BLOG: Cedar Point's Fast Lane a work in progress

Tom Sherer
May 23, 2012

 

Writer’s Note: Because some people will flip out before even reading through all of this particular blog entry, I’ll say this up-front: Fast Lane is a new and evolving program at Cedar Point. You can bet the park’s management has its finger on the pulse of this program and is looking for ways to improve it. If you’re unhappy about the program or its specifics, provide that feedback to the park. That’s the only way it might be changed more to your liking.

A topic people have been talking about quite a bit is Cedar Point’s new Fast Lane program, which allows guests to pay extra to bypass the general-public line on certain — typically more-popular — rides. (But Troika? Really?)

Personally, I don’t like it. But it is a good program for the park to try.

You look confused.

For someone like me, who’s at the park all the time because I live in Sandusky, I’m not going to fork over $50 per day on a regular basis. (Or $55 on Saturdays, for that matter.) Thus, I’m sure there will be times I’ll become frustrated watching other people not have to wait as long as I have to wait.

At the same time, if I were coming from farther away, I’d be thrilled to have the option to do this to help get in as many rides on some of the big boys as possible before having to return home.

It’s generally a good idea to give customers options.

At a restaurant, sometimes you actually order a paid appetizer rather than just munch on the “free” chips or bread. And sometimes you order the filet mignon instead of the hamburger. (Some people can afford to get the filet every time.)

A lot of people were unhappy about Dinosaurs Alive! because it’s not even a ride and costs an extra $5.

Then don’t do it.

The same can be said for the new Preferred Parking program, which lets you park in the “closest and most convenient location” in the main lot, for an extra $8 ($20 total with a standard vehicle). Either pay the $8 to park closer, or keep it in your pocket and walk a little farther. (There’s no way I’m ever paying that, but that’s my personal choice.)

You don’t HAVE to do it, but you at least have the OPTION to do it.

I would rather an attraction/program be added along with an optional fee than one be added along with an automatic increase in ticket prices. At least then I decide if I want to pay to be able to take part in the attraction.

But therein is the core dilemma with Fast Lane.

At the heart of this debate is how much Fast Lane degrades the park experience for general-public guests, who still are paying full price for tickets. (Fast Lane guests pay extra for the benefit, but general-public guests still pay the same price for a ticket that might not provide the same experience it once did.)

My experience at the park this year is Fast Lane hasn’t changed much when it comes to wait times, but that’s MY experience. And the summer season isn’t here full-bore yet, either.

A lot of people say only those with “more money” get to use Fast Lane.

Um, that’s life.

People with money date supermodels, drive sports cars, stay in nice hotels, eat room service and don’t care as much about fuel prices … while the rest of us are left behind. If customers are willing to part with their money, any business is going to find offerings to help them do it. (Even being the cheapskate that I am, I’m sure I’ll do Fast Lane at least once just to try it.)

I’ve heard several general-public guests say derogatory things about people in Fast Lane lines this season. And I’ve heard people say things like, “How do you explain to kids that ‘cutting’ is OK, if you have money?”

First, the park defines what is “cutting,” and paying the park for Fast Lane to use the park’s rides doesn’t make the cut for the definition. Second, explain to kids that it’s a fact of life money gets you lots of things other people might deserve just as much but have to do without.

People who say only those with “more money” get to use Fast Lane also need to realize that’s a relative statement. People who can barely afford food would say only people with “more money” get to go to Cedar Point at all. (Incidentally, almost 25 percent of children in the U.S. are experiencing food insecurity, according to Heifer International.)

It’s early in the game, but Cedar Point says Fast Lane has a limited daily availability, so once school is out and the crowd level rises, we’ll see how much effect it has on the wait times for the 20-some rides for which it’s available.

More than anything else, I just hope Cedar Point has learned some valuable lessons from other parks’ mistakes and experiences with similar programs. (Good line distribution and not allowing Fast Lane users to do the same ride consecutively — not even $375 V.I.P. tours allow back-to-back rides — come to mind.)

