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Geauga Lake is no more

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Published: September 22, 2007 at 12:13 PM

Well, we've all been hearing the rumors but I don't think anyone was prepared for what Cedar Fair dropped on us today.

Geauga Lake, as we know it, is gone. Whitewater Kingdom will continue to operate, but every ride in the park will be shipping out to the rest of the parks in the chain.

Read the official word at www.geaugalake.com

Geauga Lake was never able to compete with Cedar Point. Even when Six Flags dumped buckets of money on the place, it was still the #3 park in Ohio. But the park had a lot of history, and it looks like a lot of that history is about to get thrown away.

While everyone's plotting where the B&M floorless and the SLC are headed, no one seems to think about classic attractions like the Big Dipper. After 82 years, this was still a very solid coaster. But are any of the Cedar Fair parks lining up for old wood? I doubt it. Also unlikely to be relocated is Raging Wolf Bobs, which had issues earlier this season that were left unresolved.

I don't understand why Cedar Fair couldn't have announced this, oh two weeks ago. Certainly area and regional enthusiasts would have flocked to get their last rides. Heck, Cedar Fair could have even made a nice bit of scratch on it, promoting it like the Myrtle Beach Pavilion's Last Ride event (would it be completely soulless to quickly plug the MBP Last Ride video that's posted on the TPI Youtube page? Nah...).

But it's too late now. After 119 years of operation, the heart of Geauga Lake has been shattered.

That's all I got. Please feel free to post your memories - both good and bad.

Readers' Opinions

From Scottland Jacobson on September 22, 2007 at 1:40 PM
I agree that it sucks that they just closed it without any fanfare or warning. However, I must say my only experience there (back when Six Flags was trying to make it a super-park) was awful. Horrible lines, headache-inducing rides, awful prices, scary gang-type teenagers, minimal theming...the only good part I remember was the cat and dog show. It was a park that I would never intend to visit again and I can't help think that others felt the same way, thus, leading to its closure.
From steve lee on September 22, 2007 at 4:55 PM
Props to Pete Brecht, who predicted this one ages ago (sorry, I submitted this yesterday afternoon - otherwise I would have mentioned it in the body). He pretty much had this one called (or Cedar Fair execs read this site and totally took his idea)
From Derek Potter on September 23, 2007 at 12:10 AM
This one was a suspicion of mine as well. The removal of XFlight is one thing, but when rumblings of three other coasters leaving Geauga come afloat combined with dead attendance figures and absolute silence from the management when asked about the future of the park, one had to wonder how much longer they would stay on the same path. This move makes financial sense, but it is a shame that a park with such history has had it's heart ripped out due to the previous owner Six Flags' financial suicide, and some rather large miscalculations by Cedar Fair.

To be honest, it seems the Cedar Fair incarnation of Geauga Lake never really had a chance. After the decision was made to remove the marine life, the park just became too much like it's brother in nearby Sandusky. Had the animals stayed, there would have been some distinction from the rest of the chain, and surely more attendance as well. From an operations standpoint, Cedar Fair massively improved the park, but they removed the biggest draw in the process, and people simply stopped coming.

The question of where the rides are going is still in the air. Dominator is likely at Kings Dominion next year, giving that park a huge boost in competing with Busch Gardens. Thunderhawk looks to go to Michigans Adventure, with Steel Venom slated to go to Dorney. The Giant Ferris Wheel is looking to move, and also Head Spin. Some of the water rides are probably moving over to the water park, and two of the wooden coasters, Villian and Raging Wolf Bobs, could be firewood. I personally think that the Wolf Bobs is worth sending to another park. Many of the flats will probably find new homes as well. The one ride that I wonder about is the 83 year old Big Dipper coaster. In my honest opinion, it would make a perfect beachside coaster to replace the annual worst ride ever votegetter Disaster Transport at Cedar Point. Wherever it goes is fine with me, as long as it stands and operates somewhere. I'll be absolutely sick to my stomach if it doesn't survive.

After reading several pages of discussion on several other sites, and also some news articles, it appears that Cedar Fair has really alienated a fairly large portion of their fanbase...that base being the coaster loving fanatic. The consensus on the boards is that Cedar Fair torpedoed Geauga Lake in order to boost Cedar Point business. Also, numerous fans and the locals in general aren't happy because the company closed the park out of the blue without advertising and giving them the chance to visit one last time. Some are even calling for the job of chairman Dick Kinzel, who incidently also made a little news of his own in the money section this past week by purchasing 10,000 shares of the company. Obviously many fans are sad to see their hometown park of 120 years go. Whatever the case may be, the company has called down the thunder and they've sure gotten it. Prepare for backlash.

