The entrance to Geauga Lake
|Slogan||"2 great parks for the price of 1"|
|Location||Bainbridge Township and Aurora, Ohio, United States|
|Owner||Cedar Fair Entertainment Company|
|Closed||September 16, 2007|
Geauga Lake - 1887 to 2000, 2004
|Operating season||May through September|
|Area||550 acres (223 ha)|
Geauga Lake was an amusement park located in Bainbridge Township and Aurora, Ohio, United States, founded in 1887. On September 21, 2007, Cedar Fair, the park's owner, announced that the traditional amusement park would close down and that the property would operate solely as a water park, beginning in the 2008 season. The water park is still open today as Wildwater Kingdom.
Pre-amusement park era
Geauga Lake was originally known as "Picnic Lake" or "Giles Pond." The Geauga Lake area was home to early settlers such as the Staffords, Mark Patterson, Capt. Simon Henry with his wife Rhoda Parsons and their children, Charles Swires, the Brewsters, and Bohan Blair. There is currently a city park and ballfields on East Boulevard in Aurora, named after this lake. Sullivan Giles chose this area for his log cabin in 1817. He later built a large frame home on the spot behind Geauga Lake depot on the north side of the lake. When the railroad came to town in 1856, it made a stop at "pond station". Giles took advantage of his scenic lake location and, in the last half of the 19th century, established picnic grounds, a dance hall, and other entertainment near his home for the all day pleasure of residents and those taking the train to the country for a getaway.
Geauga Lake opened for picnics and swimming in 1872. An 1880 history of Geauga County reported that the Giles residence "being easy of access by rail, has become, within a few years, a very popular place of resort during the summer months, for fishing, picnic, and excursion parties" and that "for the convenience of such parties, Mr. Giles has recently erected a hall of considerable size near the lake. The surrounding grounds are kept clean and attractive, and, without exception, this is the most charming place to spend a leisure day to be found in this section."  At the time, a full-sized steamboat circled the lake, towing a large scow, topped with a dance floor. The boat, first owned by William Banford and Rowe Fuller, was later purchased by the Kents. In 1907, the boat was shipped by rail to Brady Lake near Kent.
Geauga Lake amusement park
Geauga Lake park itself was established in 1887. Three major league baseball games were played on Sundays at Geauga Lake in 1888 (plus a Thursday exhibition game) by the Cleveland Forest Citys of the major league American Association. By 1889, the park installed its first ride, a steam-powered carousel. More rides would follow.
William J. Kuhlman expanded the park in 1925. At that time, Geauga Lake built the Big Dipper, the then-largest wooden roller coaster of its time, 2,800 feet (850 m) long and 65 feet (20 m) high. Geauga Lake's Olympic-sized swimming pool was built, and it stayed in operation until the mid-1960s. On Sunday, July 11, 1926, Olympic medalist and Tarzan actor Johnny Weissmuller set a new world record in the 220-yard free style swim in the pool in front of 3,000 spectators. Lake swimming also continued over the coming decades. Many amusement parks at the time had race tracks, dance halls, and sometimes a theater and bowling alley, making them year round attractions. The race track was added in 1931, although it closed in 1969. The theater, dance hall, and bowling alley were also added around the same time. In 1937, the park's 1926 hand-carved Marcus Illions Carousel was added, after having been located in Philadelphia and Birmingham, at a cost of $35,000.
In 1942, a tornado hit the park, injuring six, destroying buildings, and damaging the Big Dipper. The park reported $50,000 in damages, but it quickly rebuilt. In July 1944, Viola Schryer ("Vi") took over management of the park after the death of her uncle William Kuhlman.
In 1952, a fire destroyed the park's bowling alley, theater, dance hall and roller rink with damages estimated at $500,000. At that time the park became strictly a seasonal amusement park, beach, and swimming area. The pool was closed and razed in the early 1960s, but lake swimming continued.
