Geauga Lake had operated primarily as an amusement park. On September 21, 2007, Cedar Fair, the park's owner, announced that the traditional amusement park would close down and that the property would operate solely as a waterpark, beginning in the 2008 season.
The park was originally two parks- Geauga Lake and SeaWorld. Geauga Lake became Six Flags Ohio in 2000; the next year, SeaWorld was purchased by Six Flags and the entire complex was renamed Six Flags World of Adventure.
|Amusement Park||Marine/Water Park|
|1872||Giles Pond / Picnic Lake||Sullivan Giles||-Same-|
|1888||Geauga Lake||Alexander G. Kent||-Same-|
|1925||Geauga Lake||William J. Kuhlman||-Same-|
|1945||Geauga Lake||Carl Adrian, Harvey Schryer, & Charles Schryer||-Same-|
|1968||Geauga Lake||Funtime Inc.||Gaspar Lococo, Earl Gascoigne, Dale Van Voorhis, & Milford Jacobson|
|1970||SeaWorld Ohio||SeaWorld||Milton C. Shedd, Ken Norris, David Dement, and George Millay|
|1976||SeaWorld Ohio||Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc.|
|Fall 1989||SeaWorld Ohio||Busch Entertainment Company||Daniel Trausch|
|1996||Geauga Lake||Premier Parks||Gaspar Lococo|
|1998||Geauga Lake||Six Flags|
|2000||Six Flags Ohio||Six Flags||Jack Bateman, Daniel Trausch, Joe Costa|
|Combined Amusement/Marine Park|
|Six Flags Worlds Of Adventure||Six Flags||Rick McCurly|
|2004||Geauga Lake||Cedar Fair||Bill Spehn|
|2005||Geauga Lake & Wildwater Kingdom||Cedar Fair||Bill Spehn|
|Amusement Park||Water Park|
|2008|| ||Geauga Lake's Wildwater Kingdom||Cedar Fair||Colleen Murphy|
Geauga Lake began in 1872 as Giles Pond, owned by Sullivan Giles. It was a trolley park that was a popular spot for camping, swimming, fishing and picnicking. Alexander Kent bought the park in 1888 and built a 75-room luxury hotel called Kent House on the lake. The hotel was later destroyed by fire in the early 1900s. The park became known as Geauga Lake in 1889. That year the park installed its first ride, a then-primitive steam-powered carousel. More rides would follow.
William J. Kuhlman purchased the park in 1925. At that time, Geauga Lake built the Big Dipper, the then-largest wooden roller coaster of its time, long and high. The next year a new Marcus Illions carousel was added. In 1927, Geauga Lake's Olympic-sized swimming pool was built, and it stayed in operation until the mid-1960s. Lake swimming also continued over the coming decades. Many amusement parks at the time had race tracks, dance halls, and sometimes a theatre and bowling alley, making them year round attractions. The race track was added in 1931, although it closed in 1969. The theatre, dance hall, and bowling alley were also added around the same time. In 1938, Vi Schryer inherited the park. At that point, the park's dance hall and ballroom were major draws, with big band music performed by Guy Lombardo, Fred Waring, Artie Shaw, and other big names of the time.
In 1941, a tornado hit the park, injuring six, destroying buildings, and damaging the Big Dipper. The park reported $50,000 in damages, and had rebuilt by 1942. In 1952, a fire destroyed the park's bowling alley, theater, dance hall and roller rink. Damages were estimated at $500,000. It was then that the park became strictly a seasonal amusement park, beach, and swimming area. The pool was closed and razed in the early 1960s, but lake swimming continued. In 1969, Funtime Incorporated purchased the park. The focus continued to be rides and swimming. The racetrack closed and was razed in 1969. That area was sold, and in its place a marine life park, SeaWorld, was built and later purchased by Busch Entertainment Corp. As a result, the two areas now had separate owners. The Sea World park was about a mile across the lake from the amusement park and swimming area. Sea World and Geauga Lake were friendly neighbors for more than 25 years. Sea World focused on marine life and shows, while Geauga Lake focused on thrill rides and swimming. In 1972, the Gold Rush log flume water ride was added, and two years later Geauga Lake added the Skyscraper, which took passengers up 21 stories for views of the park. Admission to the park was free until 1972. Until then, rides on various attractions were purchased on a pay-as-you-go basis. Beginning in 1973, the park converted to an admission charge with a pay-one-price for all the rides and attractions. The Geauga Dog became the park's mascot and would remain so until 1999. In 1976, the park added the Wildcat compact steel roller coaster, and a year later the park added the Double Loop, a looping steel coaster. For a time, the park ran a short-lived series of TV commercials featuring Geauga Dog and a singing, dancing adolescent boy performing a song about the park. The boy's off-key singing and awful dancing were deliberate, a means of getting viewers to notice the ad. It succeeded.