While I agree that they could have handled the closing a whole lot better, and I don't totally agree with the total closure of the amusement side, my next question is this. If the amusement side is closed completely, what are they doing with the land? I suspect condos may be on the arise....(puke)

From Adrienne McDonald on September 23, 2007 at 5:01 PM
If they DID transport the woodie, would they just reassemble it using NEW wood? Why wouldn't they just rebuild it with new wood since it's so old, surely the coaster's pattern/layout would remain but with just new wood. What's y'alls take on that?
From Chris P. on September 23, 2007 at 5:12 PM
^If they re-built it with new wood it technically wouldn't be the same coaster. It would be considered 'new', defeating the purpose of saving it.
From Adrienne McDonald on September 24, 2007 at 1:07 PM
Well I understand that but is it not the same difference if say Knobels (I think it was) who bought the Rocket from San Antonio & renamed it the Phoenix? I'm sure that it wasn't in the best of condition when they bought it, would they've not used new wood? Why would they bother using old wood & transport that when they could use new wood if where needed. What about when wood has to be replaced on a woodie. I know they don't replace every board at one time but IMO it'd still be the same coaster, just with new wood. Now on the other hand since the Mister Twister was moved they redesigned it so to me it's no longer the exact same coaster, just has bits that resemble what it used to look like but I've noticed it's mirror image of what it used to be even if they used the same coaster, they changed the layout so it's not gonna give me the same thrill as the old Twister but still--wouldn't it be the same but different? I'm not trying to start an issue, just thought they could save the woodies from this park & just rebuild them elsewhere, that's all I'm saying. :)
From Mark Kassimer on September 24, 2007 at 2:16 PM
Everyone is so worried about where all the rides are going and no one has stopped to think about the heritage of this park. How it started to what it has become. Let me tell you something, the only ride that I would be concerned with is the merry go round. This ride dates back to the late 1800's and is one of a kind. All the horses are hand carved and no two are exactly the same. The workmanship that was put into this at that time is amazing. You will never find this kind around in the modern era we live in. Get off your pedistal and think about the heritage of this park. So many of the old parks are closing and people lose sight as to what Geauga Lake really was back in the days.
From steve lee on September 24, 2007 at 4:47 PM
Mark, the carousel at Geauga Lake was built in 1926, which actually makes it one of the newer ones in the state of Ohio. The Big Dipper actually predates it by a year. I'm not trying to invalidate your argument, since they never screwed it up by sticking fiberglass figures on it, but please know your facts before you tell us where our priorities should be.

Many of the people here have never been to Geauga Lake. Many that have weren't really frothing at the bit to go back there. I liked the park, but it was nothing I would go out of my way to hit again (the only reason I even went this season was to get a few pick-up shots. I spent two hours there and didn't ride a thing. I still enjoyed it more than the five hours I had spent earlier that day at Cedar Point). Does that mean I'm glad to see it go? Of course not. Any park closing is a bad thing for this industry. Yes, even if it's a Six Flags' park.

But I'm not from the area, so I really have no grasp of its history. I did some limited research for a DVD I'm working on, but it really doesn't delve in that deep. If you want to start deepening this discussion by adding your own memories and observations, please do. But how's about doing so with a little less self-righteous indignation?

BTW, welcome to the site.

From Derek Potter on September 24, 2007 at 6:54 PM
I was actually just trying to elaborate a little further on Cedar Fair's actions, and possible future endeavors with Geauga Lake. I didn't really elaborate on how historically important I thought it was because frankly, a lot of readers care more about the future than the rich amusement park past. Am I sad to see it go? absolutely. It's been entertaining generations in the Cleveland area for over a hundred years. It was one of the few remaining parks that survived the depression and the fallout of the industry before it's reemergence in the 60's. It had a nice setting on the lake, and still had some charm...even after the Six Flags era. The Big Dipper is one of the oldest coasters in the world, and quite frankly was still one of the best rides in a park full of coasters after 83 years.

Any of these rides are capable of being moved. The example of the dilapidated Rocket being moved from a closed San Antonio park to become the Phoenix in Knoebels. Each piece of wood was marked and the ride was reconstructed piece by piece with the same layout. Some of the wood had to be replaced due to the ride being SBNO for a while, but in the Dipper's case, very little would have to because it has been continually maintained and operated. If Cedar Fair foolishly doesn't use it, than any park would be getting a steal by buying it.

