It's pronounced Gee-AW-guh not Gee-AH-guh
January 20, 2015 8:45 AM   Subscribe

 
*snort* Too big to fail? I hate corporations so much sometimes.
posted by Melismata at 9:02 AM on January 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


Needs tag ruinporn too ;)

(Makes me want to look into all the times Kings Dominion changed hands, as it's mentioned in TFA).
posted by k5.user at 9:03 AM on January 20, 2015


Wow. I grew up in Michigan, and have been to Cedar Point many, many times. Never even heard of Geauga Lake Park over the years.

Thanks for this.
posted by evilangela at 9:06 AM on January 20, 2015


Oh man, if, like me, you enjoy being a GoogleMaps tourist, you can see the destruction here. The sheer scale of the unused pavement and scattered foundations is enough to give any archeologists of the future fits.
posted by 1f2frfbf at 9:22 AM on January 20, 2015 [4 favorites]


I used to look at Geauga Lake from across the lake on our annual trips to SeaWorld, but I never went. I always preferred looking at animals to thrillrides, anyway. Now both are gone.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 9:27 AM on January 20, 2015


Brought back a lot of memories of childhood. My parents liked to make it a surprise whether it was Sea World or Geauga Lake.


And if I may, it is actually JAW-ga, in NEOHese.
posted by holybagel at 9:35 AM on January 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


When I was growing up, our family would make at least one a big trip to either Geauga Lake or Cedar Point every summer, whichever one was hosting my dad's employer's "family day" that year. Cedar point had bigger, more exciting attractions, but you'd spend more time riding / seeing / doing (and less time schlepping on asphalt in the sun) at Geauga Lake.

When I was about 9, I was tall enough to ride the new (short, tame) Corkscrew coaster at Geauga Lake. I was fascinated by its then-newfangled, space-age construction, but afraid to actually ride it. My father gently but relentlessly pressured me to ride it with him. He just kept mentioning it, bringing it up, talking about it. "We never rode a roller coaster that goes UPSIDE DOWN before!" Which was, of course, a major part of what scared me.

Knowing I'd never hear the end of it if I flatly refused, I eventually agreed and endured the line in quivering, white-knuckle terror. We boarded, I shut my eyes and kept them closed tight through the whole thing. And it was actually an easy, smooth ride.

As we were leaving the ride, I confessed to my father that I'd had my eyes closed through the whole thing. His response was to immediately steer us right back to the line to make me ride it again. "Doesn't count if you had your eyes closed."

Today my father denies any memory of doing such a thing, but he'll never convince me this didn't happen. I think about it every time I pass the ruins of Geauga Lake, which is just down the road from my house now. I never became a bold adventurer who was spurred to face down his every fear, but I may have been a little better off for it, a little less meek, a little less ruled by fear. And I did at least become a roller-coaster fan for quite a while, willing to ride anything. If I had the power to change that day, I wouldn't.

---

Here's my million-dollar idea for how to combine aquatic-animal-based and ride-based amusement parks constructively: make the long lines for the popular rides go through an aquarium display. If you're building and maintaining both those facilities anyway, at least combine them intelligently. Let guests endure the ridiculous multi-hour waits in the shade, with some amazing, thematically appropriate sights that aren't sad dolphin shows.
posted by Western Infidels at 9:36 AM on January 20, 2015 [16 favorites]


I had never heard of this park until this article appeared. Maybe that's one reason why it failed.
posted by Billiken at 10:01 AM on January 20, 2015


I still miss Geauga Lake. For that brief window when it was Six Flags, everything was right with the world. Fantastic coasters, but the lines were nowhere near as long as at Cedar Point. I remember hopping on one of the rides -- Knight Flight, maybe? -- and immediately running back to the front of the line. I got to ride it 5 times in a row. It was probably an aberration, but I took full advantage of it.

The last page gets a bit dismissive of the area, though. It may not be a bustling metropolis, but it was only ~15 minutes off the turnpike, nestled next to the Solon/Twinsburg/Hudson suburbopolis. If that's Rural Ohio, I can only speculate what Vinton County is.
posted by miguelcervantes at 10:05 AM on January 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


Fascinating! What a great read!

