Conneaut Lake's fate in judge's hands

Posted Wednesday, December 29, 2004 12:56 PM | Contributed by Jeff

The future of Conneaut Lake Park will be in the hands of Crawford County Court of Common Pleas Judge Anthony Vardaro today, when park officials turn over an operational plan for the 2005 season. The judge will determine whether or not the park can continue to operate.

Read more from The Meadville Tribune.

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Wednesday, December 29, 2004 3:09 PM
Good luck!
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Wednesday, December 29, 2004 3:14 PM
I see no reason why they could not just have the authority to sell the park to someone....if anyone was even interested in it. I truly hope that they find a way to open the park one more year. But if not then I am very happy I made my trip there last year. Even though I only spent an hour there it was worth it. The park was just dead that day. Definitely got my fill on the rides that were open.
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Wednesday, December 29, 2004 5:19 PM
Conneaut is such a jewel in the rough. If I had the money I'd buy it and with a little TLC and lots of cash it could be a very popular park. Since I'm not rich I'll continue to support the park by visiting it.
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Wednesday, December 29, 2004 6:27 PM
I think Conneaut's location is one of the factors killing it. Folks west of the park are closer to GL, people north have Waldameer and those of us south have Kennywood. There's a very limited GP population for which CLP makes sense as a day trip to the park in terms of location, cost and offering.

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Wednesday, December 29, 2004 8:27 PM
I think CLP's location is great in terms of tourism.

With the lake, plenty of activity, and the Hotel I don't see why they are havig issues.

The big goal they need to have is to expand on their water attractions

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Wednesday, December 29, 2004 8:48 PM
What tourism are you talking about exactly?
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Wednesday, December 29, 2004 10:22 PM
Im sorry... I used the wrong terminology... the lake is an "attraction" (or "getwaway" with bonus features) to many east Ohioians-West Penn.'s
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Wednesday, December 29, 2004 10:34 PM
The park was built because of the summer tourist population. The lake and the cabins, hotels, and rental houses around it attracts boaters just as Lake Shaffer does, which is the lake Indiana Beach is on. In July of this year I decided to make a trip to Conneaut Lake over Labor Day weekend and there wasn't a hotel room, cabin, or house available within 30 miles of the lake and park. You think those are all occupied by locals?

Every time I've been to CLP there have been plenty of people. I've waited in a full queue for Blue Streak. IMHO the reason the park is in trouble is due to years of mismanagement resulting in the inability to bring in new attractions in, in some cases, keep existing once open. The park looks like a glorified carnival now but it doesn't have to be that way. If Indiana Beach had been victim to the same management it would probably be in danger of closing now, too.

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Wednesday, December 29, 2004 11:22 PM
Well said, Moosh. I wish I had your poetics.
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Thursday, December 30, 2004 12:22 AM
Local to the region? Mostly.

That area is a big getaway for people around here (the rural western PA area). That area isn't exactly a 'destination' stop for very many people beyond the local population. I honestly believe the tourism there is 'local' tourism - people who are close enough to visit the park if they wanted to anyway. They're there for the camping, the lake, the getaway, not the park.

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Thursday, December 30, 2004 2:08 AM
I don't doubt tourists are not there for the park because in its present state there's little to go for. Heck, even I hear many enthusiasts say, "Eh, it only has one woodie, why bother?" As I said, that could change with some TLC, cash, some new rides, and some good marketing and advertising. I see no reason the park could not pull from Erie, Pittsburgh, Youngstown, and other cities nearby.

There are other parks that are more "out of the way" that are successful. There is no reason CLP couldn't be as well.

*** This post was edited by Mamoosh 12/30/2004 2:10:00 AM ***

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Thursday, December 30, 2004 1:10 PM
I couldn't agree with your more, Mamoosh. I'm a regular at the park and see decent crowds and find the Conneaut area generally well attended and have had similar difficulties finding motel rooms. It has clearly been demonstrated that the Park is an important part of the resort area. The one summer when the Park was closed, the surrounding businesses really sufferred.

If there were basically tumbleweeds down the midway, then I would agree the park is past its prime, but anyone that I talk to about the park admits what good times they've alway had there.

I agree the park could be successful. After all, its survived for over 100 years. Its too bad we all couldn't put some bucks together and run it as a group.