Only time — and I'm sure some adjustments — will tell.

And if you’re really that upset about it, your money speaks more loudly than your words.

Tom Sherer is an award-winning graphic designer with the Sandusky Register and a Cedar Point enthusiast who visited the park 53 times in 2011. He chronicles his adventures in coasterland here at "Belaboring the Point."

Comments

frizzlefrap

i don't really care for this new idea. it means that the BIG BUCK TALKS ..... and the poorer guy gets knocked down .... another peg!

MrSandusky

I understand that Cedar Fair is in business to make money, and trust me I am all for making money.  

But, you see I am torn on this.  My family used to have season passes to the park, then we cut down to just going once or twice a year.  Now, we will no longer be visiting the park.  I am torn because although I cannot blame a business for finding a market and making money off of it, I can blame a business for exploiting it.  

The prices that they sell the food for at the park are nearly criminal, juxtapose the Subway menu at the park with any of the 20 other Subways in the area and I think you will see what I mean.  Now, to have people pay extra for better parking, better places in line, or pay extra to walk through an attraction...  I can no longer support it.

But see this is how the market works, people like me refuse to pay the extra and spend our money elsewhere.  If enough people make the same choice as I then Cedar Fair will lose revenue, their stock will drop and they will adjust to the market.

As for myself, and my family, we have had enough.  When we feel that we are being exploited, then that is when we hang up our hat.  And over the last few years we have felt more and more exploited by this park and its practices.

Now, if any of the uppity-ups at Cedar Fair are reading this, and seeing as how this blog reads like a quasi-advertisement for Cedar Fair I am sure some do, I hope that they take notice.  They have been shafting families more and more every year.  Please stop,  I understand that the more add-ons you can come up with the more possible revenue you can create.  At some point enough is enough.

People can flame away at me if they like, it is fine.  These are my opinions and my choices.

Tool Box

 I don't have an extra $350 to shell out so my family does not have to wait longer in line now.  The line at Millennium Force was 3 hours long on Saturday mainly because of all the people that have money and can afford to cut in front of me and make me wait longer.  As a season pass holder, I hate it and will not buy a pass next year if they are still doing this!  Whoever came up with this stupid license to cut and make me wait longer needs to be fired!

lifetimeresident

The trick is to not let any of this bother you.  We were there, 6 of us, and I didnt even know it existed.  Just enjoy the park.

BW1's picture
BW1

Mr. Sandusky, that's what finding a market and making money off it is - exploitation. I don't buy the food; don't pay for all the upgrades; I don't pay for the plastic dinosaurs; I don't pay 5 bucks to use a drying booth after the water rides, but I'm VERY THANKFUL for all the suckers who do, because their subsidies keep my ticket price from going up any faster.

I see parents of spoiled brats swipe their credit card in the vending machine and pay $2.50 for a candy bar because they can't say no to the little magpies raised on immediate gratification and shallow tastes, and say more power to them for helping pay for my day of fun.

Note, Cedar Fair leadership: the one thing that WOULD get me to pay a premium is attending on a day when they exclude anyone who can't perform long division and explain the difference between imply and infer, or apply some other lowlife filter.

campbellkat

this is obnoxious! just stay the way it's always been and stop trying to charge all these extra fees. Its bad enough paying for season passes then they want to charge extra for priorty parking, now fast lane so people can pay to butt in line. This is messed up!!!

 

coasterfan

Other parks have tried a fastlane system, but it was something that is available to all park guests and not for an extra fee. Cedar Pt. has changed the status quo. first by charging people, but moreso by pricing it at a level that will likely entice many people to purchase it. Since not everyone will purchase a fast pass, they have created a two-caste system, and to put it bluntly, have legalized "Line Jumping For An Additional Fee". If enough people purchase a fast pass, the rest of the parkgoers will suddenly see their wait in line grow exponentially, and meanwhile, they'll get to watch the same fast pass users zoom to the head of the line over and over.

