Is Cedar Point’s Fast Lane worth the price? Oni and Harknell test it out.

I grew up in Pittsburgh, PA, so Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio has always been in my consciousness. CP was known as the park that was a bit too far to go to every year for our family. I managed to go there once in 1989-ish and just recently back in 2010. I had fun both times. If you are a coaster fan, Cedar Point is the best park out there. They currently boast 16 roller coasters ranging from classic to cutting edge. the park is clean and the staff is very friendly.

HAY GAIZ Let’s go!!!

(Drive drive drive…)

The problem with Cedar Point is that there are so many rides in the park that it is difficult to ride everything in one day.

Check out the view of the park from the bridge approaching it:

It gets popular in the Summer, so sometimes lines can be over an hour or 2 hour wait in the heat. In 2010, I had to pass on 2 coasters because the heat, waiting in lines, and travel distance dictated that we just didn’t have enough time, especially if you want to relax and take in the scenery. Lot of baby seagulls OMG:

…or nom a giant Cinnabon Pretzel OMG:


This year Cedar Point started offering Fast Lane, which is similar to Disney’s FastPass where you get to bypass the regular line, but you have to pay $55 extra for it and can go on as many rides as you want.

Harknell and I went to Cedar Point on June 10th, 2012. I paid about $44 for my base ticket plus $55 for the Fast Lane add on. Here is what the bracelet looks like:

Maybe this is because I live in the land of exorbitant prices AKA New Jersey, but I actually found Cedar Point’s Fast Lane to be significantly cheaper and easier to understand than what we have here at our Six Flags in Jackson, NJ.

I can’t understand the complaining people are doing over Cedar Point’s version.

Let’s look a bit closer using my local park as an example. Six Flags Great Adventure’s base tickets are about $62. Their “Flash Pass” ranges from a $45 add on (for no reduction in wait time which is less good than the $55 Cedar Point Fast Lane) to $120 where there is a significant reduction in wait time. They do not offer an option that is as simple or easy to use as Cedar Point, but to approximate it, you’d have to buy the $62 base ticket plus the $80 or $120 add on to vaguely equal the level of service I received at Cedar Point for much less of a cost.

Click to enlarge SFGA’s prices for their Flash Pass add ons:

In my case, I had only 1 day in town. I felt Cedar Point’s Fast Lane greatly improved the quality of my trip and insured that I got to ride everything. In some cases I got to ride things more than once. It seems that they do have the capability to scan the bracelets, but they currently aren’t bothering with that. They only sell a limited number of these each day.

If they manage it well, it won’t impact the regular admission people that much. The key is to not over sell Fast Lane like some other parks do with this feature. The day we went had medium sized crowds because it was early in the season. I did not see much impact to the regular admission folks. I also overheard that they had cut off Fast Lane sales after they had sold a certain number, so it looks like they are now keeping an eye on it getting oversold. The true test of this system will come this July and August when crowds get heavier.

Fast Lane does have some problems, though.

The Fast Lane entrances are not located near the ride entrances in many cases, aren’t marked on the maps, and are labeled and administered poorly. In many cases I had to walk around for 5-10 minutes asking employees where the entrance was like a lost duckling. In 1 case I was accidentally funneled into the regular line (on Shoot the Rapids). By the time I realized I was in the regular line and Fast Lane people started getting jumped in front of me, it was too late to get out of line.

Again, no signs, and staff seemed poorly trained when it came to dealing with Fast Lane. This might be because the program is new and still being tested. I hope that they define the Fast Lane lines better in the future.

I still firmly recommend Cedar Point’s Fast Lane to anyone who has the extra money to spend – I’d go as far as to say it is a necessity if you are from out of town and have limited time.

Fast Lane probably will save you a second day in the park, and it will be easier on your waiting family members who may not all ride coasters. (Like Harknell.) Last year Harknell was really bored because there isn’t all that much to do in the park if you aren’t a rider. This year when I had Fast Lane, it was much easier for me and him. I felt it was the perfect balance so that we could do what we needed to do, see everything without having to rush or bake in the sun for hours, and get on our merry way.

If you have tried Fast Lane, what did you think of it?

Oni Hartstein is a Los Angeles-based CMO and entrepreneur that is obsessed with progressive rock / metal, marketing, and nightlife. Please direct all business inquiries or review requests to the "Contact" tab on the top nav bar.

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