The progression of park maps is terrific cartographic archaeology - the path from the 1976 map, showing just the edge of a seemingly large lake (and having generic, slightly amatuerish non-branded character illustrations) to the 1998 map (bigger, more professional) that covers one whole end of the lake, through the 2000 map , half the lake surrounded by iconic national brand characters, to the 2002 map, an enormous park surrounding a seemingly small lake. And then, of course, eventually the maps cede territory as attractions close, and finally are back to just a small park on the edge of a larger lake. The opposite edge from before.

Also, deeply fascinating to me, in the article talking about potential buyers for the site, they mention the operators of Dollywood , which is obviously a theme park and attraction partially owned by, and branded with, Dolly Parton. And then they also mention the owners of Kennywood, which (perjhaps less obviously) is a theme park and and attraction not owned by, or in any way related to, Kenny Rogers. But come on! How is that for an excellent accident of history! Dolly and Kenny, two remaining islands in the stream of down home theme parks, that is what they are. Just me?
posted by dirtdirt at 10:11 AM on January 20, 2015 [8 favorites]


Talk about scorched earth. Looks like a good place now for a sci-fi Armageddon movie.
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:12 AM on January 20, 2015


Six Flags in the early 2000s was much different than the Six Flags of today. Concentrated on coasters and not much else, the parks were famously dirty, poorly staffed, and full of unprepared and unfriendly employees.

No, that's actually what the one (the original one!) in Arlington, Texas is still like. At least, as of last September.

The area around it is blighted, too; potholes, closed or ailing businesses, and of course, terrible traffic and one of the worst, most unsafe exit ramps I've ever seen (exiting a major freeway onto a busy six-lane road, confusing signage, must cross several lanes of traffic very quickly to get anywhere you need to go). The parking is decrepit and underlit and feels unsafe.

The article touches on this but Really Big amusement parks are a nightmare for anyone with smaller kids. There will always be tears, and probably shouting, and a general feeling of being ripped off, that makes you reluctant to go back.
posted by emjaybee at 10:18 AM on January 20, 2015 [3 favorites]


'Undesirable crowds from the city'. Little bit of a dog whistle there.
posted by empath at 10:21 AM on January 20, 2015 [10 favorites]


When I was about 9, I was tall enough to ride the new (short, tame) Corkscrew coaster at Geauga Lake. I was fascinated by its then-newfangled, space-age construction, but afraid to actually ride it.

Huh. There's a coaster called Corkscrew here in MN (about which I had very similar apprehensions as a kid), at ValleyFair. I wasn't aware that it was apparently a franchise...
posted by neckro23 at 10:27 AM on January 20, 2015


@emjaybee: You forget the Arlington Mega Entertainment Complex. Six Flags which is best from March - Mid October (with last hurrahas for Halloween and Christmas), The Ballpark in Arlington (Home of the Texas Rangers) also only good from March to October, and Cowboy Stadium (home of the Dallas Cowboys) good from September - Februray). Also taking into account the various schedules and 6F-Arlington's exceedingly poor location (On a major east/west highway, and a significant North-South highway) only to be offset by the looking out the window and spur of the moment deciding to go to Six Flags draw (NOT).
posted by Hasteur at 10:35 AM on January 20, 2015


Having a season pass for a couple years after our family moved from Western New York to Northeast Ohio when I was entering the eighth grade helped me with the transition quite a bit (at least for my mom, sister and I who enjoyed roller coasters much more than my dad ever did).

