I am still sad to see the now leveled parks that were Geauga Lake and Sea World any time that I drive through the area. The big dipper was the first coaster that I ever went on and was still one of my favorites up until the park closed. The second coaster that I had ever been on was the corkscrew. Both coasters I road with my late grandfather and we both loved the experience and the coasters. Both of my grandfather's employers had family picnics at Geauga Lake each year.

I also worked summer security jobs at both parks, in 1999 at Geauga Lake as a Deputy Sheriff and 2000 as a Security Officer. The management, training, culture and upkeep of both parks were completely different.

At Geauga Lake, the management was focused on profit and their own advancement over all else. The culture was that of part time employees caring about as much as they needed to get through the day and the training was very subpar. The maintenance and cleanliness of the park was just enough to get by with the minimum level of effort. Management didn't care about the employees and the employees didn't care much about the park. The rides and attractions may have looked clean enough from the front but anywhere that wasn't plainly obvious from a quick walk through the park was left dirty rusty and forgotten.

At Sea World, it was completely different. The training was superb and in the security realm included an optional mountain bike police patrol course, which itself was a blast to take. The management focused on the taking care of the employees as well as the guests and it definitely showed. As a part time summer employee, we were offered medical insurance benefits and provided with a 30min paid lunch break as well as off-season work if desired. After our probationary period, we were provided with a significant ticket package for free, including 8 Sea World Tickets, 4 Geauga Lake Tickets and 2 Cedar Point Tickets. In addition, we could buy Season Passes for Friends and Family for $25 if I remember correctly. The care that management showed to their employees was very evident and this led to every single employee genuinely caring about the park as well as the experience of the park's guests. This led to phenomenal maintenance and cleanliness of every single area of the park. I loved working at Sea World and Anheuser-Busch was a phenomenal employer.

It never was the world's largest theme park. The 700 acres that are used represent the park's total land holdings, not the acreage that was actually used for the park. Yes it was a massive 700 acres (actually 690) but that included the hotel, the campground, the lake (50 acres), the parking lots and 110 undeveloped acres. According Six Flags' 2003 10-k it wasn't even the largest Six Flags park, Great Adventure's total land holdings were 2,200 acres and Darien Lake's were 988. The 10-k also states that of WOA's 690 acres, 158 were used for theme park operations. By comparison, Great Adventure had 240 acres devoted to theme park operations while Magic Mountain had 160 acres. It wasn't even the largest theme park in Ohio. Cedar Fair's 10-k shows that King's Island has a total of 677 acres, 351 of which are developed, while the report Cedar Point has 365 acres nearly all of which are developed.

In reply to by dave (not verified)

That wasn't completely true I went to Six Flags Geauga lake every year. Only because my grandfather loved that place. You cannot Blame the lines on the inner-city people. When you say that... I'm guessing your talking about the Urban area?
It was just a cash hole. They took most of the parks. summit lake park, play land park, Euclid park. I'm sure a lot more are not mentioned. Now you have to travel all the way to the widows peak of Ohio just to get amusement. What Should have happened is a petition to make it a Historical Land Mark.

I'm years late to the discussion here - which means that probably very few people will see it (and all due credit, by the way to Brian Krosnick for his great reporting in this piece) - but I thought I'd add my two cents, coming from one of the other perspectives that was mentioned in the article: that of the proto-typical "Out of Towner" attracted to Geauga Lake during the Six Flags' "glory years."

The one and only time we visited what was then Six Flags Worlds of Adventure (I knew nothing of the name Geauga Lake or its history, being from Western New York) was the summer of 2003 when my wife and I took our then 6-year-old nephew and 5-year-old niece there for a long weekend. I find Krosnick's description of the park having been transformed from a "local park for locals" to an international theme park interesting because the reason - and I mean the ONLY reason - we went there was due to the fact that we were Six Flags season pass holders (at our local park, which was then, and is again, Six Flags Darien Lake - more on that later). With those passes, we could get in to Worlds of Adventure for free.

Not knowing what to expect as we set foot in Worlds of Adventure, sight unseen - other than we were intrigued by a combined theme park and Sea World concept - we were all quite impressed by the size and scope of the park. It truly had something for everyone, from the kiddie rides (good for our 5 year old niece) to the roller coasters for myself and our nephew, to the entertainment (great for us all). Having nothing else on which to base our opinions, we all thoroughly enjoyed the experience and thought it would be a place to which we would all return in the future. Sad to say we never returned, since that was the final year of Six Flags' ownership of the park and our Darien Lake-issued season passes would no longer be valid for admittance.

Though we never planned a return visit, the only reason we did not was due to our Six Flags membership status. Otherwise we were all very impressed with the park. From our perspective, that was the end of the story when it came to Six Flags Worlds of Adventure - I knew nothing of the tortured history of the park following Six Flags' departure. Now, with the hindsight of a decade and a half behind us - as well as the full knowledge of the history of the park as outlined in this article - I am saddened by the all-too-soon demise of what, to us, was a great park.

One side note - since we traveled more than four hours to get to the park - we combined our trip with a stopover in Cleveland (or, we may have stayed there for the duration of our visit - it has been so long now, I've forgotten that detail). While there, we took in several Lakefront attractions including the USS Cod and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. All in all, it was a great family trip with great memories that have lasted to this day.

The takeaway from this story, as "Out of Towners," is that the park actually attracted our tourism dollars - not only to the park itself, but also the surrounding areas - money, as Western New York residents, that we wouldn't have otherwise spent in central Ohio.

Postscript: Had we known, during our 2003 visit to Six Flags Worlds of Adventure, that that was the last year of Six Flags' ownership - or that the reason for Six Flags' departure was due to their imminent financial implosion - we would have been nervous about our own Six Flags park and membership. As it was, Six Flags' reorganization meant that they would also sell off Darien Lake (our park) within a couple of years. Fortunately for us - and Darien Lakes' other fans - the company that bought it cared for it with a stewardship that was much more conscientious than Cedar Fair's treatment of Geauga Lake and its fans. Flash forward to this year, a stronger Six Flags organization has re-purchased Darien Lake and we are now under the Six Flags banner once again, without having barely missed a step.

I went to Geauga Lake ONCE with a friend's family in the early/mid 90's. We took 2 days and did both Sea World and Geauga Lake. This die-hard Cedar Point girl remembers GL to be very underwhelming. I always remembered the coasters as a small wood one and "half of the Corkscrew" - even though it seems like there were a few more, even then. So I always dismissed it. I knew it had turned into a Six Flags, but I figured it was just a rebranding. I never knew that they added coasters. After hearing the whole story, I'm kind of sad that I wrote it off and never went back.

I had a few great memories of everything starting with sea world. I loved it as a youngster and was lucky enough to visit before it sold out too (1999). It's one of the reasons I love marine life so much. as for Geauga lake/Six Flags, I first visited with a free ticket from selling newspaper subscriptions and almost drowned in the first wave pool, I was pulled up by a life guard and the waves stopped for a half hour because of it. when I was in high school (summer 96) a bunch of friends went in for the after 4pm cheaper rates just to see a DOORS cover band playing on one of the stages. I'm pretty sure the last visit for me was 2007 when the boardwalk crossing the lake was there. I made some special brownies because I had a free ticket from a buddies work picnic. my friend was sick and couldn't go, but that didn't stop me going alone. I spent most of my day in the water park loving the slides and hours in the lazy river. that board walk was a perfect end to the day with slight drizzle of rain and a great buzz. It makes me sad to know a park that could of overtaken ceder point as the best amusement park in all of the world was sold to cedar fairs just to close it's competition. you can't blame cedar fairs for doing what they did. It was less than an hour drive north and less crowded than cedar point. It leaves a sour look on my face thinking what has happened to put an end to a great lake. SIX FLAGS SUCKS!

In reply to by Joe (not verified)

I read this paragraph completely on the topic of the resemblance of most up-to-date and earlier technologies,
it's remarkable article.

I grew up in Ohio, not far from here and as an 80s kid, would come every summer of my childhood and early teen years to these parks. Spend the day at GL, wind down after supper taking in Sea World's shows. It was perfect...

I grew up and we stopped going. We heard shortly after Sea World packed up shop and went south, citing the winters as "too cold" to maintain the park, which always struck me as odd since they've been here forever and it's never been a problem before. Less reason to go.

Then I heard Six Flags bought GL and figured it was now going to be a generic themed mass roller coaster park (something I could find elsewhere) and didn't want to bother going back.

Didn't know anything else had happened beyond that point. Had no idea ALL THIS HAPPENED because frankly, there's been no advertising of any of it that's reached me. I think I heard the phrase "worlds of adventure" once or twice, tops. No word they had parks all around the entire lake now.

So sad...

for me the WORST part after six flags took over were the employees.. they were rude.. unhelpful and just awful.. I quit going mostly because of them.. it went from a good park to a hood park.. overrun with out of control kids and employees... sad to see it go..

Cedar Point has been there since the 1800's. They've never had an issue maintaining the park in a state with actual changing seasons. They park is just as popular as ever. A park doesn't need to be in a hot state to flourish.

In reply to by Kristen Cain (not verified)

All of you blaming Cedar Faire for the change of themeing in these parks needs to do some research. They HAD to change the names of things and the themeing. It was part of the purchase. Those characters and names are copyrighted. They had to be changed.

I went there the last summer Six Flags owned it. It was FAR from fantastic. The place was a run down mess. Did you actually GO there only drive by? The rides were run down. That last summer the place was all but a ghost town. Cedar Faire did NOTHING to Aurora. If Aurora loved the park so much and had actually GONE there those last couple of years then it would still be there. The place wasn't getting en ugh business to stay open. Should they at least clean it up now? Absolutely. That is there only fault here. And they are TRYING to do something with it. They are trying to sell off the land for other uses.

In reply to by Sarah Fisher (not verified)

I know your comment is now like two years old but I want to say how glad I am that there is someone else who sees what happened to Geauga Lake. This article is clearly very biased. I was at Geauga Lake that last summer that Six Flags owned for the first time in years and I wanted to cry as soon as we pulled in the parking lot. Weeds growing up in cracks in the parking lot, landscaping overgrown and just HORRIBLE looking. The state of the rides...Six Flags had broken up kiddy land and just randomly scattered it all over the park. The rides were making noise, a lot of them. The Double Loop squeaked so much that I wouldn't ride it. It war horrible. And empty. It was like going to Geauga Lake in it's hayday, middle of the week, one a bad weather day. We got in line, rode rides than turned around and got right back on them. The place was a ghost town. It makes me sick that Cedar Faire got so much of the blame. Yes, they changed the names of things. They had no choice. That was a contract issue. They couldn't leave the rides with Six Flag-themed names. Same with King's Island. It was a copyright issue. See, the thing is, Geauga lake, even in it's hayday, was NOT competition for Cedar Point. It never was! Geauga Lake was a family park that ran at a slower pace. It had a few thrills rides but was geared towards families. Cedar Point was a coaster park. They had co-existed not terribly far from each other for what? 100 years? People forget this. Cedar Point ALSO was opened in the 1800's. As a swimming hole. And just like Geauga Lake, it grew from there.

In reply to by teresa (not verified)

Yes!!! The Gravitron!!

Oh my goodness, the memories.

It moves me to tears.

Thanks so much!
Take care!

In reply to by Sarah Fisher (not verified)

I agree. We live in Toledo so we always went to CP multiple times a year. We decided to try Geauga Lake when it was Six Flags. It wasn't very busy and most of the rides weren't even running. We went during the heart of summer so we were like what the he** why is nothing running considering the price we paid. The old SW was awful and falling apart. We left very disappointed considering it was supposed to be this huge cool park. My cousins went to the original Geauga Lake every year and had a blast. My cousin went with us that day and he said it was nothing like it use to be. Sad to see all the empty land.

In reply to by Sarah Fisher (not verified)

I so agree with you. Six Flags killed Geauga Lake. I love coasters, but one ride on Villian was enough. I was bruised for the entire day.

I think the author missed a big point here. They almost mentioned it but missed. It closed at the end of the 2007 and never reopened. That was the start of the economic problems that took several years to recover from and some areas are just getting back on their feet. While the over expansion by Six Flags damaged their ability to hang on and from the comments the rides never worked and the place was always dirty did not help attract repeat visitors. Management at Cedar Parks might have bought it with the intentions of really doing something and found after a couple years that the cost to maintain the Six Flags additions was far too much and could see the economic slow down and knew better than pouring money into the place at that point. The only way they could save some of their money was to part out the park for what they could. That and the park was not designed to hold the crowds it attracted and the town was not ready either. All the factors hit at a bad point in time where no one was spending money on anything.

This was a well-written & sad article! I am in my late 30's & remember going to Sea World (always hated it) & Geauga Lake as a kid &teens & always had a blast! I was born & raised in Pittsburgh, but I have tons of family throughout Ohio, so It was common for us to frequent GL & meetup with family there. Ironically, I never visited while it was six flags, but I did go back up in 2006 after it returned back to Geauga Lake & my kids & I enjoyed ourselves. It makes me sick to my stomach to see how greedy corporate companies decided not to put the patrons first & destroyed a wonderful park! GL was like our 2nd home in Ohio when we were not at Kennywood in Pittsburgh.

But don't be too quick to suggest the owners of Kennywood to purchase the land because ever since they bought the park, we Pittsburgh locals have noticed a steady decline in the quality of park it used to be, as opposed to when it was owned by the local family here. Corporate greed is always a recipe for disaster when it comes to consumers!

Don't tell me that this wasn't Cedar Fair! Still to this day management at Cedar Point find it funny that they get to use garbage cans and such things that are originally from Geauga Lake. The conversations I had with them made me sick! I do hope that someone purchases that property someday soon but I am not all that optimistic. Honestly, anyone buying that property at this point would be taking on a huge undertaking rebuilding Geauga Lake to any resemblance of what it used to be.

I live about 40 minutes from Kennywood and go every year. Yes, there have been changes, but nothing awful. I like to go in May before it gets hot and crowded. Also, for the last few years admission on Sundays in May is buy one get one free. But Kennywood still has a nice family park vibe and is worth coming back to visit.

In reply to by Kit (not verified)

Perfectly stated Kit! Thank you. I love Waldameer, and their model of building a family park should be duplicated.

Not everyone wants to always go to a huge action-packed park like Cedar Point. I like it sometimes, but the old Geauga Lake's and old Kennywood's can be a much more enjoyable day. I haven't been to Kennywood in maybe 15+ years, and am afraid to go back because of the changes I've read about, but back then, it was my favorite park, and after one visit, Geauga Lake was similar for me.

Geauga Lake was a wonderful place! we used to buy season passes and get dropped off on weekends and after school! It is so sad that my children will never get a chance to experience the rides and whales in Ohio! The biggest shame of the entire thing is that no one stepped up to the plate to save it!

The final nail in the coffin will be when they allow a Meijer Superstore to be built on the site. Apparently there's no significant historical value here?

In reply to by Kennywood Becca (not verified)

Does Idlewild still have Storybook Forest? My parents took me there when it,was a separate park in the early 60s. I took my kids there in the 80s when it combined with Idlewild. I live in Florida now, coincidentally in Orlando. I would love to take my grandchildren to Storybook Forest one day.

In reply to by Josh (not verified)

Reconcile this frustrating and uninformed opinion with the fact that Kings Island and Cedar Point - two of the top three most visited seasonal parks in North America - are in Ohio.

In reply to by Mike (not verified)

It's in Ohio. Enough said.

I went to Worlds of Adventure in 2004 and the park was okay. Probably not a good idea to stop there after cedar point. Our closest park is six flags great America which has some really great coasters too. So going to worlds of adventure, the rides weren't at all scary. Some seemed old (raging wolf bobs killed my back....worst wooden coaster I've ever been on). I didn't know anything about the park before it turned to six flags so I'm assuming it was better than when we went. I don't have anything horrible to say about it, it just wasn't worth driving 5 hours to go to again when I could drive to cedar point. I wish I could have seen it in its hay day and I am really sad to see it go under. It had such potential!

it is pronounced gee-aw-guh, not gee-ah-guh. i've never heard anyone pronounce it that way. never.

Cedar Fair also debranded King's Island after they bought it & stopped sending brochures to the interstate info centers. They are slowly killing it too.. Sad I always preferred the old King's Island to Cedar Point

In reply to by Ethan (not verified)

CP also has the luxury of not having the competition of 3 other major theme parks (one of which is DISNEYLAND) that are only an hour's drive away.

In reply to by Austin (not verified)

SFMM might have CP beat in coaster count, but Cedar Point has a higher attendance number. CP is the most attended seasonal park in the United States.

In reply to by Sarah Fisher (not verified)

Absolutely agree with you on this. I went all the time as a kid in the early 90s and once Six Flags took over, it was terrible.

In reply to by Sarah Fisher (not verified)

This comment sums everything up better and faster than 5(!!) pages of hyperbole could not do. I grew up going to Geauga Lake--as a teenager in the 90's it was close enough that our parents would let us drive there but far enough away that it felt like we had so much freedom. It was the Six Flags transformation that did Geauga Lake in.

Furthermore... Don't title your post promising a numbered list when you have to go through 1000+ words of copy to get to it. Also, all the speculation and hyperbole is a bit unnecessary. Unless you titled the post "What I think Went Wrong With Geauga Lake" or "One Verbose Writer Speculates On The Downfall of Geauga Lake."

At the peak of the coaster wars, Magic Mountain and Cedar Point traded off on several different records several times, including most coasters in a park. Magic Mountain actually has Cedar Point beat at the moment, with 19 coasters to CP's 16.

The size of this park is greatly exaggerated. The only thing that is for sure is the pond is 60 acres. Now look at the park maps. Why would a 60 acre pond take up half of the map?

