|Location||Bainbridge Township and Aurora, Ohio, United States|
|Owner||Funtime, Inc. (1968-1995)|
Premier Parks/Six Flags (1995-2003)
Cedar Fair (2004-2007)
|Closed||September 16, 2007|
|Previous names||Geauga Lake (1887–2000, 2004)|
Six Flags Ohio (2000)
Six Flags Worlds of Adventure (2001–2003)
Geauga Lake & Wildwater Kingdom (2005–2007)
|Operating season||May through September|
|Area||550 acres (220 ha)|
Geauga Lake was an amusement park in Bainbridge Township and Aurora, Ohio. It was established in 1887, in what had been a local recreation area adjacent to a lake of the same name. The first amusement ride was added in 1889, and the park's first roller coaster – later known as the Big Dipper – was built in 1925. The park was sold to Funtime, Inc., in 1969 and was expanded over the years with additional rides and amenities. Funtime was acquired by Premier Parks in 1995, and for the 2000 season, they re-branded Geauga Lake as Six Flags Ohio, adding four new roller coasters. The following year, Six Flags bought the adjacent SeaWorld Ohio and combined the two parks under the name Six Flags Worlds of Adventure.
The park changed ownership again in 2004 after a purchase by Cedar Fair. The park's SeaWorld portion was transformed into a water park in 2005, and together they became known as Geauga Lake and Wildwater Kingdom. On September 21, 2007, less than a week after Geauga Lake closed for the season, Cedar Fair announced that the amusement park would be permanently closed. The water park continued to operate as Wildwater Kingdom through the 2016 season, before meeting the same fate.
Geauga Lake was originally known as "Picnic Lake" or "Giles Pond." The Geauga Lake area was home to early settlers such as the Staffords, Mark Patterson, Capt. Simon Henry with his wife Rhoda Parsons and their children, Charles Swires, the Brewsters, and Bohan Blair. There is a city park and ballfields on East Boulevard in Aurora, named after this lake. Sullivan Giles chose this area for his log cabin in 1817. He later built a large frame home on the spot behind Geauga Lake depot on the north side of the lake. When the railroad came to town in 1856, it made a stop at "pond station". Giles took advantage of his scenic lake location and, in the last half of the 19th century, established picnic grounds, a dance hall, and other entertainment near his home for the all-day pleasure of residents and those taking the train to the country.
Geauga Lake opened for picnics and swimming in 1872. An 1880 history of Geauga County reported the Giles residence "being easy of access by rail, has become, within a few years, a very popular place of resort during the summer months, for fishing, picnic, and excursion parties" and "for the convenience of such parties, Mr. Giles has recently erected a hall of considerable size near the lake. The surrounding grounds are kept clean and attractive, and, without exception, this is the most charming place to spend a leisure day to be found in this section." At the time, a full-sized steamboat circled the lake, towing a large scow, topped with a dance floor. The boat, first owned by William Banford and Rowe Fuller, was later purchased by the Kents. In 1907, the boat was shipped by rail to Brady Lake near Kent.
Geauga Lake park was established in 1887. Three major league baseball games were played on Sundays at Geauga Lake in 1888 (plus a Thursday exhibition game) by the Cleveland Forest Citys of the major league American Association. By 1889, the park installed its first ride, a steam-powered carousel. More rides would follow.
William J. Kuhlman expanded the park in 1925. At that time, Geauga Lake built the Big Dipper, the largest wooden roller coaster of its time, 2,800 feet (850 m) long and 65 feet (20 m) high. Geauga Lake's Olympic-sized swimming pool was built, and it stayed in operation until the mid-1960s. On Sunday, July 11, 1926, Olympic medalist and Tarzan actor Johnny Weissmuller set a new world record in the 220-yard free style swim in the pool in front of 3,000 spectators. Lake swimming also continued over the coming decades. Many amusement parks at the time had race tracks, dance halls, and sometimes a theater and bowling alley, making them year round attractions. The race track was added in 1931, although it closed in 1969. The theater, dance hall, and bowling alley were also added around the same time. In 1937, the park's 1926 hand-carved Marcus Illions Carousel was added, after having been located in Philadelphia and Birmingham, at a cost of $35,000.
