Cedar Point, Sandusky, Ohio Covid-19 edition

The Cedar Point amusement park sits on 364 acres in Sandusky, Ohio, and has been a major purveyor of fun and thrills for 150 years as of the year 2020. The Covid-19 Coronavirus world-wide pandemic has muted the celebration this year, postponing it until next year in 2021, but the fun is still happening, albeit socially-distanced. There are still a few folks enjoying the rollercoasters, the food stands, and the beach. Some folks even bring their pets to Cedar Point, even though they’re not allowed in the park. Not to worry, there are daily accommodations for the furry set as their hoomans make their way toward the fun.

Just in from the Cedar Point Causeway is the car plaza. The car plaza is the main entry way for cars headed to Cedar Point. (There is another entrance—the Chaussee—near Sheldon's Marsh to the east.) If bringing a pet companion to the park, this is the best entrance. The car plaza puts drivers closest to Pet Chek, which is Cedar Point’s daycare for pets whose owners may be in the park all day. This service is very reasonably priced at $15 per day and is near Preferred Parking and the Cedar Point Marina. The Blue Streak roller coaster is also nearby.

Arriving at 11:30 am on Wednesday, August 12, and again on Thursday, August 13th, there were plenty of parking spaces still available in the Preferred Parking section of the parking lot. The park opened at 11 am on those days, and would close at 8 pm. There was parking available on the side closest to the Causeway (Cedar Point Drive), and it was easy to follow the narrow blue footpath from the lot to the pedestrian exit, and then across the Causeway toward the Marina, which is where Pet Chek is located. Pet Chek looks like Snoopy’s doghouse, and it’s easy to see.

Pet owners and their pets enter the Cedar Point Pet Chek one at a time. The dog-house entryway is really small, and there really isn’t room for more than one, plus the attendant. There was still plenty of room available for pets who were still arriving. Looking inside, there was another small dog getting checked in, so after waiting a few minutes outside, the attendant kenneled the other dog and then opened the door to come in. To be sure, Pet Chek smells like a kennel, but was very clean throughout.

Registration at Pek Chek didn’t take very long at all. There are forms to fill out, and payment was by cash or credit card. The attendant was a young lady from Huron, Ohio, and seemed very knowledgeable and good with animals. Behind the glass is a board where the attendant will hang the dogs’ leashes. If an owner is unfamiliar with the Pet Chek facilities, he or she may indeed go back with the attendant to select where the pet will stay during its visit. The attendant will also ask what time the pet will be retrieved. Pet Chek closes when Cedar Point closes, which today was 8 pm.

These are the accommodations at Pet Chek. There are many of these, and for those who arrive early, there are a handful of large, fenced spaces on the concrete floor inside this area. No two dogs will be put in the same enclosure, unless they come in together. This space is air-conditioned and stainless steel water bowls are provided and refilled. The attendant, if asked, can provide freshly laundered bedding for pets, as clean blankets are kept in storage. Owners may also bring their own pet bedding and toys. The attendant will not be walking dogs, but owners can come back after a few hours to walk their dogs and then head back into the park.

These two dogs came in together and seemed to enjoy their stay at Pet Chek, and they have a little shady spot in the lefthand side of the image. They also have water. If a pet owner choses, and it’s not too busy, a dog can be moved from outdoors to indoors, or from indoors to outdoors. This is also the area where an owner can exercise a dog during the middle of the day. Also, again if things are not too busy, the attendant can move an indoor dog outside for twenty minutes, and then take the dog back indoors. The attendant may even call during the afternoon to say how the dog is doing.

After leaving the dog at Pet Chek, it was finally time to head into the park to begin a day of fun and thrills. Heading back toward the Preferred Parking lot, there was a queue to get in line for the new health screening at Cedar Point. The line was fairly quick, as the temperature screening was done through thermal imaging in the white tent shown here. Various workers asked a variety of common health questions, but the process went very smoothly. After the thermal scanning, park visitors passed through the security screening and a metal detector.

