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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Monday, August 22, 2016 8:58 AM
Jeff's avatar

Ensign Smith said:

But many potential paths were bypassed and ignored that could have saved Geauga Lake. WWK was itself a victim of a chain that didn't really know what to do with a standalone water park, wasn't particularly interested in running any, and which invested very little in cap ex or marketing to sustain the property. Again, the economics were almost certainly there to make and keep this park operational, it just wasn't a core interest of the company.

I disagree with all of this. They've been running a lot of water parks for a long time, and to suggest that it isn't an interest is like saying they're not interested in making money.

What in the world is Bill Spehn going to do now? Shuffle back to Sandusky...again?

I doubt it very much. I like the guy, but he's the last of "lifers" from the Kinzel era. There aren't many left.


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

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Monday, August 22, 2016 9:04 AM

BrettV said:

Ensign,

My apologies if I upset you with any of my comments. Reading your post, you and I have virtually the same thoughts and sadness regarding Geauga Lake and the way everything was handled. I don't have children, but I grew up at that park with dozens of visits from early childhood through my senior year of college when it closed. There are so many ways it could have worked in any of the eras and with any of the owners, it is just upsetting that none of them were able to, or wanted to do it.

I have only ever seen or used the "butthurt" term here on Coasterbuzz. As much love as I will always have for that park, folks on the other site that used to exist that is now a Facebook group oftentimes make us GL fans look bad with their absolutely ridiculous anti-CF rhetoric that is based 100% on emotions.

Again - I never meant to upset anyone with my comments. I love that park and still miss it.

Nah, it's all good--though I very much appreciate your empathy and understanding. The term is just one of those things that grate on me, because of its derogatory nature. Anyway, we're sort of on the same side, losing Geauga Lake and now WWK. :)


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Monday, August 22, 2016 9:14 AM

Jeff, while it's true that Cedar Fair has scads of experience in running water parks, these have almost entirely been connected properties, me-too tag-alongs to their dry park big brothers. They exist to augment the income and attraction of the amusement side of the business--which, let's face it, is where the real money is. (I count Soak City/Cedar Point Shores as a special case, as it is part of the chain's only true resort complex and so acts as a unique profit multiplier in the chain.)

Note that the company has (to the best of my knowledge) only once built a water park from scratch, WWK itself, and then, again, only as a connected piece to a greater park puzzle. Cedar Fair has never purchased a stand-alone water park that itself wasn't part of a larger acquisition. In fact, the only one such park that was bought as part of a chain deal was sold off within a few years of the transaction.

So, yeah. CF does have lots of experience with water parks. They've just never shown much interest in running them as separate entities. And little in their behavior with Wildwater Kingdom suggests otherwise. Looking back, it's really a wonder it survived for as long as it did.


My author website: mgrantroberts.com

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Monday, August 22, 2016 9:42 AM

slithernoggin said:

Captain Hawkeye said:

Both Wikipedia and Ultimate Roller Coaster say it cost $26m.

Well, can't argue with those sources.

Ultimate Rollar Coaster quotes Kinzel saying it. 4th paragraph:

http://www.ultimaterollercoaster.com/news/stories/20070922_01.shtml

Last edited by Captain Hawkeye, Monday, August 22, 2016 9:43 AM

This Isn't A Hospital--It's An Insane Asylum!

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Monday, August 22, 2016 9:50 AM

Lord Gonchar said:

birdhombre said:

Every now and then I search YouTube to try and find that commercial.

I think it was a radio spot, wasn't it?

For some reason when I think of it I get an image of a dorky looking dad saying it as he stands by an open car door. I could be mixing it up with something else though. Either way I remember back then laughing at the idea that anyone passes Cedar Point to get to Geauga Lake instead. I loved GL but really we all knew people didn't do that.

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Monday, August 22, 2016 10:16 AM
Jeff's avatar

It was definitely a TV spot.

Ensign Smith said:

They exist to augment the income and attraction of the amusement side of the business--which, let's face it, is where the real money is.

Water parks are pretty high margin businesses when they're in the right market, and if it's profitable, how is that not "real money?" This is the criticism of Cedar Fair that I've never understood, that some money is better than others (water parks), or that cap ex spending reflects the value of any particular property (Michigan's Adventure).

In fact, I would argue that diversification is the company's new m.o. That's why they're building the sports complex in Sandusky.


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

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Monday, August 22, 2016 10:39 AM

CF has always said the per cap spending at water parks is much lower than at "dry" parks.

The Ensign is right: CP sold off ALL of its stand alone water parks. Given that CF has been selling water parks, I'm guessing that all future diversification will involve dry land facilities.

Last edited by Captain Hawkeye, Monday, August 22, 2016 11:21 AM

This Isn't A Hospital--It's An Insane Asylum!

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Monday, August 22, 2016 11:43 AM

Per cap spending is lower at water parks but so is the cost of operation.