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 1942, a tornado hit the park, injuring six, destroying buildings, and damaging the Big Dipper. The park reported $50,000 in damages, but it quickly rebuilt. In July 1944, Viola Schryer ("Vi") took over management of the park after the death of her uncle William Kuhlman.
In 1952, a fire destroyed the park's bowling alley, theater, dance hall and roller rink with damages estimated at $500,000. At that time 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. Funtime was formed to purchase Geauga Lake by former managers of Cedar Point, Earl Gascoigne, Gaspar Lococo, and M.P. Jacobson. The focus continued to be rides and swimming. The racetrack closed and was razed in 1969. In 1970 a marine life park, SeaWorld Ohio, was built across the lake from the amusement park after Funtime persuaded SeaWorld to build the marine park on the other side of the lake. SeaWorld and Geauga Lake were friendly neighbors for 30 years working together to become a regional destination. SeaWorld focused on marine life and shows, while Geauga Lake focused on thrill rides and swimming. SeaWorld was purchased by Harcourt Brace Jovanovich in 1976 and later by Busch Entertainment Corp in late 1989.
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 first amusement park in Ohio 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 1985, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, owner of SeaWorld, announced their intent to purchase Funtime and combine the two parks, but the deal fell through. 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, a steel looping shuttle coaster designed by Vekoma, and Grizzly Run, a water rapids ride designed by Intamin. These attractions opened in 1996, and the Corkscrew was closed and sold and moved to Dizzee World in Chennai, Tamil Nadu India. The next year, the park expanded its water area by 32,000 square feet (3,000 m2) with Hook's Lagoon. Several new water slides were also added. Mr. Hyde's Nasty Fall, an Intamin first generation freefall ride was also added in 1997.
In 1998, Premier Parks purchased Six Flags from Time Warner. Serial Thriller, later known as Thunderhawk, was added. The next year, Americana, Time Warp, and an up-charge attraction Skycoaster were added. Premier Parks re-branded Geauga Lake in 2000 as Six Flags Ohio.
In 2000, Geauga Lake received a $40 million expansion and became Six Flags Ohio. As part of that expansion, the park received 20 new rides, including four new roller coasters. A junior roller coaster called Road Runner Express, a wooden roller coaster called Villain, a Floorless roller coaster called Batman: Knight Flight and an Inverted impulse roller coaster called Superman: Ultimate Escape. Also added was a new shoot the chute water ride named Shipwreck Falls and a new wave pool in the water park. The old wave pool was razed, filled, and used for a new Looney Tunes themed kids' area known as Looney Tunes Boomtown.
Busch Entertainment determined that its SeaWorld parks should feature roller coasters, water rides, and other attractions to supplement the marine displays and shows, and the company began de-emphasizing the educational aspects of its parks. They began modifying their Orlando, San Antonio, and to a lesser extent their San Diego parks to reflect this. Due to Six Flags Ohio's close proximity, as well as the fact that the SeaWorld side of the lake had height restrictions, Busch approached Six Flags about buying the Six Flags park. Six Flags then made a counter offer to instead buy SeaWorld Ohio. That winter, Six Flags purchased SeaWorld for $110 million in cash, merging the two complexes into one, and changing the entire complex's name to Six Flags Worlds of Adventure. By combining the parks, Six Flags created the largest theme park in the world to date, at 700 acres. The SeaWorld side became known as the "Wild Life" area and remained primarily marine life shows, with a few portable children's rides placed throughout. In 2001, the park had plans to construct a 200-foot tall hypercoaster on the SeaWorld side of the park, but later abandoned those plans due to height restrictions and other conflicts with the city of Aurora. In 2002, Shamu was replaced by Shouka, who came on a breeding loan from Marineland in Antibes, France. The original amusement park area became known as the "Wild Rides" area and continued expansion with a Vekoma Flying roller coaster called X-Flight. The small water park area also continued, so the park was marketed as "Three Parks for One Price".
In hopes to expand the water park area, the addition of Hurricane Mountain, the then-largest water slide complex in North America, occurred in 2003 and the water park area was later renamed Hurricane Harbor.
