Geauga Lake (June 23, 2005)

Associated parks:
None

Wednesday, July 6, 2005 9:30 AM
My second attempt at this TR… the first one “failed” when my computer froze… so let’s hope this one works... and, wow... is it a long one...

The arrival: Geauga Lake Hotel: We found this hotel through our AAA tour book. Arriving at around 10:45 pm on the night of the 22nd, we ventured inside to the front desk to ask if they had any rooms available for that night. Turns out they had plenty, and by the time we had left the front desk we not only had our room key, but also our park tickets and parking pass for the next day, as well as our “coupon” for the hotel’s free breakfast buffet. The room was average to a bit above average and the employees were friendly and helpful. The breakfast was not your standard complimentary Continental Breakfast, but a full breakfast buffet. Normally I would not comment this much on our lodging, but since CF runs both the hotel and the park, I thought I would include it.

The arrival: The Park: We were parked and standing in front of the entrance by 10am. I don’t recall if any of the ticket booths were actually open since we had our passes from the hotel… but by the way it looked, most people standing there (about 75 to 100 I would guess) had some sort of passes as well. At almost 10am the announcement came over the loud speaker to “please stand for our National Anthem.” Since everyone was already standing, this was really a non issue, but I did notice a few folks who did not remove their hats. Not wanting to get in to trouble I resisted the urge to go up behind them and flick their hats off of their heads. As soon as the anthem ended, the gates were rolled up and every one entered. First picture of the day… Michele standing next to Charlie Brown. One of the employees there asked if I wanted in the picture too… so we handed the camera to her and she snapped the pic.

Steel Venom: 3 rides total – all walk ons. We started off in a counter clock wise direction. Two days earlier I didn’t try Wicket Twister because I didn’t fit in the test seat. Since it was a walk on, I decided to give Steel Venom a try “just in case.” Front seat. I tried and then the op tried and we could not get the belt closed. He told me to move to the seat next to me, that the buckle was not at an angle and that meant the belt did not have to reach as far. I lowered the OTSR and pulled down on the shoulders and he buckled the belt securely. Whew! Two rides in a row… front seat followed by back seat (and a ride at the end of the day in the middle). The front is good for visuals of the launch and going up the twisted front spike, especially on the 2nd circuit when the train goes near the top of the spike… you really seem to come close to the end… but the back spike is not very effective. The back is good for the trip up the back spike… you go the whole way up and get to look down (through the train) at the ground, but the front spike is not very effective. The middle sends you half way up the front and half way up the back spikes, but you don’t experience either fully. Personally, I like the front. A fun coaster. How long until they repaint this and change it to something from its old Superman red and blue?

X-Flight: 1st unsuccessful Attempt: Walk on… waiting for the first seat. The train comes back into the station, the seats rise up and the restraints release, except for the first seat. The 4 people there are trapped lying on their back and restrained. The ops work for a few minutes to release them but with no success. A phone call is made and then the announcement that the ride is being closed for “technical difficulties”, so about half of the people, including me, leave the station. On the way out of the queue I passed one supervisor (at least he was in a dress shirt and wearing a tie) and two maintenance people heading for the ride. I have already ridden Bat Wing and BORG… so if I missed it, it was just a “credit” that I would miss… not the experience.

Head Spin: Another unsuccessful Attempt: Sign at the end of the queue said “Ride Closed” and there were people walking around on the lift spike. Oh well, a boomerang. If I miss it, it will be just missing one for the count… nothing unique about this ride.

Big Dipper: 2 rides back to back, both walk ons: I was really looking forward to this old wooden coaster. It looked to have great air time. The TR’s all say it has great air time. It could have been me… but I didn’t find any of that air. What I did find on my first front seat ride was a coaster that was actually kind of slow. I found the same thing on my second ride in the back seat. Moving on.

Cuyahoga Queen: 1 Ride – Walk on (just had to wait for the boat to return from the other side): Pardon the spelling. I’m from PA and can spell our rivers… Susquehanna, Juniata and even the Schulkyll… but I can’t spell the name of this river. Anyway… heading from Big Dipper to Dino Island, this ferry / river boat is the best choice. A nice little trip across the lake that is functional too.

Escape from Dino Island II: 1 Ride – Walk on after waiting for the previous “show” to end. Great themeing in the entrance area to this simulator. As far as the simulator itself… meh. It was okay I guess, but I am not a very big simulator person. Not bad… but not a “must ride again” attraction either.

Robot 4-D show… or what ever it is called: I didn’t ride this personally. Michele was not in a coaster mood that day, so after Dino Island, she decided to wait around for the next show that would be starting in around 15 or 20 minutes while I walked across the floating bridge and started hitting the coasters on that side of the park. She said it was “cute”.

