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Geauga Lake's Wildwater Kingdom Closing


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https://www.wildwaterfun.com/media-center/wildwater-kingdom-update

"WILDWATER KINGDOM UPDATE
Cedar Fair Entertainment Company has announced that Wildwater Kingdom water park in Aurora, Ohio, will not reopen after the 2016 season. Its final day of operation will be Monday, September 5.

Cedar Fair has been working cooperatively with both Bainbridge Township and the City of Aurora to redevelop the entire property into what will best benefit the surrounding communities. After examining its long-range plans, Cedar Fair has determined that the time is right to begin this transition and will continue to work together with community leadership in the positive future development of the property.

Cedar Fair would like to thank the residents of Northeast Ohio for supporting Wildwater Kingdom each summer."

 


It was only a matter of time before the water park closed with no recent additions and not much there to begin with. I never understood why they moved the water park to the old Sea World side when they could have kept the old water park location open, closed the Sea World side of the park and had a water park with a few of the amusement park rides open or at least keep some of the flat rides that were on the Sea World side open rather than remove all the dry rides.

I'm guessing the 7 slide tower, Tornado and kids play structure will be relocated elsewhere in the chain.

It looks like there are 7 operating days left, at least they gave some notice unlike when the amusement park closed and no notice was given for people to get their final rides in.

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Why would Cedar Fair by it in the first place, couldn't have Sea World tried to take the property back? I wonder how they feel if they should have turned down Six Flags offer at the turn of the century

 

 

...Bush Gardens Williamsburg is 10-20 minutes closer to KD than CP was to SFWOA/GL/SFO/GLWWK; If Cedar Fair Want to expand and the Bush Gardens parks for sale {I'll say Sesame Place as well} and Cedar Fair Looking to expand, I would rather see SF trade Great Escape for CA's Great America then split Bush Gardens, Williamburg to SF because there about the distance between KI and CP and neither chain has a park in Florida. If Sesame Place is getting sold too, I think Merlin Entertainment should go the LEGOLAND route (70 Merlin-30 [in this case] Sesame Workshop). Another route I'm thinking of is if the Walibi Parks {SFB, SFH, W S-O, W R-A} could expand to the US market but this is the most unlikely option. Hershald could also take them [they own Dollywood and Silver Dollar City].

If you want to go with this as a fan theory {except I'll call it Fanatic Theories): Cedar Fair wants to expand and now that this city is ready for new construction, they can sell off the park for a good price and use it to expand the chain either by building a new park [not sure what they would call it if it was in the states but Mexico's Wonderland(?)] or for annexation. Sea World on the other hand is looking to sell of its greatest asset, Bush Gardens, but since Kings Dominion is so close to Bush Gardens, Cedar Fair will not take it after GL because they probably wouldn't want to destroy one sib to keep the other, its not right.

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Why would Cedar Fair by it in the first place, couldn't have Sea World tried to take the property back? I wonder how they feel if they should have turned down Six Flags offer at the turn of the century

SeaWorld wanted to get rid of it in the first place so why would they want it back?

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Well, actually, SeaWorld wanted to buy Geauga Lake Park from Premier Parks first, but Premiere didn't want to sell. Then Premier offered to buy out SeaWorld and they accepted the offer.

 

This whole sad situation all comes down to Kinzel when he ran CF and bad decision making. They bought the property and all the attractions from Six Flags for a song but I suspect he really just wanted it for the parts. There is no reason that area could not have supported GL and CP, and in fact they probably could have made the two properties even more successful together, but Kinzel was only interested in keeping CP the gem of the company. After the acquisition he kind of short changed Canada's Wonderland and King's Island as well because they either beat or nearly beat CP in attendance and he didn't want to see that (despite the fact that he was running the WHOLE company and not just CP). CP was his baby and he couldn't stand seeing the other parks beat CP out in any way shape or form.

 

Kingda Ka looks like a big middle finger for a reason...

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I believe that as well. It was just too many things happening at once for it to not be the case. I also remember hearing the Halloween event was cancelled because they wanted people to go to Cedar Point instead.

 

I don't know if this true and wouldn't be surprised if it is, years ago I read on some other message board that Kinzel was so annoyed with Six Flags over Worlds of Adventure that he bought Wicked Twister just to have a bigger version of Superman Ultimate Escape and said something along the lines of "This will show Six Flags."

 

I was so glad to see him gone, also because I feel like he was at least partly responsible for starting the "Let's send used, unreliable rides to Dorney" program.

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I don't think there was a sinister plot aimed at Geauga Lake by Kinzel per say. It boils down to the acquisition of the Paramount Parks by Cedar Fair.

