Geauga Lake review, 7/7/2005

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Friday, July 8, 2005 12:47 PM
I finally got to Geauga Lake yesterday (7/7/05) after holding off for a very long time. My opinions are a mixed bag, but I think that generally the park is headed in the right direction. I haven't been to the park since I believe 2002.

The park wasn't crowded exactly, but from what people tell me it was a little above average. Certainly the nice weather helped. Unlike, say, Cedar Point, there isn't a big rush when the gates open. It was more of a trickle.

The first thing I noticed is how generally clean it is. That's a real switch from the Six Flags days. The general condition of the facility as a whole varies from one place to the next, and nothing feels "settled" yet. It's obvious the park is still in transition, and I'm sure we can expect one more year of that. The area around the old water park, for example, has all of those obnoxious walls, and you'll also find them at the edges of the new water park and in front of buildings like the old Shark Encounter. Then there are just ugly things, like a former guess-your-weight stand empty and abandoned by the monorail station, and a little lot across from the big netting play area that I think had a hi-striker, also empty. I certainly realize these are temporary, but the park has to be anxious to get this transition done.

With regards to signage and paint, there's certainly some room for improvement. Painting Thunderhawk was certainly a good start. Super Venom should be next, or they need to put up a logo that matches the ride. I think the whole station of that ride is obnoxious to begin with (the big grid is kinda ugly), but the mismatched color feels cheap. That entire midway area between the Impulse and down to X-Flight on that side needs trees or landscaping or something (the vegetation under Head Spin works).

And that leads me to signage. The Starfish is just kind of there, and unless you look really close at the legal sign, you don't know what it's called. X-Flight's path isn't horribly obvious either. I think the entire park would benefit from having signs a la the Busch parks that indicate the direction to get to major attractions like roller coasters, simulator films, etc.

Some areas of the park are in really nice shape, and should be more or less left alone. Six Flags was good enough to not mess with that entire midway from Thunderhawk back to Double Loop, and actually made it better when they added Villain. Again, that should stay as-is. The wooded area around the swinging ship and that collection of flat rides is really nice as well. The Yo-Yo needs its old signage back. I hope they keep that area as-is and don't decide to banish those rides to the area of the old water park.

Ride maintenance is a mixed bag. The renovation of the first half of Wolf Kabobs resulted in an amazing transformation. Not only is the ride a lot smoother, but it's really kind of fun! The fun ends where the new track ends though. If they retracked/rebuilt that turn closest to Batinator, I think there would be enough speed left in the rest of the ride to really tie the whole thing together. I'm not ready to count that ride out!

Villain is a nightmare. I still think that ride was a top-10 for wood coasters when it opened, but the track gauge is so sloppy at the bottom of every hill that it's beyond uncomfortable and in the realm of causing damage now. I don't think the trains are an issue (though they could certainly use some paint).

Biggest disappointment? Domainator! Since the acquisition, I expected that they'd put new springs and new wheels on the trains, but they have not. Maybe springs, but definitely not wheels. You could feel the bumps just going up the lift, and it's rough for a B&M. That ride could be my favorite floorless if it wasn't jerking me around like that. The saving grace is there's virtually no trim at the mid-course, so you get that pop of air.

Ride operations generally are much better and there are more people. Contrary to other reports, I don't think the ride operators are rude, but they're obviously bored and maybe indifferent. That's a problem because when they get busy, they don't have the hussle they should. While a three-train wait on Steel Venom isn't horrible, why make the guest wait if you don't have to?

To their credit, they are running multiple trains almost everywhere, though Villain had only one with people three-trains deep. Again, not a big deal. In fact, in terms of overall ride availability, I had never seen Time Warp run under Six Flags ownership. On this visit, the only ride I saw down was the Boomerang, and that was only temporary.

The real gem, clearly, is going to be the water park. That's the reason the park will pack in the people for years to come. So far, the transformation is stunning. The big tower of slides looks so much better not being packed into that tight space, and overall there's room to maneuver around. The lazy river and that insanely huge kids play area is awesome. The Tornado looks amazing. I wish they would've opted for older trees to plant (I think it's a Cedar Fair rule not to do that), but other than that the entire area looks fabulous. When phase 2 hits next year, there won't be a lot of water parks anywhere that can compare to this. Rightfully so, their new TV spot focuses on the water park.

Food is kind of a sore spot for me in terms of value and variety. First on value... the $3 sodas again. Make no mistake, the admission price point is a huge value and I imagine that'll start pulling people in like crazy. But when you pay that, then you see $3 sodas, well, that feels all wrong. I realize that per cap spending is the way to grow revenue, but I don't think that's the right approach.