Facing financial difficulties across its chain and high debt, Six Flags considered selling the park. Two months before the 2004 season, a sale to Cedar Fair, owner of Cedar Point located 85 miles (137 km) away, was announced. The deal was finalized less than a month later for $145 million. The Geauga Lake name was immediately restored to the park. All references to Looney Tunes characters and DC superheroes were removed, and to conform with copyright and trademark laws, the names of many rides, roller coasters, and attractions were changed. The Looney Tunes Boomtown kids area was renamed Kidworks. The Hurricane Harbor water park area was renamed Hurricane Hannah's Waterpark. The marine life side was shut down immediately before opening. The animals were retained by Six Flags and relocated to other parks such as Six Flags Marine World and Great Adventure. While most of the former marine area was closed off to the public and later demolished, the amusement park area attractions and rides remained the same except for name changes.
As part of Cedar Fair's 2004 purchase of Geauga Lake, many of the coasters received new names as Cedar Fair does not own the rights to DC Comics or Looney Tunes characters. Below is a list of renamed rides:
In 2005, Cedar Fair invested $26 million in Wildwater Kingdom, a new water park on the former SeaWorld site, which resulted in the name being altered slightly to Geauga Lake & Wildwater Kingdom. The Wildwater Kingdom side had about six water slides and a children's water play area. The Hurricane Hannah area remained. Mr. Hyde's Nasty Fall was closed at the end of 2005. Usable parts were salvaged for Demon Drop, then at Cedar Point, and the rest was scrapped.
In 2006, Wildwater Kingdom was expanded to include Tidal Wave Bay. The Hurricane Hannah area was then shut down, leaving Wildwater Kingdom as the remaining water park. 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). X-Flight was relocated to Kings Island and opened as Firehawk in 2007. Steel Venom was relocated to Dorney Park, where it opened for the 2008 season as Voodoo, until 2009 when it was renamed Possessed.
Combined attendance at both parks reached an estimated 2.7 million visitors in 2001. By 2004, total park attendance had fallen to approximately 700,000 despite a $40 million investment on rides in 2000. Citing the Cleveland area as their "most difficult market", Six Flags sold Worlds of Adventure to Cedar Fair in March 2004. Speculation that the amusement park side would eventually close began after Cedar Fair relocated two major roller coasters – Steel Venom and X-Flight – to other parks prior to the 2007 season.
In 2007, the summer-only operation of Geauga Lake continued. The annual Oktoberfest festival weekend held in September every year concluded on September 16, 2007, marking the amusement park's last day of operation. On September 21, 2007, Cedar Fair announced that the ride side of Geauga Lake would permanently close, and that the water park side would continue to operate the following season as Geauga Lake's Wildwater Kingdom. Cedar Fair also announced plans to move existing rides to its other properties. This led to efforts to save Geauga Lake, especially landmarks such as the Big Dipper and the Carousel, through an online petition and letters to public officials.
Cedar Fair placed the amusement park side's land up for sale. The remaining rides and remnants were auctioned separately on June 17, 2008. Many returned to the park for one last visit preview and auction days.
In 2012 and 2013, Cleveland-based photographer and artist Johnny Joo visited Geauga Lake to capture the park in a state of decay. These photos brought heavy local attention from families who had remembered the park in its heyday.
As late as January 2013, the Geauga Lake side was still for sale and projects similar to Crocker Park in Westlake, Ohio were being considered. Bainbridge Township and Cedar Fair hoped to have it resolved by the end of 2013. In March 2013, Cedar Fair announced that they were putting Geauga Lake's property up for sale again. Unlike before, they were willing to sell the land in parcels. Several companies showed interest in the land. On September 17, 2017, a plaque was unveiled in memory of the park.
On August 25, 2020, it was announced that PulteGroup, a home construction company, would be building a housing development on the site of the Wildwater Kingdom parking lot. PulteGroup acquired the 245 acre portion of the property that is in the city limits of Aurora, Ohio for $2 million. The development, known as Renaissance Park at Geauga Lake, would include street names like "Carousel Court" and "Dipper Way" to pay tribute to former Geauga Lake attractions. PulteGroup said that homes will be available for sale by March 2021. In October 2020, developer Industrial Commercial Properties bought the remaining 377 acres of the property with plans to build homes, restaurants, and retail establishments there.
