This article needs additional citations for verification. (January 2007) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
|Slogan||The ocean is closer than you think! (1970–2000)|
|Location||1100 SeaWorld Drive, Aurora, Ohio, 44202|
|Owner||SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment|
|Opened||May 29, 1970|
|Closed||October 29, 2000|
|Previous names||Sea World of Ohio, SeaWorld Cleveland|
|Area||232 acres (94 ha)|
SeaWorld Ohio was a theme park and marine zoological park, located in Aurora, Ohio. It was owned and operated by SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, formerly known as Busch Entertainment Corporation. The Ohio location was the second SeaWorld park to be built in the chain, following SeaWorld San Diego which opened just six years earlier. The park was developed by George Millay, founder of the SeaWorld brand. Wildwater Kingdom, a waterpark built by Cedar Fair in 2005, occupied the property until its closure in September 2016.
SeaWorld Cleveland (1970–2000)
In 1966, Earl Gascoigne, marketing director at Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio, was impressed by the success of SeaWorld San Diego and eager to form a partnership with the park's founder, George Millay. Gascoigne spoke with Millay about building a second park near the Ohio amusement park. Millay was uncomfortable with the location and sales agreement, and declined to build there. Two years later, Millay and his team were looking to expand their brand eastward. The company was looking for a location between Detroit and Pittsburgh, as the land spanning between the two cities was the largest and highest-paid blue-collar population in the United States.
Earl Gascoigne had recently left Cedar Point to redevelop Geauga Lake, a struggling amusement park near Cleveland, with his colleague and friend Gasper Lococo. The men were searching for a way to increase attendance and revenue at Geauga Lake other than simply adding new attractions. Gascoigne took the opportunity to reconnect with George Millay. Now working with Funtime Inc., Earl Gascoigne convinced Millay to build the second SeaWorld park adjacent to Geauga Lake. The Ohio SeaWorld project was announced in 1968.
SeaWorld Cleveland, originally referred to as Sea World of Ohio, opened to the public on May 29, 1970, after nearly two years of planning and construction. Located approximately 20 miles southeast of Cleveland, in the Western Reserve city of Aurora, Ohio, the 25-acre marine park welcomed over 5,500 guests on its opening day. The oceanarium cost $5.5 million to build, but greatly exceeded the expectations of Millay and his team. In its first 100-day season, SeaWorld Cleveland doubled attendance predictions as more than 1.1 million people visited the park in 1970.
The marine park was beautifully landscaped, boasting hundreds of interesting trees and shrubs providing a rich backdrop and winning national awards. By the year 2000, SeaWorld Cleveland had grown to occupy 232 acres, but was restricted from adding roller coasters or water rides due to a non-compete clause with neighboring Geauga Lake.
Six Flags Worlds of Adventure (2001–2003)
Six Flags announced that it had reached an agreement to purchase SeaWorld Cleveland from Busch Entertainment Corporation on January 10, 2001, for $110 million. Six Flags combined the marine life park with the 520-acre Six Flags Ohio (Geauga Lake) along with their nearby campground and hotel properties. Busch Entertainment spokesman Fred Jacobs stated that the northern climate had no influence on the sale. The park was ultimately sold due to a competitive restriction clause with Geauga Lake that limited the growth of SeaWorld Cleveland under Busch Entertainment ownership.
Beginning in 2001, the park was named Six Flags Worlds of Adventure, boasting 750 acres. The property was divided into three sections—wild life, the former SeaWorld park; wild rides, formerly Geauga Lake; and wild slides, a 10-acre water park—all included in a single gate price. The sale of SeaWorld Cleveland did not include the killer whales or the park's dolphins. The killer whale show was replaced by three dolphins from Six Flags Discovery Kingdom until a new killer whale, Shouka, arrived on loan from a park in France. Along with new animal exhibits, Six Flags added two family rides and a Batman-themed water ski show. Six Flags president Gary Story announced that a five-year plan for the Ohio park included submarine, volcano, and rain forest attractions, as well as a monorail system for transportation.
Six Flags Ohio reported record attendance in 2000, reaching 1.7 million guests. After joining the parks as Worlds of Adventure in 2001, attendance jumped to 2.7 million visitors, but shy of the anticipated 3 million by park officials.
Geauga Lake & Wildwater Kingdom (2005–2007)
On March 10, 2004, Cedar Fair, parent company of Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio, announced that they would be acquiring the entire Six Flags Worlds of Adventure property. Cedar Fair purchased all 750 acres for $145 million, but Six Flags would retain ownership of the park's animals. Six Flags stated that the sale of the Ohio property would allow them to pay down debt and pursue other opportunities in North America.
Beginning in 2004, the park opened without the animal attractions and much of the former SeaWorld property restricted from guest access. Cedar Fair had reverted the park's name back to Geauga Lake for the 2004 season. Along with the removal of animal attractions, Cedar Fair was also forced to eliminate all Six Flags branding, including DC Comics and Looney Tunes, theming as licensing rights were not included in the sale.
