Columbus Zoo will buy Wyandot Lake from Six Flags

Posted | Contributed by Trick Track

The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is buying Wyandot Lake from Six Flags for $2 million, promising visitors a fresh, botanical look for the water park as newer water-theme parks spout across Ohio.

Read more from The Columbus Dispatch.

$2 million for the park? Good deal. A lot of zoos are looking to amusement concepts to increase attendance. The Miami Metrozoo has had a waterpark on the back burner for a few years now. If we can get through a year without hurricanes it might actually happen someday.

This makes perfect sense for the zoo and perfect sense for Six Flags. Now they really ARE out of Ohio.

$2 million dollars, and to think, if Wyandot like didn't come forward, there would have been talks about Six Flags selling off the park, to try and make a profit.

$2 million dollars, not much more than what Viper, and Cyclone at Astroworld could have gotten, if Six Flags wanted to sell them, instead of scrapping them.

WHile $2 million seems like a steal, the zoo (and the city of Columbus) already owns the land and some of the older pre-Wyandot dry rides that are there.

With all of the expansion that the zoo is planning to do, along with the realignment of Powell Road that will wipe out a good chunk of Wyandot's picnic grove, it's nice to see that the park will not be going away.

Now I wonder if they'll change the name back to Zoo Amusement Park?

Whatever they do I'm sure it will be for the better.
You should see all the dirt being moved around. I was there last week and the heavy equipment was moving most of the day. Parking can be a problem depending on where the crew is working that day.
"$2 million dollars, not much more than what Viper, and Cyclone at Astroworld could have gotten, if Six Flags wanted to sell them, instead of scrapping them."

Six Flags DID want to sell them. There were no buyers.

jimmybob, it was called "Gooding's Zoo Amusements" up until the passing of Floyd Gooding and the heirs selling the business in the mid 1970's. (Floyd passed away the winter of 73-74)
At this point, I expect it will probably remain "Wyandot Lake". The price seems low, but as jimmybob already pointed out, that price is for the bits of the park that the City of Columbus did not already own.

Now how do we go about convincing Jerry Couch and the Columbus Zoo that the Screechin' Eagle really should be moved to Wyandot Lake? It's not as though that ride hasn't been moved before...!

--Dave Althoff, Jr.

While the waterpark is very important, there is a need for more dry rides at Wyandot Lake. Under the Six Flags operation, the only way you could get decent value out of this park was if you did the H2O attractions.

Ohio could use more traditional parks like KW, Waldameer, Camden, BB, and IB. Certainly GL could be converted into a top-notch traditional park with a little effort but what about the other parts of the state? Parks like Idora, Chippewa Lake, LeSourdesville, and Euclid Beach bring back great memories to so many people. If Wyandot could expand, this would provide such an experience to Central Ohio.

Coney Island is another example like this. With LeSourdsville gone and Strickers primarily limited to private events, a small traditional park with suitable offerings would be welcome in the area where it is located.*** This post was edited by Arthur Bahl 6/16/2006 7:35:01 AM ***

Jeff's avatar
But an experience for whom? Nostalgia is just not a business plan. Whether or not a big park is better or not isn't my argument, because none of our opinions on that matter. It comes down to what you can sell to the public and give them a compelling reason to visit. Conneaut Lake hasn't been able to do it, so what makes you think another park can?
I have never understood how "nostalgia is not a business plan". I think that there are many examples of how nostalgia IS a business plan.

Look at Ford's new Mustang, which is a modern design based heavily on the original Mustangs that made the car so successful. Mustang sales have been through the roof since the redesign. Ford has insisted that the design has struck a chord with buyers partially because it is "retro"... because it makes people nostalgic for the original model. I guess that is why GM is planning a Chevy Camaro and Daimler-Chrysler a Dodge Challenger that harken back to those original models. Better not tell GM and DC that nostalgia is not a business plan because those companies are banking the success of their respective models on that theory. Also, you might want to look at the prices of restored muscle cars from the late 60s and early 70s- pristine examples are going for upwards of a quarter of a million dollars. It appears some people are willing to pay that kind of money for nostalgia.

The New York Yankees are building a new Yankees Stadium to look just like the old one (before it got butchered by a renovation in the mid-70s). The Mets are building a new stadium that resembles Ebbets Field, where the Dodgers once played in Brooklyn. Those two teams are betting almost $1.5 billion between them that people would prefer new stadiums that look old rather than new stadiums that look new. Knoebels installed an Allan Herschell Looper last year and is installing a Flying Turns this year/next year- two rides that are clearly nostalgic. There must be a reason why the park has gone that route instead of the "new ride" route. Note how Waldameer is pretty much banking their future on a new wood coaster that is modeled after an old wood coaster- something they will surely point out to people when it finally opens.

It seems to me that there are many examples where nostlagia is a better business plan than ignorance of nostalgia.

It isn't all about nostalgia although that does figure into the overall traditional park experience. Other factors are there as well such as family friendliness, a more laid back experience without those terribly long waits, and affordibility.