There are going to be a LOT of unhappy people. Question is, will CP make enough money on Fast Pass sales to offset the alienated season passholders and single day ticket folks?  Time will tell, but it certainly seems like an obvious money grab by Cedar Fair, as compared to Disney World's FREE fast pass system. 

Was there Saturday morning, and most of the rides had little, if any line before 11am. We chuckled when we actually got on two rides QUICKER than people who were in the fastpass lane. I, too, question the selections of some of the rides that offered fast pass. If you're not familiar with the park, it probably sounds like a real bargain to have 20 (wow 20!) rides with fast pass lines. The reality is that half of the rides on the list are almost always 'walk on" rides in which you never have to wait.

Everybody knows which days are busy and which days aren't. Save your money and go on a day when fewer people attend. That way, you don't have to wait and you won't need to buy a stupid Fast Pass. Just because CP has found a new way to rip people off and alienate longtime customers doesn't mean that you have to give in to their greed. With a season pass, we arrive a hour before park opening for early entry, and ride all our favorite rides with little or no lines, and are gone by 11am or noon.

 

 

TheScientist

Can anyone tell us why they did away with the FREE Fast Pass hand stamp that they used a few years ago?  Get a hand stamp with a time on it to ride the ride later in the day.  It works for Disney!

4Libertee

You guys need to get a life.  Cedar Point tickets are $44.99 online.  Compare that with the cost of Disney World ($85.00 a day online).  And you can get CP tickets cheaper at Drug Mart of Meijers.  I'll go to CP anyday.

sanduskysteve

The problem with CP anymore, is that they took everything away tha families liked, in general.  Unless you like nothing but coasters and now Dinosaurs (with an extra fee), there really isn't anything at the point to do like years gone by.  Next, they'll be taking the shows out of the park and using that space for high priced food and snacks.

CPFastLaneFan

I used the Fast Lane on Memorial Day 2012 weekend for 5 family members on a Saturday...it was alot of extra cash, but the benefit was an instant reward. I was very skeptical about the idea of making the purchase, but after being in the park for 1 hour after arriving at 12pm (2 hours after the park opened)....We rode 5 major rides in 1 hour. I was instantly a happy customer and knew the purchase was good. I go to CP every year with my family and after 8-10 hours in the park we may ride 12 rides max. Fast Lane almost tripled this.... Great idea CP and I plan to return in July 2012 and WILL make the purchase again. My company has a $10 discount for each Fast Lane as well..... That helps in the decision making to purchase. 

JOE FROM GEORGIA

i just spent 5 days at CP, flew in from Georgia.  I am amazed at all the b--t--ing and moaning about prices.  I have been coming to CP since the late 80s and the prices have changes little in that time, even the for the season passes.  It is a little lame to be charging for dinosaurs that really arent all that impresive, but charging for priuority access to the lines is not unreasonable. 

 

I live 6hours from WDW and have spent lots of time there the last few years.  LEts take a moment to compare their FREE fastpass program to CP.

The WDW program is free, but is limited to maybe 6rides in a day, becasue every time you pcik up a fastpass, you are locked out from getting another FP for 1-2 hours.  additionally, at WDW you now have to show up for your FP at a predetermined time, when int he apst, you could show up at any point after your assigned time.  This means you cant go ride other things you want to ride since you have to make sure you arent even one minute late for your assigned FP time, otherwise you will forfeit your FP.  And it is true that admission is 85$+ for one day to WDW.

 

With CP, unlimited means unlimited and at any time.No need to put off other activities to accomodate an assigned time.  You could just walk in and out of the same ride line for 12 hours if you wanted to.  Admision is 50$ or so , mat most, and if you have a party of 4, you are spending 40$pp for fastlane, which isnt but 5$ more than admission and "Free" fastpass access to wdw. 