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Monday, August 22, 2016 11:53 AM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

Ensign Smith said:

Some thoughts.

7. I increasingly dislike the term, 'butthurt'. Urban Dictionary defines it as 'an inappropriately strong negative response from a perceived personal insult'. What the usage of this adjective asserts is that the 'hurtee' doesn't deserve his or her feelings, that there is no actual affront behind the hurting, and that the user of the term reserves the right to judge the offended person's right to said feelings. It's derogatory and has no place in a serious discussion. Even if I strongly disagree with somebody, I would never disparage or try to deny their right to their feelings.

So you're butthurt over the word butthurt?

Well, I'm butthurt over your butthurt of the use of the word, "butthurt"

(insert obligatory symbol meaning I'm playing with you)

I can't think of anywhere where the term is more approriate than the enthusiast community with the rampant self-importance and irrational attachment to things.

Last edited by Lord Gonchar, Monday, August 22, 2016 2:57 PM
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Monday, August 22, 2016 12:43 PM

Big Boy: I agree, but apparently CF doesn't because they have sold or, now with WWK, closed all stand alone water parks.


This Isn't A Hospital--It's An Insane Asylum!

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Monday, August 22, 2016 12:57 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

Jeff said:

It was definitely a TV spot.

But it was also apparently a radio spot too.

I guess that's why I remember it as such. I don't remember seeing it on TV at all, but I do remember hearing it in the car. Maybe I heard it before I saw it and the initial absurdity is what stuck with me.

Last edited by Lord Gonchar, Monday, August 22, 2016 1:01 PM
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Monday, August 22, 2016 1:07 PM

Jeff said:

In fact, I would argue that diversification is the company's new m.o. That's why they're building the sports complex in Sandusky.

Cedar Fair has nothing to do with the sports complex. It's being built, managed and owned by SportsForce, a company out of Georgia, I think.

Cedar Fair bought the old airport land for $3M and "donated" it to the project. They'll obviously co-brand with SportsForce (including a free CP ticket for each participant) but it's not a move towards "diversifying" their business.

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Monday, August 22, 2016 1:37 PM
Jeff's avatar

Nothing to do with it except the investment made in it? I'm fairly certain there is some kind of revenue sharing agreement there, and/or lease.


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

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Monday, August 22, 2016 2:23 PM
Tekwardo's avatar

Re: butthurt

When I use that term I absolutely think the person doesn't have a right to the feelings they've displayed and are overreacting.

As for WWK, bu-bye!


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Monday, August 22, 2016 2:44 PM
Raven-Phile's avatar

I'm sad to see it go, because it's the total final chapter in the Geauga Lake saga, etc.. The first amusement park I went to when we first moved to OH, and I spent a lot of time there with my family growing up. It's also pretty close to home for me, and sometimes when we wanted something to do, we'd head up the half a day - but on the other side of the coin, it's time.

The GL we all knew and loved went away in 2000 when Six Flags Ohio sprang up. It was never coming back from that. The city and township have been wanting to use that land for something else for a long time. From rumblings that I used to hear, they kind of always butted heads in some way or another.

I just feel for the employees - some of them have been working at that location, no matter the name or side of the lake, for 30 or 40 years. I will always remember the deaf lady who worked the gates scanning tickets/passes - it sucks that they're losing what they've known, but sometimes you gotta know when to fold 'em.


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Monday, August 22, 2016 3:24 PM

Well said, Kenny.


My author website: mgrantroberts.com

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Monday, August 22, 2016 3:34 PM
slithernoggin's avatar

Ensign Smith said:

They've just never shown much interest in running them as separate entities. And little in their behavior with Wildwater Kingdom suggests otherwise.

I'll beg to differ, given that they ran the place for over a decade.


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Monday, August 22, 2016 3:49 PM

When I think of the term butthurt I don't so much think that the person is wrong for having their initial feelings or not entitled to them so much as that they are wrong when they assume everybody should feel those same feelings as they do and take it personally that others are not sharing in their outrage. Being upset that Cedar Fair closed your childhood park and now the waterpark is not butthurt. Berating others for not joining you in a boycott of Cedar Fair because they have been able to move on and you can't is butthurt. The people who insist that Cedar Fair should be obligated to rebuild "their" park because how dare they take away a piece of their childhood are butthurt. It's possible that many people simply use the term any time someone gets their feelings hurt whether rightly so or not but that's not what I think of when I hear. I don't usually bother using it.

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Monday, August 22, 2016 4:03 PM
Jeff's avatar

Only on CoasterBuzz do we have sidebars about the academic use of a word like "butthurt." Love you all.


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

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Monday, August 22, 2016 4:32 PM
Jason Hammond's avatar

Chicago07 said:

Cedar Fair has nothing to do with the sports complex.

Seems like their involved to me:

https://www.cedarpoint.com/what-s-new/sports-force-parks-at-cedar-p...rts-center


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