We lived in Bedford as a kid from '68 through 1973 and to us kids back then, Geauga Lake/Sea World was as close as you could get to paradise. It's a crime, what they did to our park.

This article is grood but a am incomplete story, the end of the story really, that includes Euclid Beach Park, Puritas Park, and Chippewa Lake Park. Someone needs to tell the whole story why Cleveland has no amusement parks any longer.

actually there was a whale, her name was Shouka, I worked there, she was very friendly at the time also. She was moved in 2004 when cedar fair would not deal with animals.

Really? You can't figure out why the kids play area was torn down? Remember the national news??!! Six Flags employee molests and rapes little kids in there!! My brother being one of them! Six Flags was sued and parents of the children, ours included, fought to have it shut down!

In reply to by Kristen Cain (not verified)

Kings Island was at its best during 70s and 80s. 90s EH paramount RUINED it! Nickelodeon is not classic. the only good thing paramount did was build the water park. as for Cedar Fair owning it now they've done some good refurbishments I also very much enjoy the Snoopy and Charlie Brown's themed areas and gifts at least that's classic. who remembers Fairly OddParents from Nickelodeon. and to say you are 42 years old and don't know any of the Charlie Brown characters personally I think that's sad. I am 45 and still watch all the Snoopy and Charlie Brown seasonal cartoons its classic if you grow up in the sixty's seventy's and eighty's! as for this park I knew there was a SeaWorld in Ohio but I had never been I have only been to Cedar Point. I really didn't know about both of these parts together that's very sad that they let the sparks fall apart I truly hope Cedar Fair does not ever do this to Kings Island I grew up in Cincinnati I've had a season pass to Kings Island since I was 14 years old and I have gone every summer of my life since I was 2 years old. but this is why I prefer the Walt Disney World Resort when I want to travel you never know what you're going to get at any other park but with Disney or universal Studios you know you're going to have a good time

It was my favorite place as a kid! I have so many memories

In reply to by Austin (not verified)

Never even heard of Six Flags Magic Mountain....Cedar Point, I've heard of, and they currently hold the world record for number of roller coasters in a single park.

In reply to by Sarah Fisher (not verified)

Never got to this park, but Boblo Island in the Detroit River had the Rotor too. That was a great ride, sticking to the sides while still being outside, unlike the carnival Gravatron.

I grew in the Geagua Lake area of Aurora and worked at GL my grandfather was actually killed there back in 1940 as head of maintenance he was accidentally electrocuted. My mother grow up in a house owned by the park. My Uncle owned the Exxon station in Aurora and had a great many years of 100K gallons of gas sold based on the volume of visitors to both parks. It nothing but sad to drive by there today.

The distinction between "theme" park and "amusement" park aside (either fits here, and who cares anyway), Six Flags World's of Adventure was far and away the largest on Earth. Read the article. It was larger than Animal Kingdom, which is the current reigning champion of "theme" parks, and larger than Six Flags Great Adventure which is the largest "amusement" park now. Read the actual article.

Calling it the largest theme park is just click bait. It was never a theme park, and it was never a large one if you wanted to call it that.

Incorrect, Six Flags Magic Mountain is the capital.

In reply to by Bob (not verified)

You are correct that Cedar Point or Kings Island were bigger than Geauga Lake. But, before Six Flags came into the picture, Geauga Lake was a very busy park. When Sea World was there, Sea World took in enough money to put All three SeaWorld parks in the green for the whole year. The business carried over to GL. Not to mention all of the locals who went to DL several times a summer.

Thank you for this article. I remember going to GL as a little kid with my parents in the early 90s. I randomly thought back to GL and was curious to see what was new with the park...to find out that it is gone truly broke my heart. I remember watching the Egyptian shows at night in GL and seeing all of the lights from Sea World across the water...such great memories. Thank you again.

I would like to see the owner of pymatuming deer park expand here

In reply to by Jeff (not verified)

I agree whole heartedly with this. The cut corners and increased prices that came with the six flags name was the downfall of geauga lake.

The roads are now 4 lanes which is just a sad reminder. The requests were put in while the park looked like it was growing to make the road 4 lanes and by he time hey started construction the park was already dismantled.

ok heres a little known fact-the Kenny family-the family that originally owned kennywood-was at one point in talks to buy Geauga lake and turn it into the kind of park they wanted to turn kennywood into but couldn't due to land issues-one with some sort of hotel, a lot of the older rides that you cant find anywhere anymore, etc. but then for whatever reason they got out of the business. imagine if they had gone through with their plans.also in my opinion it used to be about providing family fun now its all about the all mighty dollar. such a shame really.

In reply to by Shawna (not verified)

Cedar fair owner of cedar point planned the demise of Geauga lake

The Cleveland Indians played a game or two there on Sundays in early 1900s. Cleveland laws prohibited games on Sundays so the Cleveland team had to play outside of Cleveland or Cuyahoga County. I believe ball field was in the Sea World parking lot.

In reply to by Brian

There are still sections of wooden roller coasters on the back side of the lake. Aurora and the Geauga lake site are not anymore located in the muddle of "nowhere" than cedar point us. Both are were destinations and geauga lake had better access to n.e.Ohio, central Ohio and western Penna. than cedar point. Don't believe for a minute that cedar faire didb"t buy it to shut down the competition..... I know thus for a fact!

In reply to by Will (not verified)

The beginning of the end for Geauga Lake was the city bus line that ran from Cleveland to the park. Once the city kids had a way to get to the park, the families started leaving, the thug element started taking over and crime started to rise. At the same time, the suburban kids didn't feel safe working at the park, so management resorted to hiring the same folks who were the cause of the problems. I lived five minutes from the park and quit going there soon after Six Flags took over. This after years of good times and good memories with the Funtime version of the park.

Greedy is the name of the game here in the USA, money, money, money, There is never enough for these people, ruin a great park that were good times for people and their families. Makes me sick, but I have to say while the park was there I and the family had many good times there and still remember the times we had there. For CEDAR POINT, not interested in driving there or paying to enter that place. It could burn down tomorrow and I could give a darn one way or the other. I an tired of the tactics used to undermine a good business set up to make people happy and enjoy a day with the family,I hope they are happy and enjoying what has been done for the all mighty dollar. I have found other places for enjoyment and don't need CEDAR POINT. WAIT 3 HOURS FOR A RIDE ARE YOU KIDDING ME, NO WAY THANK YOU. THERE IS A NICE PARK RIGHT UP IN ERIE PA. That is the ticket for me. Price is right and I can take food and drink in with me. Fits my bill for now and if not I will drive my classic car on cruises during the summer.

In reply to by jack (not verified)

I will not go to CEDER POINT Because of this stunt pulled on G.LAKE But have to say many good times at G.LAKE and we all miss the park, but will not go to cedar point. A great park was ruined here and it is sad but life will go on.

Geauga Lake was part of my childhood in the 70's. I remember going outside at 8am on the days we would go there and wait for everybody else to get in the car. Thanks for a great article.

Like a lot of other failures in the business industry "Mismanagement" strikes again.....
How'd that college education do for you?

The last couple of years under Six Flags management weren't pretty. Many of the park employees were bussed-in from the inner-city, and were very poorly trained and supervised. It was always disappointing to wait in line at a coaster for an hour; then get up to the loading zone where virtually no effort was being made to get people on and off the ride. The employees would be goofing off, having a good time, while the riders were sitting in their seats waiting for someone to get around to pushing the button to start the ride. Bathrooms were dirty and poorly-supplied, while the maintenance employees stood around and talked to each other. Smoking in the park was rampant -- unlike Disney, no one ever enforced the smoking area policies. It was frustrating enough standing in line for an hour, let alone next to a half-dozen rednecks chain-smoking. With better management, Geauga Lake could have been a great park instead of the litter-strewn vacant lot that's there today.

You mean the death of Dawn Brancheau in 2010...? 3 years after Geauga Lake closed and nine years after SeaWorld sold its Ohio park...?

Cedarpoint is on the shore of lake Erie. It is the coaster capital of the world and makes tons of money. It is owned by the same company.

I have many fond memories of both Sea World and Geauga Lake Park. As I child, I loved to visit the parks. Going to Geauga Lake was a yearly birthday treat for my brother and I. I liked the boat ride and the antique cars best. As I got older it was the log ride. One of my first jobs was working in the parks; I spent many summers enjoying my time working there. I managed the antique photo shop for several years. I had season passes after I was no longer working there. I am so sad when I drive thru the area and can't see much of the wonderful place it use to be. I wish someone would seriously consider purchasing the property and start a park on the property. I wouldn't have to be big, but the old Geauga Lake flavor. I'm sure the community would support bringing something back that meant so much to all of us.

I have many fond memories of both Sea World and Geauga Lake Park. As I child, I loved to visit the parks. Going to Geauga Lake was a yearly birthday treat for my brother and I. I liked the boat ride and the antique cars best. As I got older it was the log ride. One of my first jobs was working in the parks; I spent many summers enjoying my time working there. I managed the antique photo shop for several years. I had season passes after I was no longer working there. I am so sad when I drive thru the area and can't see much of the wonderful place it use to be. I wish someone would seriously consider purchasing the property and start a park on the property. I wouldn't have to be big, but the old Geauga Lake flavor. I'm sure the community would support bringing something back that meant so much to all of us.

In reply to by B. Blanchard (not verified)

When Kings Island was part of Hanna Barbaria that is when I considered it to be fun.

Man, how this article makes me sad. I had SUCH fond memories of Geauga Lake and Sea World. I visited during many summers when I was at my aunt's house. The saddest part for me is knowing that her house is no longer there because it sat down a dirt road between Geauga Lake and Sea World where I could walk down to the bank of the lake and watch the Sea World fireworks when they had them. Geauga Lake was one of two family amusement parks that led to my love of wooden roller coasters. And, yes, as per some of the other comments, I also miss the pearl divers at Sea World and still have my pearls from a few visits.

You went to the park in 1974.

The map, as labeled, is from 1976.

The Double Loop opened in 1977. (See http://rcdb.com/237.htm)

So... You did not ride it in 1974. And it's not on the 1976 map because it wasn't built yet.

I did my homework. ;)

If the only inaccuracy you can find in a five page feature turns out to not be inaccurate, I guess I did pretty well.

Sorry to say, but many people DO blame Six Flags' insistence that a free bus route travel between inner city Cleveland and the park. In a rosy, wonderful world, that wouldn't make any difference. But free transportation and $40 season passes made Six Flags Worlds of Adventure a perfect "babysitter" for inner-city pre-teens and teens. Those are the facts, and my reporting them is not prejudice.

Perhaps the park's otherwise affluent patrons at the time were prejudice - maybe they saw groups of inner-city teens behaving perfectly well and decided not to return anyway. Or... Perhaps they HAD reason (indeed, see many of the comments here indicating that an influx of low income teenagers causing mischief, cursing in lines, and disrupting shows scared MANY families away). Either way, my reporting on it is not prejudice. I would be remiss in telling the story of this park if I pretended that Six Flags' dirt-cheap admission price and influx of Cleveland's youth didn't play a role in the park's life.

Hello!

Well I worked @ Gl during the CF reign and before that was a season pass holder for 6F. I offer a few additional observations from a different perspective.

The change to 6F was a mixed blessing. Remember that before the change the prior owners had made upgrades to the park to attract the teen demographic, eg The Wolf Bobs and the world's first double loop coaster, among others. 6F's decision to keep the marine park was met with a sigh of relief by the locals who realized that the former Sea World was the real draw, bringing people in from New England, the Mid-South and deep Mid-West. By the time 6F ended their final season, people from those regions were returning.It appeared as if the park was entering a period of stability and growth. Then the sudden decision, a scant few months before season open, to sell the property after having publicly denied several queries concerning the closure of 6F parks. Perhaps CF, on the crest of that wave of speculation, made an irrefusable offer.

Under CF management many questionable decisions were made, almost immediately, which made an impact on the quality of the park and the feelings of the people in attendance. 1. The Halloween event was limited to family friendly only attractions. I conversed with the contractors responsible for staging the haunted houses, who expressed their opinion that this would kill attendance at future Halloween events. They were right. The next closest amusement park with gory, adult themed Halloween attractions? CP. 2. The Oktoberfest event was drastically gutted the second year. Expletive laden complaints from attendees who felt ripped-off were heard throughout the park. The third year, the number of vendors again dropped, which was echoed in attendance figures. The closest amusement park with a full bore Oktoberfest? CP. 3. Meanwhile behind the scenes, it was said that,down at the state house, CF reps were busy pushing for legislative approval to permit GL it's own police force. They were successful. Honest to God, state certified, gun toting GL police officers now patrolled the park. Not one or two per shift, all patrols were police. Exceptions were at the gates and police administrative positions. What does it say about a park that feels it requires armed police officers to patrol during open business hours with guests in attendance? What is happening in that park that requires the need for lethal force? Do I want to bring my family there? 4. Immediately upon acquiring the park, CF significantly raised the price of Season Passes and raised parking fees and concession prices. Budget minded families were to be seen leaving the park to walk to nearby fast food outlets. 5. Concurrently, employee wages were cut drastically from the former 6F levels. Managers complained they were hired in up to $2.00 less per hour than the previous year, often just .25 p/h more than the employees they supervised. Many left their positions to find less stressful jobs elsewhere. Each subsequent year, employees were offered less. Eventually, CF negotiated with Cleveland RTA to install a stop nearby so desperate workers from economically distressed communities in the city could be employed. Gone were the days when middle class college students would seek employment at GL. 6.More and more employees were also brought in from economically troubled countries in Eastern Europe. Some had difficulty speaking and understanding English. While most of these young adults were honest hard working individuals, many were too hard working. Some claimed to be working second and third jobs elsewhere putting in 80+ hours a week. Many were ride operators responsible for the safety of the riders. While the general public was not aware of this situation, I can't help but wonder how comfortable they would have been had they known the person pulling the switch on their roller coaster or scanning a stretch of water in the wave pool had just come off a double shift elsewhere?

What was the impetus for the decisions made by CF regarding this park? Were they trying to reform the park to it's former family friendly state? If so, why close the park after taking so much trouble to clear out the non-suitable attractions and not take the next logical step to revamp it and promote it? Were the rumors true that CF bought the park to shut down a perceived rival to CP's supremacy as the "worlds best thrill ride park"?
Anyone who believed GL was or ever could be such a threat must surely be demented. So I guess we'll never really know what was behind the buying and closing of GL by CF. It will forever remain in the realm of speculation. Unless - an insider on the board of directors or other high ranking mucky-muck in the CF hierarchy decides to write an expose. Who knows? Could be a best-seller. Any takers?

"Undesirables from the city"? Really!? And no mention and Shamu and the Sea World problems for years. I miss the whole compound as it was part of my childhood but this article seems biased, sentimental and borders on prejudice.

First of all I would like to say that this park was in Bainbridge, not Aurora. It has an Aurora mailing address but all of the park except for the very south side of the lake is in Bainbridge. This is common because the entire strip mall across from the park has mailing addresses of aurora but are 100% in Bainbridge. As someone from Auburn and Geauga county, we take great pride in that.

what are they doing the park? Is it for sale? Is everything still there? Wonder if a entrepreneur could find a grant and investors to bring the park back for the working family at a affordable enjoyment.

Come on we all know exactly what happened. Let's all just say it!!! White flight on an amusement park scale. The ghetto came in and the decent families went out. Toward the end you felt like it was dirty and unsafe. No one was going to pay any money to go back to that.

Here's Queen City Discovery's take on Geauga Lake.

http://queencitydiscovery.blogspot.com/2013/03/stabbed-with-fork-near-what-used-to-be.html

What a shame. Had lots of fun there as a kid. Lot of good memories. Luckily we live close to Waldameer in Erie, PA. They are doing lots of good things with that park. Geauga Lake was fine the way it was. Greed fogs the mind and it's difficult to see through it. Too bad.

Nearly in tears reading this article. I grew up in Northeast Ohio and spent many a happy summer at Geauga Lake and Sea World. And yes, I am one of the locals that is still enraged at those that caused the fall of this once great park. And no, I will never forgive them for what they did. It still saddens me to drive past the park and see the "remains". I still expect to see the Sky Needle and Roller Coasters shining in the sky. It is a gut wrenching site to see what was done. I would love to see someone come in and re-build the park. I know I, and my family, would be frequent visitors.

I must say this is a sad story. My mom and dad went to Geauga lake before i was born. My dad toldbme the story of how my mother wanted a perl. The diver picked him one with twin Perl's which where to be my sisters and mine on our wedding day sadly both my parents have passed away since. I remember going there every summer. I would go there as a teen on a date and when my oldest was born I took her to the last summer of sea world where she finally potty trained her self. Lol I really wish we could bring back the older parks. They might be gone but will always have a place in history. Sadly so many other parks are also closing.

In reply to by Nicole (not verified)

Back then they're weren't that many hotels in the aurora area. The article is correct

I practically grew up in this park. It was a part of my family simply because of how much of a childhood dream land it was. I loved when Six Flags and SeaWorld combined. Being a young kid, I had the energy to run around the park endlessly. It may be unlikely that anyone will ever redevelop the park back to its magnificent and glorious size, but if they did I would certainly not care that I don't have same childhood energy as I used to because I would be back in my favorite place. I love Cedar Point as well, but I hate what Cedar Fair did to Geauga Lake. They completely ripped up the place that I went to as a kid and dreamt of bringing my kids to one day. I can't really do that anymore. I refuse to ever visit Wildwater Kingdom. It is dirty, small, unappealing, and unattractive. I drive past the former site of Worlds of Adventure several times a week and every time I just feel so disappointed. I am disappointed that my childhood adventures at the parks are now nothing but fond memories with a grim end. I remember crying when I found out the park was closing. I wish someone would return the park to its former glory. Sea World Ohio was the only SeaWorld I have ever been to. I now remember it only as vague images of a wonderful past that were crushed by an unfortunate end. It is so disappointing what has become of Geauga Lake today, but for all the many incredible experiences I had I will always have a place in my heart for the ruins of Six Flags and SeaWorld.