As for nostalgia, some parks such as Kennywood do a good job of using this as a selling point. Maybe parks like GL could use more of this. Thank goodness the Big Dipper is still there. This ride reeks of nostalgia in the midst of all of those newfangled coasters. If I get to GL this year, the Big Dipper will certainly be one of the reasons for going there.

Lord Gonchar's avatar
If there were a viable market for parks like this (smaller, nostalgic, traditional - whatever the adjective), they'd exist or be built or whatever.

All I see are these smaller parks dropping left and right like flies or struggling just to keep the gate open.

While I think we can all appreciate this type of park-going atmosphere, maybe it isn't such a solid business model with widespread appeal?

*** This post was edited by Lord Gonchar 6/16/2006 4:46:27 PM ***

Wasn't this announced like a month ago? Anyway, the zoo has made it clear that they want to become a destination location. Someplace that people will travel to. They are planning a 250 room hotel, along with almost doubling the size of the zoo. Will be very interested in seeing what happens with Wyandotte Lake. I have three little ones (4 year old twins and a 2 year old), and we have a family pass to the zoo which ran us 60.00. Very cheap considering the amount of time we spend there since we live about 2 miles away. My biggest question is; will they have a family pass that includes Wyandotte lake? Right now to bring the twins it would cost me 22.00 a piece, plus my ticket price. A lot of money to bring kids who only do the kiddie things and myself who won't do anything because I'm watching the kids. Will they have a combo family pass? Now that would be nice.*** This post was edited by Giant WheelJay 6/17/2006 8:54:19 PM ***
I can't help but think that part of the problem with these small, traditional parks is their pasts coming back to haunt them. Parks like Conneaut, Williams Grove and Camden all had their bad times in the past when they tended to drive people away instead of luring them back in. Of those three, only Camden seems to be on the verge of correcting things. Maybe the small, traditional park is a viable entity if not burdened by mistakes and missteps made in the past?

I've always thought that a small amusement park as part of a larger entertainment complex would make for a great business in a great number of markets. After a decline, "nostalgic" things like roller skating, bowling and drive-in movies are making a slow comeback and I've often wondered if a complex containing those things, an amusement park, an arcade and some water slides could create a successful wave of FEC's that are more than just go-karts and mini golf. Properly designed to maximize the use of valuable space and marketed as something the whole family could visit at all times of the year, I can't help but think it would be worth a shot.

It isn't just small parks that can suffer from mistakes made in the past. Geauga Lake continues to have difficulty recovering from the Six Flags period when so many visitors were turned off by the park and the way it was run. This park, given its size, should be drawing double the attendance that it has at present. Apparently, Cedar Fair will have to continue making more improvements to accomplish this. The new waterpark is a good start but there are other things to be done. I just believe that Cedar Fair doesn't want to move too fast just in case things don't work out as well as hoped. Give them several years and GL should be doing much better than it now does.

Of course some of the smaller parks haven't done anything wrong. Waldameer and DelGrossos are two examples and they have remained in sound condition.

*** This post was edited by Arthur Bahl 6/18/2006 2:45:42 PM ***

People don't understand that it is going to take Cedar Fair YEARS to erase in peoples' minds the bad memories that the Six Flags-run property created. It proves that it takes seconds to lose a customer and years to get them to come back. If they keep at it, they shouldn't have a problem in the long run.
One case where a major investment was made that restored the image of a park was Lake Compounce. This park, like so many others of its kind, had fallen upon bad times and had an image problem because no one was able or willing to do the right thing with it. HERCO (Hershey Park) tried to turn it into a major theme park but didn't get everything together right. Finally Kennywood Entertainment made the major investment that the park needed.

Instead of putting all of their eggs in one basket (eg. adding a whole bunch of new coasters), KE made an effort to upgrade the overall park experience. They retained some of the old attractions such as the carousel and the Wildcat coaster. New rides were added but with an emphasis on variety and family appeal. A major waterpark was constructed. and expanded several times. A top-notch wooden coaster using the parks unique terrain was built (Boulder Dash). Several water rides and an interactive dark ride were built. Several transport rides were included in the mix. To appeal to thrill riders, an Enterprise, a drop tower and a Screamin' Swing (Thunder 'n Lightning) were added.

LC also took one idea from Holiday World and became the second park to offer free drinks. Also the food prices were kept reasonable. A clean well-landscaped appearance was maintained. Overall, the park has a new image and the bad days from the past have been forgotten.

Maybe, what Cedar Fair needs to to is to look at LC as an example to what to do to improve GL. The waterpark is a start in this direction. Currently LC and GL have similar attendance figures even though GL has more rides and many more coasters. What is needed is some more attention to improving the overall park experience. More family rides, better landscaping, better service, and friendlier staff can all help make things better and to restore the park's image.

So with the Zoo buying this does it mean that there will be no water/amusement park or will the Zoo do like Six Flags and have the animals and also the water/amusement park?

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