The number of former attractions at the park reflects the different visions each of the owners had for the park. Below are some of the park's former rides that have been removed or are now operating at another amusement park.
|Ride||Manufacturer||Model||Year Opened||Year Closed||Description|
|Beaver Land Mine Ride||Zierer||Steel Kiddie Coaster||2000||2007||Formerly known as Road Runner Express, now operates at Papea City in Yvré-l'Evêque, France|
|Big Dipper||John A. Miller||Wooden coaster||1925||2007||After this coaster opened, Geauga Lake officially became an amusement park, and the ride formerly served as the park entrance gate. Former Names: The Clipper and Sky Rocket, demolished|
|Corkscrew||Arrow Dynamics||Corkscrew steel coaster||1978||1995||Relocated to MGM Dizzee World as Roller Coaster since 1996.|
|Cyclone||Pinfari||Z47 portable coaster||1976||1980|||
|Dominator||Bolliger & Mabillard||Floorless steel coaster||2000||2007||Formerly known as Batman: Knight Flight, now open at Kings Dominion|
|Double Loop||Arrow Dynamics||Double looping steel coaster||1977||2007||Demolished|
|Head Spin||Vekoma||Steel boomerang coaster||1996||2007||Formerly known as Mind Eraser, now open at Carowinds as The Flying Cobras|
|Little Dipper||NAD Comet Jr.||Wooden Family Coaster||1975|
|Raging Wolf Bobs||Dinn Corporation||Wooden twister coaster||1988||2007||Demolished|
|Steel Venom||Intamin||Impulse steel coaster||2000||2006||Formerly known as Superman: Ultimate Escape, now open at Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom as Possessed|
|Thunderhawk||Vekoma||Steel Looping Coaster||1998||2007||Formerly known as Serial Thriller, now open at Michigan's Adventure|
|Villain||Custom Coasters International||Wooden/steel hybrid coaster||2000||2007||Demolished|
|Wild Mouse||Schiff||Wild Mouse coaster||1958||1971||Relocated to Chippewa Lake Park in 1972|
|X-Flight||Vekoma||Flying Dutchman||2001||2006||Relocated to Kings Island as Firehawk. This ride was closed in 2018 to make room for Orion.|
|Ride||Year Opened||Year Closed||Description|
|Americana||1999||2007||Ferris wheel, moved from Old Indiana Fun Park, now open at Kings Dominion|
|Bayern Curve||1974||1980||Schwarzkopf Bayern Kurve|
|Big Ditch||1973||1985||Boat ride|
|Black Squid||1970||2007||Eyerly Spider, relocated to Kings Dominion but was in too poor of condition to reassemble|
|Boardwalk Typhoon||2007||Eli Bridge Scrambler, sold to Schlitterbahn water parks|
|Bounty||2001||2007||Chance Sea Dragon, sold to Schlitterbahn water parks|
|Bug||1977||Traver Tumble Bug|
|Carousel||1937||2007||Marcus Illions Grand Carousel, relocated to Worlds of Fun in 2011|
|El Dorado||1991||2007||Weber 1001 Nachts pendulum ride. Moved to Kings Dominion but was closed in 2011 to make room for WindSeeker|
|Euroracers Grand Prix||1987||1999||Go Karts|
|Ferris Wheel||1969||1998||Eli Bridge Ferris Wheel|
|Ferry Boats||2001||2005||Two Ferry Boats operated as Cuyahoga Queen and Aurora Belle|
|Flying Scooters||1958||1999||Flying Scooters|
|Geauga Lake Stadium||1975||2007||Lakeside stadium originally built to host Sea World's water-ski shows|
|Geauga Queen||1980||Boat ride|
|Giant Slide||1980||Sack slide|
|Grizzly Run||1996||2007||Intamin Water rapids ride|
|Harbor Theatre||1998||2007||4-D Cinema|
|Hay Baler||1976||2007||Mack Matterhorn|
|Kidworks Playzone||2000||2007||Kiddie rides area formerly known as Looney Tunes Boomtown, rides located to Cedar Point in the Planet Snoopy section of the park|