We took our kids there when they were little. Saw a PeeWee Herman show at Sea World they loved it! Wish I could have taken my grandkids there. We even stayed in a hotel and that was a treat. So this area lost money that tourists spent. I hate to say it but it all boils down to greed. If huge profit ins't realized, you do away with it.Not everyone can afford to take their family to Cear Point. It's a shame there isn't some way to keep these smaller parks.

I remember rides from Cedar Point that were being removed where bought by Geauga Lake and reassumbled there for years when I was young. I don't believe it was just ONE thing that brought about the demise, it was a combination of many things like mis-management and an inability to keep track of a "too large" corporation that didn't make the stockholders a lot of profit. Why locals name just Cedar Point as the main villian in this down hill slide is unfair, when you have to look at the entire thing as it is. It is often easier to pick one entity to blame when there was so much to bring it down. (which I have already stated). Had many of these nah sayers felt so badly about what happened, what are they doing to correct it? Seems that its just a blame game....nothing more. You cannot change history back then...what are they prepared to do now to make it better? Just grouse?

I worked at geauga lake from 1965 thru 1967 ,I was just a teenager at the time and it was the only place that I could get a summer job. Back then it was owned by three brothers and was opened 6 days a week. Only had one coaster it was wooden and at the time outstanding ride. I ran all the rides giving breaks to the operators . Wixy appreciation was the biggest events in Cleveland at the time sonny and Cher Paul revere and the raiders just to name a few. I took my children there for years as they were growing up along with sea world it was the place to go. Geauga Lake will always hold a special place in my heart it was the greatest place to go inthe summer because of its location ,I hope one day it comes back so I can now take my grandchildren.

I worked at geauga lake from 1965 thru 1967 ,I was just a teenager at the time and it was the only place that I could get a summer job. Back then it was owned by three brothers and was opened 6 days a week. Only had one coaster it was wooden and at the time outstanding ride. I ran all the rides giving breaks to the operators . Wixy appreciation was the biggest events in Cleveland at the time sonny and Cher Paul revere and the raiders just to name a few. I took my children there for years as they were growing up along with sea world it was the place to go. Geauga Lake will always hold a special place in my heart it was the greatest place to go inthe summer because of its location ,I hope one day it comes back so I can now take my grandchildren.

It was a tradition for the family every summer since I was 6 to go to Geauga Lake, as me & my brothers got older we would then save money for season passes. In 2003, I left for the Navy, only to come home every couple years in the winter for holidays. When I did finally come home, I wanted to go to my childhood amusement park, full of memories, but my memories are now buried where Geauga Lake once was. It was ashame to see it turn apart, dissembled like a kids toy going in the trash. I had hope another amusement park would return bigger & better, but with each passing year the property requires more & more money to bring it back to life.

I vaguely remember Sea World as a kid growing in Cleveland. I only went once and was very young - maybe 7 or 8 - and can still remember having a ball and thinking how great it would be to go there in a few years when I was a teen. My family went to The Six Flags Park, however it rained the entire time we were there and all rides were closed.
I went to the park one last time when it was renamed Geauga Lake and I believe it as the summer before it closed. I still remember my dad telling me it was owned by Cedar Point but was a terrible park and how amazing it used to be.

Its' very sad hearing the full story of the park and I only wish I could have enjoyed it as so many other did.

The comments have been very interesting, however. Hearing stories from employees and maintenance workers of the rides shines a new light on the reasoning for its undoing. Sad, but almost, and I say ALMOST necessary...

So, your racist assessment is a better explanation than a park needing to be better run (read proper security on the grounds)? Teenagers will be teenagers, some maybe rougher than others due to their life experience and surroundings. It still seems to me that it's the park's responsibility to provide adequate security for all. Didn't seem like Six Flags even wanted to staff the park well enough to sweep and clean, let alone provide proper maintenance or security.

And to the comments with a Libertarian bent, yes, I do think it was corporate greed. So much in the business world has been cut so far to the bone for the share price, what's left is a fully unmotivated, overworked staff. This park's experience with Six Flags seems to be no exception to that reality.

Thank you for helping me to remember my childhood memories. I grew up in western PA but my grandmother lived in Ohio. I remember going to both places and couldn't wait until summer vacation to go back. My favorite ride was the double loop. I rode that thing at least 10 times every time we went there. I rember the ski shows at sea world. The 2 I remember most was the batman and robin and the Hatfield and McCoys they were so funny. It is so sad that all of the thing we did growing up can't be shown to our children. Just makes me value my childhood even more.

this was a great place. My childhood to adult there were memories, sea world with the school in elementary through grad night for the seniors and later on too. I wish there was a company interested in reviving it. The beauty of the park was so inviting to so many ages kids. I would love my kids to be able to expirence the fun we all had there. You should send this artical to theme park or people interested in them and see if it can be revived. If not we still have great memories. Disney could have a field day up north. Lol " wish is just a dream"

In reply to by Kennywood Becca (not verified)

I'm from Pittsburgh and I've been to GL, CP, and Kennywood and Idlewild. Very sad that GL has beer reopened. Now that my kids are bigger, we do go to CP about every other year. Idlewild Park is a perfect alternative for small children. kennywood is also an awesome park.

as soon as they bought out sea world, I knew it was over I stopped going. Why would u buy sea world to get rid of it, if you were trying to maintain a beautiful park.

as soon as they bought out sea world, I knew it was over I stopped going. Why would u buy sea world to get rid of it, if you were trying to maintain a beautiful park.

Thank you Brian for an incredibly fascinating article. I appreciate your hard work on this. Well done!

It is so sad when things are gone and can never be replaced. Things that were so important in your childhood and teen years. The closest thing I have found in a short enough distance that compares is Kennywood in w Mifflin pa. Prices aren't as inflated as CP either

It is so sad when things are gone and can never be replaced. Things that were so important in your childhood and teen years. The closest thing I have found in a short enough distance that compares is Kennywood in w Mifflin pa. Prices aren't as inflated as CP either

In reply to by Kristen Cain (not verified)

The old Kings Island was Hana Barbara. I'm from Ohio and frequently went to all the parks, Geauga Lake, Sea World, Kings Island, & Cedar Point. They all bring back many memories. I'm Glad to see that some historic parks are left... Kennywood Park in Pittsburgh and Knoebels in Elysburg PA.

this man did not do his homework on this article. I grew up in aurora started going to "the park in the early sixtys. The first map does not show the double loop that I rode in 74.

It's called Venture Capitalism. Borrow money with proposed big plans and grab it and run.

Thanks for saying what I couldn't find the words for. Such wonderful wonderful memories and no good bye. I for one have not and will not visit nor support cedar point I'm good I would rather go to Geauga Lake

One thing just barely mentioned in the great report of the failures (plural) was when Annheiser-Busch took over SeaWorld from the original owners is that they raised prices, eliminated things (like the Winter Festival with sled rides down the Auditorium ramps), the ability to use the SeaWorld season pass at ANY of the SeaWorld parks, parking fees (which were not charged to season pass holders. Oh yes, I forgot, you could no longer bring in a picnic lunch whereas SeaWorld even provided a place you could use to store your cooler. If you wanted to eat or drink, you had to pay A-B's higher prices. We took our four kids to Seaworld's Education classes every year UNTIL A-B effectively eliminated them by putting the costs out of reach.

Yep, A-B's bean counters and desire for money had to contribute to the demise of SeaWorld and by extension Geaugu Lake Park.

Kevin?

In reply to by Will (not verified)

You had me until the barely disguised racism. Any park without you is automatically a better one.

In reply to by Jeff (not verified)

Yes!! Me too!

I was so saddened by GL's closing. After Dick Kinzel bought it for Cedar Fair, I noticed that many of the parks rides were disappearing, not just the coasters. I understand why the coasters were taken out. Huge fines
were leveled on them daily for being above height restrictions. This was Aurora's attempt to keep the park small. The town really did not care to have it there. The rich that were moving in were trying to keep it small. If anyone noticed, there was not many stores or eateries about to support the masses. If one didn't eat in the park, one had to go all the way back to Rt.82 to get McDonald's. The town was keeping construction down to try to keep people out. CF's CEO also didn't help matters. In an interview I read where he said it was all about keeping his stock holders happy. He said his stock holders had never suffered a loss, and no matter what happened, they had always made money. He had big plans to develop the water park, but when King's Island went up for sale, that idea was scrapped. He said he had always wanted KI. It was his dream. With it, he could have controll of both, the north, with his flagship facility of CP, and south, with this magestic park(K I) to compliment it. He would controll Ohio.So began the dismemberment of GL. I always enjoyed GL because it was only 45 mins. from me. When it got big, it lost some of it's appeal because of the massive lines and some of the undesirables that were drawn to the park, but I still enjoyed the rides. I'm sure that with the closing of the steel mills and car factories in both Ohio and Michigan, this had an impact on attendance. I had stayed away from CP because I was disgusted with the thinking if the rich, but did go back a couple years ago, because I was given a free pass. I was amazed to see that they were also suffering. There were very few people there compare d to when I went in 2001, 2003. It was pitiful. Is this the result of the economy or angry Ohioans from the NE? I wonder if his beloved stock holders took a hit too?

Any article that talks about Geauga Lake/Sea World and doesn't mention the horrific accident that occurred at Sea World misses a big reason why Sea World began to fail. It was sold because attendance dropped dramatically. The combined parks never worked! In addition, people are correct about the thugs taking over, the park being dirty, and the parking lot looking like a war zone.

In reply to by Brian

:::sigh:::: In what realm was Geauga Lake EVER competition to Cedar Point? Never. No company is going to keep a business open that is losing money. It's sad, but it wasn't a competition thing. Ohioans didn't think of it that way. If you wanted a more family friendly place that was cheaper to take the kids you went to GL. If you wanted to leave the kids home and ride mind-blowing coasters you went to CP. We went to both about equally when we were kids. Six Flags ran the place into the ground. The last year they owned it it was almost like a ghost town. The rides were making noise. The grounds were already in horrible condition. Landscaping not being taken care of. That's what happens when you buy a park and then dump $40 million dollars into it right out of the gate. Cedar Fare couldn't recover it and people had already stopped going.

Thanks so much for sharing this. Wow. Appreciate it.

As a kid I always enjoyed going to a park, so when I had my own child still very young I wanted her to have fun memories of the park I got season passes to what was owned by six flags.
The park was dirty and a lot of the smaller kid rides my daughter wanted to go on we're broke all the time.. Very sad I live 10 mins away from the park but after that year I never went back

In reply to by JohnnyWad (not verified)

i was just thinking the same thing. As a kid I always liked watching the perl divers

i loved going to Geagua Lake !! We went pretty often,, and I think I took home several stuffed animals !!! My late husband took me there for our honeymoon,, we couldn't afford an expensive honeymoon !! My kids loved all the rides and the food was good,, and sea world was the best ! I loved playing the games !! The park was so beautiful, and I've went there with friends for company picnics too !! Just a good place to take the family and enjoy yourself ! It wasn't a long drive either !! I miss that park and I sure do wish it could re- open with new rides ,game and maybe another sea world too !!

I remember geauga lake its been around for a long time my father use to take me there when he had me for the summer. I was there when the water park was called turtle beach and there was a big turtle on the entrance to it. It was an amazing experience.

In reply to by JohnnyWad (not verified)

Oh my gosh, for real! I still have my pearl I got there once & had mounted on a ring. I just gave it to my daughter a couple weeks ago. Brought so many memories back when I found it again.

I enjoyed this article very much and am sad of all the problems but how did this all affect the economics of the local area. When my kids were little we enjoyed summers going to Sea World, it was our vacation that you could do in one day. I loved all the stuff a person could do there and watch the shows. Loved the Penquin Encounter. Then our kids got to their teens and were no longer interested in this place and the next thing we heard was that it was not there anymore. Enjoyed learning all about what happened but it is a sad tale!! Thank you for writing and publishing this article.

I soo miss Sea World. My parents took me and my brother there many times. I preferred it over other parks. Im not a roller coaster fan. It was a chance to get awa, relax, and see things you would never see outside of the park. Last time I was there was my sons first and last time. Miss it so much. Wish they didn't destroy such a great family get away. Thanks for writing this article, I always wondered what happened to my families beloved Sea World! R.I.P you are sadly missed.

Is the big dipper still remaining on the property? I remember that whole debacle and the last I recall was that someone purchased it but didn't have the means to move it. I was just curious what the latest was on that situation.

In reply to by Kristen Cain (not verified)

Well it was Paramounts that ran the park into the ground and Cedar Fair brought the park back to life.

I worked there in 2000 and 2001. I was there the first year they became Six Flags. I was a ride operator. None of the operators were trained very well. Just a quick tutorial on how and when to push a button. This was very evident when a female employee fell 20 ft. when the floor of the Batman ride gave way while she was on it. Poor communication between employees. I operated the Skycoaster with minimal training and I was in charge of making sure you didn't die! I was also pulled to be in charge of other rides because there were never enough employees to staff everything.

In spite of all this they were almost finished with their new coasters to show off to the public. The majority of the staff were uneducated teenagers and a lot of them smoked weed or drank regularly. Combine this with lack of training and these were the people in charge of your family and friends. They were also the ones controlling that multi million dollar equipment. I personally broke the Texas Twister as I had no idea how it worked but was forced to run it one day because the employee quit.

I was there when they thought it would be a great idea to combine the parks into one. When we all came back in 2001 to start work for a new year we had high hopes. It was new, different, and exciting. Then the complaints rolled in. The rides became even more understaffed. The crowds were full of less than desirable personalities. Rides broke, employees quit, patrons threatened to sue ALL the time. We knew it was only a matter of time before the park was to burn itself to the ground.

What we didn't know was how fast it would happen. Not only was the community shook but hundreds of jobs were lost (granted most of them teenagers) We knew once Cedar Fair bought the park it was over. The writing was all over the wall.

R.I.P. Geauga Lake/Sea World/Six Flags Ohio/Six Flags World of Adventure/Geauga Lake(again)/Geauga Lake & Wildwater Kingdom/Wildwater Kingdom. That was a mouthful.

Bad part on them, but to brag about walking in without paying? Your family could have easily walked over to the ticket booth and paid. Don't blame this on them- you knew what you did was wrong.

In reply to by Kim (not verified)

I think your comment is more descripted as to how and why it closed. The article is interesting, however the comments ( such as yours) gives a more accurate story. Thank you for sharing your story.

I remember Cedar Fair acquiring Six Flags when I worked at Cedar Point in 2004. I never heard Six Flags closed until 2009, I must have been living under a rock. I do remember my Mom and Dad taking my sisters and I to Sea World in the early 90's. I specifically remember a whale/ dolphin show. I also remember my sister hounding my Dad to ride coasters. The park may have been two separate companies at that time, as I don't remember riding the rides. I still have a stuffed animal my Mom let me get when we were there. The park must have been some what reasonable for families. My Dad would have never went for buying 4 kids a souvenir. That was the only time I remember going to the park. We lived closer to Cedar Point, so that was our go to park. It's very sad to see the pictures of what it was and what it has amounted to is just horrible. Now that I'm a parent, I wish Six Flags was open so I could take my small children. They aren't old enough for Cedar Point, and they are expensive too.
On a side note, when I worked at Cedar Point in 2004. It was said Cedar Point was paying the Cedar Point employees from the Cedar Point 1997 parking tolls alone. So it makes one wonder why they didn't try to invest more money in the Six Flags park.

I'm glad this guy wrote an article up on this park. Maybe it will draw in an investor. It makes me want to reopen the park. Obviously, I don't have that kind of financing. Lol
It makes you wonder why Cedar Fairs didn't move some of the rides from Cedar Point to Six Flags. They were trying to sell the Demon Drop a few years back and they tore out the Disaster Transport. You would've thought they would have tried to recycle them within their own parks.

I'm going against the author on the expansion part. I think the city would have caught up in time. You should see how fast Sandusky expanded from 2004 to 2009, and from 2009 to now. It's crazy!

All around though, it's truly a sad story.

Nice article by the way!

I remember waiting 3 hours in line for x-flight! So many great memories from my childhood! It's sad I don't get to have these with my children.

Here is a YouTube video of the abandoned park before the demo was complete…today only the foundations remain.

http://youtu.be/2k9c2adz1fc

This is so very sad. I grew up going to both parks every summer, from my parents company picnics when i was younger, to then expiencing it as a teen with friends. even remember going with my husband. money and greed kills everything good in this world. companies need to recognize something that works and leave it be. not everything needs to be bigger and better. nostalgia is a powerful thing. how i wouldn't love to take our grandchildren to both parks and not only be flooded with old memories, but to create new ones! very sad!

That's just it... Geauga Lake did NOT compete with Cedar Fair. If you read through the comments here, TONS of families preferred Geauga Lake, because it wasn't just big coaster after big coaster after big coaster. It was truly a family park / water park. Six Flags changed that, and their TRYING to compete with Cedar Point was a huge element of the park's downfall. No competition necessary. Ohio had room for a thrill park and a family park a few hours from each other. But two giant mega-parks? That was the problem.

For some of the folks who grew up there, it kind of WAS like grandma's house. Generations of people visited this park. It was over 100 years old. It closed for the season, THEN the owners announced that it would never re-open. No last photos. No last rides. No last tours. It was gone. Is that "evil?" No. Your libertarian view is adorable, but this is a place people loved. Can't pay the bills with love, but have a little respect for the people who grew up here and didn't get a chance to say goodbye.

