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Cedar Fair CEO Matt Ouimet Reveals the Secret of Running a Successful Amusement Park

Written by the Huffington Post.com
Posted: 07/28/2014 9:11 pm EDT Updated: 07/28/2014 9:59 pm EDT

For Matt Ouimet, the president and CEO of Cedar Fair Entertainment Co., a typical day at the office really is a walk in the park."To be honest, I don't think I'd like this job if I was forced to be cooped up in an office. When you work in the amusement park business, you have to see where things are working and you have to see where they're not," Ouimet admitted in a recent phone interview. "I couldn't be one of those guys who'd try and run a place like Knott's Berry Farm just by sitting in his office and working off a spreadsheet. I'm sure there are others who can do that, but I'm not one of them. I probably would not be as good at this job if I couldn't regularly get out in the parks."Mind you, given the 11 amusement parks that Matt rides herd on are spread across the United States and Canada, staying on top of what's going on at each of these Cedar Fair properties involves an awful lot of travel. "Take -- for example -- how I'll be spending the next two weeks. I leave Knott's on Sunday -- actually Monday morning -- and then I start my road trip. I'm going to Toronto to see our new dark ride, Wonder Mountain's Guardian. This attraction actually has a lot in common with Disney World's new Seven Dwarfs Mine Train ride. It's a coaster track, though Wonder Mountain's Guardian has the longest interactive screen in the world which features a gaming element where you then try to get the top score," Ouimet explained. "And by the time I get back to Cedar Point toward the end of this month, l will have managed to have hit all of our parks -- and most of that is good."Of course, one of the biggest challenges that Matt faces is recognizing that each of these amusement parks is different. That they all have their own personalities."That's one of the main reasons Cedar Fair has different names on all of our parks. We don't try and put them under one big brand. They're all unique in their own special ways," Ouimet stated. "Take -- for example -- Knott's Berry Farm which is right in the middle of one of the most competitive theme park markets in the world. Within 60 miles of Knott's, you have LEGOLAND California, you have SeaWorld San Diego, you have Universal Studios Hollywood and you have the Disneyland Resort. So in the Southern California market, it's really important to figure out who you are and then be extremely disciplined about it."

 "I mean, think about it. Knott's Berry Farm can't be about the movies. And we can't be about fantasy. We have to be who we are," Matt continued. "So when it comes to Knott's, we want to be that place where having fun is still fun. Or as Raffi Kaprelyan -- the Vice President and General Manager at Knott's Berry Farm -- says 'where people can still have organically grown fun.' We want to be the theme park in this market that's uncomplicated, affordable, familiar but still has a few surprises.""So that's our goal with Knott's Berry Farm. To occupy that space in the highly competitive Southern California marketplace, to be comfortable with that space and not try and be one of those other guys. One huge advantage we have in this market is that people still have a strong affinity for what the Knott's family created," Ouimet said. "So I hope that -- with the respectful upgrades & improvements we've made to Ghost Town, the Timber Mountain Log Ride, the Calico Mine Train and Camp Snoopy over the past three years -- we wind up being known as the community park, not the corporate park. And to some degree, I think being a little smaller has probably worked to our advantage with Knott's."It's worth noting here that all of the changes that Matt & his team have made since he came on board at the Cedar Fair Entertainment Co. in June of 2011 have had a significant impact on Knott's Berry Farm's bottom line. Just last year, this Buena Park institution had the most successful year (from both an attendance standpoint as well as a profitability point-of-view) ever. And given that Knott's is the second most profitable park in the Cedar Fair system, that's a really nice feather in Ouimet's cap."And the good news is we're not done with Knott's. We've got a five year plan in place for this theme park. And I'm hoping that -- with Cedar Fair's help -- I'll then have the privilege of turning that into a ten year plan," Matt enthused. "It's not exactly a closely guarded secret that -- when it comes to Knott's -- we're trying to figure out what to do with the area where Kingdom of the Dinosaurs & Knott's Bear-y Tales used to be located. Assuming that the Wonder Mountain's Guardian ride works out, there will probably be some lessons that we learned up in Canada that we can apply down here in Buena Park."

