Geauga Lake: Memorial Day's Mis-Adventures. What Happened To This Park? (long w/pix)

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DawgByte II's avatar
I know I'm a little late on this... but better late than never!

I'm not one who normally writes trip reports, especially in Coasterbuzz when it can get lost among the other bazillion trip reports, but I thought I'd share my experience with the rest of the 'coasting community because aside from Cedar Point, this was my favorite park to visit when it was Worlds of Adventure.

I decided to also make a little pictoral report, so when you see the hyperlink, I got a picture for a little visual refrence! ;)

My overall park experience was great. I had an excellent time and got to ride everything I wanted to. Every single ride was open except Grizzley Run, which was completely drained out. Steel Venom had the holding brake working and rides had virtually no wait at all, which is where some of the negatives come into play.

First of all, I have to comment on how clean the park was. Even on the queue leading up to Dominator, there were more garbage cans present than in a game of Rollercoaster Tycoon. The park had extremely clean midways and there were employees walking around who cleaned up anything that may have been lying around. The bathrooms themselves were also VERY clean. Each time I used the bathroom, there was an attendant either in or around the bathroom cleaning it, mopping the floor, or changing the garbage. It was very refreshing & nice to see. Having it air-conditioned inside was also nice considering how humid it was outside.

But along with how clean the park was, also goes to show how EMPTY the park was. For a holiday such as Memorial Day where there was a ZERO percent chance of rain, the parking lot was about 1/5th full at its peak time, including the waterpark side! I was floored how empty it was. This park, a few years ago when it was Worlds of Adventure, was filled at LEAST half-way during an early June (or late May) day in 2003. I don't know what cedar Fair did to scare away the crowds, but it was good for me, bad for business. I really felt bad for the park because here lies this extremely clean park with nice midways and there's nobody walking around!

Like I said, most midways had maybe a few stragglers walking around, but for the most part it was fairly empty.
The rides were even worse.
As I mentioned, all rides were opened... but because of the light crowds, many rides sat idle waiting for guests to board them! Steel Venom sat for up to 10 minutes waiting for people to board. When they did, I saw it launch with only 2 people in the front! I can't even count how long Headspin sat without anyone boarding it (and yes, it was open as there were 2 employees just waiting for people to come on).

Dominator ran two trains constantly while all others were one train. Dominator had the largest crowd, which isn't saying much. There was maybe a 2 or 3 train wait for front during peek hours, but otherwise you could walk on & off in no-time.
As you can see HERE, Texas Tornado didn't have that many riding it... but that was atypical of the entire park.

The largest line came around 3pm or so on the Pepsi Plunge which actually had a line that looked like a 10 or so minute wait.


Early during the day until about noon or so, you could walk on any water park attraction. Liquid Lightning was a walk-on as well as the entire slide complex. Only in the early afternoon did it pick up & a wait of about 20 minutes was expected on Liquid Lightning. The slide complex was the same one from 2003's Worlds of Adventure & had a roughly 10 minute wait for either the body or tube slides. Those were really fun, but pitch black!

What I didn't expect from Wildwater Kingdom was the LACK of slides! I thought that WWK actually was going to have more, including some carried over from the old Geauga Lake/Worlds of Adventure days such as the Shark Attack tube slides & the speed slides. The lazy adventure river "Riptide Run", was OK... but a little disappointing because there were only a few really wet moments that seemed to come at the very end. A few sprinklers and then eventually a waterfalls. I also don't like how there wasn't an lifeguard/employee at the entrance of Riptide Run to kind of keep things in order. People can go around & around without getting off, but there were very limited tubes, so you literally had to fight your way to the front to grab a tube from someone who was leaving the area and if you were not agressive enough, you would be standing there for about 10 minutes waiting to get a tube! Not too smart.

The rest of the waterpark was ok, but the bridge crossing to Corel Cove was EXTREMELY hot on bare feet, and should have used real wood. It was hotter than cement and even black pavement. I sincerely hope the park plans on adding more to the waterpark because as nice as some parts look, it's still very sloppy in other areas, especially the old boarded up reptile house between the floating bridge & the wave pool.

Speaking of the wave pool, it was the only water that was heated. Not that it needed it. The hot weater made all water feel refreshing, but the heated wave pool was nice! Once the waves came, they were quite huge. They had a pattern that was better than most wave pools I've been in, and you can almost get right in the front of the pool which reached 6' deep (waveless). Only a few tube renters which was good for those who don't rent & hate getting smacked in the head by the blow-up monsters.


