PORT CLINTON, Ohio — To many, Erie County is known as “vacation land." The county is home to Cedar Point, Kalahari Resort and the African Safari Wildlife Park. Each attraction drawing thousands of visitors each year. While each have had a rough start to the year, the safari park is recording a record number of crowds.
The drive-through safari park, located in Port Clinton, re-opened its gates later than usual this year. A fire inside the park last fall pushed back their original 2020 open date to March 13. The park opened for one week and then the coronavirus forced them to shut down for 53 days.
“We had a very rough spring here," said Kelsey Kelly, the safari park director. During that time, Kelly said the park operated on limited staff. Then, they got the good news from the state allowing them to re-open.
Since May 14, staff said they have slammed with visitors. Each weekend car loads of families form long lines outside of the park, anxious to take a drive on the wild side. "It’s unbelievable how busy we’ve been," Kelly said.
Visitors said the attraction was an easy pick because it allows for social distancing keeping their family safe while having fun after months of isolation.
"It’s been hard on them [my kids] and so it’s nice to have a break from home," said Louisville, Kentucky resident Bridgette Van Gansbeke.
A Detroit resident echoed the same sentiment. “It means a lot. You can breath, get you some air, stretch your legs your limbs versus being boxed in all day. So it’s worth it," said Jerome Sharfner.
Ieesha Torres and her family drove into Port Clinton from Cincinnati. She described the drive-thru tour as fantastic and said it was a nice break from staying home.
"We got tired of sitting at home for the quarantine and wanted to come out and have some fun," Torres said.
Kelly said the re-opening of Cedar Point will not only help their already booming business, but the entire county as a whole.
"Hotels make their money. Cedar Point makes their money. And you know it's it's critical that we are open during that time. So you know, I'm thrilled that Cedar Point and Kalahari and all of those, those major hotels that bring guests into town are here for our community it makes it makes, you know, it's gonna make the summer for everybody," she said.
To help with the large crowds on the weekends, the safari park just implemented a reservation system for Saturdays Sundays and holidays To help with the large crowds on the weekends, the safari park just implemented a reservation system for Saturdays Sundays and holidays. This will help guarantee visitors a trip inside the park.
For more information about the African Safari Wildlife Park, click here.