Welcome home indeed! After the temperature screening for Covid-19 and the security screening, it was on to the front gate. Gatekeeper was soaring overhead, which was a welcome sight. These were the last weekdays of park operation for the abbreviated summer season of 2020, so it was time to make the most of the fun. It is best to come with a smart phone loaded with the Cedar Point app, as there are no more paper maps due to coronavirus concerns. All sales on merchandise, like t-shirts, are final, and some sections of the park are closed as not enough workers were available this summer.

Just inside the front gate at Cedar Point, the Plaza area was not very busy yet as of noon. Point Plaza is a good area to look for t-shirts and other souvenirs. Like its sister park Kings Island in Mason, Ohio, the shirt shops just inside the front gate have the widest selection of lower-priced shirts in the widest selection of styles and colors. Sizes run from adult men’s Small up through men’s XXXL. There are the Cedar Point logo shirts, priced at $14.99 plus tax, with quantity pricing. Most are all cotton, and some are a cotton-polyester blend in the heather colors. A lot of shirt shops have youth sizes too.

Hugo’s Italian Kitchen has recently replaced the higher-end Marketplace eatery. There are a wide variety of Italian-American dishes here, and never seemed to be too crowded. The beloved Pink’s Hot Dogs stand near the front gate was replaced during the off-season by a macaroni-and-cheese stand. Johnny Rockets is still near Kiddy Kingdom, and food can be eaten indoors, outdoors, or boxed up to go home. Hugo’s is a nice place to eat, however, and is well air-conditioned. There are also washrooms here.

This is the serving area at Hugo’s. The food smelled good, and it all looked very fresh. Kings Island has a similar Italian food stand to Hugo’s, which is Cincinnati-based LaRosa’s Family Pizzeria, which has a sweet, clovey sauce. Hugo’s was a nice variation on the Italian theme, with bigger portions and more variety on the season-long meal deal than LaRosa’s food stand. This is also a very comfortable restaurant to eat in, with tables small and large.

One of the season meal plan offerings at Hugo’s is the personal pizza, either as a cheese pie or with one topping. (Speciality pizzas are also available.) This personal pizza was hot and fresh, with a tasty sauce and plenty of cheese. There is nothing overly distinctive about Hugo’s; it is simply an Italian-style eatery at an amusement park. The Caesar salad here in the image was tasty, and there was a choice of dressings to go with it. There are also pasta entrees here, and there are also tasty-looking garlic bread knots as well.

The Stromboli, like the pizza at Hugo’s, was tasty and filling though not memorable. The greens in the Caesar salad shown here were all crisp and fresh, and the parmesan cheese shavings did add a touch of flair to an otherwise fairly ordinary meal. This is food-court level fare was accompanied by overhead music, like Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin. If their luck holds, guests at this stand could possibly hear Frankie and Dino’s rendition of “That’s Amore” while eating their pizzas.

Hugo’s has quite a bit of indoor seating, and it also has nearby outdoor seating, and amenities—and is also close to the Raptor inverted roller coaster. The Raptor whooshes around at 57 miles per hour, which is about 92 kilometers per hour, along almost 3800 feet (1150 m) of track. The ride lasts for two and a quarter minutes, which includes a zero g roll, a cobra roll, a couple of inverted corkscrews, and a hundred-foot vertical loop. This ride has been givin’ thrills and chills since 1994.

Cedar Point sits right on the shores of Lake Erie, and it was a hot day, so it was time to walk from the Raptor inverted coaster through the park to the Cedar Point Boardwalk & Beach. It’s a bit of a stroll: past the Sky Ride in the Main Midway, Kiddy Kingdom and Planet Snoopy, Top Thrill Dragster the Corkscrew coaster, and the giant Power Tower, and then to the red Magnum XL-200 coaster. There are actually two entrances to the beach; this one near Magnum and the other one near the Giant Wheel Ferris wheel at the Windseeker Gate.The Windseeker Gate was closed at the time of this visit.