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Thursday, December 30, 2004 1:56 PM
You know what one of the planned additions for 2005 was (is)? (as of summer 2004)

A bunch of those plastic Little Tykes play houses for Kiddieland.

I'm not joking.

Not sure if it's a case of doing what you can with nothing or a case of such blinded judgement that someone thought it was an addition that would help, but either way that's not a good sign of how things are going.

Just a little fun fact. :)

I still think the location affects things. Even indirectly with budgeting and additions. There's just not a huge enough population to pull from to justify adding major rides and attractions. (that pesky ROI thing) I honestly think the park was best off when they brought concerts in during the summer. I can remember the place just being packed for those.

To pull from Erie they have to offer something of equal value to Waldameer. Some working flats would help, but then you need the bigger waterpark and something comparable to Waldameer's spinning mouse before you're even in striking distance. What Erie Dad is going to drive to CLP when when Waldameer offers the same (or more) for similar low prices. Draw from Pittsburgh? Kennywood is a hell of a park to compete with. I'm of the mindset that most average day trippers to the park aren't as enamoured by the history and quaintness of a place like CLP. Take the 20 minute drive across town and spend a few bucks (just $18 on the deal this past summer) and get WAY more for the dollar than CLP could ever offer at even half the price) Even at the $28 full KW price I think you'd have a hard time pulling people 2 hours north. I think the same applies to GL and the eastern Ohio public. East of the park is little more than forest and Podunk, USA. Those people probably see CLP as a viable day stop, but you're talking very low numbers of population to begin with.

And heck, even the tourists, regardless of where they're from are there already and the park isn't exactly doing well. Is it really as simple as fixing things up, jacking up the price a bit and letting them flock through the gates? Maybe, but again, it sounds like a recipe for survival, not one for growth and prominence.

I honestly don't see what CLP can do to compete when stuck between other major (and lesser) parks like that. With some love and TLC they could certainly continue to survive, but I doubt we'll ever see CLP thrive.

*** This post was edited by Lord Gonchar 12/30/2004 1:57:44 PM ***

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Thursday, December 30, 2004 4:15 PM
Gonch - we're in agreement. In order to pull from those cities the park would have to offer substantially more than it does. Isn't that what I said in my previous post?
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Thursday, December 30, 2004 5:24 PM
Yeah, it is. But that's not going to happen. And even if they did make some very major additions, I'm still not sure they'd get the crowds based on location. It's an uphill battle even if you don't consider the hole they dug.

I'm repeating myself, but the best I think anyone can expect that park to do is maintain itself as a small park with low attendance. The issue seems to be how to make that profitable.

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Thursday, December 30, 2004 5:32 PM
I disagree, Gonch. I think you need to look at another park that was in similar situation less than a decade ago: Lake Compounce. It used to open one weekend a year simply to maintain its "oldest continually operating" status, and in some years they barely had the money for a single weekend. In comes Kennywood and look at the park now!

Will the same happen to Conneaut? Maybe not. Could it? I think so. And before you start the "ROI" song remember I run my own company...I know all about ROI. Obviously you just have a more negative outlook about Conneaut than me ;)


*** This post was edited by Mamoosh 12/30/2004 5:33:31 PM ***

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Thursday, December 30, 2004 10:22 PM
I'm with Gonchar on this one (what a shocker, I know). This region had amusement parks on every other corner at one time. Two weeks ago I went with Stephanie to Kent to absorb a little end-of-semester atmosphere, and passed by the old Shady Lake on the way. The park has been gone for years, and just recently, the gateway arch came down as well. Idora, Chippewa, Buckeye Lake, Euclid Beach, Puritas Springs... and those are just the ones I've seen with my own eyes.

The reality of things is that amusement parks are luxury services, and if the customer base can't support that luxury (or it can't draw a customer base), it's not going to survive. It has happened countless times in this region. Good will, optimism and warm feelings alone won't save the park.

I'm sure that in the park's defense that someone will call me a poopy pants and blame the failure of the park on disinterested people like me.

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Thursday, December 30, 2004 11:14 PM
I won't be me, Jeff. You have your opinion, I have mine...its all good ;)
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Friday, December 31, 2004 2:18 AM
It's not often I get to have a "back and forth" with you Moosh.

No innuendo necessary ;)

Perhaps debate would have been a better choice of words?

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