Raging Wolf Bobs: 2 back to back rides – both walk ons: While I like lots of drops, I actually liked the layout of this coaster even though it featured only one large drop off of the lift hill. What I did not like were the Gerstlauer trains. The coaster seems like it would be rough by its very nature. The fiber glass Gerstlauers made it all that much more rougher. Do I understand that some major work was just done on this coaster and that could account for the sections of unpainted wood?

Dominator: 5 rides total – all walk ons: The coaster highpoint of the day. My first ride was a front seat ride. It was good ride, but nothing to rave about. My next ride was a back seat ride. WOW! What a great coaster. Great pacing, great layouts, great setting. Best part was not the first drop or any of the inversions, but the drop after the midcourse breaks. While not the biggest drop on the layout, it was the one that sent my stomach flying skyward each time.

The operations surprised me too. It was not at all busy (everything was a walk on) but they were still running two trains. The one op surprised me too. I was waiting for the back row on one of my rides. When the train pulled into the station, no one was in the back seat. The op asked. “Which seat would you like, sir?” I said the one on the far left. He unbuckled the belt and lifted the OTSR and moved on. Sad that this politeness in a world of mediocrity caught me off guard… just a statement on our times. Anyway… 3 rides in a row, followed by two back to back rides later in the day. Odd seeing the remains of the old Batman logo on the back of the seats of the one train (erased / filled in) as best as it could be in the attempt to remove all remnants of the brief Six Flags days.

Double Loop: 2 rides – walk ons: Again, one for the count (not sure who this Count person is… or what is Count of… but I sure do a lot of riding for him). Nothing really earth shattering about this coaster. Two loops and a small helix. My second ride came later in the day and not back to back because I had received a walkie talkie message from Michele saying that her robot show was over and she was heading my way.

Lunch: Pizza and Pepsi: I met up with Michele by the entrance to Dominator. Since it as lunch time, we decided to grab a quick bite to eat. We each got a slice of pizza (not bad for “park pizza”, but not great either) and a souvenir bottle of Pepsi. Okay, the bottle was a bit over prices, but considering the cheap price of refills… it paid for itself. Not sure how many refills we got on it (both Pepsi and pink lemonade) but it paid for itself.

Thunderhawk: 2 rides back to back – Walk ons: What can I say… it’s a Vekoma SLC and, contrary to popular opinion, I like these coasters. The experience is a standard SLC ride… but the head banging and roughness was not too bad. Nice setting too… and the orange paint job looks much better than the old dark red and aqua blue that I have seen in pictures.

Beaver Land Mine Ride: 1 ride – walk on: A “family” coaster with one heck of a long train. Watching it as I approached, I decided to go for the back seat. What a surprise. That little thing had some laterals on it that, even though I was pretty much wedged under the tight fitting bar and seat belt, still sent me flying to the side of the car.

Villain: 4 rides in a row – All walk ons: This coaster looks like it should be great. It has a very interesting layout. However, as with Raging Wolf Bobs, the Gerstlauer trains kill this thing. Even if it ran heavy PTC trains it would still be an aggressive coaster… but with the lighter Gerstlauer’s, it was down right brutal. The front seat gave the “best” ride (best as in not doing any physical damage to my person). I would have liked to do 5 rides on this coaster, but had to give up after 4.

Snack time: Sweet Corn: Okay… so it wasn’t so sweet... as a matter of fact, it was kind of sour. A duck waddled by our feet as we were sitting there eating. Michele gave him a few kernels off of her ear of corn. He examined it, and he refused to eat it. Guess we were not the only ones who thought it was bad.

Game time: Guess my weight: We usually don’t go in for games at parks… but we made an exception. The girl at the game asked which we wanted her to guess and I said my weight. Michele then said to me “win me something for my birthday.” “Is it really your birthday?” the girl asked. Michele admitted that it was close… her birthday was actually a week earlier. “Okay,” the girl said and looked at me. “I think you weight… oh… around 137 pounds,” she said with her obviously wrong guess. I said “Is that your real guess?” She said, “That’s what I guessed.” I stepped on the scale and it registered… considerably more than 137 lbs. “Well… look at that… guess I was kind of wrong.” Michele picked a soft green frog in an orange sweater. The girl wished her happy birthday again as we continued on.

Pepsi Plunge - One Ride – walk on: Fun little log flume, but it is showing its age…. Also, I am not sure if I have ever been in a “log boat” that has rocked so much from side to side. Anyone know why they have the policy that single / two riders will be loaded in the front part of the boat, regardless if they are the only people in the boat or not?

