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Updated: Following lawsuit, Gov. DeWine lifts shutdown order for amusement parks

SANDUSKY – Cedar Point and Kalahari Resorts both got clearance to reopen later this month, a development local officials are celebrating.

“As a result of ongoing discussions with Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and Lt. Gov. John Husted, we are very pleased to announce that our Ohio parks, including Cedar Point and Kings Island, have been cleared to reopen,” Cedar Fair CEO Richard A. Zimmerman told the Register Friday afternoon. “We will provide specific opening dates just as soon as we confirm details with the governor.”

Cedar Fair, which owns Cedar Point and Kings Island, is the amusement park chain headquartered in Sandusky.

Zimmerman said company officials appreciated the cooperation and support of all those who have worked hard to help “us and the state of Ohio reopen.”

“We plan to continue conversations with the governor and lieutenant governor that have helped reach a positive resolution for all parties. We also owe a big thank you to our local city, county and state officials who have assisted us throughout this process,” Zimmerman said. “The reopening of our parks is crucial to the economic viability of Erie County and Warren County (near Cincinnati where Kings Island is located), and we look forward to getting back to business and hope that other states will follow Ohio’s lead in reopening parks around the country.”

Zimmerman said Erie County commissioners Matt Old and Pat Shenigo have been fierce allies in the effort to get the park reopened.

Old said he was thrilled with the news.

“I’m so glad to hear the announcement from Gov. DeWine. So many of our small businesses depend on visitors coming here and spending money,” Old said. “Cedar Point and our water parks are prepared to safely welcome guests to Erie County.”

Old said this is the beginning of a regional economic recovery.

“Now more than ever it is important for for our community to shop at and support local businesses from Kalahari and Cedar Point to our shops on Main Streets,” he said.

Cedar Fair is taking every necessary precaution to keep guests and associates safe in accordance with governmental and CDC directives, Erie County and Warren County health departments, medical professionals, Ohio’s Development Services Agency and industry best practices,” Zimmerman said.

“Cedar Fair’s capacity-controlled, family-friendly properties at Cedar Point and Kings Island, coupled with the operational expertise of our seasoned park professionals, ensures an environment where predictable observance and enforcement of social distancing and COVID-19 protocols can be achieved.

He said more details about their safety measures and what to expect when visiting Ohio-based parks will be released closer to the opening date.

“We cannot wait to welcome back our loyal guests to Ohio’s treasured amusement parks, which have brought fun and happiness to generations of families,” Zimmerman said.

Cedar Point is a 364-acre amusement park located on a Lake Erie peninsula in Sandusky. This year is its 150th anniversary of being in operation. It is considered Cedar Fair’s flagship of the amusement park and is often “America’s Roller Coast.” The park features a world-record 72 rides, including 17 roller coasters.

County commissioner Pat Shenigo, who also has worked with company and state officials working on a reopening date, said he too was thrilled by the announcement.

“This is great news for Erie county, Shenigo said. “We’re not out of the woods yet but opening in June is great considering what we all have been through.”

Shoeing thanked DeWine and Husted. He also credited State Sen. Teresa Gavarone, state Rep. Douglas “DJ” Swearingen, Erie County health Commissioner Pete Schade.

“They all were extremely helpful in our efforts to get Cedar Point and our waterparks open. I am convinced that the operating plans in place will provide a safe experience for our visitors and hopefully help restart our local economy.”

“These companies are ready to safely open. Their businesses are vital to the economies of our local communities,” Shenigo said.

Shenigo ticked off the following statistics from a 2018 study:

• Tourism attracts about 11 million visitors to our region annually.

• It provides 14,000 jobs in our region, with $350 million in wages.

• It generates $250 million for our region alone in taxes.

Statewide, tourism is a $46 billion industry employing 429,000 Ohioans and attracting 222 million visitors annually, according to the 2018 study.

Kalahari Sandusky property has 890 guest rooms and suites, a 173,000 square-foot indoor waterpark over 4 acres, 77,000 square-foot outdoor waterpark, a convention center with 215,000 square feet of flexible meeting space for conventions and events.

Officials from Kalahari did not respond to inquiries from the Register.

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