Cedar Point’s failure to attract enough seasonal workers led the parks to close during Tuesdays and Wednesdays during the month of June. Increasing starting wages to $20 per hour looks to have solved the labor issue, according to Cedar Fair CEO Richard Zimmerman, adding that he expects the chain’s flagship park to return to daily operations by the end of the month.
“We’ve seen great response over the last few weeks as we raised our wages,” Zimmerman said at the 2021 Goldman Sachs Travel & Leisure Conference. “We’ll continue to add back hours and add back days as we get deeper into June.”
Zimmerman warned of the labor problems during the company’s most recent earnings call, and repeated Tuesday that this is “the most challenging labor market I’ve seen in 20 years.” The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on businesses, which are now rushing to return to normal operations, has led to employers reliant on low-wage, seasonal workers struggling to fill open positions (and no, it’s not a given that more generous unemployment checks are to blame).
Cedar Point’s situation was exacerbated by the suspension of the U.S. J-1 Visa program, where foreign students come to work in the U.S. According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, up to a quarter of Cedar Point’s typical summer workforce comes from overseas.
Other parks in the Cedar Fair family, including Kings Island outside Cincinnati, Kings Dominion in Virginia and Charlotte’s Carowinds have also raised wages to attract more workers.
“We want to get the number of applicants we need to provide the quality of guest experience that guests have come to expect out of Cedar Fair,” Zimmerman said.