Americanna Ferris Wheel - One Ride – walk on: Good way to sit down and get off your feet while still being on a ride. Nice way to see around the park too. Slowly, I am starting to loose my anxiety over Ferris wheels. I can ride any coaster, but get me on a Ferris wheel and I get nervous… being that high off the ground in a swinging gondola makes me nervous. (I’m not very good with sky rides either)

Merry Oldies - One Ride: Aside from coasters, log flumes, Ferris wheels, dark rides (if there are any) and antique car rides are something we always ride at parks, so we had to grab a ride on Merry Oldies. Typical car ride, not much to say there, but it was odd the way the cars were dispatched. On all other car rides I know of, the cars are emptied as they return, driven forward by an employee (hanging off the side of the car), filled with the next riders, and sent off with no stacking. Here, all cars on the course were unloaded and pulled forward to the loading area and all loaded at the same time and sent off as they were loaded, so they were all bunched up on the course. There were only 5 cars running on this slow day, so not sure how they work things when it is busy.

Head Spin: 1 Ride – Walk on: Having made a full circle around the park, I returned to Head Spin which had been running since around noon. Not your typical boomerang… and that is not a good thing. It is not typical because it seemed rougher than most, and this was in the front seat. I can not imagine what the back of the train would have felt like. One ride was enough. Rename this one “Head Ache”.

X-Flight: 2st unsuccessful Attempt: Checked X-Flight again (after my one ride on Head Spin and my third ride on Steel Venom) and did not even get as far as I got last time. An employee stationed at the end of the queue said that it was down and she was not sure how long it would be closed. Check back later. Well, it was getting late in the day and we had a long drive ahead of us, so I just resigned my self to the fact that X-Flight would not be flown… at least by me… on that day.

Mr. Hyde’s Nasty Fall: One Ride – Walk on: I really didn’t plan on riding this, but since my X-Wing time was not being used and I was walking right past this ride, I decided to get a quick ride. After riding this as well, as well as Stuntman Free Fall at Great Adventure earlier this year, I’ve decided that I like these first generation free falls better than the tower versions that have replaced them. There is just something about being strapped in to a chair, lifted up an elevator, and then being pushed out of a window that is fun! Great air on the way down.

Shopping and Dinner: Before we left the park we did some shopping at the Snoopy Boutique. While Michele was on the cell phone with her mother back home trying to find the sizes of our two nieces so she could buy them some sort of shirts, I snuck off and did some shopping of my own. Michele likes Peanuts (especially Snoopy and Charlie Brown… and she somehow identifies with Lucy and her “Psychiatric Help 5 cents” booth), snow globes, and music boxes. I came across a snow globe that had Charlie Brown talking to Lucy at her “Psychiatric” booth in the globe, with various other characters around the base. The base also played the Peanut’s Theme (“Lucy and Linus” I believe is the correct name of it. Some how I managed to get it, pay for it, and send the clerk on a frantic search for its correct box all before Michele discovered what was going on. When we paid for the things she was buying for our nieces and her dad (who was keeping an eye on our house while we were gone), the clerk slipped the musical snow globe into the bag as well. Michele was really surprised when she went to look at the things she bought and found the globe there.

Anyway… We also knew that we had a 6 hour drive ahead of us… so we decided we had better eat something before we left. Pizza for her, a bacon cheeseburger for me, and of course a refill of our souvenir cup. The food was okay compared to normal food, better than average for park food.

X-Flight (Finally!) – Two Rides, Back to Back- Walk ons: After eating, we decided to call it a day and get on the road for home. Walking out the exit, the woman sitting there asked about a hand stamp. We said that we weren’t returning, so it wasn’t necessary. No more than 20 feet beyond the exit and I looked left and saw that X-Flight was now running! “Oh great,” I said, eternal pessimist that I am, “We leave and that stinkin’ thing now opens back up.” “Come on,” Michele said and turned and walked back to the lady at the exit. “Hi, remember us…” she asked her and explained about X-Flight now running and how we missed it all day and she asked if we could get back in. The employee said, “Well… I shouldn’t really do this, but okay,” she said. Once back inside the park, Michele (kind of tired from the day) found a bench and sat down while I headed off for X-Flight. For my first ride I got in the front row on the far right left side. Two kids (early teens maybe) were in the right two seats with an empty seat between us.Going up the lift hill one said how he was going to ride with his “hands up”. I assured him that I would be holding on. The two of them kept on me the whole way up the lift… “Hold your hands up… hold your hands up…” As the train made its first roll at the top, I thought “What the heck” and cautiously released my death grip on the grab handles. To my surprise, it wasn’t so bad, and slowly I “held my hands up”, which meant out in front of me. Odd as it was, I believe it is worse to ride this type of coaster holding on than it is to ride it like this! Not sure why… but when I hold on, my legs have a tendancy to want to bend and feel very uncomfortable in the shin restraints.

