Fire destroys Conneaut Lake Park's Dreamland Ballroom

Posted Friday, February 1, 2008 2:57 PM | Contributed by Neil

The cause of the fire that destroyed Conneaut Lake Park’s historic Dreamland Ballroom and part of the amusement park’s midway is being listed as undetermined so far, according to George Deshner, the park’s general manager. The building is said to be a complete loss, and was not insured for fire.

Read more from The Meadville Tribune.

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Friday, February 1, 2008 3:03 PM
It really seems that this may be the final nail in the coffin. If the motors and cars for the rides were located in this warehouse as it said in one of the articles, there's no way CLP can overcome that financial burden. That type of stuff is too expensive for them to come back from.
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Friday, February 1, 2008 3:48 PM
It might even make a sale of the rides impossible which then causes one to wonder how it happned in the first place. Why wouldnt they have insurance unless they couldnt pay that either.
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Friday, February 1, 2008 5:23 PM
They coudln't pay for electric, how could they pay for insurance?

Chuck

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Friday, February 1, 2008 5:34 PM
I am glad I had the chance to go to Conneaut Lake Park. It was a charmer of a park despite it gritty appearances to some.

I think I would have paid for the insurance over paying for electric. It is possible they couldnt pay for either.

Either this will get people donating money to help the park or the park will have no choice but to throw in the towel. If they do throw in the towel, I do hope that a few things move on somewhere else, if possible.

Blue Streak
Devil's Den
Tumble Bug
Carousel

I would be happy if the other rides lived on but the above 4 are in my opinion the ones that have the least likelihood of being bought and moved.

***EDIT - forgot about the Tumble Bug....cant forget that ride.****** This post was edited by beast7369 2/1/2008 5:51:23 PM ***

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Friday, February 1, 2008 5:55 PM
Seriously, can the news get any worse for this park?
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Friday, February 1, 2008 6:37 PM
I hope that the land stays as public use rather than going to a developer that will only build condos that rich people from out of the area can afford. Maybe keep a resort type location with specialty shops and some clubs with indoor concerts and entertainment. Like a downtown Disney/Pleasure Island.
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Friday, February 1, 2008 11:08 PM
^ Since when is it a crime to be rich? The US is full of opportunity. For most wealth is is something that comes from hard work. If you're income doesn't enable you to buy one of those condos then do something about it like those rich people did. Whining and blaming others for what you do not have isn't the solution.With their current debt the sale of part or all of property may be the only choice now. It's over.
*** This post was edited by egieszl 2/1/2008 11:10:11 PM ***
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Friday, February 1, 2008 11:30 PM
Amen to that. You always pipe in at just the right moment. Unless it has to do with breast feeding. ;)
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Saturday, February 2, 2008 12:16 AM

Since when is it a crime to be rich?

Since you opened coasterbuzz.com in your browser. ;)

People who have money, are able to spend money or want to make money are bad.

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Saturday, February 2, 2008 1:40 PM
This is truly sad news.
Not totally unexpected though.
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Saturday, February 2, 2008 2:35 PM

Maybe keep a resort type location with specialty shops and some clubs with indoor concerts and entertainment. Like a downtown Disney/Pleasure Island.

Where would the market for this possibly come from? If people aren't going to drive that whole way for an amusement park, they're sure not going to do it to go to a nightclub and see BonJourney.

There are at least 5 places just like you describe above in Pittsburgh. I'd imagine the same is true for Erie and the Land of Cleves.

Depending on what was stored in the facility below the ballroom, many of the rides are probably history, too. If the motors from the Tumble Bug were in there, the ride's done. If the cars for the Blue Streak were in there, it's beyond hope, too.

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Saturday, February 2, 2008 3:04 PM
...not totally unexpected when the building was sitting dormant, and the last time the wiring was updated was around WW2 or earlier...

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Maybe keep a resort type location with specialty shops and some clubs with indoor concerts and entertainment. Like a downtown Disney/Pleasure Island.

Sounds like that idea in Geneva-on-the-Lake where li'l Erieview Park once stood...So far nothing has happened but clearing of the land.

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Saturday, February 2, 2008 6:27 PM
I was greatly sadened by this fire. This park, while in debt, is being run into the ground by the in ability of those in the area to see through the government red tape. A judge should never be calling the shots of a business and a board of 13 people cannot run a park. Finally they have allowed "parts" of the park to be leased. Bottom line, Kennywood has just been purchased and this park could be part of that group as well. Two much history in this park and it is all being wasted by people without vision to save it. Having sat on the board of directors for this park, I know the debt is not insurmountable. It is just over 2.3 million, in today's world that is nothing, however, the folks in charge don't understand the business and how to get a park back in the green.

The biggest issue is that the local judge is hell bent on this whole public trust issue. The county needs to foreclose and take over the park. Then lease the operation on a long term basis to a private company that will invest in the property. Case in point, Lakemont Park..owned by the county and leased. The problem is that the county doesn't want to remove the park from the tax roles, even though the taxes aren't getting paid. If the county doesn't want it, the state surely doesn't so sell it to people that can make it work.

I fear this park is heading down the same road as so many wonderful gems from years gone by like Ghost Town in the Glenn at Moosic as one by one each building mysteryously burnt to the ground.

There has got to be a company somewhere that would love to keep the park afloat perhaps with a history theme and building a new park in the land that is owned by the park.

BTW Kstein...your idea is a great one...while I was on the board we wanted to turn the park into the Amusement Park Hall of Fame...a working museum dedicated to the amusement park industry. Shot down by the Judge and the court custodian because he was to busy trying to by a political puppet. If this land is public, it should be designated an historic land mark and then money will come to help revitalize it from grants.