In 1969, Funtime Incorporated purchased the park. The focus continued to be rides and swimming. The racetrack closed and was razed in 1969. In 1970 a marine life park, SeaWorld Ohio, was built across the lake from the amusement park and swimming area on land leased from Funtime. SeaWorld and Geauga Lake were friendly neighbors for 30 years. SeaWorld focused on marine life and shows, while Geauga Lake focused on thrill rides and swimming. SeaWorld was purchased by Harcourt Brace Jovanovich in 1976 and later by Busch Entertainment Corp in late 1989.
In 1972, the Gold Rush log flume water ride was added, and two years later Geauga Lake added the Skyscraper, which took passengers up 21 stories for views of the park. Admission to the park was free until 1972. Until then, rides on various attractions were purchased on a pay-as-you-go basis. Beginning in 1973, the park converted to an admission charge with a pay-one-price for all the rides and attractions. The Geauga Dog became the park's mascot and would remain so until 1999. In 1976, the park added the Wildcat compact steel roller coaster, and a year later the park added the Double Loop, a looping steel coaster. For a time, the park ran a short-lived series of TV commercials featuring Geauga Dog and a singing, dancing adolescent boy performing a song about the park. The boy's off-key singing and awful dancing were deliberate, a means of getting viewers to notice the ad. It succeeded.
Corkscrew coaster made its debut in 1978, making Geauga Lake the second (or third) amusement park in Ohio (Cedar Point in Sandusky being the first and Euclid Beach Park in the East Cleveland suburb of Euclid being the second, which closed in 1969) and one of the first amusement parks anywhere to have two looping coasters. Swimming in the lake continued to be a feature at the park, and in 1983, the park added Boardwalk Shores, which featured a paddleboat marina, a new bath house, a children's swimming pool area and water slides. A year later, The Wave, the only authentic tsunami wave pool in the Midwest at the time, opened to rave reviews.
In 1986, more children's rides were added and themed as Rainbow Island, a children's dry ride area. Stingray water slides and the Euroracer Grand Prix rides were added.
In 1988, Geauga Lake celebrated its centennial by introducing the Raging Wolf Bobs, a wooden roller coaster with a hybrid twister/out and back design modeled after the original Bobs roller coaster at Chicago's defunct Riverview Park. Two years later, the park re-themed the children's water area as Turtle Beach, which was advertised as the ultimate children's water playground. Geauga Lake expanded its midway with The Mirage and the $2.1 million Texas Twister in the early 1990s.
A corporate deal in 1995 saw Premier Parks acquiring Funtime, giving Geauga Lake a new owner. Premier Parks invested $9 million in new rides, including the Mind Eraser (a steel looping shuttle Boomerang roller coaster) and Grizzly Run, a water rapids ride designed by Intamin. These attractions opened in 1996, and the Corkscrew was closed and sold and moved to Dizzee World in Chennai, Tamil Nadu India. The next year, the park expanded its water area by 32,000 square feet (3,000 m2) with Hook's Lagoon. Several new water slides were also added.
In 1998, Premier Parks purchased Six Flags from Time Warner. Serial Thriller, later known as Thunderhawk, was added. The next year, Americana, Time Warp, and an up-charge attraction Skycoaster were added. Premier Parks re-branded Geauga Lake in 2000 as Six Flags Ohio.
Six Flags era
In 2000, Geauga Lake received a $40 million expansion and became Six Flags Ohio. As part of that expansion, the park received 20 new rides, including four new roller coasters. A junior roller coaster called Road Runner Express, a wooden roller coaster called Villain, a Floorless roller coaster called Batman: Knight Flight and an Inverted impulse roller coaster called Superman: Ultimate Escape. Also added was a new shoot the chute water ride named Shipwreck Falls and a new wave pool in the water park. The old wave pool was razed, filled, and used for a new Looney Tunes themed kids' area.