Corkscrew coaster made its debut in 1978, making Geauga Lake the second amusement park in Ohio(Cedar Point in Sandusky was the first) and one of the first amusement parks anywhere to have two looping coasters. Swimming in the lake continued to be a feature at the park, and in 1983, the park added Boardwalk Shores, which featured a paddleboat marina, a new bath house, a children's swimming pool area, and water slides. A year later, The Wave, the only authentic tsunami wave pool in the Midwest at the time, opened to rave reviews.
In 1986, more children's rides were added and themed as Rainbow Island, a children's dry ride area. Stingray water slides and the Euroracer Grand Prix rides were added.
In 1988, Geauga Lake celebrated its centennial by introducing the Raging Wolf Bobs, a wooden roller coaster with a hybrid twister/out and back design modeled after the original Bobs roller coaster at Chicago's defunct Riverview Park. Two years later, the park re-themed the children's water area as Turtle Beach, which was advertised as the ultimate children's water playground. Geauga Lake expanded its midway with The Mirage and the $2.1 million Texas Twister in the early 1990s.
A corporate deal in 1995 saw Premier Parks acquiring Funtime, giving Geauga Lake a new owner. Premier Parks invested $9 million in new rides, including the Mind Eraser, the steel looping shuttle Boomerang roller coaster, and Grizzly Run, a water rapids ride designed by Intamin. These attractions opened in 1996, and the Corkscrew was closed and sold. The next year, the park expanded its water area by with Hook's Lagoon. Several new water slides were also added.
In 1998, Premier Parks purchased Six Flags Theme Parks from Time Warner. The next year, a new chutes water ride was added along with a new wave pool in the waterpark. The old wave pool was razed, filled, and used for other development in the park. Premier Parks rebranded Geauga Lake as Six Flags Ohio.
In 2000, Six Flags received $40 million in improvements, primarily four new roller coasters. One was a junior roller coaster. Others included a wooden out and back roller coaster called The Villain, a Bolliger & Mabillard floorless looping roller coaster called Batman Knight Flight, and a Intamin suspended impulse shuttle coaster called Superman Ultimate Escape.
Busch Entertainment determined that their Sea World parks should begin adding roller coasters, water rides, and other attractions to supplement the marine displays and shows, and they began de-emphasizing the educational aspects of their parks. They began modifying their Orlando, San Antonio, and to a lesser extent their San Diego parks to reflect this. Due to Geauga Lake/Six Flags Ohio's close proximity, as well as the fact that that side of the lake had height restrictions, Busch approached Six Flags about buying the Six Flags Ohio park. Six Flags then made a counter offer to instead buy Sea World Ohio. That fall, Six Flags purchased Sea World, merging the two complexes into one, and changing the entire complex's name to Six Flags Worlds of Adventure. The SeaWorld side became known as the "Wild Life" area and remained strictly marine life shows, minus Shamu the whale. The original amusement park area became known as the "Wild Rides" area and continued expansion with a Vekoma flying coaster titled X-Flight. The small waterpark area also continued, so the park was marketed as "Three Parks for One Price". Admission prices were raised.
To expand the waterpark area, in 2003 Six Flags added Hurricane Mountain, the then-largest water slide complex in North America, and renamed the waterpark area Hurricane Harbor.