And part of that lack of value comes in the lack of quality and variety of the food. I counted I think five places on the map you could get pizza. The rest of the menu around the park is largely uninspired and bland. The one exception I saw was funnel cakes with fresh strawberries and chocolate. That's an outstanding idea. I think there's opportunity to create more perceived value by offering more quality stuff. That's what makes Busch Gardens' food so great. Yeah, that piece of pie is almost $3 with my $6 spaghetti and meatballs, but it's great stuff. That's value, even by theme park standards.

And finally... $9 parking. Not cool. I don't know how common my situation is, but I'm a CP passholder that bought the $26 upgrade. I didn't buy a $60 GL parking pass because that's insane compared to what I paid for admission, and I doubt I'll go seven times to make it "worth it." So now do I visit the park for a couple of hours where I'll spend money on food and Skee-Ball after I had to drop $9 on parking? Probably not. It's the thing that's holding me back from visiting. The value isn't there. To me it would make more sense to raise admission by a buck or two and drop parking to $5. If that was the case, as a combo passholder, I'd got every other week. There's more value in a $5 visit.

Overall, yes, the park is on the right track. Big time. The marketing focus on the water park is the right one. The key to making it all work will be continued emphasis on the water park, getting through this transitional phase and figuring out how to balance revenue to create more perceived value.

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Friday, July 8, 2005 1:42 PM
You didn't mention Big Dipper- did you ride that? That ride was a serious let-down in 2002 but absolutely blew me away last year. I don't know what they did to it, but whatever it was, it should be shared with Villain!
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Friday, July 8, 2005 5:28 PM
Nope... the line was seriously long, and I didn't plan on spending a lot of time there. Will probably hit that next time.
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Friday, July 8, 2005 6:02 PM
when i first visited the water park i too was stunned. The best move taken at that park since....... i cant recall..Texas Twister??
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Friday, July 8, 2005 7:01 PM
Yeah, I've been telling alot of people that WWK is probably one of the most beautiful waterparks I've ever been to. The theming, the attractions, the whole atmosphere of the place is VERY carribean and truely feels like a getaway.

The lush landscaping, from the waterfalls, trees, bushes and Rockwork is just beautiful to say the least. But what is most interesting is that the landscaping has only begun, as gardeners and such are working everyday STILL, bringing in and planting new stuff, along with added touches in areas already done.

The scenery left from Sea World plays a big role in the landscaping of this park. Without it, it wouldn't be half of what it is. another thing I should note, is new Palm trees are popping up everywhere around the park now, and are still very young, as some haven't even grown their leaves yet. A sign that CF is here to stay, and only wants the best for the park, unlike SF's plastic palms. What is funny is that SF had live Palms put into their new Hurricane Harbor waterpark at SFGA, and over half of them are wilting and dying. They planted them when they were already full size palms. SF tried, but they still just can't get it.

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Friday, July 8, 2005 9:43 PM
There is a unique opportunity there to preserve a couple decades worth of landscaping from the Busch days. So far what they've taken out they had to, but the entry area near the turnstiles looks great still (sans the Shamu statue) and overall they're on the right track. I look forward to seeing how they do with the rest.
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Friday, July 8, 2005 10:49 PM
I'm really impressed with it. I think they are doing a great job on this park. WWK that is. It really is beautiful.

One other thing, does anyone else here consider Happy Harbor as part of WWK, because I do, simply because of the division between the lake from the rides side.

However future expansion could see perhaps something along the old path by wolf bobs, which will bring Happy Harbor together with the rest of the rides side. I don't know, I just love the new GL&WWK is all I know.

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Friday, July 8, 2005 11:09 PM
Rob Ascough--

They haven't done anything to Big Dipper!!!! It is awesome and offers more airtime in the back than any other ride on earth. However, they have added a logo sign to the front of the trains, that's it. *** Edited 7/9/2005 3:12:22 AM UTC by Spencer***

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Saturday, July 9, 2005 12:53 AM
I believe the Dipper recieved some new wheels this year.
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Saturday, July 9, 2005 1:25 AM
I had a guest today from Wisconsin, who was visiting family that lives near the park, give the park one of the best compliments I have heard all year!

After I asked her about the Dells and about Noah's Ark, she commented to me that GL&WWK was BETTER than Noah's Ark. Based on what she told me, I think the quality of the new Wildwater Kingdom, along with the rides side (which Noah's Arc does not have) makes GL&WWK a better overall park than the country's biggest water park!