Busch Entertainment determined that its SeaWorld parks should feature roller coasters, water rides, and other attractions to supplement the marine displays and shows, and the company began de-emphasizing the educational aspects of its parks. They began modifying their Orlando, San Antonio, and to a lesser extent their San Diego parks to reflect this. Due to Six Flags Ohio's close proximity, as well as the fact that the SeaWorld side of the lake had height restrictions, Busch approached Six Flags about buying the Six Flags park. Six Flags then made a counter offer to instead buy SeaWorld Ohio. That winter, Six Flags purchased SeaWorld for $110 million in cash, merging the two complexes into one, and changing the entire complex's name to Six Flags Worlds of Adventure. The SeaWorld side became known as the "Wild Life" area and remained primarily marine life shows, with a few portable children's rides placed throughout. In 2002, Shamu was replaced by Shouka, who came on a breeding loan from Marineland in Antibes, France. The original amusement park area became known as the "Wild Rides" area and continued expansion with a Vekoma Flying roller coaster called X-Flight. The small water park area also continued, so the park was marketed as "Three Parks for One Price".
In hopes to expand the water park area, the addition of Hurricane Mountain, the then-largest water slide complex in North America, occurred in 2003 and the water park area was later renamed Hurricane Harbor.
Cedar Fair era
Facing financial difficulties across its chain and high debt, Six Flags considered selling the park. Two months before the 2004 season, a sale to Cedar Fair, owner of Cedar Point located 85 miles (137 km) away, was announced. The deal was finalized less than a month later for $145 million. The park was immediately "unflagged", "unbranded", and reverted to the name Geauga Lake. The Six Flags Looney Tunes characters and superhero branding was removed. To conform with copyright laws, the names of many of the rides and roller coasters were changed. The Hurricane Harbor water park area was renamed Hurricane Hannah's Waterpark and the marine life side was shut down immediately before opening. The animals were retained by Six Flags. While most of the marine area was razed, the amusement park area attractions and rides remained the same except for name changes.
As part of Cedar Fair's 2004 purchase of Geauga Lake, many of the coasters received new names as Cedar Fair does not own the rights to DC Comics characters. Below is a list of renamed rides:
- Batman: Knight Flight lost the Batman theming and opened in 2004 under the name of Dominator
- Mind Eraser was renamed Head Spin
- Serial Thriller was renamed Thunderhawk
- Superman: Ultimate Escape was renamed Steel Venom
- Road Runner Express was renamed the Beaver Land Mine Ride
In 2005, Cedar Fair invested $26 million in Wildwater Kingdom, a new water park on the former SeaWorld site, which resulted in the name being altered slightly to Geauga Lake & Wildwater Kingdom. The Wildwater Kingdom side had about six water slides and a children's water play area. The Hurricane Hannah area remained.
In 2006, Wildwater Kingdom was expanded to include Tidal Wave Bay. The Hurricane Hannah area was then shut down, leaving Wildwater Kingdom as the remaining water park. The season was also scaled back, eliminating the spring and fall weekend operations and opening strictly between Memorial Day and Labor Day with one last weekend in mid-September. At the end of the season, the X-Flight roller coaster was removed, as well as Steel Venom (formerly Superman The Ultimate Escape). The X-Flight was relocated to Kings Island and opened as Firehawk in 2007. Steel Venom was relocated to Dorney Park, where it opened for the 2008 season as Voodoo, until 2009 when it was renamed Possessed.
In 2007, the summer-only operation of Geauga Lake continued. Rumors ranging from the total closing of Geauga Lake to closing everything except the water park to scaling back the rides area even more were rampant. Cedar Fair refused to comment on the rumors. The 2007 Oktoberfest held on September 14–16, 2007, was the final weekend for the amusement park. On Friday, September 21, 2007, Cedar Fair announced its decision to not reopen the ride side of Geauga Lake park and that Wildwater Kingdom side would reopen exclusively as a water park called Geauga Lake's Wildwater Kingdom. This led to efforts to save Geauga Lake, especially landmarks such as the Big Dipper and the Carousel, including an online petition and letters to public officials.