Going back now after living out of state for more than dozen years, it is a little unsettling to see it sitting abandoned, especially with all the development going on around it. Back then I lived on the fringes of developed Twinsburg, and miguelcervantes is right about the "suburbopolis" (even little Reminderville is growing).
posted by audi alteram partem at 10:38 AM on January 20, 2015


Killer whales in Ohio? What the shit? That's like buying London Bridge and reconstructing it on a lake in Arizona.
posted by Halloween Jack at 10:48 AM on January 20, 2015 [8 favorites]


It all sucks, Hasteur. I just wonder now if the non-Arlington Six Flags actually did improve per the article's implication but this one stayed crappy. Who knows.
posted by emjaybee at 10:53 AM on January 20, 2015


@emjaybee If I wasn't so over worked and could take the time off, I'd go visit to see if my childhood rememberances including a few Physics in the park "research trips" (AKA: Field trip to Six Flags to do 10 minutes of physics for a day's worth of play) still holds up.
posted by Hasteur at 10:56 AM on January 20, 2015


Six Flags New Orleans has also sat abandoned since Katrina. One passes it heading into town from Mississippi, so every year we'd pass by the rusting skeleton of its roller coaster.
posted by Gelatin at 11:20 AM on January 20, 2015


Six Flags New Orleans has also sat abandoned since Katrina.

Which will have its 10th anniversary this August. Wow, time flies.

Also: the Six Flags in Massachusetts is Riverside Park. That is all.
posted by Melismata at 11:26 AM on January 20, 2015


Neat to see all the roller coaster foundations without a roller coaster on them.
posted by smackfu at 11:40 AM on January 20, 2015


The Big Dipper was one of John Miller's best coasters, a study in negative G forces which you wouldn't have expected to come from a coaster that diminutive-looking. I will never forgive Cedar Fair for allowing such a classic ride to just sit and rot. Then again, they've never been very good at treating their wooden coasters well.
posted by Spatch at 11:51 AM on January 20, 2015


empath: 'Undesirable crowds from the city'. Little bit of a dog whistle there.
Or more than a little. The author also praises Cedar Fair management for "turning the clock back" on "an influx of teenagers and thrill-seekers," which can be read along similar lines.

He also proposes that the management company that runs Kennywood or Dollywood might make a good fit for the location. I would guess the crowds at those places run pretty pale, and the results I find in Google image search do nothing to change that guess.

I am put in mind of some of the comments I've read right here about sentimentality lately.
posted by Western Infidels at 11:51 AM on January 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


Batman water ski show

Batman water ski show

Batman water ski show
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 3:55 PM on January 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


I spent many a happy childhood day at Geauga Lake. Or at the Sea World across the lake. This was pre-Six Flags days, and I wish I could take my kids to those places as they were when I was their age.
posted by Lulu's Pink Converse at 4:09 PM on January 20, 2015


> Huh. There's a coaster called Corkscrew here in MN (about which I had very similar apprehensions as a kid), at ValleyFair. I wasn't aware that it was apparently a franchise...

That was the first roller coaster I ever went on, when I lived just down the river from ValleyFair.

Six Flags in the early 2000s was much different than the Six Flags of today. Concentrated on coasters and not much else, the parks were famously dirty, poorly staffed, and full of unprepared and unfriendly employees.

Regarding Six Flags, I do recall my last visit a few years ago being disappointed in the lack of care in keeping the place kept up and clean. Food was also a bit on the disappointing side, in light of how much it cost. By comparison, I live in California now, and the Disney parks are IMMACULATE. Like you could almost eat off of the ground. Cleanliness was a high priority from early on in early days of Disneyland, and you can tell how fundamental values like that affect just about everything else that goes on.
posted by SpacemanStix at 4:15 PM on January 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


Regarding Six Flags, I do recall my last visit a few years ago being disappointed in the lack of care in keeping the place kept up and clean

just hire a couple more janitors and plop them down on the paths
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 4:18 PM on January 20, 2015 [3 favorites]


'Undesirable crowds from the city'. Little bit of a dog whistle there.

No doubt, but considering that the Solon/Aurora/Hudson/Twinsburg/Reminderville "suburbopolis" (excellent description, btw, miguelcervantes) is one of the prime examples of "white flight" in action in Northeast Ohio in the 21st century, I suspect that this particular dogwhistle did not originate with the author, so much.
posted by soundguy99 at 4:29 PM on January 20, 2015




Can't say that Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia, CA is all that clean or the employees all that friendly. Last time I was there was a couple years ago with the company, and I was instantly reminded of why I prefer Cedar Fair and Disneyland properties.

