A Wild Wide-format Ride
Most in-plants’ print jobs center around the core business of their parent companies. But, on any given day, Brian Kniceley’s shop on the shores of Lake Erie could be producing a range of items including window décor for a donut shop, props for a magic show, vehicle decals, or informational signage about the Tyrannosaurus Rex.
It’s hard to find a common thread connecting these wide ranging jobs, but knowing that Kniceley’s parent company touts itself as “The Roller Coaster Capital of the World” makes the picture a little clearer.
Cedar Point, located on a peninsula in Sandusky, OH, is among the largest and oldest amusement parks in North America. In addition to the main amusement park area, Cedar Point is also home to Soak City Water Park and Challenge Park, which includes additional thrill rides, go-karts and miniature golf.
As any fan of amusement parks knows, signs, banners, concessions menus, and vehicle decals play an essential role in the experience. At Cedar Point, this wide-format printing is produced in-house in a four-person design and production shop.
Kniceley, an environmental services graphic designer for the graphic services department, explains that in an amusement park, it’s typical to expect the unexpected. This is why maintaining an in-plant specializing in wide-format is integral to keeping up the park’s appearance.
“There are some things that just can’t help but be last minute, and they know they have people here and the equipment here,” Kniceley explains. “If it needs to get done, it will get done.”
More Than Meets the Eye
In addition to the signage found throughout the park, Kniceley explains that the print shop also produces vinyl banners, large-format menus for concession areas, cards used in live shows, artwork for the park’s offices, material to be placed on easels in hotels, and more.
The in-plant maintains a 54˝ Roland VersaCamm VS 540 printer and plotter, which Kniceley describes as the shop’s “workhorse.” But because of the nature of amusement park signage, he says the in-plant also keeps paint, brushes and rollers alongside its high-tech printing equipment.
For example, many of the signs in the park are produced on high-density urethane. That material can be carved to shape and painted, with a digital print then placed on top of it.
Kniceley explains that the VersaCamm’s low-solvent system provides better durability than water-based ink systems. He says that this iteration of Roland’s wide-format technology is also an improvement over the company’s previous models, which included the SOLJET and CammJet.
When signage does need to be repaired or replaced, Kniceley says it is rarely because the print quality has deteriorated. Rather, it’s because information needs to be updated or perhaps the identity of a ride has been reimagined.
“Our menus change every year and our live show signs change every year, so