My first memory of Geauga Lake was at 8 years old... looking out across the lake from Shamu stadium at this amusement park. I enjoyed the old Ohio Sea World, but I wanted to be across the lake on the coasters. My first visit of many came a few years later. I recall riding the Raging Wolf Bobs quite a few times that day. I went once during the Six Flags era, and once was enough. My last visit to the park was a couple of years ago, during the first year of Cedar Fair's occupation. I recall seeing great promise at the time, and the massive airtime I got on Big Dipper. Unfortunately it seems they have given up on the classic park...and a bit prematurely if you ask me. They could have scaled back the amusement park even a little more before euthanizing it completely. It wasn't completely dead

I honestly wonder if the complete resurgance in popularity of XFlight/Firehawk at Kings Island didn't put this idea in their head. GL wasn't doing well financially, but they have some great attractions that would be boosters (and cheap new rides) to other parks. Could they possibly have sacrificed this park in order to stock their other parks with "new" attractions for pretty much nothing next year?? After all, they have quite a bit of debt now, and attendance has stayed flat. Guest spending has gone up, but it's getting tougher to continue the long running returns that stockholders have gotten for years. Kings Dominion's aquisition of Dominator (if it happens) will be a huge boost because A) It's a fantastic ride and it will draw, and B) They will get it for almost nothing. The same goes for Thunderhawk at Michigans Adventure. MA is a smaller park looking to grow attendance and make some money...what better way to do it than getting a dirt cheap multilooping inverted coaster. Dorney Park is getting the former Steel Venom, Great America has announced new ride for 2008...with the picture of a top spin (Texas Twister). It's foolish to think that any of the other parks (except Canada's Wonderland with their new hypercoaster and perhaps Cedar Point) wouldn't receive at least one of Geauga's old rides. I'm just speculating on this mind you, but I can't help but think that a classic park may have been cannibalized.

From Mark Kassimer on September 25, 2007 at 5:50 AM
My bad for having the dates wrong. All I was trying to do was emphasize the important role that Geauga Lake has had in the Northern Ohio area and where some of our priorities have gotten lost. I too remember going there when I was knee high to a grasshopper, and all I wanted to do was keep riding the Big Dipper. I too am sad to see it close as I enjoyed going there as much as I could. I think and correct me if I am wrong is the park tried to keep up with the MONSTER PARKS that are being built today. If it would have stayed small and simple it might have had a chance for survival. I know alot of people are thrill seekers and want the big coasters (which I do enjoy also) but keeping it simple would have made for that nice one day getaway and still stay near home. And yes any coaster can be moved. I think alot of that has to do with the cost of moving old wood versus building new. They could replicate the exact same coaster as the Big Dipper somewhere else. It has been done before.
From Becky Conat on September 25, 2007 at 10:48 AM
I generally have nothing but good things to say about Cedar Fair parks... but the way they handled the park's closing totally disappoints me. I have never been to Geauga Lake, I can only remember seeing it from Sea World Ohio when I was young. But as a Cedar Fair season pass holder, I probably would have made the trip down to Geauga Lake had I known it was going to be no more. With all the history Geauga Lake has, it's a complete shame that Cedar Fair did not give it a proper send off. And now something makes more sense to me, about a month ago on Cedar Point's blog they mention that construction was starting on a new ride, but wouldnt say much more than that. I am sure they will announce sometime soon what ride will be transfering there. They could have at least announced a month ago the park was closing.....
From steve lee on September 25, 2007 at 2:06 PM
When the rumors started up about Dominator and Thunderhawk, my initial reaction was "wow, maybe Cedar Fair is trying to return the park to its more traditional roots." For a solid month I fooled myself into believing that they'd get rid of most of the Six Flags overindulgence and return Geauga Lake to what it once was.

I'm angry at myself for giving that company this much credit.

From steve lee on September 26, 2007 at 7:42 PM
Thunderhawk is already being taken down.

So if you're looking at starting a "save Geauga Lake" petition...well, you maybe should have got on that last week.

From Derek Potter on September 27, 2007 at 7:09 AM
Actually, there is a save Geauga Lake petition out there, and also a Save The Dipper petition/website. I highly doubt the first one will have any effect, but perhaps the Dipper petition will at least keep the ride from being torn down immediately or generate a buyer. There are many small parks that could benefit from this ride. I'm hoping Cedar Fair has a brain and keeps it somewhere in their chain. Don't forget that a huge portion of their customer base is the coaster lover and the fanatic community, and tearing down a beloved 83 year old John Miller coaster in the era of coaster preservation instead of selling or keeping it open wouldn't sit well at all with them. Cedar Fair has already alienated it's Cleveland area fanbase with the closing, and wrecking Big Dipper would do further damage to their reputation.

I think that moving the Dipper is a totally feasible thing. I'm sure it's cheaper than rebuilding completely. Why build new when the ride is already built. They can dismantle and mark the pieces of lumber, which are already cut and measured, and reassemble it piece by piece on site...replacing any wood that is necessary. Very little cutting would need to happen, as it would pretty much be like a prefabbed ride. Some surveying and the blueprints (if they still exist) can make that happen. Besides, we all know that it wouldn't be the same if it was completely rebuilt, and the purpose of the whole thing is to save the original coaster, not replicate it.

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