Continued: Cedar Fair announces Geauga Lake will be water park only

Tuesday, September 25, 2007 2:03 PM

halltd said:
It could be accomplished. But, no one wanted to accomplish it. Cedar Fair is interested in running large parks that bring in a lot of money. They're not interested in running a local family park that only brings in a modest amount of money. I don't think they know how to do that.

The days of family-owned single amusement parks are rapidly coming to a close.


That's absolutely true.

And it's just too bad. Had it been accomplished, it would have been successful. People around here just aren't interested in having a large, corporate park in their backyard; they will try to avoid it if possible due to the crowd that is attracted.

Residents here want a small, quiet, civilized family park that is safe and fun. It's too bad it will never happen.


RIP Geauga Lake
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Tuesday, September 25, 2007 2:11 PM
Wouldn't it be a kick in the head if they put in low-income housing instead of condos?
;)

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-Mark

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Tuesday, September 25, 2007 2:21 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

halltd said:
It could be accomplished. But, no one wanted to accomplish it.


Miss J said:
That's absolutely true.

And it's just too bad. Had it been accomplished, it would have been successful.


But if that's true then doesn't the problem lie all the way back with Busch pulling out of Sea World and SF combining the gate and turning it into something the locals didn't want.

Still sounds like CF just happened to be the ones holding the hand when it came time to fold.

And yes, I suppose certain logic dictates that someone could've tried to turn the park back into what it was, but how is that possible considering the price tag SF needed in order to get out and not just close the doors themselves?

I mean, who could front $145 million in the first place and then of all the people that could - who would spend that kind of money only to rip half the park out and make less return on it? With that kind of investment a certain ROI level has to be met and the 'old' GL would never do it.

The bottom line is that once the SF build-up happened and the gates combined...it was just a matter of time. There's no going back from that point...

...at least no logical reasoning behind someone trying it.

I don't think that it's no one wanted to accomplish it, but rather that no one could accomplish it.


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Tuesday, September 25, 2007 2:36 PM
I didn't say Geauga Lake failed under Funtime. On the contrary, Geauga Lake's greatest years were under Funtime (when I happened to work there). They did some tremendous things. Many historians credit the Wolf Bobs with helping to revive interest in the woodies. Turtle Beach was an unprecedented chidren's water park area. The Wave, the one price entry, etc.

What I said was Funtime couldn't make it work. And, I'll stand by that. If they could why are they not still operating the park? Six Flags threw in the towel and so has Cedar Fair. I just don't know why anyone else would jump at it...should that have been an option. *** Edited 9/25/2007 6:36:56 PM UTC by wahoo skipper***

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Tuesday, September 25, 2007 2:36 PM
And when they put in Condos, how many of those owners will then attempt to sue because an "unsightly" waterpark is sitting just on the other side of the lake messing up their view?
"Yes... well... VICTORY IS MINE!"
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Tuesday, September 25, 2007 2:39 PM
I don't think the waterpark is long for this world. That news broadcast made mention of Wildwater Kingdom not being expanded in the future (or at least the forseeable future), leading me to believe that will also disappear. If the land on one side of the lake is worth a ton of money, the land on the other side is worth a ton of money as well.

How cool it will be to drive Route 43 and pass by the lake and think, "I remember when this place used to be fun." People will be sorry it's gone. All of it.

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Tuesday, September 25, 2007 2:41 PM
Busch pulled out because they weren't allowed to continue with their new business model - which included thrill rides. But you are right, everyone underestimated the local and national pull that the Sea World brand had. When they left, the formula was forever changed. Six Flags assumed their brand was just as powerful and would automatically succeed. Oops.

I honestly thought Cedar Fair was on the way to putting Geauga Lake back to what it once was. I was under the impression they were going to take out the big ticket maintenance items (like Steel Venom, X-Flight, Dominator, etc...) and downsize the entire park. Reduce admission prices, revitalize the "feel" of the park, and bring back all the local groups. It would basically still be a local waterpark, but with some of the classic rides that made Geauga Lake what it was.

I don't believe that Cedar Fair couldn't accomplish this. I believe they gave up meaning they didn't want to accomplish this. I don't believe any of us have data showing the park has been losing millions of dollars lately. All we know for sure is that Cedar Fair was not happy with the attendance numbers. They could have been making a profit, probably just not very much.

So, keep pulling coasters. But, revitalize the area where those coasters stood. Don't just leave a big hole in the midway.

