I wanna go to Bob-Lo!

I just got finished reading "Summer Dreams, the Story of Bob-Lo Island" It's a great read for anyone who is interested in Amusement Park history. I found it amazing that the issues the Bob-Lo faced are the some of the same issues facing parks today i.e. traditional or corporate?, Per Capita Spending or Attendance? I also found it amazing that a few wrong decisions can spell doom for ANY park currently existing today.

After reading this, I found that Bob-Lo suffered a similar fate as Riverview in Chicago or Geauga Lake. After AAA turned the park around and made it profitable, it was suddenly sold to outsiders who wanted to compete directly with Cedar Point and had big plans to turn it into a mega-park when the people who knew Bob-Lo wanted to keep it a traditional park with traditional elements like the famous Bob-Lo boat rides. (Sound familiar?) Getting rid of the Bob-Lo boats was the biggest mistake these new owners did. Other blunders included selling Bob-Lo's oldest antique ride, the Carousel. Although these two mistakes brought attendance to a 50 year low, it appeared Bob-Lo may continue opperating through 1994 as attendance began to bounce back, however, the new owner of the park suffered a tragic car accident and the owner's parent company decided to liquidate the park instead.

All three of these defunct parks, Geauga Lake, Bob-Lo, and Riverview, would probably still be here today had it not been for a few wrong business decisions. In my opinion, these parks should still be here and it breaks my heart that they are not. I wish I remembered my one and only trip to Bob-Lo when I was 6 years old. All I have is a picture of my on the Sky Streak and in the ball pit.

I grew up (and still live near) Toronto, about 3 1/2 hours from where Boblo Island was.... and I never knew of its' existance until a few years ago. While the above mistakes were likely its' demise, I wonder what would have been if they marketed in the Toronto area....

It really is sad to hear of such a bad story for the park. Anytime someone new takes over a park, they sometimes forget what makes them enduring to some of the people that have went there for years. As an avid Geauga Lake fan i missed the old Funtime days of the park, but alas everything had to change with the times there. Up to the point of Premier buying it out and before it switched to Six Flags it still kinda had that.

Sure parks were treated differently to compete in the market for the day, but the management it seems of many of these parks that fail try to do things that are just not financially possible, and then run away after they can't undo their damage. Although it did work for Six Flags for about the first two years, there was still no competing with Cedar Point in Northern Ohio.

It would be interesting to see how Boblo Island would function today, with fairies taking people to the park, and with gas the past few years, but the smart parks adapted to their customers, so they could still get them to come there. It takes alittle creative management, and sometimes a bit of hard luck to see that. Sometimes people can change the places for the better, and obviously in the cases mentioned not.

Resident Arrow Dynamics Whore

^ um.... what?

I would have gone to Boblo a lot more often had I realized that actual fairies were taking me to the park.

Boblo *sigh* I miss that park. I practically grew up on those rides.


Notice the name Michael Moodenbagh anywhere in there? He seems like a nice guy who tries to save ailing parks but has no luck when he does.

I went to Boblo many times until I was about 19 years old. I remember taking the ferry from downtown Detroit. The ferry would leave from a dock very close to Joe Louis Arena. The Boblo boats were triple decker boats. If you were lucky enough to leave the island on the last boat it was one hell of a party. There were bands, DJs, video games, and concession stands. Plus it was really neat to pass under the Ambassador Bridge...especially on the days when maintenance was being performed. From time to time the Boblo boat would pickup passengers in Wyandotte, MI at Bishop park. I remember the ferry from Canada which only took about 10 minutes. You could see the island from the Canadian docks. Most of my last trips to the island were from a dock in Gibralter, MI. At this time, the docks were closed in Detroit.

Boblo is really the first amusement park I went to on a regular basis. The big coaster was called Sky Streak. An out and back steel coaster. It was not very tall, but it did its job well. This place also had carnival rides like the Zipper and Rotor. In the final years of the island they opened a ride inside of the old ballroom on the island. It was a dark ride called Nightmare, primarily a wild mouse coaster. It was fun. The park also had a corkscrew rollercoaster (one loop if I remember correctly).

At the time I did not document any of my trips to Boblo so I do not have any known photos for this park.

A little known fact...sadly...there were mulitple gang fights on the Boblo boats in the mid-to-late eighties. This resulted in the park closing very early on some nights.

This is a website that is dedicated to amusements past and present in the state of Michigan. www.waterwinterwonderland.com

Last edited by MotorCityCoasterFan,

The Nightmare was actually a custom Vekoma MK 700 coaster which made its way to Astroworld, and now on to Wonderland in Texas.

The corkscrew coaster was an off the shelf Vekoma "corkscrew with bayerncurve" coaster, and now runs at Playland in Vancouver.

Still kicking myself in the butt for never making it there ;-)

CPLady's avatar

I, also, grew up with Bob-lo and have a lot of fond memories of the park from the early 1960's through the early 1970's, including roller skating in one of the pavilions. But the best memories were of the Boblo boats themselves.