By the way, no one involved made a profit. Six Flags sold the park for $145 million after spending $175 on JUST the animal park side. Cedar Fair decided to use the park for spare parts to power its other parks. The problem isn't that they closed it. It's that they didn't give it a chance, then they closed it without letting people know it would never return. Ouch. Until it happens to your favorite local establishment that you hoped to take your grandkids to, you won't understand. Oh well.

In reply to by JoeRay Skrha (not verified)

You're wrong, it had nothing to do with corporate greed. If you had ever been there, you would know it was the liberal social policies that provided "free tickets" for admission to the park to all the inner city animals, along with free transportation. They acted like your typical ghetto thugs and decent people - with money - stopped going there. Everything they touch gets destroyed - from school systems, to neighborhoods, to amusement parks.

In reply to by Katherine Fabian (not verified)

I remember taking you, your sister & your brother Michael there & how you all cried when you got splashed by Shamu! Going there when you got older & riding the roller coasters that I will never ride again because of my back surgeries. I am so glad I got to have those experiences with you, because they will never happen again. Why? Because a company had to be so greedy, so manipulative, so dirty minded. IT WAS ALL ABOUT THE MONEY! It is a shame, I truly miss it so much, but will have my memories, sighs....

As somebody who grew up going to Geauga Lake, I saw first hand what the main reason was for their closing. The intercity people started coming to the park and acting like savage animals - various social service agencies and charities were bussing them in daily (with free tickets, of course.) They started fighting with people and ganging up/beating up the younger kids. Of course, no parent wants to subject their kids to these animals, so people stopped coming to the park.

I live in Streetsboro, the town just 10 minutes south of the park. I went to Geauga Lake every summer, starting back in the 70's. You could tell the difference IMMEDIATELY when six flags took over! Customer service did not exist anymore and the management mood around the park could have cared less. They refused to honor tickets kids earned from reading in grade schools b/c it was for Geauga Lake, not six flags. They changed food prices on opening day while you were STANDING IN LINE TO ORDER! My city was built up for the parks and we also have suffered the loss. Numerous hotels, restaurants and gas stations were put in for all the traffic. We are upset we didnt get to say goodbye!! Now when I go to the strip mall across the street, I get to see an absolute eye sore that used to be such a beautiful place. As I get older, my memories of it are fading and the empty area that is left has taken over some of those memories...

I'm from Erie and grew up going to Waldemeer several times a year. I loved that all the local businesses had family picnic days and the park would supply food in the picnic groves then afterwards everyone could go and enjoy the park, and all for a very affordable discounted price. Many of my friends had jobs there during high school and I took summer art classes there too. I loved it there and still do. I've moved away since high school but I still return to go there at least once a year. They're currently putting in the biggest Wavepool in the tri state area. That's definitely going to be hard to compete with.

I am in tears. This article brought up so many memories of my childhood. My first roller coaster was the Double Loop. I got to pet Shamu. I had season passes with my cousins & we would go once a week every summer. My favorite ride with my dad was the Log Flume. My favorite coaster was Batman. God, why did this have to happen to such a great park?! I miss it so much.

Having lived in the neighborhood across from the park that first year, I remember the traffic and parking situation quite well when Six Flags opened that first day. Once both parking lots had filled up, there were still miles of cars, holding families who traveled hours to go to the new park, as far as you could see down St. Rt. 43. The fun seeking out of towners literally pulled their cars into what is known as the Geauga Lake neighborhood, pulled infront of yards, parked, and walked to the park. The locals living here had to deal with the hundreds of abandoned cars taking over our streets...so, I know exactly what you mean about the oversized crowds it brought that first year...The first weekend of Six Flags having been horrible for those of us who had to work, or get through every day life...I don't know about Aurora, but I remember my family and friends weren't prepared for the chaos! Also, 43 was widend after that first year...wasn't it? After that first weekend, the crowds seemed to never be so overwhelming..it had made the news and I think that's what kept so many from coming out again...

...am I the only one that really misses the Japanese pearl divers at Sea World?

In reply to by connie kolita (not verified)

I too was flooded with memories of these two parks(SW/GL). Even as an adult, after our children were grown and gone, my husband and I would go to SW every year, LOVED IT. It would be so awesome to have had the opportunity to take my grandchildren to see all the magnificence of it. We were all robbed of the many more memories we all could have made. Shame on all who brought it down.

Corporate greed will do communities in every time... Are you listening? “Citizens United"

I grew up going to Cedar Point. My first time at Geauga Lake came in 1996. I truly was not impressed at all with this park. The parking lot was very run down, and the rides were nothing in comparison to Cedar Point's. I never understood how Geauga Lake was even able to compete with a Park Like Cedar Point located about an hour's drive west of them? So, for me, I thought, well this park is for those tweeners who are now too big for Kiddie park, but apparently not ready for the Big Park. It is sad to go passed Geauga Lake and see the land empty and from the road it looks like a theme park grave yard. I don't know what they plan to do with the area, but they should consider building homes there. Do something, because it truly is an eyesore to the Community.

It was a business. It was not your grandmas house. Businesses constantly buy and sell and compete and consolidate. There was no evil in one company buying another to eliminate competition, that's how business works. The sellers made profit, the buys made profit, win/win.

Living in pittsburgh I always saw geauga lake commercials but living 5 minutes from sandcastle and 10 from kennywood there was really never a reason to go. Cedar Point was the ohio destination for Pittsburghers. Even when it became six flags i think it even appealed less to people from this region because it was less like what we were accustomed to. Now that Kennywood is under foreign management i can draw corelations to what happened at geauga lake and what might happen in some respect to Kennywood. They are killing the small unique appeal for more comercial generic appeal. They are trying to get the crowds that want new and flashy but the sentimental appeal will always be what brings people back to kennywood. Parques can take their beer sales and new paint and their popular cartoon characters and go ruin someone elses park.

What a Great idea!! Really enjoyed Waldameer Park. But I miss Sea World and Geauga Lake and the many memories I have growing up in the 70's and 80's. Sad now but thanks for the article.

Haha!! I remember him!! Rotor Ron! He scared me as a kid too because his hair was all wild from riding that ride all day. I rode next to him one year as a dare :) So sad this park is gone...I remember going there during Physics class in high school as a field trip to take measurements on the rides. So sad...

I find it interesting that the article never touches on the extreme problems Six Flags was having keeping their coasters operational. I went there one time while Six Flags owned it, and it was for a company picnic with the bank I worked for. During the time we were there, not only was the park a dirty mess, but only two of all the coasters were even running (and the ones that weren't running were not weather related). We decided to ride one. The lines were super long because nothing else was running. While we waited, the ride broke down. We waited quite a while, but they got it going again. Finally when we got all buckled in and they had dropped the platform from beneath our feet, it broke down yet again. Having never departed the loading area, we sat, feet dangling and strapped in for approximately 45 minutes before they decided to tell us that they were shutting down the ride for the day. We exited and watched from outside as we discovered that those who had left the platform before us were still stuck out on the ride. These people had to be carefully released and had to take stairs to get back down. Suddenly, were we were stuck didn't seem so bad. We did not even bother getting in line at the only ride still functioning as the line was now even longer. We spent our remaining time in the water area (I should mention that the Wave was not operating). We stayed the required time for the company mandatory portion and left along with most of my coworkers. On a hot sunny day, the place already looked abandoned which would have never happened back in the Geauga Lake days. We would have stayed until close (easier to find your car that way). Later on, we found out from a friend's husband who had worked & quit there as a ride engineer that they were being forced to fix the rides in unsafe ways just to keep them running. He said that none of the rides were safe & that we were probably safer riding carnival rides at our local fair. After that conversation, we had no desire to ever return. Cedar Fair had their hands full when they took over. Many people do not understand the condition the rides were in. Yes, they relocated several, but taking them apart was the best way to save them and repair them. They definitely made choices that did not sit well with fans, but the more the fans rejected the ideas and thinking Cedar Fair was out to ruin the park, the more people stopped going in order to show disapproval. Therefore, their lack of showing up left Cedar Fair with even less funds to try to fix things. In the end, the people helped to put the final nails in the coffin. I am guilty. We never once returned after our Six Flags experience to a park we used to frequent at least once a year.

I can't even finish reading the comments, I'm getting so emotional. OUr kids grew up there. Hey, what do you want for your 10th birthday? He said I want you to take me and 3 friends to FrightFest at Geauga Lake! We did. We had just acquired cell phones so we kept one and gave the 10-year old the other so we could coordinate lunch and a few rides together, then turned them loose. Where in America today could you even do that, and do it for less that a birthday party at a skating rink??????

Interesting story and it breaks my heart. I spent many summers there in the late 60's & 70's. In fact part of my honeymoon was spent there in 1976 after spending time at Cedar Point. My husband had never been to either so it was a treat to share with him what I grew up with. As our children and then grandchildren came along we shared those same experiences with them. Last trip there came at the time it became six flags around 2004 and the change was most certainly evident.No longer a family oriented park, it was woefully over priced(ie food, souvenirs, games, etc)and gone was the close family oriented atmosphere. So sad and shame on six flags & cedar point for allowing this to happen. I still have my memories and will continue to hold them dear to my heart.

In reply to by Sarah Fisher (not verified)

I agree with this comment. I live a few minutes away from Geauga Lake, and still drive by the property every week on my way to church. The Six Flags years were what actually killed the park. The comments in the article about what locals think of Cedar Point/Cedar Fair don't match my experience at all. Everyone that I have talked to about this thinks they tried to bring the park back (and I thought they would). But, the double whammy of the Paramount purchase and the economy prevented that from happening.
I fondly remember going on the Double Loop and Corkscrew over and over again as a kid. During one visit in the 70s, my cousin and I rode the DL, then ran out the exit, around to the entrance, and onto the ride again. There was no wait, so we could have just stayed on, but that was against park rules. What a difference from 70-90 minute wait times that are so common today.

Soooo many great memories on these foot paths. My wife and I used to come here every year before our only child was born. Then when our daughter was about 8yrs old we started to bring her with us. In fact, my daughters first roller coaster ride was the Mind Eraser. Now the Mind Eraser, the park, and my wife of 19yrs. are gone. My wife passed tragically in 2010. Thanks to all who was involved in the closing of this park and destroying a lot of great memories for many people.

Thanks for the article! I'm from Shelby Twp. too, and went to these parks once when I was a kid in 1995. Just wanted to set the record straight by saying that Six Flags, as much as they're trying not to be, is still all about thrills and nothing else. I live by Magic Mountain, and as thrilling as it is, it's basically just about the rides. I still like it, cause I'm a coaster fanatic and it's super cheap compared to the other parks in SoCal, but it's no Cedar Point. They're trying to add things like Halloween and Christmas events, and family rides but they just can't seem to get it right. The quality of these new additions is just not there; it's like, what's the point? They're still the same company they were back in the early 2000's. Anyone else agree with me on this or know about their other parks?

This makes me sad to think about. I hot my first job when i was fourteen working at geauga lake. Worked every summer till i was 18. I loved that park!!!

parks like this only make is in Cali , FL ect ect . Too much $$$ to maintain the park in the 4 -5 month period where is not being used and bringing in 0 $ while sunny states have it open all year around !

In reply to by Aaron Murray (not verified)

I literally grew up in this park from my fathers compqny picnics with the ufcw to buying a season ticket before the current pass expired the employees new me by first name as well as many other of my local childhood friend's......qnd for those who remember the creepy guy who would hide behind the door of the Rotto-Whirl truly new this park in and out!!! The impact of this parks demise affected the entire county I now live in a city off the turn pike with 25 hotels and this city is only 5x5 it is truly a shame that investors only care about profit margins and not the lively hoods of people who commited there lives to the joy that I was lucky enough to enjoy my entire childhood......greed will be this beautiful countries demise and all I wish is that for our future generations to learn from out ignorant mistakes and sins......

I remember going to Geauga Lake! My brother and I loved it! We loved the Raging Wolf Bobs and the wave pool! We spent sooo many summer days there. We were devastated to find out it closed.

Kings Island is my family's favorite amusement park. We were lucky enough to discover it before Cedar Fair purchased it. The movie themed rides and tons of characters from Nickolodeon made it extra enticing and fun. Now that Cedar Fair is running it the only characters you see are from Peanuts. Most children these days don't even know who Charlie Brown is. At 42 I can't even name most of the characters we ran into the last time we visited. We miss the old Kings Island!!

I remember this park so well. When our kids were little my youngest being only 3 we took them to this park. We had a ball there. We also went to cedar point one year in sand dusky and loved it too. I am sad to see it is no longer there as it brings back a lot of good memories.

I found this article to be very interesting even though I have never been to these parks or Ohio.
I knew Sea World had a park there but never really researched why it closed. I never heard of the other park nor the lake but for a place that was there for over a hundred years the people that own Cedar Point should be ashamed. You ever destroy history without eventually destroying yourself.

i find this article very interesting because Cedar Fair came over to California and bought Great America.. And almost killed it off too. Thankfully it seems that they are getting a hold of it again and making it a little more exciting! They came in and sold all kinds of cools rides and left it with boring twirling rides.. But they built a water park that is fun and they are bringing more life to it. Hopefully the future will be much brighter than what happened to this other theme park. Maybe Disney should make another park there.

i find this article very interesting because Cedar Fair came over to California and bought Great America.. And almost killed it off too. Thankfully it seems that they are getting a hold of it again and making it a little more exciting! They came in and sold all kinds of cools rides and left it with boring twirling rides.. But they built a water park that is fun and they are bringing more life to it. Hopefully the future will be much brighter than what happened to this other theme park. Maybe Disney should make another park there.

Would love to see a similar timeline run on the closing of Opryland in Nashville. Those of us in the mid-south still get sad every summer that we no longer have that great little park to take our families to. Very sad when people in authority make such stupid decisions.

That was a well written article and nearly had me in tears. I've never been to the park and it was on my list of places to visit when I read the news on the Florida Coaster Clubs message board. I now understand why the residents of Northeastern Ohio resent Cedar Fair so much but it most likely can be traced back to Six Flags. It just seems that Six Flags expanded its brand too quickly and focused on roller coasters at all of its parks instead of focusing on the family aspect. I can see why Kennywood and Waldameer Parks God a bit of a bump in attendance numbers as well. I just that Conneaut Lake Park would've seen a bump in attendance or they migh not be in financial trouble as well.

That was a well written article and nearly had me in tears. I've never been to the park and it was on my list of places to visit when I read the news on the Florida Coaster Clubs message board. I now understand why the residents of Northeastern Ohio resent Cedar Fair so much but it most likely can be traced back to Six Flags. It just seems that Six Flags expanded its brand too quickly and focused on roller coasters at all of its parks instead of focusing on the family aspect. I can see why Kennywood and Waldameer Parks God a bit of a bump in attendance numbers as well. I just that Conneaut Lake Park would've seen a bump in attendance or they migh not be in financial trouble as well.

Yes. I do not know her name but she was good friends with a guy named Kevin that lives pretty close to Geauga lake although while going through some old photos from 1996 I did find pictures of her and him. When my dad and I were building grizzly run we spent the summer there and I had one of the best summers of my life.

Also, I wish the park would be bought by the owner of Waldameer in Erie, PA. For anyone who hasn't been to that park, it is a fantastic little family park that is just a joy to visit. No two-hour lines, lots of flat rides, and even a couple of cool coasters. The current owner has been doing some expansion that really fits with the rest of the park, no MAJOR thrill rides aside from adding a large wooden coaster, just a bunch of cool flat rides that everyone can enjoy. They really focus on beautiful landscaping, clean facilities, and an enjoyable experience for all. And because of this, they're THRIVING. They don't get in over their head financially and they are growing organically. I'll always go to Waldameer but I'd love to see Geauga Lake turned into a family park like that. I'm a theme park enthusiast who likes the full experience, not just the big thrills. And I know there's probably PLENTY of families who would enjoy the same.

This whole thing just breaks my heart. I lived in Aurora during the Six Flags era. It was fantastic. Now I go back and visit and it's a barren wasteland. What Cedar Fair did to Aurora should be considered a crime. They should NEVER have been allowed to leave it like that, with boarded up and dilapidated structures serving as a depressing eyesore. They have a responsibility to clean up that land and do SOMETHING with it at least! They need to be held accountable.

In reply to by JP (not verified)

Justin, I'm curious about the girl. Did you marry her or something, or are you seriously looking for her?

In reply to by JP (not verified)

Justin, I'm curious about the girl. Did you marry her or something, or are you seriously looking for her?

I'm SOOOOO glad you brought him up. You must be close to my age because I felt exactly the same way about that guy. Thinking back on it now, I bet he was one of those Millionaires who lived the homeless lifestyle. I think he bought a season pass and just sat on that ride all day. That is the memory I will never forget.

i actually grew up in aurora where sea world and geauga lake was a place that I had season passes to every year! I loved that place and many of my friends and relatives had jobs there. I graduated in 2001 so I got to watch all of this unfold in front of my eyes. It sucked and stil does. I don't live far from there now and have to drive by it frequently and it makes me sad every time. The middle school and highschool memories I had a that place will never be forgotten. I as a regular at the park could see how bad the park was getting. As in the coasters were changing names, the cleanliness of the park was just going down hill! I really wish that someone that had money would buy the park and make it geauga lake again! As for now they use the parking lot on the geauga lake side for police training and drag racing. It's so sad. Thank you for this article. I really appreciated it.