Food was very fair. It was overpriced as expected, but still could have been hotter or fresher. The pizza was $4.00 a slice, and at the "All American Grill" you couldn't just get a burger, you had to get a "burger value meal" at $6.99. The souvineer mugs were at least nice with a few choices and the refills run you $1.99 each. The only highlight was the cotton candy which literally melted within minutes in the open air due to the hot & humid conditions. It started off ok at first, but towards the later afternoon & early evening, there were FOUR employees working the "Drive In" food stand, and just couldn't keep the supply up with the demand. People were asking for 1, 2, up to 6 sticks of cotton-candy! It just took them forever to make 'em and the lines that were maybe 4 people deep took at least 10 minutes sometimes. You also don't get that much. When they lowered it down to a quarter, you basically got what you paid for. It's not like the old $2.00 stick of cotton candy, you can finish it in less than 5 minutes.

They promoted the old Beachcombers restaurant with a bunch of signs all around the park, but that just seemed so far out of the way because it was at the far end of the park. I didn't see too many people heading in or out of it, but I did notice some business.

Speaking of that area, I must say what a SAD state that is currently in. We took the monorail & I got a good view of the former waterpark area. The LEAST Geauga Lake could have done is to hire a construction company to bull-doze that area & cover it with some fill, top soil & plant some grass. Instead, it looks like the remains of the apolocypse! Dirty old lazy river with junk such as brooms, pallets & other stuff lingering inside it as well as empty slides and SHARK ATTACK slides! They were installed in 2003 there and it looks like after 3 little years, they've taken a beating worse than Rodney King!

I know this area could be used in future expansion... but for the time being, Geauga Lake should at least make it pleasant to look at, especially of the monorail goes over it & the Sky Scraper runs right along side of it!

If this day is any indication of how the season will be, Geauga Lake is in for a serious heap of trouble!!! I'm glad all rides were open (except Grizzly), but when you have rides that sit idle waiting for guests, and midways that are so empty, you could launch a rocket down without hitting anyone, you know you've got troubles! This picture shows how bored the ride-op is waiting for guests!!


For the coasters & rides themselves...
> Double Loop ran ok. We got the last ride before it broke down at around 12:30 & didn't open since.
> Headspin ran like any other boomerang, and was not only an easy walk-on, but sat idle many times waiting for guests.
> Dominator ran very smooth in the front, some vibration in the back. Still as great as every & was a walk-on easily with GREAT dispatch each time (launching it before the other train reached the halfway point!). It was the only coaster with two trains running,
> Thunderhawk was like any other SLC, but always had some people. I don't notice a difference between those restraints & any other SLC restraints.
> Raging Wolf Bobs was very very smooth & fast (albeit squeaky) but... I hate to say this about a coaster... boring! No real lateral G's, no pops of air. Just fast with an ok layout.
> Steel Venom ran perfect. Holding brake was on & no wait-times. Sometimes sat idle waiting for guests as well, but I still love this coaster & could marathon run it for hours.
> X-Flight was just as great as I remember in the front & back. Again, minimal wait-time, but if there was one, it was maybe a one or two train wait.
> Big Dipper is still my favorite woodie because of the huge amounts of air-time & how the lapbar doesn't constrain you like other woodies. I'll never ride it in the back again, though.
> Villan... the big suck-o-roni of them all. I rode it in the front, and I just didn't like it. I can't say it's the WORST wooden I've ridden (that belongs to Cyclone at New England), but it could have been so much more. It just doesn't have the smoothness that it should/could have!

Although the food service employees weren't all that bright or attentive, I must give props to the ride-ops who not only interacted with us, but also asked us how our day was going, how we were doing, and how our ride was. This included ones over the PA & the indivudal ones who strapped us in (such as X-Flight). I appreciate that interaction and it helped with our overall guest experience.

The only really BAD experience I had at the park were the constant CONSTANT constant annoying games employees who kept nagging one after the other after the OTHER to play their stupid game. They almost got to the point of harrassment. Some seemed ok, and were singing along to the songs played over the JBL speakers (which, I must say... was a highlight to hear music everywhere)... but others just bothered the crap outta me.

I just wonder why it was so empty on this holiday! The only crowded area was the waterpark which made sense, but there should have been so many more people there filling the midways. Why was it so empty? Free parking pass + discount Cedar Point Guide coupons = a cheap day of rides & slides!!

If business is as bad as I experienced all season long, I don't think we're going to see the changes that NEED to be made to truly convert this park back into Geauga Lake (ie: rid of the reptile house & move some more slides into the waterpark and get rid of the old waterpark side by leveling it & landscaping it, or adding a couple more rides to that area).

Now, if you made it to the end of this Trip Report and haven't fallen asleep, I thank you. :)

*** Edited 6/1/2006 10:55:38 PM UTC by DawgByte II***

Nice report. I'm hoping to make it there this summer.
One comment: What's up with those big nets seen in the Big Dipper picture?

DawgByte II's avatar

I think it was theming left over from the waterpark days, if I'm not mistaken. It was cropped, but it's not too far from the old wavepool, and they left a lot of old theming from there in place.