 

IF you can afford it, buy it.  It isnt line jumping or cutting.  It is paying a premium for a premium product.  And based on the lines i saw during my trip, i cant imagine anyone in line is waiting more than a minute or two extra for their ride because of the fastlane users. 

 

If you go to Six flags, their admission prices and Flash-pass sysstem is priced similarly to CP.  and still cheaper and more useful than WDW's fastpass

 

 

JOE FROM GEORGIA

i just spent 5 days at CP, flew in from Georgia.  I am amazed at all the b--t--ing and moaning about prices.  I have been coming to CP since the late 80s and the prices have changes little in that time, even the for the season passes.  It is a little lame to be charging for dinosaurs that really arent all that impresive, but charging for priuority access to the lines is not unreasonable. 

 

I live 6hours from WDW and have spent lots of time there the last few years.  LEts take a moment to compare their FREE fastpass program to CP.

The WDW program is free, but is limited to maybe 6rides in a day, becasue every time you pcik up a fastpass, you are locked out from getting another FP for 1-2 hours.  additionally, at WDW you now have to show up for your FP at a predetermined time, when int he apst, you could show up at any point after your assigned time.  This means you cant go ride other things you want to ride since you have to make sure you arent even one minute late for your assigned FP time, otherwise you will forfeit your FP.  And it is true that admission is 85$+ for one day to WDW.

 

With CP, unlimited means unlimited and at any time.No need to put off other activities to accomodate an assigned time.  You could just walk in and out of the same ride line for 12 hours if you wanted to.  Admision is 50$ or so , mat most, and if you have a party of 4, you are spending 40$pp for fastlane, which isnt but 5$ more than admission and "Free" fastpass access to wdw. 

 

IF you can afford it, buy it.  It isnt line jumping or cutting.  It is paying a premium for a premium product.  And based on the lines i saw during my trip, i cant imagine anyone in line is waiting more than a minute or two extra for their ride because of the fastlane users. 

 

If you go to Six flags, their admission prices and Flash-pass sysstem is priced similarly to CP.  and still cheaper and more useful than WDW's fastpass

 

 

chucksteak

I'm originally from NW Ohio but live in Indianapolis now.  Prior to last year, I had not been to the park in nearly 14 years.  I brought my son as we made our way to a camp in NE Ohio and since it was a cooler, cloudy late June day with a chance for rain, the park was dead for a prime Saturday and we were able to ride everything we wanted with an hour or less wait in line.  We were only at the park from 10am until about 9pm, but we left satisfied.

We came back this past Saturday under the same circumstances, passing through on our way to a camp in NE Ohio.  We arrived at the park just after 10am and initially balked at the Fast Lane purchase and walked to the Raptor.  It was down for maint.  Same thing when we next went to WIcked Twister.  We went to get in line for the Magnum and the Fast Lane users were passing right in front of as we waited in line for about 30 min and then the Magnum went down.  We walked over to Maverick and got in a line that was listed at an hour and fifteen minutes.  Thirty minutes into our wait, the Maverick goes down.  It was 12:30pm and we had not ridden a single ride.  Knowing we wanted to get out of the park no later than 9pm to continue our drive, I picked up the Fast Lane passes.

With the Fast Lane passes we were able to ride everything we wanted to ride multiple times.  Some of the lines were approaching two hours long with out Fast Lane.  Had we waited in those lines we would have ridden, at most 5 more rides before leaving at 9pm.  That would have felt like a wasted trip.  Since we were able to ride with no more than a 30 min wait for anything, we were able to leave by 8pm, my son worn out and asleep before we were out of Sandusky.  To us, the extra money spent means we skip a few other things later this summer, but it was well worth it for the limited time we had at the park.  The next time we come back, if it isn't Tuesday through Thursday, I'll gladly pay a little extra to make sure I can make the 4.5 hour drive wasn't wasted.