The year I moved back to Cali (2009), we knew our days in St. Louis were numbered, and so for my birthday in June we drove to Ohio and went on one of my dream trips to Cedar Point. The coasters were great. I think we went on Magnum XL-200 twice.

We still talk about that trip. Probably telling that despite only having visited Ohio to see family, I instinctively knew that Cedar Point was THE place to go for coasters, but had never heard of Geauga Lake until this link surfaced.

And seeing how well the Cedar Fair parks are run, I have to chalk this up more to the Six Flags management, which has never seemed to care as much about the upkeep of their parks as other amusement franchises.
posted by offalark at 5:30 PM on January 20, 2015


just hire a couple more janitors and plop them down on the paths

It actually did seem like this was sort of an easy solution. The main issue was that trash cans were overflowing, trash was on the walkway, people seeming overworked. It had the distinct feel of trying to get by on the bare minimum of employees, but I think they just cut corners a bit too much.

To say something nice now though, the Superman ride was probably the most exhilarating thing I've ever been on. My body couldn't comprehend how crazy it felt to accelerate that quickly without going off the rails. Somehow I got my brother on it without him being able to anticipate fully what was going to happen, and it was just about the greatest thing ever.
posted by SpacemanStix at 5:57 PM on January 20, 2015


I read the whole thing and it took them so long to get what I thought was the obvious factor. Who the hell wants go to Ohio for anything?
posted by GoblinHoney at 6:31 PM on January 20, 2015


er SpacemanStix I was making a Roller Coaster Tycoon joke:P
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 6:36 PM on January 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


The Big Dipper was my first coaster. I was young and terrified, even though it was pretty tame compared to just about every other coaster that we have now. At the time, I thought I would never get on another roller coaster.

I'm older now, and a little bit braver, but I will always remember that first ride as being one of the most exhilarating rides of my life.
posted by DRoll at 7:47 PM on January 20, 2015


I got super sick on a church trip to Geauga Lake when I was seven or eight in the '70s. I think it was the Double Loop — companion to the Corkscrew and immortalized in the jingle:

The Double Loop!
and Corkscrew, too!
on-ly at GE-AU-GA LAAAAAAKE!


... that got me.

So I mostly remember being stretched out on a picnic table in our group's pavilion, pretty close to a garbage can overflowing with watermelon rinds and buzzing with flies, and my mom exclaiming, "Look at him! He's white as milk!"
posted by mph at 8:54 PM on January 20, 2015


I remember hopping on one of the rides -- Knight Flight, maybe? -- and immediately running back to the front of the line. I got to ride it 5 times in a row. It was probably an aberration, but I took full advantage of it.

I had almost the exact same experience, but at Six Flags over America, in St. Louis, circa 1997 I think. My brother and I lucked into some free tickets and went the last week or so of the season. On a weekday. Which meant that there was NO ONE there. Seriously. No lines to speak of at all. We rode the Batman ride--one of those inverted coasters--until we got headaches and stomachaches. Probably over 10 times. Finish, get back in "line" and ride an almost empty coaster again. We joked that we were celebrities that had rented out the park for the day.
posted by zardoz at 10:32 PM on January 20, 2015


free tickets and went the last week or so of the season. On a weekday. Which meant that there was NO ONE there.

Me, too, I went to Six Flags Great America (north of Chicago) as a plus one for somebody whose professional association had a block of tickets in, like, October, although I think it was a Friday or Saturday anyway, and I hit the Viper about three times running. BEST. EVER.

I suspect that this particular dogwhistle did not originate with the author, so much.

Unfortunately, "diversity", shall we say, seems to be tied to the decline and/or demise of numerous recreational parks and malls -- so much so that there's a whole book on the topic. Riverview Park^ in Chicago is one, and that was right in the city.
posted by dhartung at 11:55 PM on January 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


er SpacemanStix I was making a Roller Coaster Tycoon joke:P

Ha, that was a good one. I should have played that game.
posted by SpacemanStix at 6:07 AM on January 21, 2015


you guys who don't live near Hersheypark have it rough.
posted by jrishel at 11:24 AM on January 23, 2015


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