Dont blame Cedar Fair for the downfall... Six Flags had a mentality if let em in the gate for free and they will spend money ... Didn't work... Also look at the millennium... Six flags added three coasters at the park for less money than Cedar Point spent on Millennium Force... Again an example of the sux flags mentality at the time... Give em anything they will come. By the time Cedar Fsur bought the park the park was over built for the true attendance

Dont blame Cedar Fair for the downfall... Six Flags had a mentality if let em in the gate for free and they will spend money ... Didn't work... Also look at the millennium... Six flags added three coasters at the park for less money than Cedar Point spent on Millennium Force... Again an example of the sux flags mentality at the time... Give em anything they will come. By the time Cedar Fsur bought the park the park was over built for the true attendance

I remember that guy. Some one told me he was trying for a world recorded. He looked like a drunk to me though... Lol

In reply to by Chet Walker (not verified)

Be thankful you didn't go in the Six Flags years. It was terrible and depressing. I do believe Cedar Fair DID try to bring it back. Do I think they could have tried harder past that 1st year? Yes, like you mentioned. But Six Flags destroyed that park, unlike what this article suggests. By expanding, they hired inept employees with no animal education to work on the Sea World side (previously staffed by highly educated year round staff, and summer pulled public school science teachers etc). The coaster side was dirty. Employees were rude and untrustworthy. And they threw out nostalgic and rare rides when they added those 20 new ones...ones that can be seen in any park. So in many ways, what made it a unique family park was already destroyed. Six Flags also astronomically raised prices for those "3 parks in one" and Cedar Fairs practically cut them in half trying to get the locals back in (clearly not a rich area). Northeast Ohioans are a ridiculously stubborn sort (as you probably know) and many of us had sworn off the park in those last years (I didn't go again after witnessing their treatment of wildlife). I wish they'd given it a better trial after they weren't able to make their attendance goals in that first year.

As some other people have mentioned, I have to disagree with your idealized version of events with the Six Flags takeover. This was my local theme park. As many in Northeast Ohio, coasters became part of my blood. Cedar Point was the end-all be all. Geauga Lake was close and awesome. Kings Island was another heavy hitter in Ohio.

It was the Six Flags takeover that ended it all. In one year, they took on too much and produced mostly mediocre coasters. The batman ride was boring. The villain? It was the worst modern wood coaster I've ever experienced. Simply painful. And with steel foundations, isn't a true "wood" coaster. Spiderman was fun but hardly unique. X-Flight was amazing when it was actually operational (aka rarely).

The first year it combined with Sea World, you could already predict the end. The park was gross. Our perfectly clean and family friendly park had become overrun with rowdy teens (and I WAS a teen at the time) and everything was dirty, litter everywhere. Employees were rude, even corrupt (one employee was taking money from people's pockets to ride XFlight because they couldn't have change on the ride...so she kept it!).

And the worst part? We decided to venture over the the Sea World side. We were only there 20 minutes or so before we went straight back. We walked up to a seal exhibit (i love seals!) and were horrified to see a "trainer" that was our age. Simply commanding them to do tricks for the crowd in exchange for treats and getting irritated when they stopped listening to her. It was crowd entertainment pure and simple. The seals were tired and overworked. The atmosphere was awkward and quiet. The park dirty and mostly abandoned. Sea World was a staple field trip in our day. My science teachers often took summer jobs there. The place was never a theme park. It was more like a zoo with an extra emphasis on the educational. Trainers were science teachers. They cared about the animals and about preservation and education. Here, it was just for show. Six Flags wreaked so much havoc on the park in those few years, I'm not surprised that Cedar Fairs picked it up and later abandoned it. And rightfully so, got rid of the animals. In fact, there were rampant rumors before the park sold about animal abuse and adequate training for employees. The only way to even ATTEMPT to save the park was to get rid of all the animals.

By the time Six Flags was done, the park was already a shell of its former self. So I wasn't nearly as sad to let it go as some people. As you mentioned, Six Flags added 20 rides in just 2 years. What you didn't mention was how many old and historic rides were ripped out. They were not sold to other parks, just trashed. They got rid of a perfectly wonderful Tilt-a-Whirl. And the one thing I'll never forgive them for? The rotor. It was the last ride surviving of its kind perhaps anywhere. There MIGHT be one other left...I researched it once. Six Flags just threw it out and that was that. Besides the Big Dipper, they maintained nothing that made the park the wonderful family amusement park it once was. Cedar Fairs may have changed the named of copyrighted rides but the sheer addition of those rides (Superman, Batman, etc etc) to the park never belonged.

In reply to by Bob (not verified)

No, you are DEAD WRONG! NOT EVEN CLOSE. Geauga Lake was awesome, as was Wyandotte Lake. You obviously missed out on a great place.

In reply to by JM (not verified)

Cedar Point is not the best Hands Down. After what they did to Geauga Lake, and how that park is run operationally, from what it was, it is by far not hands down, and I have worked at both parks, and speak from experience. GL was a jewel of a park.

Thank you for sharing that video of the boat accident. You confirmed something that someone told me many years ago. I was not sure if that really happened or not.

Back to the girl. We used to ride roller coasters together, I still have out picture and Kevin was with us.

-Justin

Does anyone remember this? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WaJzgJMc5h4 and http://www.rbbi.com/folders/acc/seaworld/cnn19.htm
I remember this on the news very clearly. This was the demise of SW in Ohio. After the boat went into the crowd, it was over.

In reply to by Dave Janka (not verified)

I'm laughing out loud now. He is one of my funniest childhood memories! There is no way of having a GL memory of the Rotor without him. I remember him on that ride well before GL started having season passes. Seriously, if anyone knows, please post!

I remember my family packing multiple coolers and picnic baskets and setting up our picnic under the double loop at one of the hundreds of picnic tables. Yes, you could actually bring in your own food and drinks (this was the 80’s). My cousin’s and I, along with a parent/aunt/uncle would take off and hit as many rides as possible, then meet up for lunch, as a family. Then, we’d split off again and go to the wave and the water park for the afternoon, and return again to our picnic table for a family dinner. Family dinner at an amusement park you’re your mom brought…imagine. After dinner, my family would spend the rest of the night riding our favorite rides (Witches Wheel, Big Dipper, Scrambler, Bumper Cars, Log Ride, etc…when I was around 10-12 year old, they added the Raging Wolf Bobs and Texas Twister – two of my favorites) and finally end the night on the Rotor and Musical Express. There were so many nights I was laughing so hard with my mom and sister riding the Musical Express I actually peed my pants. It makes me tear up thinking my childhood memories were degraded to nothing.

Does anyone know the answer to one of my childhood mysteries…Who was that guy that never got off the Rotor, and Why was he on there all the time? He was so interesting, yet I was afraid of him as a child. Ha!

In reply to by Aaron Murray (not verified)

I loved this park...I still do not understand why it had to close. I went once when I was little and no park has ever compared. Ive always wished I could go back and take my fiance but I can't because it is closed... I do not understand why, the park literally had something for every member of the family

wow! I lived in the little red house on Geauga Lake in 1996 and used to sit at the end of the dock at lunch time and the Sea World skiers during their routine would swing close to the dock and high five me. My Dad and I were hired to build "Grizzly Run".
I made some really cool friends while I lived there, I wish I knew Kevin's last name, and there was this girl, I really liked her.

JP Strait
Aspen CO.

In reply to by lhall (not verified)

I thought the Villain was pretty good.

In reply to by SMP (not verified)

Undesirable, as in: Ghetto thugs walking around in large groups...openly smoking marijuana and "having fun" by jumping at, and trying to frighten other park guests. I saw it many times, and that's why I stopped going.

Great article, thank you. I liked reading it because I did not get to experience Geauga Lake during the Six Flags years because I wasn't living nearby. I was there before and after though. My first visit was in 1984 but it was the 1988 Centennial year I remember the most. It was packed the day I went and the park seemed so vibrant. I was a paperboy for the Akron Beacon Journal and they had a picnic there every year, I can still remember those days like it was yesterday.

Going back in 2004 for the Cedar Fair era it seemed like the park was "recovering" from something, like they were trying to bring it back. I blame both SF and CF for the closing but probably SF more than anyone else. CF should have given it more time.

Now it is leveled beyond redemption. Get an old park map and then look at Google Earth at the site today. The devastation is saddening. It was always a dream of mine to live near it and I do now ironically after its closing.

Geauga Lake was a nice place to take the kids for a day and not break the bank to get in, it was quiet, clean and the rides were perfect for those of us who did not like the stomach churning rides. When Six Flags took over, they priced it so high that going to Cedar Point was a better deal, plus hotels were plenty in Sandusky. It was a nice family place that was ruined by the big companies. So sad.

I saw Three Dog Night at Geauga sometime back in the mid 60's.

There's been a little hole in my heart since it closed down. Seeing the pictures of abandonment and remembering how it looked and the excitement being felt as you walked through the entrance will always stay. The scenic memories of the drive getting there and memories of little me having to cross the bridge and taking the ferry. It was pretty unreasonably big, though. Out of how many people would go, there wasn't enough room, like parking and long lines. It just makes anyone in a bad mood to half to walk from the very back of the parking lot and then wait hours in the line of your first coaster. There was just so much of the park and not enough time. On about 6 hours, you would get to ride maybe 2 roller coasters once. But, still, none of that stopped the place from being great and it's a heartbreaker to see how it is today.

wonderfully written although sad. As a theme park enthusiast I loved the story.... Thanks for writing it!

Totally sickening.... I grew up going to both parks and multiple other local parks but I would go as much as possible to support the local economy. Its sad that corporate monopoly's can get away with this kind of thing.!

Both parks were family style theme parks as well as Cedar Point, what threw in the towel was becoming more than that. It went after the adrenalin junkies and didn't promote the family anymore.

*"home" should be removed, I'm should be replaced with "I've". If I've missed any other errors, please excuse them. I hate making errors, and though Spell Check comes with Chrome, it's still a Seri-like mentality.

No one ever mentioned Kennywood outside of Pittsburgh - a wonderful park with great coasters. GL later was terribly laid out and had a horrible head banging coaster - steel structure but basically a woodie
- hated it!

This makes me sad I grew up going to the two parks and went through the changes and my daughter will never get to experience it. :( but I still think there are key parts of the down fall not mentioned in the article. . Like some of the lawsuits they had to pay out on.. As well as Anheuser Busch selling sea world in the first place because they had a forgine company looking to buy them who only wanted the beer side and nothing more then that fell through until another company bought them. Then the economy calapse because we keep selling out to foreign companies and send jobs over seas. We need to keep our businesses American owned and Operated.

The same thing happened here that is happening everywhere......change, change, change... Nobody can leave anything alone! If it isn't broke, don't try to fix it!! GL and SW were perfect just the way they were back in the 80's. People should have just left well enough alone!! I will certainly miss not getting to take my grandchildren to such a great place.

Such a GREAT article. I grew up in Shelby, Ohio and we would go to Sea World and Geauga Lake as a kid. I remember the trips to Sea World with my grandparents and sitting in the stadium overlooking all the roller coasters nd wishing I was over there. I took my newphew to Six Flags when he was really small. He couldnt pronounce "Flags" and always said "Six Fags". Such great memories!

In reply to by Bob (not verified)

Actully you have been if you ever went to Wyandot lake which was owned by Geauga lake. I remember when they was bought out by 6 flags. I also remember going to the Columbus zoo after 6 flags closed. The once known Wyandot lake was in shambles. Columbus zoo took a stand and purchased the property and built zoombeezy bay. If you pay attention you can still see some things that are still being used from the old Wyandot days such as the old lazy river which goes around the bar there and is only for adults. Buckaroo bay is still there but has a new name. As far as Geauga lake I also went there as a kid top and was just like Wyandot lake in so many ways. Sad that someone did not try and save it.

I remember going to Six Flags World of Adventure as a 9 year old boy. It was the best amusment park anyone could ask for. But the greedy guys see a park with lots of attraction, money, and reputation. Just because you buy it doesn't mean you will be able to handle it. Cedar Fair bit off more than they could chew and destroyed something great. I live in Northeast Ohio and I feel like Cedar Fair truly took something meaningful away from me, away from us!! I'd probably cry if I went back there today. The fun I had, the memories with my mother, the cool cup she bought me, the scared face pictures from riding the Batman....all no more. But hey, s**t happens. At least Cedar Point is decent.

I lived in Cleveland for over 10 years, and had heard about SW, GL, and CP growing up in SE Ohio. I remember wanting to go to the parks. I went to CP several times as an adult, and SW once. When I heard that there was a merger, I cringed. Then I heard of the park(s) being purchased...again, I cringed. THEN, Six Flags...and I knew it was over. Something about all that just told me, "Bad idea.......BAD idea, people. Very, very, very bad..." Sadly, so many of us were right. RIP, SW, and hopefully someone with half a brain can try to bring back GL. I would like to take my kids to it.

Cannot wait for the water park to close down so someone can buy this land and hopefully reopen the original park once again. Forget Cedar Fair, after reading this i will NEVER go back to Cedar Point. They deliberately ruined this park. I remember back when they bought the park, I had just graduated high school. I told everyone it was going to ruin it, and lo and behold it did.

Thank you for writing this. I was not prepared to get so emotional while reading it and seeing those photos of the park where everything is now all empty, overgrown with weeds, like none of us was ever there and having the time of our lives...
I remember that Geauga Lake map from 1976 like it was yesterday. I was 6. I loved GL and Sea World. Like many others said, lots of us grew up there, going two, maybe more times every summer for years. It is all just so sad and a loss for northeast Ohio and the state in general.
Wish I could go back in time, when people just cared, and companies just cared.

In reply to by Tiffany (not verified)

The waterpark price is less expensive than buying a pass to my local pool. To me, the price is perfect for my family, since they have more to do than the local pool. The payment plan available is a nice option they give you also.

In reply to by Bob (not verified)

Geauga Lake was originally built for and catered to the residents of Cleveland and its suburbs. It wasn't designed, built or marketed for Columbus residents. When Six Flags and then Cedar Fair took over, it certainly wasn't seen, viewed or constructed as a "step-brother to the big leagues" -- it WAS the big leagues as the article makes clear. But between Six Flag and, particularly, Cedar Fair, it became not just the a step-brother, but the bastard child that had to be put into a closet and never, ever, ever seen again in public. It was a wonderful park, ruined by the lack of vision by one owner -- and then destroyed by the narrow vision of another. Cedar Point may be the big dog in the game right now, but it did so by doing nasty things to Geauga Lake.

I remember the family picnic's at Geauga Lake it was an all day event. went with sister and brother n law one yr and that was my first roller coaster ride. a few yrs' later took my kids to Sea World went there several times never disappointed on anything. Just wish there was more things like that for families. I have never been to Cedar Point hear lots about it but kids are grown now so that can take the grand babies to things like this and build there memories

Great article. As a child my family would drive from Indiana five hours to SeaWorld Ohio. I never had the opportunity to visit Geauga Lake, I would just stare at it across the lake wanting to go.

I did get to visit the park through all of it Six Flags Years, and its Cedar Fair Years.

I must say that the SeaWorld side of the park was simply amazing. I think about how that park changed me as a kid, it is the reason why I made my parents start recycling at home. I remember the photos of orcas on my walls. It really was life changing.

I think it is SO sad that both experiences are gone. Think about the children in the midwest that never even have the opportunity to see the ocean let alone those beautiful animals.

If we could go back in time, I wish the local government would have allowed SeaWorld to build coasters (if that really was a concern with them.)

Or wouldn't it have been great for Six Flags to keep the parks as two gates, it could have been a true destination that way. And it would have been interesting to market it that way.

But that sadly is history. Thank goodness I have those amazing memories, I only wish this generation would have the same opportunity.

In reply to by Bob (not verified)

Like u said ur from Columbus not Cleveland geauga lake was for locals while out of Towner's over run cedar point we the locals had the run of geauga lake my first roller coaster was the double loop I remember the entire family riding out to geauga lake when we had the big dipper the raging wolf bobs and more were u could bring in coolers and they didn't depend on concession sales 15 dollars for a hot dog to keep the park alive six flags ruined geauga lake. Trying to bring in out of Towner's when the park was largely successful ad geauga lake. Cedar fair tried to clean up the less six flags left behind but locals had already put the glory days behind them...so sad I miss geauga lake

That previous post, I meant to say Dolphins not penguins... sorry the pools were developed for dolphins and replaced with stingrays.

There are two factors that you left out of all of this.

I grew up in a city next to these parks, had season passes to these parks summer of 2000 and 2001. I had many friends who worked at Sea World and I almost worked there myself one summer.

First of all, Sea World had a number of large deep tanks/pools designed for larger sea mammals such as penguins and whatnot. They were designed for guests to see the creatures on the surface of the pools.

In 2001, after Sea World pulled all of their animals out of the park. Were they replaced with the same animals?

No, Six Flags had several deep pools filled with sting rays. Yes, boring little things the just glide along the bottom of a deep pool/tank.

How fun is that? Not at all, it was actually rather boring.

It wasn’t the same park, it was a half hearted attempt to re-purpose to the two parks into one giant park, and the guests noticed where the corners were being cut and I have to believe that this contributed to people not coming back.

Second, this was mentioned a little bit in the article but not given nearly enough attention. You drive to cedar point, as soon as you get off the freeway I seem to remember there being large multilane roads funneling traffic into the park. Going to Geauga Lake / Sea World, you had at most two lane roads, through cities were it was impossible to expand to four lane roads which is what would have really been needed to allow the Cedar Point level of attendance to easily drive to to/from the Geauga Lake Park area.

After reading this article, all I want to do is play Roller-coaster Tycoon.

This is such a heartbreaking story!!!! I have been living in Florida for several years and had no idea of this horrible act on my home state!! I remember having so much fun at Geauga Lake and Sea world!!! I remember our Ford Motor Co. picnics there! Why do money hungry people always ruin it for everyone else!!