The park was doing pretty well after the purchase from AAA, but it was the gangs and fighting that really hurt it the most, especially on the boats where you were literally trapped and had to endure the nastiness. Eliminating the Bob-lo boats was an attempt at reducing the gangs and fighting and worked, overall, but, just like some of the Six Flags parks, it took a while for the gangs/fighting reputation to go away. People from the 'burb's stopped going.

The park really was coming back, but there was a lot of pressure on the co-owners to sell the land. It was prime property and much sought after for high end resort housing. I recall reading the co-owners were battling as one wanted to sell, they other did not. Unfortunately, it was the one who wanted to retain the park who was involved in the accident and had no choice but to sell his shares back to the other owner who jumped at the chance to sell the property.

Still, there was no way Bob-lo would have ever competed against Cedar Point once the park lost the boats and it's old fashioned charm.

I'd rather die living than live like I'm dead

bratman said:

The corkscrew coaster was an off the shelf Vekoma "corkscrew with bayerncurve" coaster, and now runs at Playland in Vancouver.

So the old Boblo coaster was at least partially used for the disasterous never-ending megacoaster in Final Destination 3!

I grew up outside of Detroit so Boblo was my home park growing up.

I remember being about 5 and not having the strength to keep the Sky Diver car upright....I also rode my first looper in the Vekoma that same day...two of the shaping moments of my ride tracked mind.

The Sansei Sky Streak was a solid little ride. I was always curious as to why they had the extended flat on the home stretch as opposed to another bunny hop. Anybody have any history on the Streak's design and/or installation?

No additional info on the Sky Streak for you, but a funny story about that curious flat spot. When ACER's gathered at Bob-lo (1988?) one of those spontaneous, zany things happened where each train loaded with enthusiasts would stay perfectly quiet during the ride until they hit the flat spot, then suddenly everyone would raise their arms and scream their heads off! Once the flat spot was passed the arms would come back down and they'd stay quiet to the end of the ride. OK, well it was funny the first time.

The other thing I remember about that Bob-lo trip was how freakin hot it was that day, like 106 or something - they were having a horrible heat wave. There was no getting away from it, either, with very little air conditioning on the island, and we tried to cool down with tons of pop and beer. Even the boat ride back was stifling.

It was the first year for the Nightmare, which I guess is why we were there - we were all thrilled to ride a new fangled coaster that was built in an old building !

Another odd thing that sticks in the back of my mind was that they had 2 prices on everything - American and Canadian - and they accepted both currencies at most locations. There even may have been 2 windows at places like concession stands, one for each currency, and where you lined up depended on what type of money you had in your pocket. Anyone else recall?

crazy horse's avatar

I have some pictures of the park in my computer somewhere. I do know that the space spiral still stands today on the boblo site.

I have so many memmories of going to boblo as a kid. Anybody remember feeding the segals as they fley next to the boat?

Here is a website that has tons of picyures from the island. Most are what the pak looks like today.


Oops...someone already posted that link.

Last edited by crazy horse,

what you've just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard.
Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it.
I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

WOW, RCMAC! That was the one and only time I went to Bob-Lo! You are right. It was a dreadfully HOT day! Long, slow lines. Weird ride experiences like Nightmare and Sky Streek. (Remember the lift chain dragging on the ground?) Was a neat park with ALOT of rides. Sorry to see it gone. :(


That was a really looong week - I'm sure the exact schedule can be found somewhere, but I think we hit Bob-lo first, then Geauga Lake for way too many days, then there was a Friday at Cedar Point. By the time we got there I was so tired that I sent my friends along (I'm from Ohio, so no biggie) and found myself a grassy spot by the Blue Streak for a long mid afternoon nap! On second thought, maybe Bob-lo was on the last day, Saturday. I can't remember.

Another funny Bob-lo remembrance- they had an old Chance Rotor that someone had redecorated along the way. The two figures, male and female, that "ride" the outside facade had gotten extreme makeovers and looked like contestants from Dance Fever. The were all disco'd up with head bands, glitter accessories and the like! We howled when we saw it - I remember it being a pretty good Rotor, though.

crazy horse's avatar

Speaking of boblo.

Where did the rides end up?

I think the falling star ended up at michigans adventure. And I know where the corkscrew and nightmare went.

what you've just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard.
Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it.
I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

I remember we (Me from ACE & about 20 of my 6 Flaggers) embarked on this trip. We missed the Geauga day and went to CP Day. The next day was Bob-Lo. After that, 3 of us continued on a 20 +/- park tour around Lake Erie, which included my one trip to Crystal Beach.

I wonder, too, where Bob-Lo's rides went. I try to track many old rides from closed parks. Recently, I posted about some Flying Scooters that are still "alive" from my hometown park I did email Chris (?) about Bob-Lo's. I think they went to 6 Flags, but were never installed. I remember seeing them in SFSL's parking lot with their Canadian Maple Leaf symbols.

The Sky Streek is in Mexico or South America. Nightmare/MM/Hornet should open this year. I have no idea about the others.


crazy horse's avatar

I found a few other sites that has some great pictures and a good time line of the park here.....



Last edited by crazy horse,

what you've just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard.
Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it.
I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

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