Cedar Fair has placed the land of amusement park side of the park up for sale. The remaining rides and remnants were auctioned separately on June 17, 2008. Many returned to the park for one last visit on the June 16 auction preview day and the June 17 auction.
As of January 2013, the Geauga Lake side is still for sale and projects similar to Crocker Park in Westlake, Ohio are being considered. Bainbridge Township and Cedar Fair hope to have it resolved by the end of 2013. In March 2013, Cedar Fair announced that they are putting Geauga Lake's property up for sale again. Unlike before, they are willing to sell the land in parcels.
Fate of Geauga Lake's coasters
- Beaver Land Mine Ride: Sold to Papea City amusement park in Yvré-l'Evêque, France
- Big Dipper: Currently still standing on the property. A potential sale to two enthusiasts in September 2010 fell through. Fate is currently unknown.
- Dominator: Now open at Kings Dominion
- Double Loop: Demolished, sold to Cleveland Scrap for $25,000
- Head Spin: Now open at Carowinds as Carolina Cobra
- Raging Wolf Bobs: Demolished. Purchased for $2,500 at auction; some wood and track sold in online auctions; steel track, station, and all mechanical elements removed in 2008; part of track and car donated to Geauga County Historical Society; Full demolition of coaster took place in July 2012, more than five years after the ride last operated
- Steel Venom: Now open at Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom as Possessed
- Thunderhawk: Now open at Michigan's Adventure
- Villain: Demolished, sold to Cleveland Scrap for $2,500
- X-Flight: Now open at Kings Island as Firehawk
Past coasters and attractions
The number of former attractions at the park reflects the different visions each of the owners had for the park. Below are some of the park's former rides that have been demolished or are now operating at another amusement park.
|Ride||Year Opened||Year Closed||Description|
|Americana||1999||2007||Ferris wheel, now open at Kings Dominion|
|Bayern Curve||1974||1980||Schwarzkopf Bayern Kurve|
|Beaver Land Mine Ride||2000||2007||Zierer steel kiddie coaster, now operates at Papea City in Yvré-l'Evêque, France|
|Big Dipper||1925||2007||John A. Miller wooden coaster. The park officially became an amusement park when this coaster opened. The ride formerly served as the park entrance gate. Former Names: The Clipper and Sky Rocket.|
|Big Ditch||1973||1985||Boat ride|
|Black Squid||1970||2007||Eyerly Spider, relocated to Kings Dominion but was in too poor of condition to reassemble|
|Boardwalk Typhoon||2007||Eli Bridge Scrambler, sold to Schlitterbahn water parks|
|Bounty||2001||2007||Chance Sea Dragon, sold to Schlitterbahn water parks|
|Bug||1977||Traver Tumble Bug|
|Carousel||1937||2007||Marcus Illions Grand Carousel, relocated to Worlds of Fun in 2011|
|Corkscrew||1978||1995||Arrow Dynamics corkscrew steel coaster, Relocated to MGM Dizzee World as Roller Coaster since 1996.|
|Cyclone||1976||1980||Pinfari Z47 portable coaster|
|Dominator||2000||2007||Bolliger & Mabillard floorless steel coaster, now open at Kings Dominion|
|El Dorado||1983||2007||Weber 1001 Nachts pendulum ride. Moved to Kings Dominion but was closed in 2011 to make room for WindSeeker|
