Friday, September 21, 2007

Geauga Lake announcement not whole story

OK .. I didn't see this one coming .. I don't think many folks did. Geauga Lake is getting out of the amusement park business and will be solely a water park next year. According to its owner, Cedar Fair, most of the major rides (roller coasters, the Ferris wheel, etc.) will be dismantled and sent to other CF Parks.

Here's what stands out from CF's press release .. see if you can read between the lines:

Dick Kinzel, Chairman and CEO of Cedar Fair, says, "Water parks traditionally draw from a closer geographic market than amusement parks, and we believe Geauga Lake's Wildwater Kingdom will continue to be successful in drawing visitors from the greater Cleveland, Youngstown and Akron-Canton areas."

Since when did a business owner ever say that he didn't want visitors from outside of his local area? Why would anyone say they're targeting fewer customers by only thinking of the immediate neighbors? How is drawing "from a closer geographic market" a good thing for the any of us?

Admitting that your target audience is now reduced to just a 40-mile radius tells me that closing the rides at Geauga Lake has a secondary purpose: they're hoping NE Ohio folks will drive farther and pay more to ride roller coasters at Cedar Point.

Nowhere in today's press release is there even a hint that GL was losing money on its traditional amusement park rides. We didn't see mass layoffs or cost-cutting measures. None of the typical events that precede a major cut like this ever reared their Wildwater heads.

Instead, we're blind-sided with news that our 119-year-old park is closing .. BUT HEY, NOW WE CAN ALL GET WET AND WILD WITH PEOPLE THAT LIVE IN THE SAME THREE AREA CODES!

What kind of marketing strategy is that? Hey, I liked when I saw Pennsylvania and Columbus license plates in the GL parking lots. We certainly spend lots of money visiting their businesses .. let em spend a few bucks here!

I took my boys to Geauga Lake last week with no idea that it would be the last Saturday the double loop would ever be running. (picture courtesy geaugalaketoday.com) No idea that it would soon be in pieces like a giant erector set.

I liked GL (and Sea World before that) because it was close enough to Akron that I was able to go to an amusement park and be back home the same day without feeling completely run down from the long commute.

This announcement feels like someone just sold me an elephant ear ... which is advertised as this huge, sweet treat that you can't live without ... but once you digest it, you realize there wasn't much nutrition to it.

8 comments:

Village Green said...

How long before the land is sold and carved up into energy-sucking McMansions with three car garages?

Anonymous said...

I think one of the commenters in the Beacon-Journal story put it best: GL started going downhill, attendance-wise, anyway, when Sea World left. They said that most people went to that area for Sea World, and then spent a second day at GL, in most cases. When Sea World left and Six Flags put in the cheap knockoff, it turned a lot of people away.

Now, of course, the high ticket prices that Six Flags implemented didn't help, either, but it seems that the loss of Sea World hurt the most.

I'm curious to know, Eric, since you were there last week, if you agree with the comments that have been made that GL seemed understaffed, service was poor, areas (like the restrooms) were dirty, and that while GL spent millions on the waterpark area, they didn't do much to the theme park side of things?

Anonymous said...

We were there over Labor Day. Both DH and I commented that the park was definately not "Disney World" ~ clean and friendly. Now I see why. They had plans of closing it. Paint was peeling on the rides, the bathroom near the bumper cars did not have enough lighting (I wouldn't venture into that area without DH), the Peanuts outdoor theatre was boring and monotone, I could go on and on. The kids aren't all big enough to enjoy Cedar Point, so maybe we'll go to Kennywood or Dollywood or ???

Kay Walker said...

I'm really going to miss Geauga Lake. It was a total surprise to me. Like you Eric, I agree it was close enough where you could spend the day and drive home and not be tired.The last time I was there was in 2004 when our son was home on leave from the Army. It was so nice to spend the day there as a family, riding the log ride and screaming as we went down the steep hill. We have a picture to prove it. The picture is priceless with our fake expressions...haha. I will really miss the rides, but with a water park hopefully it will bring more people for the water rides and water shows. I miss Seaworld too. What a loss. Maybe they can bring it back but under another name. They really need to do alot to draw spectators. Have they even thought about asking what we like in terms of a water park? I think the spectators might have a better idea on how to draw people to the park. Why not ask a few of us to attend their board meetings. Makes sense to me. I have a current phamplet. Who knows it may go for alot on Ebay.

NEOBuckeye said...

I wonder if there is some sort of back deal arrangement going on to convert the non-water park area into condos, or maybe even some sort of Easton or Crocker Park, mega-upscale, mixed-use development? Given that GL isn't all that close to any major expressways and the housing crash underway, I don't suppose there is much in this for Cedar Fair other than the conquering and divying up of a former rival.

Regardless, it seems like such a waste of a great park. Lots of oeople made lots of memories and good times there that just can't be measured in monetary terms.

Anonymous said...

This is an outrage and someone should hit them with a lawsuit for lying to their customers. I see a plot thickening here and maybe I'm off my rocker here but is it possible that they will start a new amusement park which is smaller and more compact on the sea world side and use the money from the sale of the RT8 side to fund it ? Hmmmmm ? Anyone think thats a possibility ?

Anonymous said...

Wow, Geauga Lake is Closed.

I wish this was all a bad dream, but the reality of it all is that the yells and screams from the park will be forever silent.

I am just old enough to remember the closing of Euclid Beach. I remember sitting with my parents
and my father was reading the afternoon newspaper, then The Cleveland Press. The headline
forever burned in my mind, “No More Euclid Beach”.

Folks, I was 4 years old when that headline was printed, and the feelings that I had then are the same that I have now.

My father and I sat in the parking lot of the “Uncle Bill’s” department store, and watched the roller coaster get knocked down. It was something that was sad, but I am glad I got to do it.

Visiting Geauga Lake will always be a fond memory. The “log ride” was my favorite ride.

I have an audio tape of me dated “1972”. It is of me as a child describing how the ride takes you “up in the air” and “throws you into the water”. The excitement in my voice is comparable to a child on Christmas morning.

My father had taken me there when I was not quite 7 years old.
It was my first trip to the park, and I had no idea where we were going until we arrived.
I just about jumped out of the window of the car I was so excited.

We are told that “nothing ever stays the same” and “friends come and friends go…”

I guess, years from now our children’s children will never even know what we are talking about when the “old timers” talk about Geauga Lake. Sort of like today, when someone mentions Euclid Beach, or
Idora Park (Youngstown)

It is sad, it is very sad to lose such a good “friend”. We have had the pleasure to know “Geauga Lake” as it was. Cherish those memories, and pass them on to the younger generation. Download pictures, maps and memories before they are gone as well.

There is nothing more that we can do. The powers to be at Cedar Fair have made the decision.

Time marches forward. Geauga Lake took the place of Euclid Beach. Who knows what will take
Geauga Lake’s place.

I agree with Eric Mansfield, if only we knew. We could have said one last goodbye.

Respectfully Submitted

Ron Good,
Cuyahoga Falls, OH

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