Everyone says people tried and tried to make the park successful. But, they really didn't. Everyone tried and tried to make Geauga Lake a massive player in the industry. Obviously that didn't work. Cedar Fair started to try and make the park successful by reducing operating costs. But, they didn't finish. They just stopped.

From a business perspective, I don't blame them since their main goal is to make as much money as possible. What I have issue with is everyone saying the park was a complete failure and no one would be able to make it a nice place. That's just not true. I agree that no one was able to make GL into a huge corporate park. But, in recent years, no one gave it the college try in returning the park to a local gathering place that made a modest amount of profit but added a great deal to the local community.

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Tuesday, September 25, 2007 2:46 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

But, in recent years, no one gave it the college try in returning the park to a local gathering place that made a modest amount of profit but added a great deal to the local community.

And that's exactly what my previous post addresses.

Who would've done that? Given the price tag needed to make the current owner sell and not close the doors (and that applies to both SF or CF as 'current' owner at any given time) - who would've been able to shell out that much money for a 'modest' return.

Once the additions and combining of parks happened and the price tag suddenly shot up - the idea of someone giving it the old college try went out the window.

...unless you know of some entity that can spend $145 million just for the fun of giving it the old college try. ;)


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Tuesday, September 25, 2007 2:51 PM
Tim said,

"I honestly thought Cedar Fair was on the way to putting Geauga Lake back to what it once was. I was under the impression they were going to take out the big ticket maintenance items (like Steel Venom, X-Flight, Dominator, etc...) and downsize the entire park. Reduce admission prices, revitalize the "feel" of the park, and bring back all the local groups. It would basically still be a local waterpark, but with some of the classic rides that made Geauga Lake what it was."

I think that exactly was the plan. And, if they operated in a vacuum they would probably be continuing on in that direction.

But, the Paramount purchase changed the dynamics of the company and the plan changed.

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Tuesday, September 25, 2007 2:53 PM
Then what did they buy it for? If the goal was to turn the park into a small park serving a small crowd (the opposite of nearby Cedar Point), what kind of profit could have been realized? Seems to me that a small park would have to make a lot of profit for a long time before its $145 million purchase price is paid off. Taking that into account, the purchase never made sense from Day One.
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Tuesday, September 25, 2007 2:59 PM
Well, I believe Cedar Fair could have. They are able to scavenge the "big rides" from the park and sell them to their other parks - like they started to do. They're also able to run the park from Sandusky, also saving more operating costs. They don't need their own marketing department or planning/design department, etc...

I thought they had a good idea what the local market was like. They've been in the area for a long time. They could cross-promote the parks, etc... I think they were still in the mindset of "competition" between it and Cedar Point. It's obvious they know how to run a big park like Cedar Point. But, I don't think they know how to run a small park like Knoebel's or Holiday World.

Would it have taken a while longer to get their investment back? Sure. But, if anyone could have done it, they could have - especially since they already bought the park. I just don't think they tried very hard. Like I said, it looks like they started to try, but then just stopped.

I imagined a local "picnic park" with a pretty impressive water park and some rides thrown in. This would be in complete contrast to Cedar Point. So, it wouldn't really be competition. It would be complimentary. That's really why Sea World and Geauga Lake worked so well. They didn't compete against each other. They both played off of each other and they both benefited. I don't really see why Geauga Lake and Cedar Point couldn't have the same relationship.

Sure, if you try to make them both super parks, one is going to survive. If you make one the laid-back hang out with the family and chill park, and one the big thrill park, you have two unique products.

They never got to this point. It appears a TINY bit like they started to do this, but never really tried all that hard. 2008 would have been a great opportunity to see what happened too. With the new pricing structure of the Platinum Pass, almost all of your local pass holders would have a pass and parking pass to all three Ohio parks. I bet attendance would have gone up then. If the park was really the local picnic park (with food priced accordingly), I don't see why people wouldn't have come. "Let's go to Cedar Point to ride all the coasters...This weekend I feel like taking it slow, let's hang out at Geauga Lake." But, again, they gave up before even trying.

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Tuesday, September 25, 2007 3:04 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

Rob Ascough said:
Taking that into account, the purchase never made sense from Day One.

And it wouldn't have made sense for anyone else either. Maybe there's an angle in there somehwere about moving the larger rides to other parks helping offset the whole thing. Like these other guys, I do believe that was more along the lines of any plan that existed. And like some others I also agree that the Paramount purchase made those plans change. Who knows?

