Locals complain about state of former Geauga Lake

Posted Wednesday, January 16, 2013 10:01 AM | Contributed by VitaminsAndGravy

While the property has been criticized by angry neighbors demanding that something must be done to keep up the maintenance of the property, Cedar Fair said it has not received any direct request from either Aurora or Bainbridge Township. The company vowed by phone late Tuesday afternoon to respond to any official requests.

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Thursday, January 17, 2013 10:30 PM
bjames's avatar

Geauga Lake water park goers are assumed to not see nor care about the state of the former park across the water. Therefore, no costs are accumulated. Think of this from the Cedar Point business perspective.

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Thursday, January 17, 2013 10:44 PM
Jeff's avatar

That doesn't make any sense to me.


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

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Thursday, January 17, 2013 11:24 PM
bjames's avatar

Fun said:

Considering how reliant the waterpark is on a centralized season pass holder base, I absolutely think there is a financial reason to keep the neighbors happy.

How so? I'll remind you, I'm talking about the Theme Park side, not the clearly profitable water park side. And I don't think the residents are talking about the water park side either.....

Last edited by bjames, Thursday, January 17, 2013 11:25 PM
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Friday, January 18, 2013 12:29 AM

I don't think I'd want to go to a water park right across from a craptacular mess like that. Maybe it's just me.

I wish Cedar Fair could have turned the place around. I've heard a lot of people really liked it there in its heyday. It always makes me a little sad to see an amusement park go under.


"Look at us spinning out in the madness of a roller coaster" - Dave Matthews Band

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Friday, January 18, 2013 8:04 AM

In the late 80s and early 90s the park really hit its stride under Funtime. I've said before that Turtle Beach was perhaps the greatest kids water park area ever built. Slow, smart growth continued to build on that success. Six Flags came in with the intent of going toe to toe with Cedar Point and it was pretty obvious that the park could not meet the expectations that the capital dollars were calling for.

Nobody who loved Geauga Lake wants to admit it but Sea World leaving spelled the end of GL more than anything else. I'm not sure any of us realized how reliant GL was on the Sea World crowd. When I look back on it I can remember sitting in the stadiums at Sea World and hearing families around me talking about the roller coasters on the other side of the park and wondering if it was part of Sea World. They came to see Shamu not knowing that an amusement park was just across the lake. Remember, this was pre-internet so it isn't that hard to believe.

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Friday, January 18, 2013 9:09 AM
Fun's avatar

bjames, I couldn't disagree more about your statement that the waterpark patrons don't care about the rides side. Ask any employee at the waterpark what are the most frequent questions they get asked. After "what time is it" and "where's the bathroom", they are continuously fielding questions about the ride side. Many still hold out hope that they will come back and set up shop again.

I think at the very least, the people in Northeast Ohio want the legacy of that park respected, and ultimately that will have an influence on their decision to spend money in Aurora. (Incidentally, Cedar Fair's last opportunity to smooth things over may rest on the fate of Big Dipper. The fact that it is still standing should show that Cedar Fair does value public opinion, even though the ride is an erect pile of junk at this point.)

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Saturday, January 19, 2013 1:25 AM

Fun said:

an erect pile of junk

I giggled like Anderson Cooper when I read this turn of phrase.


My author website: mgrantroberts.com

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Saturday, January 19, 2013 1:33 AM
sws's avatar

For an erect pile of junk lasting more than four hours, please consult a doctor.

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Saturday, January 19, 2013 4:00 AM
Jimmy Boy's avatar

Don't say the person who said closing the park losing 10 million dollars was an idiot. What did Cedar Fair do during after they bought the park. The closed it down. They moved several roller coasters and flat rides to new parks to save money on new attractions (which drew in a lot of revenue) and they dropped a direct competitor to both Kings Island and Cedar Point. Plus they got to focus on a waterpark and attempt to sell valuable real estate along the lake.

What Cedar Fair did was awful but it was probably a good business decision. I wish Six Flags never sold the park to them. They should be responsible for cleaning up their mess though

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Saturday, January 19, 2013 9:24 AM
Jeff's avatar

Yeah, and in all of those outstanding moves, they lost money. The park never had a material effect on Cedar Point (let alone Kings Island), and any suggestion that they bought it to shut it down, at enormous cost, is irrational.


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

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Saturday, January 19, 2013 5:39 PM

Jeff, I don't understand that logic either. If a park chain acquires a new park, all those people who go to a specific park still are going to go to that park. Why spend a ton of money to close something down that's still attended.