I spent two wonderful summers working at Geauga Lake and my brother at Sea World. I agree with a lot of this article and it is sad to see such a great park have the demise it had. It was a great place to go and an even greater place to work as a teenager in the 70's.

My relatives own Knoebel's Grove Amusement Park in Pennsylvania. I remember Dick Knoebel telling me how he went to the auction when GL closed, hoping to buy some things for his park. He was very excited when he got back, not because he bought a coaster or cool ride, but because he had gotten a few hundred trashcans for his park! Amusement park owners are funny people - LOL!

Wyandot lake was strictly a waterpark, with the sea dragon as its roller coaster. A different desire and trip altogether

Really stinks what happened to this park. I remember spending a lot of time here as a child. Check out this video we took 5 months ago of what the park looks like now https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3tbMI86lJx8&list=TLFNDOsc3E0DMQpxQS2UYEHytAAZxrBfM4

I grew up in Columbus, not too far away, and this place was NEVER on our radar as a destination. Either Cedar Point or Kings Island all the way, and I don't know a single person from Columbus who went to any version of Geauga Lake. It was like a step-brother to the big leagues, and we wouldn't spend our time going there. I think Cedar Point made a good business purchase to level the park instead of letting the coasters rot, am I right?

My dad worked at GM Lordstown and our family enjoyed company picnics there for years. I have many fond memories of the park and it just breaks my heart that it's gone. I practically grew up there. It's disgusting what corporate greed has done

I worked at Sea World for 4 yrs while in college @ Kent State. I have wonderful memories of Sea World and it still makes me sad that it's gone...

this article was so depressing to me. i'm showing my age here (only 17), but i remember being 4 years old, dressed in a homemade shamu costume at sea world ohio. i remember being 8 or 9 finally breaking my fear of coasters at geauga lake on the beaverland mine ride (and fear of hills on the pepsi plunge). a few weeks ago, i visited my cousin who lives in twinsburg near the park. we were going out to eat and passed the boarded up side of it where big dipper is still visible, and i nearly jumped out of my seat and asked if that was really what geauga lake looked like now. "yeah, i guess. isn't it sad? it makes our town look gross." was her response. it's soooo heartbreaking to know that a place that was the home for so many childhood memories of mine is now treated and looked at as a garbage dump. :( rip geauga lake.

One thing I haven't seen anybody mention is the Aurora zoning. If I'm not mistaken they had trouble building anything over 200 feet. Once SF bought GL and added four coasters and all that Warner Bros. branding they where in the big leagues. All the big league Parks have coasters over 200 ft. If you want to compeat in this region you haveto have a hyper- or giga-coaster!

I worked there the year before it changed to six flags as a magicians assistant. The next year it was chaios seeing everything change to six flags and the attendance from a visual side was way off from the year before! I do miss however being one of the looney tunes costumed characters, that was one of the best jobs! When the park combined it was amazing and everyone loved it! I met my husband the last year it was named a six flags park and we will always have those memories, but when we heard it was being shut down it was like you got stabbed in the heart! Going there as a child then working there it had a special spot in my heart and now everytime I drive by it brings back a whole bunch if joy then a little but of depression! So sad to see it the way it is!

I used to go about four times a year: one for the Ford Motor picnic: one for Garfield Day: and the others for some other days. I miss the Oktoberfests!

I'm 19, and I don't ever remember going to Geauga Lake when I was younger, but I do have a fair amount of pictures from a trip my family and I took to Sea World Ohio, from I believe 1998 or 1999. I have pictures of myself and my cousin, me in a little stroller, posed next to signs and sitting in the different animal shows, visiting Shamu and everything. I never understood why SeaWorld Ohio closed until I read this. Really, it's a tragic tale of how corporations that transcend the human element can ruin a wonderful human experience, without even being aware of the hurt they cause to an area. I only hope that some day somebody will come back to the area and do what must be done to bring Geauga Lake back to its feet as the kind of park that it was always meant to be.

This is a very well written and researched article. I don't know who you are, Brian Krosnick, but you are an excellent writer. I hope this is your career. Good Luck.

ps - a sad reminder that Nothing Gold Can Stay

We would drive down from Pittsburgh when I was a kid. Go to Geauga Lake and Sea World over a weekend. Had many great memories. It was a lot of fun. I never knew all this happened...truly a shame. I have been planning a trip to Cedar Point, a place I would go when I was older and able to drive myself. Maybe I should reconsider. The article is too kind to them. They destroyed this neat little park and experience to make them stay on top. The two parks are far enough a part to garner guests. Disney and Universal manage ok. Shameful. Thanks for putting this together.

As a kid in the mid 1960's, we spent many afternoons running from ride to ride. Once SeaWorld arrived, we made many more trips to Geauga Lake. I was even towed around Shamu's pool in a small plastic boat. Those memories will long outlive any steel roller coaster or corporate intervention.

Truly a shame! I've been going there since the 50's and 60's and in the 70's I owned a towing company and a had gas station right across the street from the park. It was called; Sea Lake Service Plaza.

Many, many great memories :)

Great memories. I used to go there with my family at least once a year during all of its phases - The Original Geauga Lake, Six Flags Ohio, Six Flags WOA, and Cedar Fair's Geauga Lake. As a kid, you don't really notice all the dirt and rudeness of employees, but I do remember my parents saying the park was at its best when it was Geauga Lake (sans CF). I have the best memories of Turtle Beach, Looney Tunes Boomtown, The Batman shows, and the awesome waterpark. I last went there in 2005 during a field trip with school. The park definitely felt different after the floating bridge was removed and half the place was torn down.

Out of curiosity, I just checked the current season ticket price for "Wildwater Kingdom". It's about 65 dollars for that tiny water park. Appalling. I remember paying under 50 dollars for the season ticket back in the early 2000s when it was Worlds of Adventure and offered so much more.

This is so disheartening. I was employed with Geauga Lake in customer service. Some of my closest friends worked here with me. It was a beautiful park and close enough for many families to travel to without having to travel for hours.I get chills when i see what it has become. So many good times there. Schools used to do field trips here.Sad to see our landmark gone like a ghost.

In reply to by Jason (not verified)

i love what you said here...i always think i should drive by and see what it looks like all abandoned and empty but so much of my youth was spent there with soo many amazing memories i know that i would shed a tear....i wish i could have known that my last time there was my last time there....but maybe its better not knowing...it would have made it a sad day instead of another fun summer day spent with family at geauga lake!!

This was a very well-written article, and while I agree with most of it, there are a few points the author, Brian, missed the mark on a little.

First, while I do admit it's not near Cleveland, it's also not in the middle of Ohio Amish country. Maybe 120 years ago it was, but certainly not since the 70's and 80's. But King's Island isn't really in Cincinnati, it's in Mason, about 25 miles away. And Cedar Point is over an hour from either of the largest cities it's closest to, Toledo or Cleveland.

Also, as far as ease of access, it's about 10-15 minutes from I-271 and I-480, or US 422, to get there. For comparison's sake, the closest freeway to Cedar Point is OH-2, and anyone that's driven in over the lakeside causeway by the homes knows that it's about 15-20 minutes to get to the park. I-80's about the same distance away. And the roads to Cedar Point from the east are mostly two lanes as well.

But the biggest thing that led to the demise of the park was the acquisition by Six Flags. At the time they took over, it was great getting all the shiny new roller coasters, but they did it at the expense of the older rides that everyone loved. The Big Dipper, the Double Loop, those became afterthought coasters. And things like the monorail, the dodgems, the Musik Express, they weren't maintained. So you'd go there wanting to ride some of the older, smaller rides (rather than wait in two hour lines for the new coasters) and those rides were closed.

And Six Flags lost all the charm that the park had when it was Geauga Lake. When Geauga Lake was still running, it was one of the cleanest parks in the country. Six Flags didn't care about that. They used to run specials, that after 5:00 you could get in the park for $10. So from 5-10, you could get in a full day's ride for about half the price. And they'd usually stop charging for parking around 6. My grandparents used to go later in the day just to walk around, because the grounds were beautiful. Where the Double Loop was, in the Western Village, everything was lined with trees, the flowers were always well-maintained, even the bathrooms were clean. When it was too hot, you ducked into the Fascination parlor to enjoy the AC and maybe win a prize or two playing the game!

I remember the year the Wave Pool opened at Geauga Lake, and what a big deal that was. You didn't get a new coaster every year, you got new smaller rides that everyone could enjoy. You didn't have rides that were height-restricted.

In reading this article, when you look at the other parks that Premier Parks or Six Flags or Cedar Fair owned: Elitch Gardens, Darien Lake, Wyandot Lake, and so on; and only Geauga Lake really fell victim to the bad management of Six Flags and Cedar Fair.

But Cedar Fair's biggest disservice was the way it closed the park. It was the fact that no one from Northeast Ohio got to say goodbye, and even to this day if you drive past, you see the reminders of what was, like a graveyard of childhood memories: the Big Dipper still standing, the old Dance Hall right alongside the road, even the entrance still standing. I can't remember how many times I went through those turnstiles as a kid. I'm only 36, and I started going there in the early 80's. My entire childhood right up through high school was spent there in the summers. And not being able to say goodbye was worse than anything else that either parent company ever did.

Remember company picnics? A very found memory for me. A time when companies cared....kinda sad how Geauga Lake fell to pieces after a large company quit caring. Thus article was wonderful. Thank you for taking the time to write it.

very interesting informative article. Geauga Lake has a place in my heart all gret memories. It was a shame and heartbreaking when it was announced closed without warning. We never got a fair chance to say goodbye! As a park goer with my parents as a child to taking my own children there the park was reasonable priced, just big enough that we could branch off into groups and meet back up later in the day. The wait times were not over whelming, you never left the park with the sense of " i was there all day standing in line and only rode three rides" The park's demise still remains a devestating loss.

I worked for six flags era. I truly believe Cedar Fair was scared of the completion. When I first got hired there was a map that we were shown that had the park growing and expanding all the way down route 43 until the next intersection. (Where Home Depot now stands) .
Six flags had a dream but C.F just wanted to make it go away. The Octoberfest crowds were so popular and crowded but when CF took over it was dead. There signage was AWEFUL and advertising was weak. I think it was a mistake to make it one price for both parks. Should of been combo ticket. The lack of advertising and it was not proud of Geauga Lake.
Yes customers complained all the time but people were not patient enough to give Six flags a fighting chance.
I always wonder why didn't' CF partner with the cleveland zoo to run the animal park? Too bad no one start all over and rebuild .
Yes there is rumors on the inside that 2015 will be the last season for the water park. So better hurry and get season pass so you can have something to remember to tell your kids about.
Thanks for the memories

Great article! My family went every year for decades. It was a family tradition- our summer was not complete until we went. Very sad to see it go. I knew that as soon as Cedar Faire bought it that it's days were numbered. Thanks again for the update!

An excellent telling of a very sad tale. I had no idea of how bizarre Geauga Lake's history was, or the number of incarnations and owners the park(s) had.

I've been critical of some TPT articles in the past, but this is absolutely top-class theme park writing. Bravo!

An excellent telling of a very sad tale. I had no idea of how bizarre Geauga Lake's history was, or the number of incarnations and owners the park(s) had.

I've been critical of some TPT articles in the past, but this is absolutely top-class theme park writing. Bravo!

I worked at SWOO for 8 years. We were not Six Flags then and Six Flags should have just gone away and let SW alone. We were a great park. We went to Six Flags and my son got lost but the security there didn't have a means to locating lost kids!!! What a farce. We'll never consider going to a Six Flags park again!

I was a Sea World of Ohio show operator for one summer, and my aunt was a top-dog in the entertainment division there for many years prior to Busch's purchase of it. I grew up going to Geauga Lake at least once every couple of summers. I was never a coaster guy, so Geauga Lake was perfect for me... plenty of flat rides and light thrills to enjoy, water rides, fun shows... plus it was close to home and at a decent price.

It saddens me to no end that my kids won't know Geauga Lake and Sea World, which were such a huge piece of my youth. Sure, I'll take them to Cedar Point, but it'll be more expensive, further away, and almost entirely coasters, leaving me holding everyone's bags all day while they stand in lines. How exciting. Maybe we'll drive to Kennywood instead. RIP Geauga Lake and Sea World... maybe you're partying with Euclid Beach Park in amusement land heaven. The hole in the local economy and local heart will always remain.

Who write this article?

Great Article. Lived in Pittsburgh and went to SW almost every summer till it closed. Moved to Cleveland in 2009 and was disappointed to hear GL closed. I can only hope that Kennywood can keep it up; otherwise, my childhood amusement will be a thing of the past...

It's so sad to read about the demise as a coherent single story. I hadn't realized how big it got before it died. If you run across an old park like Conneaut Lake Park, please stop by and support it. Unfortunately, Conneaut is now scheduled for a sheriffs sale. The park is in rough shape, but it is worth saving. There was even talk about buying the Big Dipper and moving it there.

I remember the girls who use to control the traffic lights in Aurora when Sea World was in operation. We called them the "Red Light Babes" and always wondered how someone got that job. People came from everywhere to go to Sea World on Saturday and Geauga Lake on Sunday. There was so much traffic to those parks. It is shocking to see it closed.

as a native western pa gal my parents took me to SW almost every summer as a kid. Wonderful family memories were made there. It breaks my heart to see what has happened to it and GL and that future generations will miss out on those opportunities.

I worked at Geauga Lake in the retail/games department for several summers after Cedar Fair purchased the park. It was demoralizing to watch Cedar Fair dismantle rides, take away events like the Halloween weekends, etc. We all knew that Cedar Fair was slowly doing away with the competition for Cedar Point.
While the water park and Geauga Lake were supposedly together, they were very much separate entities. Products sold in each area were different, if you worked on one side of the lake, you seldom crossed the pond. Even city taxes collected from your pay were different depending on which side of the lake you were assigned to work. There never was a feel that the whole park was one park. All along, we felt like the outsider in the Cedar Fair group like we were blowing in the wind.
That Geauga Lake was a family park was a facade. Everything was for appearances from staff to buildings. But behind the scenes, it was far from nice. Theft by employees, run-down buildings and storage areas, shuttered buildings. It was sad. They let Geauga Lake go and that was a loss for the area.

In reply to by jeremy (not verified)

I agree. I had a friend who was a ride mechanic before Six Flags took over. He was responsible for one roller coaster and he knew that ride forward and back. When Six Flags came in, he was responsible for 3 to 4 rides and he quit. He knew he couldn't effectively be sure that a ride would be safe and not fail. He was really afraid of an accident that would be on his watch. Six Flags really ran the park into the ground before Cedar Fair dealt the death blow.

Growing up in the Cleveland Metro I spent A LOT of time at Geauga Lake & Sea World. My best friend had a season pass and would get me in as her guest. We were there almost every weekend 1995-2000. So many hours spent hanging out in the arcade and riding the Raging Wolf Bobs over and over. In 2000 after graduating HS I worked at Sea World before heading off to college that fall. So much fun. It breaks my heart that future generations will never know what it's like to have these iconic places in their lives. I feel fortunate that I moved away after 2000 and didn't see the decline of GL/SW. I will forever remember them in their prime.

In reply to by John J (not verified)

No offense, John J, but you are an idiot. I am libertarian and as pro-capitalistism as can be, and even I can see what happened here was anti-competitive bologna. Purchasing your successful competitors with the intention of shutting them down isn't good for the marketplace. This had nothing to do with profitability. It was about removing options to leave only one choice for consumers. That is an anti-capitalist strategy.

A thriving GL made CP better, because both parks needed to step up their games to draw crowds. Since the shutdown of GL and CF acquisition of KI, CP has had no incentive to improve. They've added very few new major attractions in the past decade and degraded the overall atmosphere, while the park is more expensive than ever. You can chalk that up to the fact that they eliminated their competition, not through the ethical approach of providing a superior product, but by literally destroying the only nearby competing park.

It is disgusting, and there is nothing "grown up" about it.

In reply to by Amy (not verified)

The competition wasn't destroying it. It was an amusement park but for those who didn't quite make a lot of money. Those that couldn't afford Ceder Point.

In reply to by John J (not verified)

The thing you failed to realize is the business was doing just fine before some idiot decided they could do better. It was JUST FINE for 120 years and in 7 years, someone that has ZERO business sense destroyed. THAT is your answer to the question as to why it sits empty. It was creating enough profit to sustain until someone got greedy. You instantly jumping up and down screaming socialism is the exact reason this country is failing. You believe that a pure capitalistic system works great. Guess what, you are wrong.

The theme park was a business. Just like General Motors, WalMart, Microsoft, and Verizon are businesses. Some businesses do well, others are not profitable and fail, So someone put 40 Million of their own money in a business and it failed. And yes they took the rides and other equipment with them when they left. They had every right to. THEY BOUGHT IT. ALL THAT STUFF WAS THEIRS. And the bulldozed the place? again, IT WAS THEIR LAND THEY COULD BULLDOZE IT IF THEY WANTED.

What kind of subtle, back door socialist propaganda is this article supposed to be? The park didn't "belong" to the people that went there to ride the rides. It belonged to the company or people that bought it and paid for it.

The answer to the question of why it sits empty is similar to why any number of automobile factories sit dilapidated and unused in Detroit and other cities. Because every business, if they don't create enough profit to sustain themselves, will eventually fail. It's one of the naturally occurring laws of the grown-up world we live in.

Congratulations Brian, this is great journalism, and brings back Memories. I live in South America now, but grew up in Columbus, and always wondered what happened to Geauga Lake and Sea World. Great childhood memories.

