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I realize there has been a lot of controversy lately as to what Matt Ouimet was/is going to do for KI and the other CF parks. Well, I was at KI yesterday for the first time this year and I would like to share my positive experience with you.

We were waiting at the front gates right before ERT, and all of the employees came out of the Guest Relations office and cheerfully greeted the crowd. Asked us if we're ready to have fun in the park, waved to us, and many of them were passing out park maps. Never in the years I've been going to KI have I seen the employees interact with the guests the way they did. It was amazing.

As we walked to Diamondback, employees and even security guards said hello with a smile on their face. I also saw neatly painted white gates with the KI logo in place of the tattered ropes used to hold back the non-ERT guests.

A little later, we went to Beast and I absolutely can not believe how the massive amount of retracking has brought that coaster to its former glory. For the first time in a few years I had my hands up and a smile on my face instead of gritting my teeth and clenching the black bar to stop myself from getting jerked around. Beast has needed some love for a long time and it finally got it.

When we got something to eat, we headed to the new burrito place (the name of the restaurant escapes me right now but it is where Outer Hanks used to be). I walked in and there it was.

FRESH FRUIT.

Yes, you read that right.

Fresh fruit, and salads. And lots of it.

How long have we been asking for this?

It was so nice to bite into roast beef, rice, and lettuce yesterday instead of a greasy hot dog and cold fries.

The friendliness of the employees was constant yesterday and all the ride crews were having fun. I also noticed a large shelf of cold cut sandwiches with veggies on them at LaRosa's. I'm not sure if they were there before or not, but not everyone does well with greasy food at an amusement park and it is nice to have healthy food options. (I did get pizza, but that's neither here nor there :lol:)

Yesterday was also math and science day. There were a few groups that got Fast Lane passes and the way the employees executed it had zero effect on the usual speed of the lines moving.

This will be my 17th year visiting Kings Island. In all the years I've been visiting, I have never seen such a genuine and obvious effort to make the guests happy. I know I've said that I won't visit much this year, but seeing my home park turned around like this has me wishing I could go back today.

So I would like to give a shoutout to our new CEO. He was at KI yesterday, and I'm disappointed that I didn't get a chance to tell him that he's doing a terrific job.

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i will second all of that. Went for the first time yesterday and the things mentioned WERE noticeable. 1000% agree about The Beast. It was probably the smoothest ride I have EVER experienced on it.

Now, I will say that on 3 different instances yesterday we were bunkered down in the Festhaus while explicit lightning and torrential downpours came and it still confuses me that our German themed building has: Italian Pizza (LaRosa's), Chinese Food (Panda Express), and a "British Invasion" show.

all in all, It was a great day, all the way to the Fireworks going off 5-minutes early because "another" storm was approaching.

One thing I did notice yesterday was a group of Park Officials (about 5-6 of them.... not Dippin Dots guy) in Action Zone overlooking the pile of wood, commonly referred to as SOB. Couldn't hear what they were saying (and didn't try to put myself in a position to hear)- but they were "getting into" hand motions while pointing at it.

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If the rest of the season continues to be executed in the same fashion as what I (and others) experienced yesterday, there is a lot to look forward to for this park and the rest of Cedar Fair. Friendly staff, great ride experiences, great food (didn't try anything yesterday so that one is still up in the air for me) will lead to the "best day ever" experience.

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Great sum of the day we had yesterday Angie. The buritto I had yesterday was huge, it took both hands to eat the thing! Gator said, "this was a good value for the money." When was the last time you heard that from an enthusiast? I think everyone should give the new food options in the park a try. I was even telling my wife last night when I got home that she would realy enjoy the buritto we had. I think CF really has stepped up their A game! Keep it up, it will bring my family to the park more often this summer!

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We went opening day, and I felt the same intangible change in the atmosphere in the park. From the guy in the Ticket Information booth who was able to solve my season pass problem quickly and with a smile, to the front gate associates who were smiling, laughing, and giving my 3-year-old daughter high-fives. Even saw some officials at the front gate and they were very friendly and helpful. All employees we ran across were smiling, in great spirits and the nasty cold weather didn't seem to dampen a single person's spirits. We ate in Festhaus, got got a Gold Pass pizza deal, watched the first performance of British Invasion, which went so well you'd never have known it was their very first performance in front of a crowd. We passed by Hank's to poke our head in to see what it was, I commented it was like Chipotle's and a pair of officials (whom I did not see at first) just inside the door said, "Exactly, same concept!" We then talked to them a few moments, they asked if we wanted to eat, we declined since we had just eaten. They encouraged us to come back. I haven't yet had a ride on The Beast, but reading all the comments so far, I cannot wait to hop on it! I knew when CF bought the parks things would improve, but it really took fresh blood at the top to get things really moving. I am thrilled to have Mr. Ouimet at the head of our family, and hope things stay this good or get even better!

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Since so many happy posters are also commenting on the actions of employees, it would be interesting to know if there was a significant difference to the training, approach, expectations, this year

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We've been asking for months, even years, how long it will be until someone decides to clean up the park and do something about Crypt, the food selection, among other things including Fast Lane issues and the surliness of most of the employees. Ouimet is put in the driver's seat and suddenly all of this stuff is being taken care of. He's obviously listening to us. I don't see this as any sort of coincidence or sudden epiphany from anyone who's been there for a long time while these issues have sat on the shelf and collected dust.

Oh by the way: I've literally scrubbed my hand with soap and a loofah, and my hand stamp from Saturday afternoon has not come off. The good ink is back.

My Kings Dominion platinum pass also scanned with no problem.