Opening on June 17, 2005, Wildwater Kingdom would occupy 17 acres of the former SeaWorld Cleveland site. The addition of the waterpark saw the entire property being renamed Geauga Lake & Wildwater Kingdom for the 2005 season onward. A second phase to the waterpark was planned for 2006, including a wave pool, body slides, whirl pool, and swim-up bar, totaling $24 million for the two-year project and covering 20 acres. However, the expansion was scaled back; ultimately a 30,000-square-foot wave pool was added in 2006 at the cost of $5 million. The addition of Wildwater Kingdom was an attempt by Cedar Fair to offset the loss of animal attractions. Many of the structures in the marine life section of the park were demolished or refurbished to complement the new waterpark.
Attendance at Geauga Lake under Cedar Fair ownership dropped 74 percent from 2.7 million in 2001 to 700,000 in 2004. Attendance remained at 700,000 through the 2006 season. After the 2006 season, Cedar Fair removed three attractions, including the Dominator and Steel Venom roller coasters and Bel-Aire Express monorail, as well as shortening the operating season to 101 days and discontinuing Halloween events.
Wildwater Kingdom (2008–2016)
On September 21, 2007, Cedar Fair announced in a press release that the Aurora, Ohio, amusement park would become exclusively a waterpark for the 2008 season. Dick Kinzel, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Cedar Fair at the time, stated that Wildwater Kingdom was the attraction's most popular attribute. The company reported that the stand-alone waterpark is a better fit for the area and that they hope to draw a more local crowd.
Cedar Fair announced on August 19, 2016, that Wildwater Kingdom would not reopen for the 2017 season. The waterpark closed permanently on September 5, 2016. Demolition occurred in November 2017. In August 2020, ground was broken for a mixed-used development featuring 308 residential units, 20 acres of commercial space, and 98 acres of park land.
SeaWorld Cleveland had various attractions, including rides, exhibits, and live shows.
Rides and attractions
When SeaWorld acquired the Aurora property in 1970, the company agreed to a competitive restriction with Geauga Lake, which prevented them from adding roller coasters or water rides. Honoring the no-compete clause, Geauga Lake was restricted from adding animal attractions, while SeaWorld was limited to theaters and motion-based attractions. Instead of rides, there were several different playgrounds located within the park.
|Mission: Bermuda Triangle||2000||2003||A motion-based simulator ride that displayed undersea footage and special effects. The attraction was situated in a 12,000 square foot Quonset hut, containing four submarine style simulators giving guests the thrill of traveling underwater in the Bermuda Triangle. Mission: Bermuda Triangle was the largest capital investment made at the Ohio park, and the only ride added under SeaWorld ownership.|
|Pirates 4-D||1997||2003||A 4-D film first shown at SeaWorld Cleveland, featuring Leslie Nielsen and Eric Idle.|
|Shamu's Happy Harbor||1992||2007||A three-story net climbing structure and pirate ship playground. After the park was acquired by Six Flags in 2001, the attraction was known as Happy Harbor.|
|Cap'n Kids' World||1975||1991||Large pirate ship playground and ball pit. Portions of this attraction were retained for Shamu's Happy Harbor.|
The marine life park included many animal and cultural exhibits.
|Carnivore Park||1998||1999||An attraction featuring animatronic dinosaurs|
|Patagonia Passage||1996||2003||A habitat featuring Commerson's dolphin and Magellanic Penguin|
|Dolphin Cove||1995||2003||Dolphin Cove allowed guests to view, touch, and feed dolphins|
|Shark Encounter||1993||2003||A small exhibit where guests could view a frozen Great White Shark|
|Penguin Encounter||1985||2003||Guests could view dozens of penguins on "snow"-covered rocks and in the water|
|Sea Lion and Seal Community Pool||1982||2003||An outdoor pool and rock enclosure where guests could feed these seals and sea lions|
|World of the Sea Aquarium||1973||2003||The Ohio Triquarium held many species of colorful fish, as well as see-and-touch tide pools|
|Alligator Exhibit||1971||A small pen with 3 alligators and an overlook bridge for guests|
|Japanese Deer Park||1971||1984||A unique attraction to the park were the fallow and sika deer, which guests could pet and feed|
|Hawaiian Punch Village||1971|
|Seal Pool||1970||1981||A small set of pools for guests to feed the seals. Replaced by the larger Sea Lion and Seal Community Pool.|
|Trout Fishing Pond||1970||A small, freshwater pond stocked with Rainbow Trout where adults and kids could cast a line and catch a fish|
|Dolphin Pool||1970||1994||A small set of pools for guest to pet and feed Bottlenose Dolphins.|
|Japanese Village||1970||2003||Costumed Amas dove for oysters which provided pearls for jewelry sold within the park. Thousands of Koi filled the ponds in the village. The area was also dotted with cultural Japanese artifacts.|
SeaWorld Cleveland offered a wide variety of shopping and dining. Gift shops within the park held thousands of items from all over the world. Food locations served meals such as Whaleburgers along with fish and chips. The park also featured Polynesian dining. Snack stands sold popcorn, soft pretzels, ice cream, and soft drinks.
