Cedar Fair to close Wildwater Kingdom at Geauga Lake permanently

Posted Friday, August 19, 2016 7:04 PM | Contributed by Jeff

Cedar Fair has announced that it will permanently close its Wildwater Kingdom in Ohio. From the statement:

Cedar Fair Entertainment Company has announced that Wildwater Kingdom water park in Aurora, Ohio, will not reopen after the 2016 season. Its final day of operation will be Monday, September 5.

Cedar Fair has been working cooperatively with both Bainbridge Township and the City of Aurora to redevelop the entire property into what will best benefit the surrounding communities. After examining its long-range plans, Cedar Fair has determined that the time is right to begin this transition and will continue to work together with community leadership in the positive future development of the property.

Cedar Fair would like to thank the residents of Northeast Ohio for supporting Wildwater Kingdom each summer.

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Saturday, August 20, 2016 11:25 AM

Is Wildwater Kingdom the last stand-alone, miles-away-from-anything water park in the CF chain? If so, maybe part of the company's plan is to finally rid themselves of tiny properties that aren't closely associated with a major theme/amusement park. It would make sense in a way, at least they would eliminate the staffing, management, and operations at remote locations. Those jobs could easily overlap at the others, saving time and money.

I looked at the Cedar Fair website, and I'm a little confused. It's clear that Cedar Point's and Knotts' amusement parks and water parks have separate gates and admission charges. A season pass of some sort gets you both. It may be worth noting that each have on-site hotels as well.

But what about World's of Fun? Oceans of Fun has a separate moniker and identity, but is it included in the WoF pop price? It didn't used to be. I remember the last time I was there (years ago) the new splash falls ride had a queue from WoF and another one from OoF so patrons of either park could ride. But you couldn't cross over.

After that it appears that all the other parks have the water side included with regular park admission and is free for all who attend. Am I right about that? I know Valleyfair once had the water park as a separate gate but that changed. I'm pretty sure the Paramount parks all had the waterpark included, so from a local visitor's perspective it would be noticed if it were to change.
Kings Island has the perfect set up for a separate gate, but they also face competition from two major water parks on the same block. So, no. Plus, once again, the locals would riot.

And would there be any corporate advantage to having consistency throughout the chain, one way or another?

Ok, I know this is a lot of questions for a Saturday morning...

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Saturday, August 20, 2016 1:05 PM
slithernoggin's avatar

As best I can tell from the World of Fun website, Oceans of Fun is included. Granted, Worlds of Fun has an on-site campground, but I do get why the two parks with on-site hotels would have separate gate water parks; it's a chance to get more money and longer stays from guests.

I think there's no advantage to having corporate consistency -- better to attend to each park's local competition.


Life is something that happens when you can't get to sleep.
--Fran Lebowitz

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Saturday, August 20, 2016 3:30 PM

I find this to be Very Sad! I would think the area could easily support the Water Park. I just wonder #1 if from day one this was the plan to Close both Parks. #2 If they never bought the Parks how much different things would be.

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Saturday, August 20, 2016 4:06 PM
Thabto's avatar

Any word on where the slides are going? Are they going to Dorney or Michigan like many defunct rides from other parks do?


Brian

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Saturday, August 20, 2016 5:24 PM
Raven-Phile's avatar

SFGAFan said:
I just wonder #1 if from day one this was the plan to Close both Parks. #2 If they never bought the Parks how much different things would be.

Get outta here with your conspiracy theories. They didn't buy the place to close it. If they hadn't bought it when they did, it would have closed up just the same - thanks to the over expansion brought on by Premier Parks' inflated ego.


R.I.P LeRoi Moore 9/7/61 - 8/19/2008
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Saturday, August 20, 2016 5:54 PM

If anyone wants a chuckle, check out the Geauga Lake fan page on Facebook with all the butthurt folks....

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Saturday, August 20, 2016 6:21 PM
Jason Hammond's avatar

SFGAFan said:
I just wonder if from day one this was the plan to Close both Parks.

Yes, they built the waterpark just so they could close it 12 years later. Brilliant! I'm so glad you figured it out.

Last edited by Jason Hammond, Saturday, August 20, 2016 6:23 PM

854 Coasters, 34 States, 7 Countries
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Saturday, August 20, 2016 6:24 PM

^^Oh dear, now you've done it. For me that stuff is like a car wreck. I don't want to look and I can't look away.

Last edited by RCMAC, Saturday, August 20, 2016 6:24 PM
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Sunday, August 21, 2016 7:34 AM
slithernoggin's avatar

SFGAFan said:

I just wonder #1 if from day one this was the plan to Close both Parks. #2 If they never bought the Parks how much different things would be.

The sheer evil genius of Cedar Fair, buying the parks, investing millions, keeping one open for several years and the other open for over a decade as part of a nefarious plan to close both parks!

If Cedar Fair bought Worlds of Adventure with the intent of shutting it down, they would have bought it and just shut it down.

Had Cedar Fair not bought Worlds of Adventure, it's most likely the whole thing would have been closed much earlier.


Life is something that happens when you can't get to sleep.
--Fran Lebowitz

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Sunday, August 21, 2016 12:11 PM

The real question is how much different things might be had Six Flags never acquired Geauga Lake. Maybe we would still have a dippy, little (but open) park...or maybe not but I think without Six Flags it would have been more likely.

