Monday, June 28, 2004

Cedar Point Feared The Worst Before Start of ACE Con

While it was once believed that California might someday break off into the Pacific Ocean, ARN&R has learned that that theory was feared to be an imminent reality for the peninsula that holds Cedar Point Amusement Park/Resort. Park officials called in civil engineers fearing that the worst might have come true.

The added weight on the peninsula during the recent ACE conference was a concern for park officials for some time. The resort and amusement park feared finding itself on an island in Lake Erie instead of being accessible by a narrow swath of land. During winter meetings, park officials had engineers look into the possibility. However, officials discovered serious concerns even before the first ACEr arrived.

Days before the convention, hundreds of 18-wheel refrigerated trailer trucks, used as temporary warehouses to house the additional food required to feed the attendees, made their way onto the peninsula to park for the event. The trucks alone added thousands of pounds of food to the peninsula.

"Your typical ACE member pounds down half-a-dozen chili dogs, four pounds of fries, two funnel cakes and a gallon of soda in an average meal," according to Carole Sanderson, president of ACE. "For the parks and their suppliers it's a difficult scenario, not to mention the possible geographical catastrophes."

Cedar Point estimates that food sales increased ten-fold during the conference, a logistics nightmare for the park.

"No park has the warehouse capacity to store that much food," said Jaris Colman, director of food services for Cedar Point. "Its been a huge problem for our suppliers too, who operated around the clock for weeks to get the required food to the park on-time."

"The weight of a quarter million dogs, half million pounds of fries and fifty tractor trailers full of chili takes its toll on the causeway and peninsula," said Colman. "At first we were simply concerned about the additional weight of the attendees, but the food alone came close to making our worst nightmare a reality."

While the park denies it, ARN&R has learned that land movement began to occur at least a week prior to the event. Off the record, one Cedar Point official admitted that the park flew in a crew from Southern California's famed CalTech to measure for seismic activity.

Sudden cracks in the causeway, a sink hole in the parking lot and flooding of The Breakers basement were just early indications of the possible troubles to come. Officials denied an inside report that the already-sinking Magnum XL-200 lost an additional 10 feet in the last week prior to the convention.

"By the time the ACE members arrived, we were afraid that Magnum might be an underground attraction," said a night shift security supervisor at the park. "We were all warned and an evacuation plan was in order should the causeway sink during the con."

Park officials banned any additional food trucks from crossing the causeway and requested a police presence to control any problems had they run out of chili dogs. ARN&R has been unable to confirm that Sandusky police used firehoses and rubber bullets on hordes of ACErs demanding additional cobbler.

"I can understand how things might get out of hand when the park ran out of dessert," said Sandusky police chief Daryl Gates. "I had to deal with the problems two years ago when the police officers rioted after the local Dunkin Donuts ran out of doughnuts. Lack of food makes people do things they wouldn't normally do."

Despite the park's fears, a complete collapse of the park into the lake was narrowly averted through the creative and extensive use of underwater scaffolding and bracing, with enormous steel girders being drilled directly into bedrock below the water. The efforts were barely noticed by the attendees, except for one enthusiast who promptly wrote Thrillride! with "confirmation" of a B&M underwater launched coaster for 2006.