And Jeff, you had to visit on my day off, didn't you? But it is good to hear the positive reviews of our park. I am proud to be a part of this exciting transition, as I know GL is truly becoming a great park!

-Sam

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Saturday, July 9, 2005 2:08 AM

lakecrystal said:


What is funny is that SF had live Palms put into their new Hurricane Harbor waterpark at SFGA, and over half of them are wilting and dying. They planted them when they were already full size palms. SF tried, but they still just can't get it.


Nevermind the fact that Illinois is in its 3rd worst drought in recorded history. SFGAm got these palms from Florida and I am sure with the money they paid for them, don't want to see them die off. So to say SF tried, but still can't get it shows you have no clue what you are talking about. We need rain!!!!!!!!!!!

The focus of this TR is Geauga Lake and not a park 6 hours west of it.

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Saturday, July 9, 2005 3:03 AM
Scary thing Jeff, Dominator is running BETTER this year. And yes, Villan is in need of some very serious work. The hard-rubber Gerslauers don't help, though.
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Saturday, July 9, 2005 3:25 AM
Agreed. Batinator is much better than it was last year. Still not too smooth, though.

I took a lap in a middle row earlier this season and got boxed in the ear really, really hard going into the loop. The same day I hopped in the front row of the same train and it was smooth as glass.

That ride is inconsistant from row to row and from train to train. It definately feels like it needs some spring lovin'. There seem to be a few bad wheels, too.

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Saturday, July 9, 2005 2:50 PM
Yeah, it's probably not fair for me to say it's all bad. I could've been on a bad wheel. And come to think of it, the lateral shuffling you used to see the rest of the train do in front of you I didn't see this time, so maybe there are newer springs at least.
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Saturday, July 9, 2005 6:56 PM
On the subject of Dominator's lateral shuffling, why does the entire train shake to the right about a 1/5 of the way up the loop? The shuffling is gone everywhere else making me think that it might not be the wheels/springs causing it.
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Saturday, July 9, 2005 11:46 PM
I'll tell ya Jeff, the improvements have been like night and day compared to 2002.

Things will be even better next year!

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Sunday, July 10, 2005 2:15 AM
For the last 2 seasons that Six Flags had control of the park I'd drive right by the exit on our way to CP, and not give any thought about visiting.

I know how some of the bad SF parks can be, and from the trip reports I have read I decided not to visit. I am not one to turn down riding new coasters, but I couldn't see making the stop even though I was a SF season passholder the several times I passed the exit for SF WOA.

Now with all the good I have heard about the park since Cedar Fair took it over I am actually going to visit next season when the 2nd phase of WWK is complete.

Its not that I hate SF parks. There are just some that I like more then others. I know how bad SFA can be at times, and I heard stories that made SFA sound great compared to SFWOA. The main reason I visit SFA is that its the closest park to me, and I get my season pass there.

It sounds like the park has a bright future under Cedar Fair.

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Sunday, July 10, 2005 11:55 PM
Yeah the place really is shaping up. I think we have a really good team behind the wheel at Geauga Lake now. A bit more like the Funtime days of the park. I welcome that very much.
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Monday, July 11, 2005 11:34 AM
WWK is so awesome. Liquid Lightning( the tornado slide) is a must try.

Dominator is really smooth in the front of back. I haven't rode in the middle. I am not a coaster person who rides in the middle.

Villan definately needs something done to it. I've rode it all 3 of my trips I made to GL and each time it seems to be getting worse. The worst spot on that coaster though is the very front.

Steel Venom needs a new paint job. They tried to keep the Superman colors and add a new sign. Sorry guys the sign is good, but now you need a paint job to match it.

Big Dipper should be renamed Airtime Galore. This is one of the best coasters I've been on. Except for the fact I banged my knees on the lap bar everytime I was lifted out of the seat.

Wolf Bobs is an awesome ride. I love this ride. Well some people would know, because I rode it 15xs in a row. but anyhow the only thing I think should be done is to retrack the high fan curve, and get another train like the black one. Get rid of the red and silver train.

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Monday, July 11, 2005 12:58 PM
Not able to compare the park today to the park in the past, I was pleasantly surprised on my visit mid june. As for the ops... "Contrary to other reports, I don't think the ride operators are rude, but they're obviously bored and maybe indifferent." I would go one step beyond that. I found them to be very pleasant, curtious and helpful.
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