Analysts ponder Geauga Lake land, reasons for park failure

Posted Tuesday, September 25, 2007 9:21 AM | Contributed by Jeff

Some analysts say executives' failure to recognize the drawing power of the superstar killer whale next door is why Geauga Lake ultimately couldn't bring in enough money to survive. The downward spiral of the 119-year-old amusement park in Bainbridge Township began around 2000 when Six Flags, Geauga Lake's owner at the time, bought neighboring SeaWorld and merged the parks.

Read more from The Plain Dealer.

The gates have closed at Geauga Lake, but questions are just beginning about what will take the amusement park's place. It's not every day that more than 400 acres in a flourishing pocket of Northeast Ohio comes on the market. Real estate experts said the future of the land is up for grabs.

Read more from The Plain Dealer.

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Tuesday, September 25, 2007 9:24 AM
Jeff's avatar Wow, the Vain Pleader actually got to the right conclusion. :) If you don't count the nonsense conspiracy theories, anyway.

I'm starting to be swayed that the burden of integrating the Paramount Parks did in fact hasten this, something I wasn't willing to consider at first, but I suspect the long-term outcome may have been the same. This market isn't going to automagically change any time soon.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007 9:47 AM
Just as you are being swayed by the Paramount deal, I'm being swayed by the "conspiracy theories". I've talked to a bunch of developers lately that are VERY successful about this situation. They said it's not unlikely Cedar Fair bought the park for the valuable land, easily relocatable rides and elimination of direct competition. They can easily infuse some "new" rides into their existing park lineup, make a pretty penny off the land sale and eliminate even a small piece of competition from their flagship park that is seeing stagnant attendance. As far as "conspiracies" go, I've seen theories way more difficult to believe.
Tuesday, September 25, 2007 10:06 AM
beast7369's avatar If that were true halltd, then why did they actually wait 3/4 years to pull the plug on it? Why wouldn't they just buy it and then close it right away? I am not sure that things would be different if Six Flags had it still or if it would have closed sooner. Yes Cedar Fair may have bought it for the land and rides but I suspect not since they did try to upright it.
Tuesday, September 25, 2007 10:14 AM
^ Maybe they kept it open for 3 years to build up the popularity of the waterpark.
Tuesday, September 25, 2007 10:20 AM
The only worthwhile investment they made in the park since they bought it was on the Sea World side and that's the part they are keeping. They did minimal painting, barely redid a restaurant and added a corn hole toss game on the rides side. To me, that doesn't say "we're trying to revitalize a park that needs to see a boost in attendance or it is going to close."
Tuesday, September 25, 2007 10:47 AM
I think they need to be more specific about the draw of the whale. It was the draw of Shamu and the Sea World "brand" that brought people to Aurora, Ohio. By and by, aquarium/sea life parks aren't doing gangbuster business outside of Shamu & Friends. And, those parks have had to move into the ride business to keep up with the Joneses.

Somewhere the other day I did say that I think the Paramount purchase is what made the decision on Geauga Lake get sped up. If that doesn't happen I think the park might have had a couple more seasons to show improvement.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007 11:24 AM
eightdotthree's avatar halltd, they also added a brand new picnic area and catering service for corporate picnics. If they were planning on selling that land they would have built the picnic and catering service on the water park side of the lake.
Tuesday, September 25, 2007 11:35 AM
Keeping in mind I haven't read much of or kept up with the Reader's Digest series that is the Geauga Lake closing saga, but...

what if their sale with Six Flags stipulated they could not close the park for four years? Or there was just some other prohibitive clause that prevented an immediate closing?

But without question, it definitely seems the Paramount acquisition helped a lot of the moons to align on this one...

Tuesday, September 25, 2007 11:43 AM
Why would Six Flags care if or when they were closing the park? I'm not sure I see the correlation there.
Tuesday, September 25, 2007 12:02 PM
OhioStater's avatar Hi, Im a dead horse. Would you like to beat me?

The bottom line:

Not enough people wanted to pay to ride the rides as GL.


Tuesday, September 25, 2007 12:09 PM
And now, I shall speak on the subject of Cedar Fair's REAL plans for GL:

To say that they had some masterful, nefarious plan for closing the park Just Plain Gives 'Em Too Much Credit! They aren't that bright! If they were, the park would still be open and they wouldn't have 'not been' looking for a buyout this summer!

The other myth that needs to be permanently smashed is that CF would make any park suddenly profitable, better looking, more marketable and more just because they're the Second Coming of the Almighty Theme Park Management Messiah. Not to say they're bumbling boobs. But alla that? Nuh uh.


Tuesday, September 25, 2007 12:16 PM
Since we won't ever know GL's individual numbers, that will never be claimed with authority. Your period should be a question mark.
Tuesday, September 25, 2007 12:20 PM
OhioStater's avatar Im assuming youre referring to my post about attendance, and I dont need to see numbers, I went to the park, and each time I was there I had the place to myself.


Tuesday, September 25, 2007 12:27 PM
I was there seven times this year, and the crowds varied from non-existent to packed. All in all, I would have to describe it as a mild uptick from last year.

It is interesting that some of the people who gave the most cheerful assessments of the park over the season are now among the most stubborn defenders of the chain's decision. Must be some sort of cognitive disconnect going around.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007 12:32 PM
OhioStater's avatar Well then at least I'm consistent. Unfortunately, and obviously contradictory to many people's opnions, I always felt it was, in a word, lifeless.

But I think you illustrated my point. The attendance needed a lot more than a mild uptick.

I dont feel a need to "defend" Cedar Fair, I just understand why they did it, think it was a good decision, and think it was stupid to ever get involved with the park in the first place.

That said, I think they made the best out of a no-win situation.

*** This post was edited by OhioStater 9/25/2007 12:43:00 PM ***

Tuesday, September 25, 2007 12:41 PM
^You're right Skipper because once it was out of SFI's hands they were free of the responsibility & could care less.Honestly I'm getting sick of hearing about these conspiracy theories & how ACER's want to lobby local government to force CF's hand on the matter.

Radical rightwing anitabortion groups have much more political influence then a bunch of roller coaster enthusiasts who are upset over a local park shutting down a portion of it's business.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007 12:59 PM
^ Dude, give it a rest. No one wanted to hear you babble on and on about your oh-so-perfect SFA not getting a new ride for years. "Waaahhhh, where's my mine train?"

For crying out loud, this is big news and people are going to discuss it to death. I'd say far bigger news than SFA not getting that B&M stand-up hyper flume ride you were so sure they going to get. Because YOU are getting sick and tired of hearing it, it should all just come to a sudden halt? No one's forcing you to read about Geauga Lake, just like no one forced me to read your crap about SFA and your recent AstroWorld analogies that have popped up in about 200 different places.

Ray P.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007 1:58 PM
I'm a bit surprised at the uproar in the enthusiast world about this. Pretty much every trip report I've read about GL talked about how empty & lame the place was. Now everyone is upset.

We were able to go to the Q&A session at CoasterMania this year, and if there's one thing I gleaned from it, it's that Kinzel & Co. think their decisions out thoroughly. Many decisions that seemed haphazard, silly or just plain stupid to us coaster nerds made a lot of sense after hearing the background analysis behind the decision, much of which the enthusiast world wasn't privy to. I don't doubt that closing GL is a similar situation.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007 2:02 PM
Well said.

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