|Double Loop||1977||2007||Arrow Dynamics double looping steel coaster, demolished|
|Euroracers Grand Prix||1987||1999||Go Karts|
|Ferris Wheel||1969||1998||Eli Bridge Ferris Wheel|
|Ferry Boats||2001||2005||Two Ferry Boats operated as Cuyahoga Queen and Aurora Belle|
|Flying Scooters||1958||1999||Flying Scooters|
|Geauga Lake Stadium||1970's||2008||Lakeside stadium originally built to host Sea World's water-ski shows|
|Geauga Queen||1980||Boat ride|
|Giant Slide||1980||Sack slide|
|Grizzly Run||1996||2007||Intamin Water rapids ride|
|Harbor Theatre||1998||2007||4-D Cinema|
|Hay Baler||1976||2007||Mack Matterhorn|
|Head Spin||1996||2007||Vekoma steel boomerang coaster, now open at Carowinds as Carolina Cobra|
|Hook's Lagoon||1997||2004||Water tree house|
|Kidworks Playzone||2000||2007||Kiddie rides area, rides located to Cedar Point in the Planet Snoopy section of the park|
|LEGO Racers 4-D||2007||2007||4-D Cinema film|
|Lighthouse Cruise||1985||2000||Boat ride|
|Merry Oldies||1972||2007||Arrow Dynamics Antique Cars|
|Mission: Bermuda Triangle||2000||2004||Simulator film|
|Mr. Hyde's Nasty Fall||1997||2005||Intamin first generation freefall, scraped parts for Demon Drop|
|Muzik Express||1978||2002||Spinning Himalaya-type ride|
|Palace Theatre||1977||2007||Entertainment Venue that was the park's Fun House from the 1940s through 1976|
|Pepsi Plunge||1972||2007||Log Flume|
|Pirates 4-D Adventure||1998||2004||4-D Cinema film|
|Power City Stage||1993||2007||Amphitheatre|
|Raging Wolf Bobs||1988||2007||Summers/Dinn wooden coaster, to be scrapped soon|
|Ripcord||1999||2007||Skycoaster, currently still standing|
|Robots of Mars||2005||2006||4-D Cinema film|
|Shark Attack||2003||2005||Water slide tower|
|Shipwreck Falls||2000||2007||Shoot-the-Chutes water ride|
|Silver Bullet||1976||2003||HUSS Park Attractions enterprise ride|
|Skyscraper||1974||2007||Observation tower, demolished|
|Starfish||2003||2007||Spinning family ride|
|Steel Venom||2000||2006||Intamin impulse steel coaster, now open at Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom as Possessed|
|Texas Twister||1993||2007||The first HUSS top spin in America, now open at California's Great America as Firefall|
|Thunder Alley Speedway||1998||2007||Go-karts|
|Thunderhawk||1998||2007||Vekoma SLC steel inverted coaster, now open at Michigan's Adventure|
|Time Warp||1999||2007||Chance-Morgan inverter thrill ride|
|Villain||2000||2007||Wooden/steel hybrid coaster built by Custom Coasters International (CCI), demolished|
|The Wave||1984||1999||Wave pool|
|Wild Mouse||1958||1970s||Schiff wild mouse coaster|
|X-Flight||2001||2006||Vekoma flying steel coaster, now open at Kings Island as Firehawk|
|Yo-Yo||1976||2007||Chance-Morgan Yo-Yo chairswing ride, now open at Carowinds|
Previous names and management
It is not uncommon for amusement parks to be sold and this property has changed hands a number of times, although there were only four ownership changes in the 124 year span from 1872 to 1996.
The park was originally two parks- Geauga Lake and SeaWorld Ohio. Geauga Lake became Six Flags Ohio in 2000; before the 2001 season SeaWorld was purchased by Six Flags and the entire complex was combined and renamed Six Flags Worlds of Adventure.