"Look at us spinning out in the madness of a roller coaster" - Dave Matthews Band

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Saturday, January 19, 2013 6:29 PM
sfwoaloopytech's avatar

Jeff & Bunky -what you both said is correct (especially Jeff's attendance comment, which Jack Falfas could never explain to Kinzel). However, when we would walk out of the full-timers meetings, we had little to no reason to be optimistic about the future of that place. You could hear a sock drop after a Spehn/Kinzel pep-talk. Oddly enough (according to The Ambassador of Cedar Fair :o)) the placed turned a profit in '07. And then shut down. I could tell you story after story, SMH. Depending on my mood, i waver from thinking they ran that place under questionable logic.......or questionable intent. As in, irrational.

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Saturday, January 19, 2013 8:42 PM
Fun's avatar

Likely a combination of both.

The "questionable logic" explanation always been easier for me to believe.

  • Cedar Fair went in with the mentality that they could turn it around like the other properties that they bought.
  • Cedar Fair thought the animals weren't a big deal
  • Cedar Fair assumed Six Flags and Sea World were inferior operators than they were.

The only two examples of questionable intent I could ever find related to benefiting their other properties.

  • Shutting down the Haunt at Geauga Lake was the clearest example of a conflicted interest. Even though the Haunt was a profitable program, the powers that be decided to pool all of their efforts into Cedar Point halloweekends. The push to get more people to CP actually worked in the long run.
  • Cedar Fair's priorities shifted when the Paramount Parks were purchased. Once again, maintaining the slim margins at Geauga became less important than paying down debt and coming up with capital programs that would stretch far and wide. Geauga Lake's ride assets were worth more at other parks, and evidently the board thought they could sell the land pretty quickly (I don't completely blame them for that notion, seeing as though the decision to close was made at the peak of the housing market in in the summer 2007, and the market crash wouldn't hit until later that year.)

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Saturday, January 19, 2013 11:11 PM

Combine the slow turnaround at Geauga, its high-for-its-attendance operating costs, and the Paramount purchase and you have a recipe for disaster. But I think the final nail in the coffin for Geauga Lake was a series of serious, some of them high profile, mechanical failures, most of which can be attributed to Six Flags' maintenance program.

We all know about the Raging Wolf Bobs derailment, on a section of track that had been rebuilt before Six Flags sold the place. Most of us have heard about the operational incident on the Double Loop that resulted in safety belts on most of the Arrow loopers chain wide. A failure of the flume, which, as I understand it, basically emptied the flume into the picnic grove and one of the Double Loop pits has been described, and constant breakdowns on the Impulse coaster and on X-Flight didn't help either. I don't know what went on with the Yo-Yo, but it was frequently down and had a thick layer of kitty litter under its central column. I know they spent thousands of dollars refurbishing the Spider, and yet I actually watched an incident happen because of a slipping clutch. Back when Mr. Hyde's Nasty Paint Job was running, it almost never reset correctly, and the track alignment on the braking track was so poor it made Demon Drop feel like a smooth ride.
The bottom line is, Geauga Lake was a basket case by the time Cedar Fair took over. The rides were literally falling apart, and Six Flags had done such a poor job operationally that people were staying away in droves. Cedar Fair was making progress at turning it around, but the place was a mess. Meanwhile the five Paramount parks were in much better shape, but also suffered from a lack of reinvestment

I don't have the numbers, but Geauga was a much bigger gamble than Paramount. Cedar Fair needed the money that could have finished the job at Geauga in places where it would go much further. It was a terrible end, but it was time to stop the bleeding.

--Dave Althoff, Jr.


    /X\        _      *** Respect rides. They do not respect you. ***
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Saturday, January 19, 2013 11:22 PM

Jeff, I don't understand that logic either. If a park chain acquires a new park, all those people who go to a specific park still are going to go to that park. Why spend a ton of money to close something down that's still attended? Would anyone really go, "oh darn, Cedar Fair owns this park now, so we can't go here"? One financial thing I actually understand. *chuckle*


"Look at us spinning out in the madness of a roller coaster" - Dave Matthews Band

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Sunday, January 20, 2013 10:46 AM
sfwoaloopytech's avatar

Fun- Couldn't have said it better.

