Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio reopened to annual passholders with previously made reservations on July 9, 2020. Passholders for the 2020 season are allowed to make two single-day reservations at a time. We were informed that to enter the park we would need to agree to wear a mask for the entire stay and pass the required health screening. Face masks were being sold for $2 each outside of the park entrance. Our family trip on Saturday, July 11 turned out to be a fun day back at our “second home,” but not without some big disappointments.
By Emma Beltz
Pulling into the parking lot, we noticed the new entrance tolls which kept the flow of traffic moving much more efficiently than their old system. This was a relief to us, considering our trip to Kings Island on July 4 was halted due to their new entrance tolls. There, we were stuck in an unorganized mess of cars for 45 minutes as the park was supposed to be opening.
As we pulled through, the Cedar Point toll staff told us to stay in our car until 10 minutes before our reservation started. Heading into the park was a bit of a mess. The health screening tents are situated between the parking lot and park entrance, and the line to go through the tent was very long with little to no social distancing. There was very little organization leading up to the tents compared to our trip to Kings Island, which was much more streamlined with staff spread throughout the line giving directions. The screening itself was very quick. Every person walked through a temperature check area one at a time.
The park itself seemed clean, but not completely ready to welcome guests. There were hand sanitizer stations throughout the entire park. The biggest disappointment of the trip was the lack of open bathrooms. Almost every bathroom in the park was closed, and there were multiple times we had to walk across the entire park to find one that was available.
Although most people were wearing their masks, the mask-wearing was enforced much more strictly at Kings Island than Cedar Point. There were multiple times I noticed Kings Island security workers in black uniforms telling people to put their masks back on or to cover their noses, which is a component of safety that Cedar Point seemed to lack. Cedar Point’s attractions staff seemed to be the only ones attempting to keep guests wearing their masks.
At the park, they wiped down the seats on the train every loading, but I did not see them wipe down any coasters, nor did I see any wiping down of coasters at Kings Island. On our recent trip to Dollywood, every guest was required to use provided hand sanitizer before riding any attraction, but there was little to no enforcement of wearing a mask. If I were to rank the three parks, I would say I felt the most safe at Kings Island, then Cedar Point, then Dollywood.
In an effort to ensure social distancing, Cedar Point employed a “return pass” system for its three most popular attractions: Steel Vengeance, Millennium Force, and Maverick. The passes have a specified, hour-long window in which you return to ride the attraction. This system had multiple issues.
To start, most guests did not know what was going on. They would see a “short” wait time and join the people standing at the entrance of the attraction who were waiting for their return time window to begin. The lack of communication was frustrating to many guests because they would wait outside of an attraction for up to an hour, get to the queue, and then be told they needed a pass to ride.
Another issue was that the lines forming outside of the actual attraction queue completely defeated the entire purpose of the pass. There was little to no social distancing and since guests weren’t in an actual queue with shade, they would get hot in the sun and take their masks off. The queues all had social distancing markers on the ground that were not even being used, because the lines in the actual queues were so short.
Our plan was to start at the back of the park, get the Steel Vengeance pass, then Maverick, then Millennium Force. We arrived at Steel Vengeance six minutes after park opening and our designated time was 6:00-7:00 p.m. This seemed too late in the day, considering we were some of the first guests there. This entire process was extremely frustrating. The pass system at Kings Island was much more smoothly run and organized. The pass system needs to be revised at Cedar Point.
Besides the pass-regulated rides, there were not many attractions available or running. The other operating attractions included Magnum XL-200, Iron Dragon, Corkscrew, Skyhawk, Mine Ride, and Wilderness Run. We noticed Valravn and Raptor operating occasionally but with frequent shutdowns. These attractions had wait times of forty-five to sixty-five minutes which would be very high for a typical summer day. The attractions not operating included Top Thrill Dragster, Power Tower, Windseeker, Maxair, Gemini, Blue Streak, Wicked Twister, and Gatekeeper. We were extremely disappointed to see many of our favorite attractions closed for the day.
Although it wasn’t a perfect day, we still had a great time and were so excited to be back at Cedar Point. We were impressed with a number of things, including the newly-renovated restaurant French Quarter Confections, the new line of vintage T-shirts by Homage, the live entertainment throughout the park, and the new customized pavers added to the main walkway.
We tried the mini donuts from French Quarter Confections and immediately decided we would need to get them every time we return. The new collection of vintage merchandise included T-shirts and hoodies with classic ’80’s and ’90’s Cedar Point attractions. There were many options for live entertainment throughout the day, which was a nice way to take a break from walking around in the sun. For the 150th anniversary, Cedar Point decided to sell customizable pavers to be placed in the park’s walkway. Reading the messages and looking for our own paver was a fun way to pass the time waiting for our designated return pass time.
Overall, as Cedar Point lovers, we had a really good day. We got to ride some of our favorite attractions and eat some of our favorite park snacks again. However, Cedar Point could have done this opening better and should take notes from its “sister park,” Kings Island.