|Amusement Park||Marine Park|
|1872||Giles Pond / Picnic Lake||Sullivan Giles||-Same-|
|1888||Geauga Lake||Alexander G. Kent||-Same-|
|1925||Geauga Lake||William J. Kuhlman||-Same-|
|1945||Geauga Lake||Carl Adrion, Harvey Schryer, & Charles Schryer||-Same-|
|1968||Geauga Lake||Funtime Inc.||Gaspar Lococo, Earl Gascoigne, Dale Van Voorhis, & Milford Jacobson|
|1970||SeaWorld Ohio||SeaWorld||Milton C. Shedd, Ken Norris, David Dement, and George Millay|
|1976||SeaWorld Ohio||Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc.|
|Fall 1989||SeaWorld Ohio||Anheuser-Busch||Daniel Trausch|
|1996||Geauga Lake||Premier Parks||Gaspar Lococo|
|1998||Geauga Lake||Six Flags|
|2000||Six Flags Ohio||Six Flags||Jack Bateman, Daniel Trausch, Joe Costa|
|Combined Amusement/Marine Park|
|2001-2003||Six Flags Worlds Of Adventure||Six Flags||Rick McCurly|
|Combined Amusement/Water Park|
|2004||Geauga Lake||Cedar Fair||Bill Spehn|
|2005–2007||Geauga Lake & Wildwater Kingdom||Cedar Fair||Bill Spehn|
- Wilson, Marcelle; Richard Fetzer (2007). Images of America: Aurora. Arcadia Publishing. p. 14. ISBN 978-0738550558.
- Pioneer and General History of Geauga County. Historical Society of Geauga County. 1880. p. 143.
- The Plain Dealer. July 23, 30 and August 27, 1888.
- Francis, David; Diane Francis (2004). Cleveland Amusement Park Memories. p. 55. ISBN 978-1-886228-89-4.
- The Plain Dealer. July 12, 1926.
- Francis & Francis, p. 62
- The Plain Dealer. August 24, 1942.
- Francis & Francis, p. 65
- The Plain Dealer. July 27, 1944.
- Francis & Francis, p. 68
- "Geauga Lake to become Six Flags Ohio". The Vindicator. December 8, 1999. Retrieved January 2, 2013.
- "Six Flags agrees to sell Ohio park for $145M". Pittsburgh Business Times. March 10, 2004. Retrieved July 5, 2012.
- "Geauga Lake Park Maps". GeaugaLakeToday.com. 2012. Retrieved January 20, 2012.
- Hovey, Brent (September 26, 2007). "Geauga Lake silences rides; water park stays". Aurora Advocate. Retrieved January 20, 2012.
- "A Final Goodbye". GeaugaLakeToday.com. Retrieved January 20, 2012.
- Lahmers, Ken (October 3, 2012). "Mixed uses for Geauga Lake land suggested in city master plan". Aurora Advocate. Retrieved November 22, 2012.
- Arnold, Dave (January 15, 2013). "Bainbridge Township residents complain about abandoned Geauga Lake eyesore". WEWS-TV. Retrieved January 26, 2013.
- Bullard, Stan. "Geauga Lake land will be sold -- in pieces". Crain's Cleveland Business. Retrieved March 5, 2013.
- Wendel, Kim (2008-10-22). "Geauga Lake: Where is it a year after closing? | wkyc.com". WKYC. Retrieved 2013-03-22.
- "Burton: Century Village gets section of Geauga Lake Raging Wolf Bobs, coaster car". wkyc.com. 2008-08-22. Retrieved 2013-03-22.
- Wendel, Kim (October 2008). "Geauga Lake: Where is it a year after closing?". WKYC-TV.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Geauga Lake.|
- Geauga Lake at the Roller Coaster DataBase
- Official Site of Wildwater Kingdom
- Aurora Historical Society, has a large collection of GL and Sea World items and history
- Geauga Lake Today- Celebrating the past, present, and future of a Northeast Ohio institution
- SeaWorldOhioMemories - memories of former SeaWorld Ohio & Six Flags: Worlds of Adventure - Wildlife Side
- Geauga Lake Photos at PointPics.com
- Ryder, Diane (2009-06-09). "Wildwater Kingdom survives". The News-Herald. Retrieved 2009-06-09.