But in hindsight, maybe we should be thankful CF picked up the park and gave us four more years of GL because if they didn't I doubt anyone else would have. :)


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Tuesday, September 25, 2007 3:06 PM

kRaXLeRidAh said:

Rob Ascough said:


Again, this is about Cedar Fair not having done enough and not having given things enough time to show a turnaround.


Oh okay. So this is what it's really all about? Is it?

Then ask yourself: from a business perspective (well, if you had one in the first place, then you probably wouldn't have posted that) how that would work...

Here you have a venue you've been running for three to four years with attendance declining rapidly season after season to a point where it's less than 700,000 heads (2006 season) in ONE operating year. 700,000. That's 700,000 people visiting a 10-roller coaster park. How should Cedar Fair justify in keeping a place like that open?

Geauga Lake park spokesman Bryan Edwards was quoted in The Plain Dealer stating that X-Flight and Steel Venom TOGETHER gave 438,000 rides rides in 2006...and putting it into understandable numbers, he said that number was LESS THAN HALF the ridership of the least ridden adult coaster at Cedar Point that same season.

Three years running the place without even MAINTAINING attendance numbers is actually MORE time the company should have spent with the place anyway. How many more years should they have waited it out Rob? Huh? How much longer should they have spent losing money running that place? How many more times does Cedar Fair have to report on Geauga Lake's incredibly dismal performance to investors at each quarterly report before they pull in the towel?

You say they didn't even get a chance to turn it around or invest anything to keep attendance up. With 10-roller coasters and two of the most popular of which together had a extremely low ride count, you expect them to go drop millions more in capital at the park? What are you thinking?

You act like you keep changing your tune on the subject and why you're an advocate for saving Geauga Lake -- but it's the same old thing without thinking it through.


You're right, 10 coasters was too much for GL. But at the same time, they didn't even try to bring people back to the rides side. Hell, they moved the waterpark FURTHER from the rides then complained the "footprint" of the park was too large... Call me crazy, but that seems pretty damn intentional towards closing the rides at GL. They didn't have to spend $25 million on the waterpark when they already had one that was quite popular, and close to the rest of the park. I mean the "Boom Town" that Six Flags built was right up next to the waterpark so they covered the entire age range of their guests in a relatively small area, CF kept that area there and moved the rest further away.

Why move the waterpark to the South side? Because real estate in Bainbridge is more valuable than in Aurora. They could have very easily brought the park back down to the original GL footprint. They already sold a third of the land to developers. [240 acres were sold since the acquisition in 2004]

Imagine what they could have accomplished if they had spent that $25 million investing in making the rides-side more attractive again. The park could have survived and been profitable with 5 or 6 coasters and less than a million visitors a year.

Well, could have if it wasn't owned by CF who felt threatened it was stealing people from CP.

Anyone want to bet Kings Island doesn't get any coasters that can "compete" with the kind at Cedar Point? Anyone?


RIP Geauga Lake 1888-2007
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Tuesday, September 25, 2007 3:10 PM
^^ ...kinda like what I've been saying all along. Was the plan to fix the park, or was the plan to buy the park for its collection of expensive attractions and operate it in an attempt to make a little bit of money while plans were made to relocate the rides? I don't know what those rides cost, but let's assume the following:

B&M floorless coaster: $15 million

Intamin Impulse: $12 million

Vekoma Flying Dutchman: $15 million

Vekoma SLC: $10 million

Right there you have $52 million in equipment... used equipment, but equipment that was still relatively new and could easily be introduced as "new" in other parks.

I would't go as far as saying no one could have made the park profitable. I just don't think that Cedar Fair's plan to constantly downsize while building a new waterpark was going to do it. If anything, everything should have remained on the rides side so the Sea World side could be sold for redevelopment. There was already a park in place over there and the waterpark could have been expanded instead of abandoned and "replaced" by an entirely new one.

*** Edited 9/25/2007 7:10:54 PM UTC by Rob Ascough***

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Tuesday, September 25, 2007 3:20 PM
How large is the campground? How much would anyone guestimate what that land is worth? Last time i remember, that campground was fairly large.

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-Mark

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Tuesday, September 25, 2007 3:38 PM

Lord Gonchar said:


But in hindsight, maybe we should be thankful CF picked up the park and gave us four more years of GL because if they didn't I doubt anyone else would have.