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I have been as well, and I can tell you Beast rode as well as the early years. There isn't an air of tension in the park this year compared to past years and I will definitely be making more trips. I would like to mention I renewed my pass online, still using the one from last year, and went without a hitch. Thank you Mr. Ouimet for beginning the process of bringing my old park back. :D I plan to go again today once I am fully awake lol.

As a side note, I plan to eat at the park today as well. Now I know Rome wasn't built in a day, but I would like to see more flats-you know, something for the elders to enjoy. I wish this change had been a few years back so my father could see it. Sadly, he is no longer able to walk far distances.

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Yep. Absent mr. Kinzel's boneheaded attempt to sell out cheap to Apollo while collecting booty for himself and others, he'd likely have been allowed to hand pick a crony for a successor, much as he did the rest of what had been his country club board (and golf partner counsel).

It is because of that we met Ouimet. And it has made all the difference.

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Today the lady that told us which row to go in for Invertigo had a huge smile on her face, made jokes, laughed, and looked like she loved her job.

On The Racer, the ride ops were teasing riders and making jokes (for fun - everyone was laughing) and also looked like they were having a lot of fun.

Today was the happiest I'd ever seen any employees. It almost meets the happiness of Holiday World employees! ;)

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Since so many happy posters are also commenting on the actions of employees, it would be interesting to know if there was a significant difference to the training, approach, expectations, this year

Im not sure what is different considering I havent worked there long but I will say this...the employees feel valued and that makes all the difference in the world. I love my job and I know I go out of my way to make others happy just because I am. Its infectious...in a good way :)

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On Saturday when I went, all of the employees that I talked to said that they were having a good day, and one even commented, "I love my job!"

I couldn't believe that last answer. I never heard anything like that last year. I just can't wait to go again. The happiness of the employees was very refreshing, as well as very cool to see. Also, when I had to walk away from the employee that I was conversing with because of an open seat on the train, most of them told me to "Have a great day!" The only slight part of bitterness that I saw was near closing time, when they had to send the people in line for the Blue Racer to the Red Racer.

It's going to be a great season.

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I feel like im at Disney when im at KI at times now! A big and very special thanks to Mr. Ouimet is needed in my book! He has truely gave the CF company a new life, a new stance in the amusement park business, in an ever changing economy its a very large challenge for CF to have southern hospitality, a new era of thrills and family together in one way for a great and fun future for KI and CF!

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Good to hear that folks are having fun (including (!) the workers). When Paramount had the park it was almost a burden to the ride operators, to coordinate a launch. Nobody smiled, and certainly they didn't have anything like the enthusiasm of the days when Beast opened (the year I graduated from H.S.). I think they started being more selective or otherwise motivated the staff, when CF took over. It has been apparent since that time. Good job CF!

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Since so many happy posters are also commenting on the actions of employees, it would be interesting to know if there was a significant difference to the training, approach, expectations, this year

Im not sure what is different considering I havent worked there long but I will say this...the employees feel valued and that makes all the difference in the world. I love my job and I know I go out of my way to make others happy just because I am. Its infectious...in a good way :)

Usually a company that makes the employees feel appreciated expect the emplyees to do the same for the guests. And most times this happens. If the employees are not happy to be there then they will not go out of their way for the guests.

Just remember, they haven't worked double shifts with 100 degree weather every day yet. It's only the second week of operation.

While this may (and prob) is true, lets hope this enthusiasm continues all summer. If you like your job, then you will come to work being positive all summer long...

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Guest rcfreak339

Just remember, they haven't worked double shifts with 100 degree weather every day yet. It's only the second week of operation.

You always down play the employees at the park and it's getting rather annoying.

You're obviously butthurt. Just because you didn't enjoy it doesn't mean everyone else feels the same. Just like any other job I guarentee most employees with Cedar Fair enjoy their positions, that is if they have a good attitude.

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While the employees were nice on Sunday, May 6th, I didn't notice any great change over previous years personally.

One of my encounters with employees this day was that my friend and I wanted to do water bombs on WWC. The only change machine was broken there. So, we took that very long trek back to stands, in an attempt to get just 4 quarters for a dollar. I was told, "Sorry, we are not to give change." at 2 different stands, which was annoying. I know the park makes rules like these for a reason, but here I'm going out of my way to spend money at KI, and their change machine does not work and the employees wouldn't give change nor make suggestions where I could get it. I ended up walking all the way to the Diamondback gift shop, and they hesitated but agreed to give me 4 quarters for a dollar. None of the employees were rude in anyway, but I wouldn't consider that an amazing experience.

While the entrance employees trying to take our picture weren't rude in anyway, they were kind of pushy (same as previous years). It reminded me of why I no longer shop at Best Buy -- when I say no, I mean no. The food stand employees I dealt with (burrito shack and Potato Works) were strictly business, no smiling. The Fast Lane employee I dealt with was incredibly nice, and the ride crews were the same as any other year -- half jolly / fun, half strictly operations.

Don't get me wrong, there were plenty of great changes this year -- better food, a wonderful Beast, fresh paint on Vertigo, etc. But, while the employees are supposedly being treated much better under Ouimet, I didn't feel like this was some new amazing transformation yet. Obviously though, experiences are going to be varying daily, person-to-person. At the end of the season, it'll be a better indicator if the employees are transformed on the whole.

Edit: I have to add that I've never really encountered a rude employee at KI in my many years going there, so that's maybe why I'm not seeing a big transformation. I don't think they were mean under Kinzel and nice under Ouimet; I think they're about the same judging by my first Ouimet-era visit.

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