Dave- Wolf Bobs derailment was on the part Cedar Fair re-tracked, not Six Flags. They had this crew of Canadiens do the work, with little expert oversight, and they made one slight but critical mistake (which would have been an easy fix) resulting in the failure. Six Flags had this old guy named Delmus (sp?) along with their corporate engineer Lee Stellhorn, to oversee these sorts of projects, while the actual work was done in-house. Getting Lee involved is how we ended up with the tower extensions on S:UE/SV. Speaking of which, that ride got trashed to the tune of $400,000 damage after someone put grease on the coupling bolts instead of Loc-tite. Not checking them with a torque wrench every day didn't help either. And on that thing, you HAD to. Kinda tough when GL started hiring mechanics who (get this) didn't own tools. That would '05-'06 rehab of the train. Nothing to do with Six Flags. As for the Plunge- in July of '03, a ledger board broke, blowing out the flume into the Loop pits. However, within a few days, we fixed the flume, replaced the ledger, and never had a problem again. The Double Loop incident you refer to was in 2005 (2nd year of GL), when an operator sent the train without one of the pedals engaged for the shoulder restraints. Six Flags had put a prox switch at the exit of the station to count the number of pedals in the correct position. If the PLC didn't count to "6" it shut down the ride, and the train would engage the lift chain and sit there. Hence the error being caught, and the belts added. X-Flight had started to run reasonably well by the time it moved, but thanks to the train design (which was not built by Vekoma by the way), the thing had a rehab cost of around $450,000 a year, I still have the lists in my computer. Ouch. Here's another list: In referencing 2003(SF), and 2005(GLP). One year we operated with a crew of 32, lead by a director who would impatiently ask "WHY? WHY? WHY?" in regards to anything that when wrong. The other year we had 23 on the crew, lead by a maintenance director told us that if shoddy maintenance killed a guest: "That's what lawyers are for." ....Guess which season was which?

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Sunday, January 20, 2013 10:59 AM

RideMan said:

Most of us have heard about the operational incident on the Double Loop



I'm curious, what happened on Double Loop?

RideMan said:

A failure of the flume, which, as I understand it, basically emptied the flume into the picnic grove and one of the Double Loop pits has been described

Curious about this, too :)

Last edited by GayCoasterGuy, Sunday, January 20, 2013 11:00 AM
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Sunday, January 20, 2013 12:02 PM
Jeff's avatar

"Little expert oversight?" Those guys are the industry experts. It's the same company that restored Blue Streak to its excellent state.


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

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Tuesday, January 22, 2013 8:38 PM
OhioStater's avatar

I've never bought into the notion that GL was purchased to sell or be torn apart, and I would also add that my family and I frequent the waterpark quite a bit in the summer. We live in Louisville (OH), so it's a pretty easy drive...frankly, I'm a bit miffed that GL isn't open just to play in now that we live so close. :)

That said, I'm actually very surprised that nothing has been done...and nothing is putting it lightly...to the eyesore across the lake. Each and every time we go, there is nothing but a chorus of moans and groans from locals bemoaning the defunct park, and I eavesdrop on all the conspiracy theories people have.

Regardless of whether or not you think CF purchased it to tear it down, the company should at the very least be cognizant of the ideas (not facts...well, except number 1) that:

1) It's just plain ugly. The area around the waterpark and across the lake just says..."welcome to our dump"...with the saddest part about that being that the waterpark itself is actually quite clean and pretty...especially the walk into the park (the landscaping). If you haven't been, check it out...what's there is kept up very, very well.

2) It would help the company's reputation. At the very least, it would be good PR to get rid of the junk. It's simply adding insult to injury to let the old rides and buildings crumble and fall apart. Make the mess disappear, and the locals, regardless of what you think about their ideas and opinions, will not be reminded of it all the time.

That said, I guess one could argue there are "bigger fish to fry", but this does not seem to be too big of a fish. Minimal effort would make a big difference here. I'm not suggesting a beautifying charmed-filled flower garden...just...clean up your mess?

Last edited by OhioStater, Wednesday, January 23, 2013 7:11 PM
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Tuesday, January 22, 2013 9:56 PM

sfwoaloopytech you're getting wrapped up in the details. Okay, so maybe that curve was retracted on Cedar Fair's watch; it doesn't really matter (I figured the same carpenters probably did all of it...). What matters is that it failed. What matters is that it was probably the highest-profile of a bunch of failures in that park.
Mechanically and operationally, the park is a mess, it's bigger and more complicated than its infrastructure can support, it's not earning enough to support what it needs to operate (which, by the way, is different from earning a profit). FUN is probably having second thoughts about buying the park in the first place, and on top of all that, the Paramount deal...which I'm pretty sure wasn't hatched by two CEOs having a bag of sample popcorn on the IAAPA show floor...was already in the works.

I shared some examples of problems I knew about. Don't take it personally. It's nothing more than evidence of what a series of headaches that place could be. It finally became time to pull the plug, and that's what they did.

--Dave Althoff, Jr.


    /X\        _      *** Respect rides. They do not respect you. ***
/XXX\ /X\ /X\_ _ /X\__ _ _ _____
/XXXXX\ /XXX\ /XXXX\_ /X\ /XXXXX\ /X\ /X\ /XXXXX
_/XXXXXXX\__/XXXXX\/XXXXXXXX\_/XXX\_/XXXXXXX\__/XXX\_/XXX\_/\_/XXXXXX

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