Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Geauga Lake - A Final RIP

My cousin Karl sent me this:

For those of you who may not be aware, the owners of Geauga Lake Amusement Park have closed the rides portion of the park as we all know it. The park was purchased by the owners of Cedar Point a few years ago. Since that time, rumors have persisted that they planned to close Geauga Lake to eliminate competition for Cedar Point and broaden the marketing area for Cedar Point at the same time. In recent years, they started to remove some of the most popular rides and send them to their other parks. They also raised the admission prices while letting the park fall into disrepair. The consensus was that employees in recent years were rude and didn't really care any more. As a result, Geauga Lake attendance declined in recent years.

In late September 2007, after Geauga Lake had closed for the season, they announced that the rides portion of the park would not reopen this season. They have transformed the old Sea World side of the park to an all-water park area now. They plan to continue that plan on that side of the lake. But, all rides have either been moved or will be moved to other parks they own or sold. The land has been offered to developers who would remove anything remaining and convert the area into some combination of retail and/or homes. They do not want to let the park reopen for any other entity.

Last Tuesday, June 17th, a company from Michigan auctioned off anything that Cedar Point ownership decided not to move to one of their other parks. I attended that auction with another approximately 400+ people.

Notably, the old Big Dipper roller coaster which debuted in 1925 and is either the 7th or 9th oldest working coaster in the country (depending on who you listen to) sold at auction for $5,000 (five thousand) including all the track and 8 coaster cars. It was sad to see. For less than the price of a used car, someone could have this piece of history. Of course, it will be a significant cost to dismantle, move and reassemble the coaster on another location. Before the Big Dipper was auctioned, the auctioneer announced that it had been offered free to A.C.E. (The American Coaster Enthusiasts who recognize and honor such historical coasters) if they would move it to another location, but said A.C.E. did not want it. At that time, a lady who apparently was the past President of A.C.E. yelled to everyone "THAT IS NOT TRUE!" The auctioneer asked for security to remove the person from the grounds. But, they did allow her to remain. Cedar Fair (the owners of Cedar Point) claim they have made this offer to A.C.E. but the current people at A.C.E. said they are not aware of any such offer. They likely really do not have the means to pay for the move of the coaster even if they wanted to. And, they own no land to move it to. So, there is a big dispute if it was legitimately offered to ACE or not.

The winning bidder owns an equipment moving company in Akron. He said he was bidding on behalf of someone else who he would not disclose. He said that person would make an announcement in the future. His understanding is that the Big Dipper would be moved and saved as more of a memorabilia piece but likely not as an operational coaster any more.

The same bidder also was the winning and only bidder for the Raging Wolf Bobs coaster which the park built in the late 80's for several million dollars. That coaster will also be expensive to relocate. That coaster sold for $2,500 (two-thousand five hundred) but did NOT include any cars.

A scrap metal company from Cleveland won the bid for both the Double Loop coaster built in 1977 and the Villain coaster built in the 1990's. Both coasters were built for several million dollars at the times. The Double loop sold at auction for $25,000 and the much larger and newer Villain coaster sold for $30,000. The understanding is that these rides will not resurface anywhere else. The scrap dealer may double or triple their money by simply scrapping these rides for the value of the metal they contained..... sad again.

The old Sky Needle ride auctioned off for $12,500. Not sure what the plans are for that. A guy from Texas bought a bunch of things to move to a park in somewhere in Kansas. This included a huge kiddie area with all kinds of stuff for about $47,500. Again, that area costs several million dollars when it was built sometime in the 90's. Large 2,400 square foot picnic pavilions in great shape sold for anywhere between $700 and $1,000 each. An old Scrambler ride (still operational) sold for
something like $3,000. The Himalaya ride that was moved to Western Village area at Geauga lake and renamed the Hay Bailer with a fancy building built around it was sold in it's entirety for $4,000. They most expensive item I was aware of sold for $80,000 which was a newer attraction that would lift a couple people at a time high into the air and then release them (in a tight harness) to swing freely in the air until coming to a stop. Not for the faint of heart. That ride could more easily be broken down for transport and reassembled at another location.
There are many more details on various websites about the auction. Overall, it was very sad to see but somehow I needed to be there for the closure. Geauga Lake as you knew it is no more.

Three memories of Ge
auga Lake came to mind when I was reading this:

1) Seeing Geauga Dog, the park's mascot, when we were in line for the Big Dipper one time - I was probably about 7 or 8. It was a BIG DEAL! I ALWAYS looked for Geauga Dog, but he was pretty mysterious. I think I may have only seen him a handful of times after going there every year for much of my young life.
After all these years, we meet again, Geauga Dog!

2) The Raging Wolf Bobs (has to be the world's dumbest name EVER for a roller coaster) On our 8th grade trip there, my (now deceased) childhood friend Karen Phipps called it "wicked." My friends and I laughed at her choice of word since it was a pretty tame ride by our standards.

3) A trip out there with my grandparents and my brother. I was about 9 or 10. I remember spending a lot of time in line for the water slides and they had TV's for the waiting area (first time I ever saw such a thing!) and they played a rotation of three videos - one was You Can Do Magic by America and I think another was a Pointer Sisters song. Whenever I hear any of those songs, it takes me right back there - on the wooden steps in my bare feet, getting splashed by water as people went down the slides above us. And Gramp and my brother Brian goofing off as they used to do.
* Update - The Pointer Sisters song was "Slow Hand"

Oh! And a bonus memory - when I was about 12, the over-the-shoulders safety harness of the Double Loop came off me as we went around the first loop. The second loop was pretty darn scary! That could have been a class trip tragedy now that I look back on it.

I guess it's official - Geauga Lake is now my generation's Euclid Beach.

For more Geauga Lake memories, go to
(And thanks for the great pics!)

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