hour wait for a ride is very common 6 months out of the year at most of the parks!

From Mike Gallagher
Posted November 5, 2010 at 4:12 AM
Gina said:

Regardless, if we had followed all your wonderful ideas, a 2 hour wait for a 2-minute ride is still unacceptable at ANY theme park when one pays that kind of money to get in.

Doesn't matter how much you pay. If the park's crowded, you're gonna wait. Simple as that. Like Hermione stated..I'm paraphrasing..two hour waits are quite common. On a day when Great Adventure is not terribly crowded, the wait for Kingda Ka can still be 1-2 hours.

We will never go back, nor will our friends from Massachussets.

Cool! Less people on line...2 hours down to 1:59!

From Danielle A
Posted January 6, 2011 at 3:28 PM
I am a little late in reading this, but I came across it while browsing information while I was bored on Cedar Point. I have been to Cedar Point almost ever year since I was maybe 8 years old. And I'm almost 30 now. I don't think Cedar Point is a waste of money, or overpriced.

I mean, come on, there are parks that are WAY more than that...like Disney. $47.00 for an all day pass is worth the money..and like many others have mentioned, do not buy them at the gate! You can get better rates through Meijer, or AAA even. I've never spent more than $30-40 on admission.

As far as the food prices go, of course it's going to be higher, as with any entertainment venue, and amusement park. Like some have said, they have to make a profit right? I can't even imagine how much it costs to run that place, and maintain it the way that they do. It's the same as if you spend $100 to go to a concert or sports game at an arena. I've been to basketball games most of my life, and a bottle of water costs $3.00. It's all a matter of profit, and yes of course the money matters. If they weren't making a profit, or making enough money, then the place wouldn't be able to be in business for you.

It saddens me that just because you have to wait in a line for 2 hours, and pay a certain amount of money, that you don't want to ever go back. Very sad.

There wasn't a time I don't remember not hearing music all throughout CP. And I think the rides are just fine, yes, they have removed some rides, well a lot of rides to make room for coasters, but it makes sense right? Cedar Point is known for it's coasters, hence the ride attendants saying "Thank you for riding America's Roller Coast." To me, 2 hours isn't so bad. I remember being younger and waiting in line for the Magnum for well over 2 hours.

I agree with other people on here, maybe you should do research on the high season, and definitely don't go on a weekend! Weekdays are best, and low season to go. You won't wait that long. My family always went on the weekends, and we always waited forever in line. But we waited, and good thing enough, is that we usually hit every roller coaster in one day, even if we were waiting for 1-2 hours.

But if you want to experience the whole park and hit EVERY ride, then more than one day is best. I recommend Sandcastle Suites. I have stayed there a few times, and their rates are affordable, and they are right on the beach. You have early access to the park as well. When I stayed there I got coupons, and free admission to the park as well. I'm not sure what specials they have been running lately, because sadly I've missed the last few years due to work and other trips, but I would like to go back this year indefinitely.

I hope you find an amusement park that you can afford, and not be disappointed by.

From Gina Boltz
Posted April 30, 2011 at 4:13 PM
Thank you Danielle,
Appreciate your remarks, but there's nothing to be sad about.

Even with no other purchases and if all rides worked, paying $47 per ticket (not to mention parking) to wait 2 hours for a 1-2 minute ride isn't worth it.

It's not like Cedar Point provides entertainment or amenities for the 118 wasted minutes standing in line -- not even a place to sit or buy something to drink.

I'm happy for those who enjoy CP and have a great time. It is definitely an elite amusement park and a place children and teens should all experience. I just prefer getting more entertainment value for my hard earned money, is all.

It saddens me that just because you have to wait in a line for 2 hours, and pay a certain amount of money, that you don't want to ever go back. Very sad.

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