I grew up with the expectation of either Geauga Lake or Sea World for the summer thrill. I was the cool sister who took my younger brothers to Geauga Lake every summer. I loved that park.
As an adult, even though my husband hated amusement parks, he indulged me by going to Geauga Lake every summer.
As each change was made I prayed it would be for the better. In 2007 we didn't go to Geauga Lake, one of my biggest regrets. I didn't get a the chance to walk through the park one last time, and like a thief in the night they stole my heart.

Let's just say it. Cedar Point was heads and shoulders above Geauga Lake. I think the pure competition was also a large part of why GL closed down. People just wanted more for their dollar.

That's your opinion. I think the author lets CF off the hook too easily. It is obvious that CF explicitly purchased the park with the intent of shuttering it and "stripping it for parts." Disgusting, but true.

Went to renamed Geauga Lake Park in 2006 and enjoyed it. Nice size.Beautiful scenery on the lake. Good size crowd. Seems this story should be on the American Greed TV show. Who destroyed it? Cedar Point, Six Flags. Cedar could have kept it open and profitable as a smaller amusement park. Sad story. This happened to Meyers Lake in Canton, Ohio. Small park but no investment into keeping it up. Turned into condos.

I am a local businessman who has lived here my whole life and grew up,with Sea World, Geuaga Lake,mans Cedar Point. Here is what no one has commented as a large part of the reason for the closure:
We locals would go to Geauga Lake many times during the season, because it was close and cheap (1/2 hour drive from the Cleveland-Akron population of almost 3 million). We might go to Cedar Point once a year ( 1-1/2 hour drive). Plus we would go to Sea World at least once, although when my kids came along my wife would buy season passes. We were typical of. Oat locals. BUT - at Sea World you would see license plates from all over the Great Lakes, the Midwest, and beyond. Think about this - where else could you go to see Shamu unless you lived near Florida, California, or Texas? And, while you were there and had a hotel room, you might as well go to Geauga Lake the second day. Once Shamu left, any regional draw was gone. Geauga Lake wasn't enough to travel to - you might as well go to Cedar Point instead, which is the coaster capital of the world. I don't think whichever company (and I think it was Six Flags) who owned it then ever figured out their customer base, and they consequently made all the wrong decisions. Of course Cedar Fair bought it to close down their competitor.

As someone who was a local, and worked at Sea World the year before it was absorbed; I can tell you there was a bit more to the story. I had friends who worked at either park for several summers. The thing that really killed the park was an attempt to predict the future. Business had been good prior to 2001, and it had looked like it was going to continue expanding. The traffic to the park was ridiculous at times, so even in a somewhat remote area, people were willing to drive to get there. (consider that Cedar Point is even more in the middle of nowhere than Geauga Lake... Sandusky is tiny and in the ass end of nowhere Ohio). The unfortunate reality of amusement parks is that to a certain extent you are at the mercy of certain events outside your control. And that is what really caused the death spiral.

The summer of 2001 was a good summer. Attendance was high at both parks, the news of the merger was generally unknown to employees until later in the summer, but Six Flags was doing great in all of their markets. So, here's where it starts though. Six flags had just finished dumping tons of money into the park to build it up to their idea of a six flags theme park, and then 9/11 happened. What does that have to do with theme park attendance? Well, if you listened to what was filtering down from upper management, a great deal. The summer of 2001 was a great year. The summer of 2002 was abysmal. Ticket sales were minuscule in comparison, and the weather had not been very good. They reasoned that people did not want to travel and that the next year would offset their losses. The summer of 2003 was one of the coolest and rainiest in that area in a long time. It rained every other day nearly. And no one likes showing up to an amusement park in the rain. Now, if it had been one park with low ticket sales, Six Flags could absorb the loss. It wasn't. The low sales of 2002 were across the country. Six flags was attempting to secure funding to maintain the various parks and started to sell off assets. I left the area shortly thereafter and only heard various rumblings relating to mismanagement of the later owners, but the Six Flags ownership could have gone very differently if they hadn't had several successive years of very bad luck.

Every time I come home to Ohio (Aurora) I am saddened by what's become of our beloved parks. Everyone in our family worked at either GL or SW.....lots and lots of memories.......now we have one family member who has been there through all the changes - and it breaks my heart to hear how all this transpired. I do hope someone will come in to start over with a small family park once again. As for the past and it's changes and how our family "was there" - that will be something to share with my future Grandchildren.....

In reply to by Teresa (not verified)

My first roller coaster ever was the corkscrew as well. I will miss that place.

fun fact. at some point when I was in elementary school (2001-2006) I went to Six Flags with my parents. while in one of the kiddie-pools, something gashed my toe open. The pool was temporarily closed and employees tried to find whatever it was that cut my toe to no avail, and my parents and I left with 4 free tickets.
The next time we came back, later that year for Halloween, we brought one of my friends and... literally walked in. without paying anything. Nobody stopped or questioned us... wonderful staffing, lol.
so the next year we were able to come back with those tickets.... hmmmm. I can only imagine how many times similar things happened (walk-ins) and how it might've hurt the park's income. staffing is super important...

GEAUGA LAKE WAS A GREAT PLACE TO GO IN 2000 I HAD SOME OVERSEA STUDENTS AND I TOOK THEM TO GEAUGA LAKE AND THEY ENJOYED IT I HAVE A PICTURE I TOOK THERE SITTING IN FRONT OF THE SUPERMAN COASTER WHY IT FAILED WHO KNOWS IT WAS A NICE PLACE AND SHORT DISTANCE TO TRAVEL YEAH IT WAS GREAT I WISH IT WAS STILL THERE.

Geauga Lake was definitely a local park. Sea World however did attract visitors from through the Midwest region, sometimes even further than that. It was, after all, the only park of its kind within a days drive of any major Northeastern or Midwestern city. So there was some infrastructure in place in the area because of this (including hotels and yes, easier access to freeways like 422 and 480, even if you don't want to call them "interstates").

But you're also right in saying that the crowds that SFWoA attracted at times were too much and Solon, Aurora, and Bainbridge did have to make some big changes to accommodate the crowds.

Another thing about 6 Flags, at the time, they had NO CLUE how to care for animals. I was in HS in a nearby town and plenty of my friends worked there part-time over the summer. I remember one saying that he heard park management discover all the manta rays dead in their pool one morning before opening, and trying to keep it hushed up.

SFWoA did not have an orca in 2001, but it was able to obtain one for the 2002 and 2003 seasons. That said, I agree, SF managed the park terribly. The idea wasn't a bad one, but it was very poorly executed.

Also to correct the author, as someone who was acutely aware of daily attendance projections, SFWoA routinely underperformed expectations. There were only a few times that I remember (usually mid-summer Saturdays with specific advertised events like concerts) where the park was hitting or exceeding crowd expectations.

I grew up in Canton through the 80's and 90's. Geauga Lake was a yearly thing for me and my friends. I remember my mother taking us up there numerous times and even still have a picture that a friend of mine still had from the key chains you could get. So sad to see how it's all gone now...

I had the "pleasure" of working for all three companies from 2000-2004. That was quite a turbulent time, but without a doubt the best ownership I worked for was the Busch Entertainment Company. I heard lots of rumors during that time period, but never heard the one that Busch wanted to buy Geauga Lake and turn it into a Busch Gardens. Hindsight is obviously 20/20, but in my opinion that would have been the best possible outcome. Although one thing I did always hear was that BEC did not like that Sea World Cleveland was its only seasonal park, which is why it did sell the property to Premier. So maybe BEC buying Geauga Lake was not a real option.

I am not sure who is to blame for WHY the park closed, but I am sure that Cedar Fair IS to blame for HOW the park closed. My family and I were there on the park's last day and if we had any idea it truly was the last time we would have done so much more. When the announcement came a few days later it was just so sad. We had held season passes for years and it was like losing an old friend and never being allowed to say goodbye. I have no use for Cedar Point and their management style.

I loved geauga lake and still love cedar point despite what they did but I think the ultimate blame is on six flags. They tried to hard and when it came time to sell they destroyed much of the plumbing and interior of the sea world side. It would have cost cedar fair too much to fix all the damage that six flags caused to those buildings. That was really the death of the sea world side. As for the ride side it was hard to go backwards. As stated the lower cost of a mega park started to bring in a different crowd that most loyal park visitors didn't want to deal with.

My grandfather use to take us to GL every year for the company picnic. I loved that place. I use to ride the kiddy rides then moved on to rides like the Big Dipper and the Double Loop. My first time on a rollercoaster was the Corkscrew. I remember one year it was almost the end of the night and I got to ride the Double Loop five times straight no body else was riding it. I also have great memories of a trip to Sea World. GL Wild Water Kingdom is nothing compared to what it was.

I don't know much about you personally, but you've at least inspired me to craft a response to your article; the fact that there is only one real point on which we both agree leads me to this end. Simply put, your oversimplification of the financial crisis and the unnecessary focus placed on geography and what people have "told" you are ludicrous. Granted, I may be wearing some rose-colored glasses since I grew up not only in Cleveland (well a suburb, technically, because that clearly matters), but also in Aurora, and many of your points couldn't be further from the truth. We agree that the parks were marketed for a national crowd, when in reality, it was the local economy by which the park was supported. It may take me a week or so to craft a response, but I wouldn't feel right being content with a prima facie statement that you were wrong; you probably only need to re-think how you compare realities between each of the past few decades.

In reply to by Cindy (not verified)

Even closer and less expensive than Idlewild is Waldameer Park in Erie. Right on the lake, it had great rides, a water park, and nice views from the tops of the rides. No general admission fee; you can pay by the ride or buy an all rides ticket. Still lots of rides for little kids.

I remember visiting GL in 60's. Believe it or not there was a time when you were allowed in just to purchase one of the great ice cream sandwiches.

Meh. I was always a bigger fan of Cedar Point anyway.

I go for the roller coasters, and Cedar Point's were always the best, hands down.

It is totally clear that cedar fair had it in for that park (whether the park was already on the outs because of six flags is debatable) and the proof is in the manner in which it closed. July 2007, the wolf bobs comes off the track and is in need of repair, the ride stays closed for the remainer of the season and is never repaired ( forever basically). One asks why wouldnt you fix the coaster unless you knew that this was the last season? Sept 2007 is the final month for geauga lake, after closing for the "season" multiple high level officers from cedar fair ride the historic big dipper for the last time. This only adds insult to injury because not only did none of us get to say goodbye, no warning, nothing, but these cold hearted cedar fair execs get the last ride. Further there is a roller coaster museum in which we could have had a car or train from the big dipper, but cedar fair decided to leave this piece of history outside to rot just like they did with the park we all loved so much.

For so many years, my husband's company had it's yearly picnic there. It was a place that we made so many memories with our kids. Even after they grew up, it was my favorite place to go....I loved it even better than Cedar Point and we went to Geauga, the water park, and Sea World, many, many more times than CP. Our hearts were broken when it closed and haven't gone to an amusement park since.

I grew up in northeast Ohio, moved away for school in the late 90s and only go back now to visit family. I always wondered what happened to Geauga Lake and Sea World. Great to finally have some answers. I was enthralled until I read this: "The plan only exacerbated #2, above, and attracted undesirable crowds from the city."

Perhaps you can explain what you mean by "undesirable crowds from the city?"

Thank you for a very informative article. I have many fond memories of both Geauga Lake and Sea World. We had season passes for many years starting in the late 80s and one of my sons worked there through the Six flags era almost till the park closed. I know that many locals believe that Cedar Faire bought the park just to close it to do away with the competition. Maybe this was true, but probably was purely a financial decision to get out from under a money losing operation. They were not really in competition as Geauga Lake was local and Cedar Point was somewhere you went once a year. Still, they could have given the place more of a chance or tried to sell it to someone who would instead of tearing it down.
I believe the park was destroyed by the Six Flags people. They may have put money into adding rides, but it was poorly done. As you pointed out, the park was large geographically, but they never utilized the space. Instead, they crammed many rides in the exsisting space making it too crowded. The lines for the rides would run into each other, and the midways were so narrow that you couldn't walk through. They destroyed the whole atmosphere of the park. Also, they raised prices. I remember going to Disney World the first summer and coming home to find that Six Flags now charged $4 more to park than Disney. Also, they raised the prices of food etc.
The other downfall, of course was when the Sea World people sold out taking their name and Shamu with them. The Marine park after that was very poor. I remember walking on that side of the lake and finding many deserted and closed buildings and few people except in the kiddie play area!
I still feel sad when I drive by today. The Big Dipper is all that is left. I love old wooden coasters and this was a favorite. So sad to see it sitting there rusting.
Thanks again for the article,

I worked at a Lawson Store across from Geauga Lake when Sea World was being built. I remember making sandwiches for the construction workers. Boy, that was a muddy job for those guys. The highlight of every spring after that was waiting and watching the huge truck that brought Shamu into Aurora from the Cleveland Airport. It was amazing to watch. Shamu was probably one of the major reasons for Sea World's success and when he left, the animal park changed. Most out-of-visitors made their trip to the two parks a two day event. I remember the crazy traffic especially if it rained! Sea World has excellent educational programs for children during school year. I don't remember much about time period when Six Flags came in, but I think all would agree, trying to run two major theme parks and make a profit, when there were only 5 month out of 12 that you could be open and you could count on rain for over 1/3 of that time would have been difficult. I do agree that Cedar Fair did purchase Geauga Lake to shut it down. That fact is obvious. But the many years I got to attend both parks were the best years. Ps. You can find the childrens' rides from Geauga Lake at Cedar Point now. Snoopy and his gang are all there now.

In reply to by Brian

Geauga Lake was never competition for Cedar Point in my opinion. I always considered Geauga Lake a place to go that was closer than Cedar Point. My dad's shop picnic was there for several years after Idora Park in Youngstown closed. It was a park that I took my younger kids without having to pay Cedar Point prices.

Cindy, There is a lovely family park in Pennsylvania that we took our children to visit until they were old enough to go to Cedar Point. It is called Idle Wild. About 3 1/2 hours from Cleveland. We were just talking about it a couple of weeks ago and said that we can't wait for grandchildren so that we can go back. Geauga Lake was only 1 hour from our home and only our older 2 children ever had the opportunity to go there. Our relatives from PA used to come and stay with us and take their children to Geauga Lake. Sad story

No I'm right I worked in the maintenance department and saw the maps all the the time with the square acreage of the different parts of the park if u want to include the parking lots it's close to 2000 acres total. so I know I'm right

In reply to by jeremy (not verified)

The acreage you're quoting is for the ENTIRE property they owned. You're not comparing apples to apples. When Disney says that Epcot is 300 acres, they are not including the parking lot and the surrounding property they own. Look at the maps, the lake takes up 50% of the map.

Oh and Sea world was 400 acres plus the lake that was just under 80 acres

I used to work for SFWOA It's a good thing cedar fair bought the park before somebody got killed. Six flags was so broke they neglected to fix stuff all the time I can remember a certain coaster
needing new brakes at the end of June and not getting them till the following spring all because the brake budget had run out. There were so many other things that never got replaced we used to just fix things the best we could cause the park didn't want to spend money it didn't have to fix all the broken shit the person who said the park wasn't 700 acres your wrong. Geauga lake side was 550 acres alone. It's too bad cedar fair didn't buy the park originally we would probably still have an open park.

I left the park before the Cedar Faire part, so maybe they bought the park to scuttle it and maybe they didn't, but this article lets Six Flags off the hook way too lightly. It's entirely possible Cedar Faire closed it simply because they found they'd caught a hot potato, and couldn't afford it after all. For example, calling what Six Flags put in after Sea World left "a full marine zoo" is really super nice of you - they inherited some animals from SW, and it became immediately clear that they had no idea what they were doing with sea animals, they had no idea how to maintain all of that stuff, and they had no business even trying to buy and care for a killer whale. People who came to the park looking for some rebranded marine park magic were greeted with empty tanks and dying stingrays. Sea World customers left and never came back basically as soon as the switch was official. And without their money, stuff that needed to get done didn't get done. There may have been a huge gulf between what Cedar Faire was expecting to get and what they actually got when they finally took possession of all that water infrastructure.

Sea World had a lot of nice expensive stuff, but it required a staff of nice, expensive employees to maintain, and SF seriously overestimated their own people's abilities to waltz in and take over when they were cutting positions. I mean, sure, my department maybe could have lost three or four full time year-round positions and no customers would have noticed the difference, but you can't reduce a staff of 10 specialists to 1 dude who did something similar in college and expect the standards to remain where they were, yet SF did basically that to every department. SF management sucked so hard, I assumed they did so on purpose. To this day, you can't convince me that the whole thing wasn't some kind of The Producers-style tax scam.

And the cash grab, oh man, their naked, greedy cash grab. You could say $50 admission is "dirt cheap" compared to say, Disney, but $50 x your whole family is still a lot of money, and when parents battled through the terrible parking bottle neck (on especially crowded days, it wasn't unheard of for Six Flags to raise the price of parking right infront of a line of cars) only to be greeted by a filthy, weird-smelling park and a list of broken rides that was never less than 4 items long, they weren't exactly praising the great price they got on tickets. The price of food, water and souvenirs just made them angrier. And they complained. A lot. Loudly. To all of their friends. Cedar Faire would have had to take one hell of a loss for quite a few seasons to undo the damage SF had done to park's reputation.

In reply to by Mike (not verified)

It is really miles from Amish country, and miles from the middle of nowhere, but it was also not a convenient drive. It is true that it was quite a ways from any interstate, and the roads leading into the park from both directions were quite narrow. They widened the areas immediately around the park during the switch, but it was still pretty insane, especially if you came up from Aurora. They also never bothered to add more parking attendant booths to do anything about the bottleneck right at the parking lot, and a lot of ire was generated when SF would raise the price of parking in the middle of the day, so people who spent an hour or more inching towards the parking lot would then see the price go up a dollar right before they got to it. It's hard, in an online comment, to truly capture the ire of a parent who, after hours in line in a car with their kids, gets welcomed to the park in such a manner. The parents did a pretty good job of expressing their ire to the employees, though.