|LEGO Racers 4-D||2007||2007||4-D Cinema film|
|Lighthouse Cruise||1985||2000||Boat ride|
|Merry Oldies||1972||2007||Arrow Dynamics Antique Cars|
|Mission: Bermuda Triangle||2000||2004||Simulator film|
|Mr. Hyde's Nasty Fall||1997||2005||Intamin first generation freefall, scrapped, parts salvaged for Demon Drop|
|Muzik Express||1978||2002||Spinning Himalaya-type ride|
|Palace Theatre||1977||2007||Entertainment Venue that was the park's Fun House from the 1940s through 1976.|
|Pepsi Plunge||1972||2007||Log Flume formerly known as Gold Rush|
|Pirates 4-D Adventure||1998||2004||4-D Cinema film|
|Pirates Flight||2002||2007||Zamperala Balloon Race with Pirate theme|
|Power City Stage||1993||2007||Amphitheatre formerly known as Gotham City Stage|
|Robots of Mars||2005||2006||4-D Cinema film replaced by LEGO|
|Roll-O-Planes||early 50's||mid 70's||Eyerly Roll-O-Plane|
|Shipwreck Falls||2000||2007||Shoot-the-Chutes water ride|
|Silver Bullet||1976||2003||HUSS Park Attractions enterprise ride|
|Skyscraper||1974||2007||Observation tower, dismantled|
|Starfish||2003||2007||Spinning family ride|
|Texas Twister||1993||2007||The first HUSS top spin in America, it was relocated to California's Great America as Firefall. It was removed in 2016.|
|Thunder Alley Speedway||1998||2007||Go-karts|
|Time Warp||1999||2007||Chance Inverter thrill ride|
|Yo-Yo||1981||2007||Chance Yo-Yo chairswing ride, now open at Carowinds|
|Tilt-A-Whirl||1999||Operated at Geauga Lake, Operated at Wyandot Lake (Columbus Zoo) from 2000-2017, relocated to Funtimes Park for 2018|
|Taz's Twister||Zamperla Mini Tea Cups|
|Daffy's Deep Diver||Zamperla Crazy Bus|
|Tweety's Club House|
|Wile E. Coyote Canyon Blaster||Zamperla Samba Balloons|
|Yosemite Sam BoomTown Express|
|Speedy Gonzales' Trucking Company|
|Marvin the Martian Rocket Ship Ride|
|Ride||Year Opened||Year Closed||Description|
|Shark Attack||2003||2005||3 raft slides|
|Hurricane Mountain||2003||2005||America's largest water slide complex at the time|
|Stingray Wet Slides||1987||2005||Speed Slides|
|Neptune Falls||1982||2005||3 body slides|
|Hook's Lagoon||1997||2005||Water tree house|
|Turtle Beach||1989||2005||Kids play area|
|The Rampage||1982||1996||Water Tobbogan, replaced by Hook's Lagoon|
|Hurricane Bay||2000||2005||Wave pool|
|Calypso Creek||2000||2005||Lazy River|
|The Wave||1984||1999||Wave pool, removed to make way for Looney Tunes Boomtown|
This property has changed hands several times, although there were only four ownership changes in the 124-year span from 1872 to 1996.
The park was originally two parks: Geauga Lake and SeaWorld Ohio. Geauga Lake became Six Flags Ohio in 2000; before the 2001 season SeaWorld was purchased by Six Flags and the entire complex was combined and renamed Six Flags Worlds of Adventure.
|Amusement Park||Marine 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 Adrion, 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.|
|Combined Amusement/Water Park|
|1983||Geauga Lake||Funtime, Inc.|
|Fall 1989||SeaWorld Ohio||Anheuser-Busch||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/Water/Marine Park|
|2001-2003||Six Flags Worlds Of Adventure||Six Flags||Rick McCurly|
|Combined Amusement/Water Park|
|2004||Geauga Lake||Cedar Fair||Bill Spehn|
|2005–2007||Geauga Lake & Wildwater Kingdom||Cedar Fair||Bill Spehn|