Cedar Point still stays busy in winter

Off-season spent readying for next year


SANDUSKY — The roller coasters are silent and last summer’s cotton candy is a memory at Cedar Point.

But that doesn’t mean the off-season at the amusement park along Lake Erie is without activity since the park wrapped up its season at the end of October.

The winter months are when mechanics take apart and rebuild roller coaster trains and when managers are hiring performers and planning for next year.

“It’s one of the popular misconceptions where everyone thinks we close the doors and turn off the lights and go home,” Bryan Edwards, park spokesman, told The News-Messenger in Fremont). “Really, that couldn’t be further from the truth.”

About 350 people work at the park during the winter.

That includes workers who are putting in two new rides aimed to attract families. One is a swing ride and the other is a roller coaster-like ride that spins passengers along the hills of a wavy, track.

“It’s not something you get to work on every day,” said Mark McGee, a carpenter foreman with a suburban Toledo company that has helped build other rides in past years.

Cedar Point has 43 full-time mechanics. During the five months when the park is closed, they’ll take apart and rebuild more than 200 cars that carry passengers on the park’s 16 roller coasters.

Overhauling the rides to the manufacturer’s specifications every year is part of the licensing process overseen by the state said Eric Lapp, Cedar Point maintenance manager.

“We want to make sure they’re safe,” Lapp said. “We tend to do more than the manufacturer’s specifications.”

The park also is beginning a two-year renovation of the Hotel Breakers, which was built in 1905 and sits just outside the gates.

This hotel will be painted and get a new roof before Cedar Point opens next year. “This is probably the biggest project we’ve ever done,” Edwards said.

Cedar Fair Entertainment Co., which operates the park, announced a year ago it plans to spend about $60 million to spruce up its four hotels in Sandusky near the park. It hopes the improvements will pay off with longer visits.