 It's worth noting here that Knott's Berry Farm isn't the only Cedar Fair property to be singled out by Ouimet for some much needed TLC."Next year is Carowind's year. We've announced we're making a major investment in that park. $50 million over the next few years. And we're really looking forward to it," Matt said.But just as he did when Ouimet took his first stroll around Knott's Berry Farm and identified the areas in that theme park that could be plussed & improved, Matt and his team walked the length of Carowinds. Looking for ways they could improve that amusement park while still preserving its obvious charms.

 "In the end, I want people to think of the Cedar Fair parks like they do their best friend's house if they live out of town," Ouimet explained. "You know when you go there that you're going to have fun. You're going to be welcome. You're going to relive some memories as well as create some new ones. You're going to laugh. And it's always something you're going to look forward to."But again you just don't see those areas that can be plussed or improved if you're hunched over a spreadsheet. Which is why -- several times a year -- Matt hops on a plane, travels to all 11 amusement parks and then puts on his walking shoes."I've always prided myself on the ability to look at the amusement park experience through the guest's eyes which is why I still like to be out in the parks. I still like to walk around, make sure the guests are still having a good time," Ouimet said.

"I mean, it's honestly not that complicated. People don't want things to be too expensive. They want to be able to have fun with their friends and their family. They want to eat a nice meal while they're in the park. They want to experience some new rides as well as revisit some old favorites. And they want to laugh a little bit. If you can consistently deliver that experience -- and that's what we try to do at each of our Cedar Fair properties -- people will come back again and again," Ouimet concluded.

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Cedar Point Is Hiring 300 People For Hallo-Weekends

August 5, 2014 2:43 PM

Related Tags: Cedar PointCedar Point hiringHalloweekends 

SANDUSKY, Ohio – Do you have what it takes to be just scary enough to keep kids squealing — but now bawling — at the place billed as the “best amusement park in the world.”You’re in luck; Cedar Point is hiring.The amusement park is looking for staff to fill out its roster this fall, working as a “screamster.” More than 300 screamsters will be hired to be “transformed into witches, zombies and various other undead monsters whose “soul” job is to scare guests who dare to venture into the park’s haunted houses and outdoor fright zones,” according to the park.During HalloWeekends, Cedar Point transforms into a Halloween-themed playground full of family-friendly fun and entertainment during the day and spooky creatures, haunted houses, terrifying mazes and more. The fun starts after the sun goes down.HalloWeekends takes place on Friday nights, Saturdays and Sundays, Sept. 12 through Nov. 1. For more information, log on to cedarpoint.com.Don’t feel like you’re scream-tacular enough? A wide variety of other great jobs are available, including positions in park operations, food services, accommodations, games, merchandise and more.If you’re interested, snag an interview every Sunday in August from 2-7 p.m. at Cedar Point’s Castaway Bay indoor waterpark, 2001 Cleveland Road, Sandusky.You can also apply online at cedarpoint.com/jobs

Interested in cedar point tickets

FIRST LOOK | Cedar Point's new haunted attractions                   By Ryan C Haidet, WKYC  6:07 a.m. EDT August 15, 2014​

SANDUSKY -- Are you ready to scream?It may only be August, but Cedar Point has Halloween on the brain...Cedar Point is adding two new haunted attractions to freak you out for the upcoming HalloWeekends season: Hexed and Tombstone Terror-tory.Hexed will be housed inside a newly constructed building near GateKeeper's gift shop. Park officials say the attraction is "overrun by decrepit witches whose minions and spells have gone horribly awry."Tombstone Terror-tory, a new outdoor zone, will bring fresh frights to the back of the park. The ghost-town themed attraction will haunt the walkways of Frontier Town from Wave Swinger to the railroad crossing near Gemini. This scares from this "fright zone" also stretch back toward Maverick and Mean Streak.
 Cedar Point sent us the logos for each new haunt exclusively for you to feast your freaky eyes upon.(Look LEFT for the following image for more on the upcoming HalloWeekends)

 These additions elevate HalloWeekends to a total of 12 haunted attractions -- five indoors, seven outdoors.Indoors: 

  • Hexed (new for 2014)
  • Zombie High School (See photos)
  • Eden Musee
  • Eternity Infirmary
  • G.A. Boeckling's Eerie Estate


  • Tombstone Terror-Tory (new for 2014)
  • Cut Throat Cove
  • Blood on the Bayou
  • Maniacal Mechanical Screamworks
  • Fear Faire
  • CarnEvil
  • CornStalkers