With my arms above my head, I suppose I am stretched out more and my legs and feet stay straighter and more firm against the foot rest. What ever it was, this was my first ride on this coaster that was more fun than scary! After the ride was over, I went through the queue again and grabbed a back seat ride… again with hands up! You’re probably thinking… “Hands up… big deal…” But for me, it was. Like I said, I don’t like heights, and looking straight down at the ground, even when secured in this type of coaster, is a little unnerving. Letting go was like taking a “leap of faith” on this thing. Next time, I will not be so quick to dismiss one of these Flying Dutchman as simply “one for the count.” The bad news, the closest coaster of this type to me is Batwing at SFA. Basically a clone of X-Flight, except for one major addition… While X-Flight was a walk on, BatWing seems to have been built with a standard 1 to 2 hour wait!

Anyway… After X-Flight I rejoined Michele and this time we really did leave the park for the day and started on our drive home. Come to think of it… the PA turnpike, with all of its twists and turns and heavy truck traffic at night time was actually the scariest ride of the day!

Bottom Line: Michele and I both liked Geauga Lake. The park really has three personalities… the oldest area to the right when you enter (built around Big Dipper), the White Water Landing area (old Sea World), and the “western(?)” looking area… to the left of the entrance (that includes Wolf Bobs, Villian, Thunderhawk, Dominator, etc). Based on character alone, I liked the “Western” look the best… but it was all nice. What surprised us was the crowds, or should I say the lack of crowds. I understand that the park gets pretty packed on weekends with company picnics and other groups, but on this day it was very light. The park did not feel abandoned, since there were plenty of people walking in the midways, but the rides seemed empty with all being walk ons. Of course, the fact that there were about 7 employees loading and dispatching Dominator (a two train operation on a very slow day too!) could also have helped… things seemed very efficient. The employees also seemed friendly. The park was also very clean and looked very good.

All of this along with its solid coaster line up (especially Dominator, Steel Venom, and X-Flight) made this probably or favorite park of our vacation… and that is not saying that we did not like Michigan’s Adventure, Indiana Beach, Wyandot Lake (however brief the stop was), or Cedar Point. We really enjoyed all of those parks… but there was something about GL that really caught both of us. I understand that last year was a bit rough with the ownership change on short notice… but Cedar Fair seems to be on the right track after the folly that was known as Six Flags Worlds of Adventure.

Geauga Lake is certainly a park that Michele and I look forward to returning too again.

*** Edited 7/6/2005 1:38:24 PM UTC by SLFAKE***

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Wednesday, July 6, 2005 9:47 AM
The problem with the Villain is not the trains, it's the state of the track. That thing ran just fine with the same trains when it opened.
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Wednesday, July 6, 2005 9:59 AM
Villain's roughness:

It opened in may of 2000 and ran for 4 seasons under Six Flag's care. It's now in its second season under Cedar Fair's care.

So... Is the "state of the track" a result of:

1) Poor Design

2) Neglect during its first 4 seasons (while SF poured more money into other areas instead of maintaining existing rides)

3) Neglect during last season and this season (Has CF given up on it, or are they pouring more resources into other areas... like Wild Water Kingdom... to get them up to speed while just maintaining existing rides to get by untill an overhaul can be done)

4) one or more of the above

5) something else that I haven't hit on

6) who knows

*** Edited 7/6/2005 1:59:41 PM UTC by SLFAKE***

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Wednesday, July 6, 2005 10:21 AM
Me and my wife were there July 2nd and the crowds were excactly as you described them on that Saturday. Though Dominator was running two trains they continually ran one train on X-Flight. They even kept switching the trains around. They also closed Thunderhawk at 2:30 to take a train off(could've been mechanical I guess). I still like the park, but please just run everything.
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Wednesday, July 6, 2005 10:50 AM
Why does it seem that CF doesn't like woodies. ;)

They haven't built any at all and the ones they have don't run so hot. Well, I'm not sure how Ghostrider is but... yeah.

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Wednesday, July 6, 2005 10:55 AM
I'm convinced it's neglect. They did officially say that while the expected to rehab the ride this year, it wasn't going to happen until next year. I don't know if it was a money issue or time.
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