They should have got the guy that stayed on the Rotor all day. If anyone understood that park, he did. BTW, do you think he had a season pass?

I think this was a very well written article and hits the nail on the head on the demise of Geauga Lake. I worked for Cedar Fair during the time period that Six Flags purchased the park and later sold it to Cedar Fair. I believe both ownership groups are to blame for such a beautiful and successful park closing. Six Flags took a great small family park and a Sea World park that I loved coming to as a kid, and tried to make it something that was too big for the local population and infrastructure. Six Flags tried to get out from under their mistakes by selling the property for a huge loss. Cedar Fair came in and did the right thing by pulling out rides and trying to return it to it's true glory days as a small family and local park. Unfortunately, Cedar Fair made a few poor decisions and failed to make the park successful again. I think Cedar Fair pulled the plug a little too early. They should have given it another season or two. Probably the worst decision made between 1997 – 2007 was how the park was closed. A 119 year old amusement park deserved a proper send off.

In reply to by Phil (not verified)

Great article BTW!

You're saying the park was 700 acres? That place was tiny, the Batman coaster was built 1/2 in the pond. You even say the pond is 60 acres.

Relax. I stated that the park is not near an interstate. It is not. Six Flags billed the park as "located in Cleveland." It was not. Not by a long shot. Mapquest tells me that the park is 45 minutes from Cleveland, an hour from Akron, which lines up well with my memories and what I know today as a Northeast Ohioan.

SeaWorld and Geauga Lake did just fine, because they were local parks aimed at a local audience. When Six Flags Worlds of Adventure asked for (and received) destination-park sized crowds in its first years, it completely overwhelmed the infrastructure. The roads of Aurora, Twinsburg, and Streetsboro were not wide enough for traffic coming from neighboring states and across the U.S. Sure, the area had a handful of hotels. Of course. Enough to support a few visitors. But to deal with the enormous crowds Six Flags earned? No.

If you're offended, I apologize. But if your argument is that the location did NOT play into the park's demise... Well... I can't help you there. If you've decided that its location was well-suited for a national destination park and that there were more than enough hotels in Aurora, Ohio to handle the park's sold out crowds, what can I say? The other dozens of comments here are recollections of backed up traffic taking hours to reach the parking lot on tiny roads in the middle of no where. It's not an insult to your town. It's a disconnect between the park's rate of growth and the growth of the infrastructure around it. Cedar Point developed organically over a century and the area grew with it. Geauga Lake grew from a local park to a national destination all at once, and road widths / hoteliers / infrastructure couldn't keep up. If you don't believe that, then I don't know what else to say...

Your comment about Aurora and it's location is frustrating. The park is located by 422, 480, and the 80 turnpike. There are multiple hotels in aurora, Twinsburg, and Streetsboro, and both Akron and Cleveland are only a half hour away. Cedar point is in the middle of no where, if anything. The park brought in many with SeaWorld and Geauga Lake and Aurora did just fine. Also, from the three major freeways around Aurora to Geauga Lake, there are no cornfields. You keep talking about how the locals feel burned and you, sir, added insult to injury.

When my girls were little we would buy a pass to Sea World every year. Living in the Kent area we could drive up and spend half a day many times over the season. When Sea World left we bought a season pass for the following year, but the difference between Sea World and the new entity was awful. It went from pristine manicured grounds to filth and I didn't get free parking or the option to picnic inside the park anymore. That was enough to keep me from coming back! So sorry it had to end that way.

Growing up Geauga Lake was the local "small park" that we went to every year. Cedar Point was the "big park" that we went to only a couple times...we liked Geauga Lake better. Late teen years I spent many evenings there (mid-80's). Then the park was in its prime. Didn't get there much for many years but when we did it seemed to be getting too big for itself even before Six Flags. As soon as they took over it was already over. Took my wife (a different girl, and who grew up out of state so hadn't ever been there) and it was filthy, staffed with govt subsidised "underprivileged" labor, and didn't even have some of the rides operating. We went one more time after CF took over (company picnic or we probably would not have). As described in the article it was already half-dismantled by them. I do wish I had cash and land to buy and setup the Big Dipper though.

My family moved out to Ohio when I was a little girl. Before the move it was always Idlewild Park. We lived outside of Youngstown and at that time we had Idora park in our backyards. As an older teen my parents took us to Geauga Lake and Sea World constantly. When my girls were born I took them and then my grandson. I will never have the chance to take my granddaughters. It doesn't matter that it's not near "Amish Country" or that the person who bought it had an agenda. What matters is that Geauga Lake and Sea World were magical and they are gone. It's up to us to find other magical places for our families no matter how we ours the loss of our old memories. I for one am so very glad that the old Idora Park carousel stands beautifully restored close to where the twin towers went down on 9/11. Although I am sad that the place of so much joy in my childhood is gone, how wonderful that it now might bring joy to a child where such tragedy struck. I ramble. I guess I'm trying to say we never know what may come, even of what we think are very sad circumstances. I will continue to hope ❤️

This was the most interesting and informative article I have ever read regarding Geauga Lake. I visited the park frequently between 1975-2005 and I did see all of the changes. I was hoping you would have expanded your article a little more after the Six Flag purchase in 2001. You are SPOT ON, because when I visited during the Six Flag years we enjoyed the rides themselves, but absolutely everything regarding customer service was awful. Not just bad, but truly awful. The park was dirty, restrooms almost unusable. Food lines were non-existent, and employees did not want to work/did not care. The super inexpensive prices brought in all kinds of chaos and it did not always feel safe. I did not realize (no longer living in the area) how flattened it has become. There used to be an excellent vegetable market across the street I loved to go to after a long day at the park. I can't help but to wonder how the local area is doing after everything that happened. A sad, sad ending to a delightful park.

I absolutely love Geauga Lake. I was at the park everyday, from open to close, from age 14-22, mostly as an employee but other days as a guest. Working in the games department, I learned some of my best skills, as a sales person, a manager and a leader. This park was my childhood and my livlihood, making enough money in the summer to support my college education without having to work during school. I am the person today because go "GL". What an amazing place. If I could reopen it myself I would.

I worked as a foreman on The Big Dipper back in 75 -77 with a couple guys i would love to hook up with, one guy played the shows part time

I grew up near Youngstown. Geauga Lake was my FIRST amusement park. The Double Loop was my first coaster, and for a few years (I had to have barely even been tall enough to ride it) was the only one I would ride. The Big Dipper scared me, haha. I never did go again after the Six Flag names moved in. Kinda sad I didn't. But whenever articles like this come my way, it just breaks my heart to remember being a little kid and overwhelmed by it all.

In reply to by Mike (not verified)

While it's true that it's within a reasonable driving distance of Cleveland, Akron, and Youngstown, it IS in the middle of nowhere. It's just not an area that can sustain serious tourism; when you get done with a long day at a 700 acre amusement park, you don't want to drive 45 minutes back to one of the major cities where there are enough hotels to sustain that many visitors. I agree with you, though; Geauga Lake was picked apart to eliminate competition with Cedar Point. I loved going there as a kid. We went every year when it was still Geauga Lake, and I remember going maybe once while it was Six Flags. By the time I got to Hiram College just down the road (and very much in the middle of nowhere), it was completely leveled. I'm still mad about it!

Geauga Lake /sea world is nowhere near Amish country or corn fields. The surrounding area is one of the largest metropolitan areas in the country and within a days drive of 100 million people, the only reason cedar fair bought it was to eliminate competition with its crown jewel, Cedar point. Geauga Lake was stripped like an abandoned house then they had the balls to say that the area couldn't support the park even though both did quite well before cedar fair. The final nail in the coffin is that the land has become quite valuable as the east side old money continues their migration south east, as the only 700 acre tract in the county with a beautiful Lake in the middle and utilities already present I conservatively estimate the value at 100+ million if it were allowed to be developed as a high end condo community.

Geauga lake closed because dick kinsel, head of cedar fair at the time bought the park with an agenda. He couldn't just close it right away so he waited 5 yrs to. He also did not want anyone to be able to buy the land tomake it I to another thriving theme park, which it very much was. Now it sits abandoned and so many kids and families opportunities to be able to enjoy the park are gone because of this greedy man. His plan all along was to close Geauga lake so that cedar point had no competition . You can tell it's really worked we'll for them since people still pay 50$ to go even though there are 3 hr long waits for rides . Dick retired so my resentment towards cedar point has weakened but I still hesitate to give any money to the selfish company . Since he has been retired I still haven't seen a change. my advice is to explore outside of cedar point and visit parks like Busch gardens , knoebels or knots berry farm and you may just see the great difference .

One correction, Sea World was on the south shore the the lake, while the amusement park was in the north.

One correction, Sea World was on the south shore the the lake, while the amusement park was in the north.

I grew up in Twinsburg and loved going to Geauga Lake when I was in High School and college. I took my dates there and we had fun. Geauga Lake and Sea World was a us vs them mentality...why the two couldn't exist is due to greed, red tape and money. Instead of capitalizing on this wonderful gem it got bought out by another company and was ruined. As the saying goes the few ruin it for the vast majority. Also the human being is the cause and solution to all the worlds problems...in this case the reason why the park is empty!

In reply to by Cindy (not verified)

Cindy, I don't know if it's too far for you, but Idlewild Park in Southwestern PA is a beautiful gem that is *perfect* for taking the grandchildren. Very family oriented, located in forested mountains, and with a lovely water park! There are a lot of campgrounds in the area and some nice hotels not too far away.
I remember going to Sea World with my family as a kid, and truly enjoying it.... Geauga Lake, too. It was so much more "accessible" for a family than Cedar Point!

I visited this as a kid. Really enjoyed it when it was Worlds of Adventure. Sad to see it go.

Thanks for a great article. This makes me really sad. I have great memories there from my childhood. I visited Cleveland in July (after having moved years ago) with a friend, and we decided to do some exploring. Man was it sad for me to see a place I had grown up at so dilapidated and sad. We didn't get too far in because they had clearly just put up some new fencing (you could tell the old fencing had been broken through countless times), but what we did see was awful. Just barren and sad. We had a good time walking around and exploring, but it was definitely emotional for me. I would love to see it reopen one day, but it would really be more of a brand new park than a reopening. Nothing that's left there would really be usable (save for the Dipper which could probably be salvaged with a LOT of work and money). But if someone were to buy the land and open a park of any kind, it would be easy enough to design it in a way that favored the original. The entrance is still there, even though it's half torn down and very withered, but could easily be restored to it's former glory. I've always said they should just reopen it on a much smaller scale. Have the Dipper as the main attraction, some smaller rides, ferris wheels, etc. Game booths, good food, all that kind of stuff. Recreate that great walk way down the center with all the games and food that was so amazing back in the day. If someone was willing to do it, yes it would take a lot of money, but I think it would be a huge success and not all that difficult. The people of Cleveland would flock to it, not only out of nostalgia, but also just to stick it to Cedar Fair.

Unfortunately, there's nothing to get back. It would be one thing if the park was standing, abandoned, just waiting for someone to buy it and re-open it. That's not the case. Nothing is left. No rides. No food stands. No bathrooms. Nothing. It's a vacant lot. No doubt Cedar Fair wanted it that way, which is understandable. Why would they want to sell the park that could be competition to their own Cedar Point? Better to level it... :/

I grew up going to Geauga Lake Park, what great memories I have as a child of my parents and friends who went there. As an adult I worked there also, one of my son's first job was working there. The town of Streetsboro build large hotels to hold all the visitors that came, only to have a greedy company shut the park down. Cedar Point is too far and too expensive to visit so we are left with no place to take our grand kids that is close. The property is left in terrible condition, shame on Cedar Fair for their part of the ending of a wonderful area resort.

I grew up going to Geauga Lake Park, what great memories I have as a child of my parents and friends who went there. As an adult I worked there also, one of my son's first job was working there. The town of Streetsboro build large hotels to hold all the visitors that came, only to have a greedy company shut the park down. Cedar Point is too far and too expensive to visit so we are left with no place to take our grand kids that is close. The property is left in terrible condition, shame on Cedar Fair for their part of the ending of a wonderful area resort.

In reply to by davidm (not verified)

@RT ; "Shouka" was the whale at SFWoA in 2003.

http://orcapod.wikia.com/wiki/Category:Shouka

SFWoA _did_ have a killer whale (just not a "Shamu") after the Sea World whales were removed - it was "Shouka" (that Wikipedia article is a bit wrong).

See - http://orcapod.wikia.com/wiki/Category:Shouka

I would love to try to figure out how much it would be to rebuild. If Kentucky Kingdom can do it, why not Geauga Lake. This article both Sickens and Saddens me. As far as it being in the middle of Nowhere. That is true, but there was a City bus that took people to the location. Which made it great. I owned a seasons pass all 4 years it was SFWOA. I will and truly do miss that park. Who wants it back? How do we take control and get it back?

That article couldn't be any more biased against Cedar Fair. I get that CF was the last in a chain of bad decisions, but they alone are not responsible for the failures.

Those of you who are recounting watching the Shamu show at Six Flags are having memory issues too. All of the Killer whales were relocated to San Diego the year Sea World closed. If you want to look at why SFWOA failed, realize they bought a wildlife park WITHOUT its number 1 attraction. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_captive_orcas shows that all three were relocated when the park closed, not part of SFWoA.

That article couldn't be any more biased against Cedar Fair. I get that CF was the last in a chain of bad decisions, but they alone are not responsible for the failures.

Those of you who are recounting watching the Shamu show at Six Flags are having memory issues too. All of the Killer whales were relocated to San Diego the year Sea World closed. If you want to look at why SFWOA failed, realize they bought a wildlife park WITHOUT its number 1 attraction. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_captive_orcas shows that all three were relocated when the park closed, not part of SFWoA.

That article couldn't be any more biased against Cedar Fair. I get that CF was the last in a chain of bad decisions, but they alone are not responsible for the failures.

Those of you who are recounting watching the Shamu show at Six Flags are having memory issues too. All of the Killer whales were relocated to San Diego the year Sea World closed. If you want to look at why SFWOA failed, realize they bought a wildlife park WITHOUT its number 1 attraction. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_captive_orcas shows that all three were relocated when the park closed, not part of SFWoA.

It still makes me sad everytime I drive by. Locals should have been at least warned of the closing, given a chance to visit one last time. Imagine the profits that could have been made from all the locals coming for one last visit?!?

I do have to correct the author. Aurora OH isnt exactly the biggest city, but by no means is it an area with country roads and in amish country! Amish country is a mere hour away. There also are at least 10+ hotels within 10minutes from the park.

Brian thanks for the great article. I believe when SFWOA purchased SeaWorld Ohio it was the begin of the end for Geauga Lake. So sad. I have many great childhood memories of these two great parks. Thanks again.

Most falls of businesses are because of poor management and those not willing to listen to those with the experience of wisdom. We were just talking about this this summer and miss both GLP and Sea world very much, we loved them and wish so much we could take our grandchildren to someplace like them. They are too little to ride those rides at Cedar point..waste of money.

Really nice timeline on the park here. Well done and informative!

As an insider... I'm going to add #6: Poor Management

SFWOA: The two parks were run radically different (when separate)... merging the two management styles was chock full of failure. Sea World did it this way, GLP did it that way... and never the twain shall meet. Naturally that becomes a problem when you need to put someone at the helm. In my department, they chose a Sea Worlder, who stacked the management team with Sea Worlders. It quickly became a point of contention between the two teams. More confusingly, the PARK wanted to run like Geauga Lake, but the DEPARTMENT attempted to run like Sea World (due to above mentioned reasons)... chaos abounded.

GLP: Then came the Cedar Fair purchase. Park management was swapped out with sons and close-friends pf various Cedar Fair C-Levels. These folks were entirely unqualified to run a park of any kind, let alone one with a festering management problem. The house of cards collapsed.

I loved it as a pre-teen, too! It wasn't until years later when those wiser and more versed in the industry were able to say, "Hold on a second... Don't just use your memories and rose colored glasses. Think about it. Realize who was operating it, how they were operating it, and the real logistics of it." As I said in the article, conceptually, it was incredible. But the reality of it was crippling to the park. :/ I hate it, but it's true! I loved it.

In reply to by Erika Pfeiffer (not verified)

i, too, have never set foot in a cedar fair-owned park since.

I grew up enjoying many happy days at Geauga Lake. Haven't been to Cedar Point since Cedar Fair closed GL...so if eliminating the competition was their goal, it didn't necessarily work. I'm actually amused that Cedar Point has been dethroned as the number 1 park in the world.

I remember all of it. Many childhood summers spent visiting both Sea World and Geauga Lake. Lots of wonderful memories. When Six flags took over it was new and exciting, we had those passes and loved visiting. It was new, yet familiar. It was awesome. I was sad when it all closed, like a piece of my childhood was lost forever. I can't say I was a fan of Cedar Faire when they closed it, but I just recently visited Kings Island and Cedar Point with my kids and husband. Even those have lost some magic. Maybe I am still holding a grudge. Lol. Thanks for the nostalgia. It was a nice trip down memory lane.

I will never forget SFWOA.... When I visited the park as a teen, I absolutely loved the major move by Six Flags to combine the three parks. I remember watching the killer whale show, and I absolutely loved everything that Six Flags had done (as an outside visitor to the area). I honestly do not remember having many complaints about the park except for the fact that the massive size did make for one FULL day. For me, I will never complain about a full day of amusements and something new. The revisit value was there for me, but sadly.... never got the chance as an adult that can make those trips himself now. This will always be Six Flags' best park in the company's history to me.

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