After being unable to turn a profit since being branded in 1999, Six Flags considered selling the park. Two months before the 2004 season, a sale to Cedar Fair, owner of Cedar Point located away, was announced, and would be finalized less than a month later. The park was immediately "unflagged", "unbranded", and reverted to the name Geauga Lake. The Six Flags Looney Tunes characters and superhero branding was removed. To conform with copyright laws, the names of many of the rides and roller coasters were also renamed. The Hurricane Harbor waterpark area was renamed Hurricane Hannah's Waterpark and the marine life side was shut down immediately before opening. The animals were retained by Six Flags. While most of the marine area was razed, the amusement park area attractions and rides remained the same except for name changes. In 2005, Cedar Fair invested $26 million in Wildwater Kingdom, a new waterpark on the former Sea World site. The Wildwater Kingdom side had about six waterslides and a children's water play area. The Hurricane Hannah area remained.
In 2006, Wildwater Kingdom is expanded to include Tidal Wave Bay, several more body and tube slides, as well as the moving of the huge water slide tower from across the lake. The Hurricane Hannah area was then shut down, leaving Wildwater Kingdom as the remaining waterpark. The season was also scaled back, eliminating the spring and fall weekend operations and opening strictly between Memorial Day and Labor Day with one last weekend in mid-September. At the end of the season, the X-Flight roller coaster was removed, as well as Steel Venom (formerly Superman The Ultimate Escape). The former was relocated to Kings Island and opened as Firehawk in 2007, and the latter relocated to Dorney Park, where it will open for the 2008 season as Voodoo.
In 2007, the summer-only operation of Geauga Lake continued. Rumors ranging from the total closing of Geauga Lake to closing everything except the waterpark to scaling back the rides area even more were rampant. Management refused to either confirm or deny rumors and did not comment, except to say that the park will continue "to focus on fun filled wholesome family entertainment" and a total closing will not happen. After the weekend Oktoberfest taking place September 15 and 16, 2007, a decision was made. On September 21, 2007, Cedar Fair announced plans to not reopen the Geauga Lake ride side of the park. They further announced that the Wildwater Kingdom side would reopen primarily as a waterpark and would be called Geauga Lake's Wildwater Kingdom. This has led to petitions to save Geauga Lake, especially landmarks such as The Big Dipper and the carousel.
Cedar Fair has placed the amusement park side of the park up for sale. It will be auctioned in June, 2008.
|Ride||Year Opened||Year Closed||Description|
|Corkscrew||1978||1995||Arrow Dynamics Corkscrew Steel coaster|
|Cyclone||1976||1980||Pinfari Z47 Portable coaster|
|El Dorado||1983||2007||Weber 1001 Nachts Pendulum ride, moving to Kings Dominion for 2009|
|Hook's Lagoon||1997||2004||Water tree house|
|Mission: Bermuda Triangle||2000||2004||Simulator film|
|Mr. Hyde's Nasty Fall||1997||2005||Intamin first generation freefall|
|Muzik Express||1978||2002||Spinning Himalaya-Type ride|
|Pirate's 4-D Adventure||1998||2004||4-D Cinema film|
|Robots of Mars||2005||2006||4-D Cinema film|
|LEGO Racers 4-D||2007||2007||4-D Cinema film|
|Shark Attack||2003||2005||Water slide tower|
|Silver Bullet||1976||2003||HUSS Maschinenfabrik Enterprise ride|
|Steel Venom||2000||2006||Intamin AG Impulse Steel coaster, now open at Dorney Park as Voodoo|
|The Wave||1984||1999||Wave pool|
|Wild Mouse||1958||1970s||Schiff Wild Mouse coaster|
|X-Flight||2001||2006||Vekoma Flying Steel coaster, now open at Kings Island as Firehawk|
|Big Dipper||1925||2007||John A Miller Wooden coaster. The park officially became an amusement park when this coaster opened. The ride formerly served as the park entrance gate. Former Names: Clipper and Sky Rocket. Fate unknown at this time.|