Also making its dastardly debut at HalloWeekends 2014 is Midnight Syndicate Live. Edward Douglas and Gavin Gozka, the Chardon-based musically macabre masterminds, step into the spotlight for multiple live performances each night. The show includes makeup effects by Beki Ingram and David "House" Greathouse, both of whom previously competed on SyFy's reality hit "Face Off." Several segments of the show were filmed at creepy locations around the region, including Akron's Haunted Schoolhouse and Haunted Laboratory. Last year, Midnight Syndicate unleashed "Monsters of Legend," its 16th nationwide release.Do you have little ones too scared for some of the more intense options? There are family friendly attractions, too, including the Monster Midway Invasion Celebration parade and Howl-O-Palooza (cornstalk maze, mask-making station, pony rides).Interview sessions are being held each Sunday through August from 2-7 p.m. at Cedar Point's Castaway Bay for those interested in working at the HalloWeekends event.
 HalloWeekends is open every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from Sept. 12 through Nov. 2. Hours and ride availability vary.2014 marks the 18th season for HalloWeekends.  

I need discount to go to Cedar point please!

The promo code for Michigan Days is "michigan" if you'd believe that.  Save $15 when you visit between 8/18-9/1  (price is $44.95).

Power surge strands visitors on rides at Cedar Point


SANDUSKY, Ohio — Some visitors to Cedar Point were stranded on rides after the park experienced a small “power bump” Sunday night.Cedar Point spokesperson Bryan Edwards said it happened at around 7:30 p.m. He said some visitors were stuck on rides, but park officials were able to get everyone off safely and quickly.Edwards is not sure for how long they were stranded. He said all ride safety systems worked as they were supposed to, and there were no injuries.Some rides including the Millenium Force and the Iron Dragon were still shut down as of about 9:30 p.m. as the park worked with Ohio Edison to inspect them as a safety precaution.The park was still open, although some of the rides affected were not lit as of about 9:30 p.m. 

VIDEO: Power outage shuts down portion of Cedar Point
STORY BY:  MELISSA TOPEY - Sandusky Register
AUG 19, 2014 topey@sanduskyregister.com

 Cedar Point suffered a power outage Sunday night to a portion of its park, leaving some visitors stranded on rides The outage happened about 8 p.m.
“All of the affected rides’ safety systems worked as designed and all guests were quickly and safely escorted off of those rides. All of the rides opened Monday morning at their normal times,” Cedar Point spokesman Bryan Edwards said. He did not know how many visitors were stuck on the rides or how long they were stuck in the air. Edwards did not disclose which rides were affected.

Gary Mortus, spokesman for Ohio Edison, said one ride that was affected was the popular Millennium Force. The problem began when a piece of Ohio Edison’s underground cable failed, Mortus said. Crews arrived at the park and were able to reroute power back that portion of the park. They were there until about 1:15 Monday morning, Mortus said. Crews will be back in the park within the next couple of days to dig up and repair the underground cable itself. Work will be done at night to minimize any inconvenience to guests in the park. Failures do not happen often and the power company does not like them to happen at Cedar Point, he said. We do not want to strand riders,” Mortus said.This is not the first utility failure to hurt the park this season. In June, a water main break forced the park to close for several days.In July, the park had to contend with a cable breaking  on Skyhawk, injuring two riders and forcing the ride to close for several days.

A freelance photographer from Michigan and his girlfriend reported to a Michigan television station they were stranded for 20 minutes on Iron Dragon. They posted selfies from the ride during the power outage.  VIDEO - Power Surge Strands Cedar Point Riders - Fox 17 News 


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Cedar Point to host Color Run race 

ohio.com - Akron Beacon Journal
By CRAIG WEBB Published: August 20, 2014

 Runners will have a chance to circle around Cedar Point’s 17 coasters and get a splash of color at the same time.The park announced that it will host the "Happiest 5K on the Planet" as part of the Color Run’s 2014 Kaleidoscope Tour.The 5K run will be at 8 a.m. Sept. 20, 2014 and include four different color stations.Runners will receive an official race kit that includes a T-shirt, tri-color headband and a shoulder sling bag.Cedar Point is also offering special deals on admission and accommodations for runners. Participants can purchase one-day entry to Cedar Point for $35 during registration or on the day of the run at Cedar Point ticket booths. Runners also receive discounts at the Breakers Express.For more information or to register, visit Here 

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