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Saturday, February 2, 2008 7:36 PM
Perhaps the park is history, but it seems some people (here and on other boards) almost seem happy about it. That saddens me. Losing this park is a tragedy and a terrible day in amusement park history. It is all good to be "realistic" and pronounce the park dead and whatever, but at least acknowledge the sadness of the situation. I visited this park twice in 2006 and I enjoyed myself so much. There was an atmosphere here that is so rare today. Of course, there were worn out buildings and dirty restrooms, but with the historic buildings, Blue Streak, Tumble Bug, Flying Scooters, train, dark ride and the beautiful carousel, this was a throwback to simpler times. There are not many places like this anymore, and losing it is painful.I understand the financial aspects of all this and acknowledge that all may be lost with this park (although I refuse to give up ALL hope.) I am just really torn up over losing this place...
*** This post was edited by Mikewhy 2/2/2008 7:40:46 PM ***
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Saturday, February 2, 2008 9:55 PM
CLP is one of the classics that still exist...The railroad parks are dying very fast. I would not say the park is dead yet...I would say that it can be saved, but the current way of trying to run the park won't work. Does anyone know of someone that would want to save this park before it is too late??? A group of investors that would step forward perhaps.

There is a strong case for the old to meet the new in planning this park...lots of possibilities!

The blue streak needs annual repairs and last year the park did not open so that means that the wood has two years worth of weather issues. This coaster is not built with pressure treated or sealed lumber...it has major issues if it is not serviced...this coaster alone is worth saving this park. BTW if you never road this coaster at night it is one heck of a ride!!

BTW...while the dreamland housed several parts...many of the parts are stored elsewhere in the park...so don't give up hope on the blue streak cars. They were usually stored closer to the coaster unless they moved them...but usually they were stored in one of the picnic shed areas.*** This post was edited by former board member 2/2/2008 9:55:51 PM ***

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Sunday, February 3, 2008 1:17 AM
First off, the Blue Streak has 4 trains. At least 1 train survived that is stored in the tunnel. At no point in CLP's history has all 4 been in one spot. They have had the same maintenance director since 1984 who knows better.

While the maintenance shops were under the 99 year old ballroom, they can re-supplied, should the decision be made to re-open. CLP has been winterized properly.

Ya, this was bad. Fatal? Hardly. There has to be some removal of red tape to reopen, and they will. Many parks have had fires, and not succummed to the knockout punch.

I am one proud former employee who was awoken with a phone call with horrific news, but honored when asked for advice. I shall assist wherever needed. Do I want to see the ruins in a few days? Hardly, but its not the first time CLP has had a fire, (2 others),nor is it the first time a major fire has hit a regional park.

During a phone call, I was busy digging up ride part numbers and such, only to stop and realize my old bosses office was destroyed. That hurts me the worst, He lost his park collectables and files. Irreplacable. That hurts the most.

Conneaut's signature rides have survuved: Blue Streak, Kaylee Belle, the Train, Carousel, and the Tumble Bug. I would take those anyday over $60 admission and lines elswhere. Call me lame for loving that park, but I will never turn my back, and finally some of my fellow brothers in the industry are also feeling the urge to preserve something. Unlike several other theme park operators.

Now that I think of it, the world would be a better place with Idora, West View, Riverview, and Euclid Beach. While times changed, at least those owners tried their damndest. I often thought Idora Park threw in the towel prior to their 1984 fire. Now, I have more respect for those people who worked with their hearts.

The industry doesn't need rich people. They just need people who care.

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Sunday, February 3, 2008 1:32 AM
^BTW Kstein...your idea is a great one...while I was on the board we wanted

Yup, Bob Iger will be knocking at the door tomorrow to build a Downtown Disney type of destination out of Conneaut Lake Park.

Now I really understand why you're a FORMER board member.
*** This post was edited by egieszl 2/3/2008 1:36:36 AM ***

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Sunday, February 3, 2008 8:43 AM
Yup, Bob Iger will be knocking at the door tomorrow to build a Downtown Disney type of destination out of Conneaut Lake Park.

Now I really understand why you're a FORMER board member.


Your comments are part of the reason this park may not survive. Need to look at the facts. The hotel needs a fortune to become usable and bring it to code. The BS will need at least 100,000 to get it up and running. Without some major $ into the park, it is not feasible to open.

Although I am greatly saddened by this lose to this park, you need to think forward. If someone were to offer the current board the oppotunity to rebuild an entertainment area that would draw people back to the area and the park, is that a bad thing? Need to find solutions not dwell on the past and the problems, that has been the downfall of the park for years.

No one that served on the CLP Board in recent year did so without giving it their all to try and save this park...What have you done except stay on the side lines and complain?

AJ, thanks for the clarification on the trains. I know that one is always on the track. You obviously know the park from working in Maintenance. Which by the way your comment about the part numbers is so important..as many of these rides use parts that can't just be bought any more. (ie the TB).

You are correct with the red tape issue. The problem is that you can't run a business by committee, just doesn't work especially when it is a committee that is governed by the judicial system and the state government. I sincerely hope the new board can get through it all and find someone to reopen this beautiful park...it is a needed attraction to an area that needs a boost.

BTW I think D.S. and the entire maintenance department at this part should be knighted for their efforts over the years. THey have done miracles with nothing. I truly believe without their efforts, this park would have been closed in 1998. She is a stuborn lady and I don't think that the fat lady has sung yet on this park...

as far as rich people...one rich person could save this park...would love to see that person step up!

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Sunday, February 3, 2008 3:42 PM
Why are AJ's comments (and those I've seen/read elsewhere) making me believe there is more than a glimmer of hope that CLP could *still* come back in some form? I'd like to believe there's a chance, but by the same token I don't want to get my hopes dashed a la Whalom...
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