The best thing about the Cedar Point Beach is the foot-friendly sand. The beach here is open from 6 am till midnight, and a ticket or pass to the the park provides access to the beach. Staying at a Cedar Point property like Breakers also provides beach access. Since the water here is very warm and shallow, and the waves are fun, most folks here are content to sit on a blanket and soak up the sun and the fun. There is a lot to delight the eye here; sailboats drift along the horizon, kids are on their boogie boards, and young people on jet skis zoom past the buoys.

Hotel Breakers has been majestically overlooking Cedar Point’s mile-long beach since 1905. The hotel has been added to, renovated and redecorated many times over the years. As of this writing, there are exactly 511 rooms and suites after the 2014-2015 renovation. There is the classic rotunda, a couple of restaurants, a coffee shop, a bar, several pools, hot tubs, and a game room. In this image is a fun patio with umbrella tables. To the right of the image is the Sand Bar, where beverages of all types are served. There’s also a gazebo where CP’s Toes in the Sand Band plays each afternoon.

This shore bird is one of the many who visit Cedar Point’s beach every day. He’ll say that the sand is very comfortable to walk in and the water is very comfortable to swim in, and that the rolling waves are a lot of fun to jump around in. There’s not much in the way of shelling, or beach glass, but the walleye are always plentiful year around. There’s a marina on the other side of the park, by the Pet Chek doggy daycare, where many of the boats on the far horizon have come from. As Cedar Point Shores has not opened for the 2020 season, the beach is the best water attraction there is.

While the shore bird is facing east, the view in this image is due north, toward the Magnum XL-200 roller coaster, where the current entrance to Hotel Breakers/Cedar Point Beach is located. A little after 5 pm, the sun is starting to sink in the sky, if just a little.  A lot of families are packing up their blankets and chairs, while others are headed back into the hotel to wash off the sand. There’s a foot bath along the boardwalk, where folks headed back into the park for dinner might be using. The park closes at 8 pm tonight, and this is the last weeknight the park will be open for the 2020 season.

The Cedar Point walkway is new, and it leads into and out of the park near the Magnum XL coaster. Before going to the beach, admissions staff at the Magnum XL gate provided beachgoers with wristbands, and let everyone know that they’d need to show a re-entry ticket or a season pass before coming back into the park from the beach. The Magnum gate is also called the red roller coaster. Sometimes guests who are not familiar with the different entrances used during a difficult season like 2020, can get help from a friendly associate who knows his or her way around the park.

After a long afternoon at the beach, it was time to cool off with some ice cream at the Toft’s stand near the front gate. There were so many flavors to choose from, like the Lake Erie Cookie Island Monster. This flavor is described as such: “Blue cake batter ice cream blended with cookie dough chunks, drops of chocolate chips, and chocolate cookies and cream.” Toft Dairy has a huge factory location that has a parlor open to the public at 3717 Venice Road, and there is a Port Clinton location at 4016 East Harbor Road.

This delicious strawberry ice cream from Toft Dairy was absolutely wonderful. This image was taken inside the parlor, as the doors were open and the tables were socially distanced. Tilly, who is Toft’s cow, would heartily approve. Tilly is named after Matilda Toft and her husband Chris, who founded Toft Dairy in 1900. Toft’s is still run by several generations of the family.

Tilly, the famous Toft Dairy cow, knows that the sun is going down and it’s time to head back to Pet Chek, which is the most important Cedar Point amenity for park-goers with dogs. After getting boxed-up cheeseburgers and fries in tote bags from Johnny Rockets near Kiddy Kingdom, it was truly time to head out. Due to social distancing requirements, the park exit is to the right of where it has been in the past, but it is marked with a sign. Again, there were no hand-stamps given; park-goers needed either a season pass or a re-entry ticket.

Another great day at Cedar Point has come to a close. This is the new exit for Cedar Point during the time of Covid-19 coronavirus; it goes under the Blue Streak roller coaster, which was the very first roller coaster installed in the park in May 1964. This coaster has a 78-foot hill on its first climb, and reaches a speed of 40 miles per hour. This coaster is named after the Sandusky High School Blue Streaks athletic nickname. This will be the last look at Cedar Point; it’s time to go to Pet Chek to finally meet back up with the most important park guest of all.

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