Anheuser-Busch and Kennywood were both interested in buying the park. AB wanted thrill rides at SeaWorld and Kennywood wanted to compliment their Pittsburgh park. [Obviously AB was before the Six Flags purchase. But as far as I know Kennywood was still interested when CF purchased the park.]

Also, I am friends with the owner of Zero-G Network [the site that was affiliated with Refreshinglook] and I'm quite sure he is both LOCAL and UNHAPPY with the decision to close the park.

Actually, I've spoke with quite a few locals who are unhappy with this move. The people least upset seem to be thrill-loving teenagers and operaters of Cedar Point sites.

*** Edited 9/25/2007 7:45:28 PM UTC by enfynet***


RIP Geauga Lake 1888-2007
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Tuesday, September 25, 2007 4:17 PM
Jeff's avatar Wow, work really got in the way of keeping up today...

halltd said:
Has it been shown anywhere that Geauga Lake truly was LOSING money? Or, was it just not making enough for them to want it anymore?
Yeah, public companies don't want to make money.

Rob Ascough said:
I reject "conspiracy theory" because it makes people sound like a bunch of misguided morons.
Someone had to say it. :)

Agent Johnson said:
Wahoo Skipper said 'if Funtime couldn't make it work', well Funtime made Geauga Lake work just fine.
Because SeaWorld was their neighbor, sure. Besides, selling it seems like a funny way to indicate you're making it work.

halltd said:
They're not interested in running a local family park that only brings in a modest amount of money. I don't think they know how to do that.
Is that why they bought Michigan's Adventure? That was family owned. They cleaned up the place, priced it right, boosted picnic sales, and experienced double-digit growth. Massive success compared to Geauga Lake. I don't know where you get this corporate mind reading ability of what they're interested in.

halltd said:
The days of family-owned single amusement parks are rapidly coming to a close.
I'll be sure to pass that along to Will Koch this weekend. I'm sure he'll be devastated.

Rob Ascough said:
Then what did they buy it for? ...Taking that into account, the purchase never made sense from Day One.
Well there's something we can both agree on. I remember being skeptical the day it happened, but my enthusiasm was quickly built up just by the idea of getting it the hell out of Six Flags hands. The realities of the environment seemed inconsequential at the time.

Then I remember in 2005, standing in line for the tornado slide, and feeling like this was it. This was the turning point. People can't resist a sweet water park like this, with a set of rides and coasters.

But 2006 wasn't much better. I was in denial about that too. This year it seemed like there were slightly more people in the park, but even I went all of three or four times (as a pass holder, not spending money). Even working so close, I guess I just wasn't very compelled to go. Mind you, I don't think I was the target market either.

It's a bummer, but beyond the initial bad decision of buying the place, I can't honestly say that they didn't do mostly right things in the mean time. Here's hoping the land is worth big cash and they can at least come out even.


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

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Tuesday, September 25, 2007 4:20 PM
Jeff's avatar

enfynet said:
Actually, I've spoke with quite a few locals who are unhappy with this move. The people least upset seem to be thrill-loving teenagers and operaters of Cedar Point sites.
Nice. Because Geauga Lake closing is going to make me and Walt rich!

Locals, as in people near the park, yeah, I'm sure they'll be distraught. (Look how they flocked to the Bainbridge meeting last night.) But Northeast Ohioans in general? Meh. Perhaps it's not the most appropriate metric, but the local media doesn't seem to think the story touches enough people to sell newspapers/gain viewers.


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

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Tuesday, September 25, 2007 4:25 PM
Gemini's avatar Shhh ... they're going to catch on to us.

Walt Schmidt - Co-Publisher, PointBuzz

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Tuesday, September 25, 2007 4:28 PM

Jeff said:
Well there's something we can both agree on. I remember being skeptical the day it happened, but my enthusiasm was quickly built up just by the idea of getting it the hell out of Six Flags hands. The realities of the environment seemed inconsequential at the time.

Then I remember in 2005, standing in line for the tornado slide, and feeling like this was it. This was the turning point. People can't resist a sweet water park like this, with a set of rides and coasters.

But 2006 wasn't much better. I was in denial about that too. This year it seemed like there were slightly more people in the park, but even I went all of three or four times (as a pass holder, not spending money). Even working so close, I guess I just wasn't very compelled to go. Mind you, I don't think I was the target market either.


Of course you weren't the target market- you didn't spend any money in the park. Not an insult, just an observation...

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