I work in rides, and I am from the southwest, so I'd think the experience from the west coast would be pretty similar. I drive there every summer, so I have to deal with gas prices, but a plane ride is also a viable option, you just have to consider how to get there, because transportation from cleveland to sandusky is crap. There's either greyhound or amtrak, but they are always at the most inconvenient times. Knowing people who live there always helps.
The experience as a whole, in my opinion as a coaster enthusiast, is well worth it. You get to ride coasters for free while you're there working your job, you meet a lot of cool people who are also coaster enthusiasts, and you get to see a completely different side of the theme park industry. The job itself is really fun for a coaster enthusiast because you get to push buttons and check seat belts and stuff! The housing, unfortunately, is not the best. It is livable, definitely, and it's also not too expensive. They just deduct the cost from your paycheck and you never even think that you're paying for housing. The point is that we get a lot of hours so the money isn't bad at all. AC comes with housing if you live off point, however there is no AC in Cedars (men) and Gold (women) dorms, which are on the peninsula. The thing most people love to use is the Cedar Fair perk, which is that while you're an employee, you get into other Cedar Fair parks for free! King's Island trips are frequent!
I don't regret at all working at CP. It costs even more money for me because I have to take a 20 hour drive to get there, but I love every minute of working there!