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Sunday, August 21, 2016 12:53 PM
Jeff's avatar

I've said it a hundred times that Anheuser-Busch pulling out was the beginning of the end. A seasonal marine park wasn't sustainable in that market. Then Six Flags made the colossally stupid move of combining the two gates, arrogantly believing that with more rides they could sustain this super park, which shares a market with Cedar Point. And by the way, Cedar Point can sustain its size and scope, because it also has Detroit. Kinzel buying the property, for which I think they got a pretty fair deal (for the rides alone), was also arrogant because he just felt the previous owners were doing it wrong. Yes, they were, but how do you scale back a park that was so enormous and not feel like it's not longer as good? You can't really go backward to 1989 Geauga Lake in terms of perceptions.

At the end of the day, today's world is simply that it's more valuable as something else.


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

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Sunday, August 21, 2016 1:35 PM
Thabto's avatar

But didn't Sea World originally make an offer to buy the amusement park side from Six Flags, but they accepted Six Flag's counteroffer instead? I wonder how different things would be had Sea World bought the amusement park.


Brian

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Sunday, August 21, 2016 1:35 PM

Didn't I read somewhere that AB tried to buy out SFO (or maybe it was still Geauga Lake) and Six Flags countered and bought SeaWorld instead?


But then again, what do I know?

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Sunday, August 21, 2016 1:57 PM

I must not have been paying attention; I thought this happened already!


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Sunday, August 21, 2016 2:26 PM
slithernoggin's avatar

Yes, Busch offered to buy Geauga Lake, planning to combine the two parks so that a combined, larger "SeaWorld" could offer rides. Combining the two parks had, by that point, been 'in play' for 15 years.

Six Flags counter offered and Busch accepted the offer.

I suspect that part of the downfall of Geauga Lake was the decision by Six Flags to spend $40 million adding twenty new rides, including four coasters, in one year. It was too much, too quickly.


Life is something that happens when you can't get to sleep.
--Fran Lebowitz

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Sunday, August 21, 2016 2:49 PM

I still think the market would have been able to sustain, as Jeff put it, a 1989 Geauga Lake if that is all it had ever been. Other than during the novelty of the first two Six Flags season, I never saw the place busier than I did during mid summer weekends in the early 90s. An addition like Villain right around when it actually went in would have done very well, and I am sure other things would have come and gone over the decades. I place blame on Six Flags for expanding beyond the market and running the place with shoddy operations, Busch for getting out, and also Cedar Fair for buying it and giving the perception that they didn't care. Whether or not they did is a debate that will never die, but they sure didn't do themselves any favors with some of the decisions they made. Things like leaving the old waterpark to sit, never repairing Wolf Bobs, and the attraction removals in the 50s area may have made sense while they waited to see what they wanted to do with the property - but the perception it gave the locals was that they didn't care, and then the locals were "proven right" when it closed.

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Sunday, August 21, 2016 3:23 PM
slithernoggin's avatar

I'm not sure that "blame" is the right word. Six Flags, Busch and Cedar Fair were all companies acting in accordance with their particular corporate goals. I'd argue that Cedar Fair keeping Geauga Lake and Wildwater Kingdom open as long as they did is evidence that the company did care about keeping those parks open as long as possible.


Life is something that happens when you can't get to sleep.
--Fran Lebowitz

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Sunday, August 21, 2016 3:31 PM
Jeff's avatar

Butthurt perceptions were never indicative of the underlying financial situation of anything going on, regardless of the owners or poor decisions. I don't want to call the conspiracy theorists morons, but at the very least, you'd think they would for a moment take their emotions out of the equation and look at the history rationally. There is no universe where anyone buys stuff with the intention of taking a bath and losing money. Cedar Fair was not a giant company, especially before the Paramount acquisition. Spending $145 million was risky, especially given the uncertainty of the economy at the time. The bigger issue was that they thought that they could significantly reduce the operating cost of the property, which was enormous thanks to Six Flags. That savings never really materialized until they started pulling out rides, which again, has the negative side effect of the park being less than it was.


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

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Sunday, August 21, 2016 4:16 PM

When they first purchased the property, I saw them turning it into something similar as to what Dorney is, and I believe that was likely the original goal. Unfortunately it just seemed like there was no good way to downsize what had become a giant park and keep people coming in without giving away the gate. In 2000-2001 Six Flags was packed, but how many of those folks were paying full price to get in? I will always love that park, and I would have loved for Cedar Fair to have tried another season or two before throwing in the towel. But I get why they did what they did and it just a bad situation for all companies who were involved. The butthurt folks just make me cringe.

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Sunday, August 21, 2016 4:29 PM

I liked Geauga Lake ok, but I usually attended in the fall during their awesome Oktoberfest. It was always the best time and in the end made up for declining rides and attractions.

And at the risk of sounding like one of those butthurt fans, which I'm not, I think the really crappy thing was not telling anyone they were closing ahead of time. Intuition told me to go that last weekend and I'm glad I did.

As far as WWK goes, I never went there. I feel for the folks that do, but for me it's just one of those "oh well, par for the course" shrug of the shoulders thing. Even with my platinum pass I can count on one hand the number of times I've been to Soak City and the last time was a walk-thru with all my clothes on. If it went away I'd probably feel about the same.

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