Lord Gonchar's avatar
You know, Geauga Lake does have a problem.

The problem is how to overcome the negative public perception of the place after SF totally failed on every level with the park turning generations of local loyal visitors into no shows in just a few short years.

It's much harder to build that trust back than it is to lose it.

bobthecoasterguy's avatar
Nice TR. I just wish Splashin' Safari was that empty on Memorial Day. *** Edited 6/1/2006 11:48:53 PM UTC by bobthecoasterguy***


I visited GL for the first time last year around the 2nd week of June. When my cousin and I pulled up to the parking lot, we could not believe how empty is was. Just like in your trip report. I thought the place would be much busier after the new water park opened,but I guess not. I don't know about you, but when a park is that empty is is almost creepy. The games employees were all over us too, I think out of pure boredom.
Jeff's avatar
You should contribute that Steel Venom pic with the sun behind the cloud to the site. That's a really awesome shot.

Jeff - Editor - - My Blog

I agree, that Steel Venom pic is amazing!

Geauga is best known for the water park thus the ride side is always empty when it's open. It's like that all season long.

Fun's avatar
I found Dorney Park to be similar in the sense that everything had very short lines, even the new Hydra was only a 5 minute wait on a beautiful sunny day.
I agree about the Steel Venom pic btw, that is pretty nice. I wonder why it was so empty, reminds me of all those pictures you see of those japanese parks. (most of those never seem to have any people in them)
Back in the late 80's and early 90's I remember purposely going to GL or CP on Memorial Day because the parks were never crowded. I don't know what CP was like on Memorial Day this year but I'm assuming things have changed in the last 10+ years or so on that day.


You have disturbed the forbidden temple, now-you-will-pay!!!

Labor Day is usually not too crowded at most paks also.

I visited Geauga Lake last year and I had a nice time. I really liked the Big Dipper also. Its the kind of ride that I just love to ride over and over again. I'll agree also that Villian seemed a little rough. The ride would be great if it were a little smoother.

My band "The Cedar Kings". "Ordinary Day" a trip report in song.

Nice trip report, it does tend to be a quiet park. It was that crowded both trips I took there last year. One mid-week during the summer, the other was the last day of operations which was during the halloween thing. Rides were walkons but I could tell there was a crowd in the halloween area.
This may be part of the reason why the park is never busy anymore: Back when SF had the park I would see commercials on TV all the time here in Erie Pa. Now that cedar Fair owns it you only see TV adds once in a while.

Pittsburgh, City of Champions!
Steelers + Penguins
2009 What a great year!

One has to remember that SF also marketed the park as a destination for people all around the country or beyond. It drew them, but because of the SF ways, they stopped coming back.

Now that the park is regional at best, and the commercials don't make it out of Ohio very often, (I finally saw one here in PA yesterday. This is following slews of CP commercials.) people have no idea about the place.

Sooo many people I talk to or what not still think it's either SF or it's closed. When I reveal the change to them, their amazed. I even got my cable guy to take a weekend trip with his family. Said he had a blast! They really need to step up the game on advertising though, it's just not enough.

Went to DW and HP this weekend and saw a billboard on the PA Turnpike outside of Pittsburgh advertising GL with the slogan:

The Park That's Closer, Doesn't Come Close!

I'm not sure I like that, an obvious shot at Kennywood. Didn't SF use a putdown campaign against CP that failed miserably?


You have disturbed the forbidden temple, now-you-will-pay!!!

Yeah, the now infamous "I drove past Cedar Point" TV ad.

X Factor

Ride of Steel's avatar

X Factor said:
"I drove past Cedar Point" TV ad.

Who the hell would do that?

Nice TR. I visited this park several times the first year Cedar Fair took over, and it was empty each time I visited. Nothing at all like when it premiered as Six Flags Ohio. Although you can really maximize your coaster-riding time (and hence get more return on YOUR investment) by visiting this park, there is SOME amount of excitement that's elaborated by a big crowd, you know? Walking around the place when it's deserted is a bit depressing. It reminds me of (other) times when the park was a much more exciting place to be.

That being said, I went to CP on Memorial Day and it, too, had a rather light crowd. Nothing like that depicted here, however.

How depressing the pics were of the old water park! Rather surprising that Cedar Fair would have let that go. *** Edited 6/3/2006 2:52:37 AM UTC by ophthodoc***

kpjb's avatar

LdScotsman said:
Went to DW and HP this weekend and saw a billboard on the PA Turnpike outside of Pittsburgh advertising GL with the slogan:

The Park That's Closer, Doesn't Come Close!

I'm not sure I like that, an obvious shot at Kennywood. Didn't SF use a putdown campaign against CP that failed miserably?


That ad should read "The park that's closer draws 1/2 million more people per season without slashing their gate price, so they must be doing something right."

They were probably gonna use that, but it wouldn't fit on the billboard. :(


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