Several stadiums, theaters, and event pavilions made up the 50-acre theme park.
|Great Lakes Catering Reserve||Open-Air||2003||Four catering pavilions with food service|
|Harbor Theater||Enclosed||1997||2007||Large 4-D theater constructed for the 1997 season|
|Lakeside Pavilion||Open-Air||2003||Event pavilion located on the shore of Geauga Lake|
|Nautilus Theater (Olympic Theater)||Open-Air||1977||2003||Large, rectangular-shaped, stadium||
|Reserved Picnic Pavilions||Open-Air||1971||Several pavilions catered to group outings and picnics|
|Sea Lion and Otter Stadium||Open-Air||1970||2003||3,000 seat, seashell-shaped, stadium situated on a hill, allowing upper and lower access. Opened with the park in 1970.|
|Shamu Stadium||Open-Air||1970||2003||4,000 seat, seashell-shaped, stadium situated on a hill, allowing upper and lover access. Opened with the park in 1970.||
|Ski Stadium (Baywatch Stadium)||Open-Air||1971||2008||3,500 seat lakefront stadium on the shore of Geauga Lake. The Ohio park was the first in the SeaWorld chain to feature a water ski show and stadium. Due to extreme popularity, the stadium was expanded a few years after opening.||
|Woods Arena||Open-Air||1988||2003||Large, rectangular-shaped, stadium. The stadium remained standing until 2014, when it was scrapped.||
An 18-foot motorboat wrecked into the ski stadium audience of 4,000 people on August 17, 1996, injuring 22 people. Those injured aged from 2 to 78, and four were in critical condition. The boat was a part of the Baywatch Ski Show and crashed after a mechanical failure.
- "Theme Park Industry Mourns Death of Legendary George Millay; Visionary Founded the SeaWorld Marine Parks and Wet 'n Wild Orlando, the World's First Waterpark". www.businesswire.com. Retrieved 2017-12-24.
- Futrell, Jim (2015). Geauga Lake: The Funtime years 1969–1995. Charleston, South Carolina: Arcadia Publishing. pp. 91–108. ISBN 978-1-4671-1389-2.
- "Pittsburgh Post-Gazette – Google News Archive Search". news.google.com. Retrieved 2017-12-24.
- "Sea World Ohio: Old photos of Cleveland's forgotten theme park". cleveland.com. Retrieved 2017-12-24.
- "This is SeaWorld", SeaWorld, Inc., SeaWorld, Inc., 1975
- "SeaWorld to be Bought by Six Flags". news.google.com. Toledo Blade. 11 January 2001. Retrieved 10 August 2011.
- "Analysis: SeaWorld next steps can take cues from Orlando, Dollywood". Retrieved 2017-12-26.
- Entertainment, SeaWorld Parks &. "SeaWorld Announces Partnership with Miral to Develop SeaWorld Abu Dhabi". seaworldcares.com. Retrieved 2017-12-26.
- "Six Flags Worlds of Adventure includes sights from the sea". tribunedigital-mcall. Retrieved 2018-03-26.
- "The Vindicator – Google News Archive Search". news.google.com. Retrieved 2018-03-27.
- "Toledo Blade – Google News Archive Search". news.google.com. Retrieved 2018-03-27.
- "$145M sale of Six Flags solidifies Ohio market; Cedar Point's parent company to buy Cleveland-area competitor". Julie McKinnon. Toledo Blade. 3 November 2004. Retrieved 12 June 2015.
- "Six Flags agrees to sell Ohio park for $145M". Pittsburgh Business Times. Pittsburgh Business Times. 10 March 2004. Retrieved 12 June 2015.
- "Closing marine attractions catalyst for Geauga Lake's demise". Shaheen Samavati. The Plain Dealer. 25 September 2007. Archived from the original on February 2, 2001. Retrieved 12 June 2015.
- "Buckle up for a wild summer". The Blade. 2006-05-27. Retrieved 2018-03-27.
- "Geauga Lake's new twist". John Booth. Crain's Cleveland Business. 5 February 2007. Retrieved 12 June 2015.
- "Press Release". rcdb.com. Retrieved 2018-03-27.
- cwebb. "Cedar Fair to close Wildwater Kingdom, last remnant of Aurora's once-bustling theme park hub". www.ohio.com. Retrieved 2018-03-27.
- Gaetjens, Bob (August 25, 2020). "Renaissance Park at Geauga Lake". Record-Courier. Retrieved August 25, 2020.
- "SEAWORLD'S LATEST GOES UNDER THE SEA: NEWEST ATTRACTION TO TAKE RIDERS ON SIMULATED SUB RIDE – Crain's Cleveland Business". Crain's Cleveland Business. 2005-05-31. Retrieved 2017-12-26.
- 1971 SeaWorld Ohio Brochure
- 1970 SeaWorld Ohio Park Map
- 1977 SeaWorld Ohio Park Map and Guide
- "Boat Slams Into Crowd During Water Skiing Show, Injuring 22". tribunedigital-chicagotribune. Retrieved 2017-12-27.