|Double Loop||1977||2007||Arrow Dynamics Double Looping Steel coaster, has been scrapped|
|Raging Wolf Bobs||1988||2007||Summers/Dinn Wooden coaster, to be scrapped soon|
|Head Spin||1996||2007||Vekoma Steel Boomerang coaster, moving to Carowinds for 2009|
|Thunderhawk||1998||2007||Vekoma SLC Steel Inverted coaster, now open at Michigan's Adventure|
|Beaver Land Mine Ride||2000||2007||Zierer Steel Kiddie coaster, was said that it was sold to a park outside of North America|
|Dominator||2000||2007||Bolliger & Mabillard Floorless Steel coaster, now open at Kings Dominion|
|The Villain||2000||2007||Wooden/Steel Hybrid coaster built by Custom Coasters International, has been scrapped|
|Americana||1999||2007||Ferris wheel, moving to Kings Dominion for 2009|
|Grizzly Run||1996||2007||Water Rapids ride|
|Kidworks Playzone||2000||2007||Kiddie rides area|
|Shipwreck Falls||2000||2007||Shoot-the-Chutes Water ride|
|Starfish||2003||2007||Spinning Thrill ride|
|Texas Twister||1993||2007||The first HUSS Top Spin in America, now open at California's Great America as Firefall|
|Thunder Alley Speedway||1998||2007||Go-Karts|
|Time Warp||1999||2007||Chance-Morgan Inverter Thrill ride|
|Yo-Yo||1976||2007||Chance-Morgan Yo-Yo Swinging Chair ride, Now open at Carowinds|
|Palace Theatre||1970s||2007||Entertainment Venue|
|Power City Stage||1993||2007||Amphitheatre|
|Harbor Theatre||1998||2007||4-D Cinema|
The park has had millions of dollars spent by its many owners.
|Year||Details||Approximate cost (U.S. dollars)|
|1993||Added Texas Twister||$2 million|
|1996||Added Head Spin and Grizzly Run||$7 million|
|1997||Added Mr. Hyde's Nasty Fall & Hook's Lagoon||$2 million|
|1998||Added Thunderhawk||$10 million|
|1999||Added three new rides: Ripcord, Americana, & Time Warp||$2 million|
|2000||Renovated to Six Flags Ohio, added 4 Roller Coasters, Water Park, Kids Area, and Shipwreck Falls water ride.||$44 million|
|2001||Purchase and integration of Sea World Ohio, added X-Flight||$127 million|
|2004||Acquisition by Cedar Fair Entertainment Co.||$144 million|
|2005||Added Wildwater Kingdom, Dino Island, Robots of Mars, and Lakeside Catering, Refurbishment of Raging Wolf Bobs||$23 million|
|2006||Tidal Wave Bay and Cabanas||$3 million|
|2007||Added LEGO Racers 4-D movie, Painted Texas Twister, Remodeled Jukebox Cafe, Expanded Cabana Service, Cornhole Toss game||Minimal amount spent|
|Estimated Total||$359 million|
1970: Sea World Ohio Opens
1983: The park opens Boardwalk Shores, the first water park to be included in an amusement park for one price.
1996: Geauga Lake is sold to Premier Parks, which later goes on to purchase Six Flags.
March 10, 2004: Six Flags sells the park to Cedar Fair, who changes the name back to Geauga Lake. Six Flags keeps the animals and disperses them to other properties. By opening day 2004, the portion of the park formerly known as SeaWorld is closed.
June 2005: A 20 acre (80,000 m²) Water Park located on the former site of SeaWorld of Ohio opens, under the name of Wildwater Kingdom. The admission price was dropped 10 dollars to $24.95. The annual Haunt (Halloween event) makes its final run this season, and is not continued the following seasons.
June 2006: Wildwater Kingdom opens its Caribbean-themed wave pool, Tidal Wave Bay. This wave pool measures wide by long; holds 390,000 gallons of water; and has cabanas, which guests can rent.
2007: The park's 2007 operating schedule has been significantly cut back compared with the schedules of seasons past. The park will now be open Memorial Day to Labor Day with Oktoberfest acting as a bonus weekend following the official closing of the park. X-Flight, Steel Venom, and Bel-Aire Express are now absent from the ride line up. The park also goes smoke-free this year, restricting public smoking to designated areas. New for 2007 are LEGO Racers (a 4D film), and Magician Tim Hill. The park also offers local season pass holders swimming lessons.
Post-2007 season: The park closes the amusement park side of the park, sending rides to other Cedar Fair parks. The park is now Geauga Lake's Wildwater Kingdom.