 

When Cedar Fair took on the debt from acquiring the Paramount Parks, decisions regarding Ohio had to be made. Cedar Fair could continue pumping money into the Aurora Park, or invest at the much more promising (and newly acquired) Kings Island. I'm not sure what the profitability and attendance ledgers were between the two Ohio Parks, but I would imagine Kings Island required the least amount of new CapEx and drew better crowds. Operating 3 parks in Ohio wasn't something Cedar Fair wanted to justify. Why spread customers and capex across three properties, when you could move them to the other two? Geauga Lake's fate was sealed the second Paramount Parks / Kings Island deal was finalized.

 

The only "conspiracy" I can see here, is Kinzel's refusal to sell Geauga Lake. IIRC, the parent company of Kennywood was interested in purchasing the entire 400+ acre property. At least, those were the rumors at the time. Kinzel probably decided blocking a competitor from the Ohio Market, (and re-purposing those expensive rides Six Flags installed) better suited Cedar Fair's bottom line. Kinzel could then sell the property to some developer for an even higher price, making the park acquisition a financial windfall for his company. That obviously failed.

 

It's really sad the post 9/11 recession forced the sale of Six Flags Ohio. It's probably even sadder that Busch failed at acquiring Geauga Lake from Premier Parks. Both properties might still be operating today.

Edited by Thunderbolt
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Well, actually, SeaWorld wanted to buy Geauga Lake Park from Premier Parks first, but Premiere didn't want to sell. Then Premier offered to buy out SeaWorld and they accepted the offer.

 

This whole sad situation all comes down to Kinzel when he ran CF and bad decision making. They bought the property and all the attractions from Six Flags for a song but I suspect he really just wanted it for the parts. There is no reason that area could not have supported GL and CP, and in fact they probably could have made the two properties even more successful together, but Kinzel was only interested in keeping CP the gem of the company. After the acquisition he kind of short changed Canada's Wonderland and King's Island as well because they either beat or nearly beat CP in attendance and he didn't want to see that (despite the fact that he was running the WHOLE company and not just CP). CP was his baby and he couldn't stand seeing the other parks beat CP out in any way shape or form.

 

Kingda Ka looks like a big middle finger for a reason...

As cool as that urban legend may sound, I would imagine Kingda Ka was planned before the sale of Six Flags Ohio to Cedar Fair. Unless you mean it was a 'middle finger' to Cedar Point. Then I could agree. Burke seemed like that type to flout his accomplishments. In reality, he should have.

 

Despite lousy ride ops, Premier was my favorite SF Era.

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I don't know if this true and wouldn't be surprised if it is, years ago I read on some other message board that Kinzel was so annoyed with Six Flags over Worlds of Adventure that he bought Wicked Twister just to have a bigger version of Superman Ultimate Escape and said something along the lines of "This will show Six Flags"

 

Weather or not this is true, wicked twister is a kick butt ride!

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Great discussion in this thread.

 

I think whether you trace the park's demise to the desire for CP to remain the jewel in the crown or to the Paramount Parks acquisition, it still comes down to Kinzel's ego.

 

It was his way or the highway, and he thought he (and his team) could do a better job at running all of these parks than the competition. That's why CF pompously refused to maintain the animals in Aurora, which were a huge draw and what made the park unique. It's where their slogan for Geagua Lake, "The fun is back," came from, even though history has proven that to be wrongheaded.

 

I will say that there were a lot of good things about Kinzel's era from a guest perspective -- amazing additions at CP, and even more amazing operational efficiency. But it was time for him to move on. Today, labor at CF parks is treated better (not that some of his legacy doesn't live on...) and capex is more thoughtful and modern across the chain.

 

I agree with the sentiment that SFWoA, for its short life, was something immensely special. They even got the operations to far surpass usual Six Flags standards once they combined the parks. For a well-rounded experience, it easily surpassed CP, GAdv, or any other regional park while it existed, and whatever you trace it back to, the fate of the park is pretty devastating.

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I went to Geagua Lake only once towards the end of June in 2007. By then many of the coasters were already removed and many other rides were closed for that season (in June). I remember leaving there thinking that something was about to happen to the park because it didn't compare to the standard and atmosphere of the other Cedar Fair parks.

 

Ironically, I also went to Kentucky Kingdom and Cypress Gardens that year. I'll always remember it as my "Summer-of-soon-to-be-closed-Parks Tour" even though none of them had announced their closures when I was there!

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Great discussion in this thread.

 

I think whether you trace the park's demise to the desire for CP to remain the jewel in the crown or to the Paramount Parks acquisition, it still comes down to Kinzel's ego.

 

It was his way or the highway, and he thought he (and his team) could do a better job at running all of these parks than the competition. That's why CF pompously refused to maintain the animals in Aurora, which were a huge draw and what made the park unique. It's where their slogan for Geagua Lake, "The fun is back," came from, even though history has proven that to be wrongheaded.

 

I will say that there were a lot of good things about Kinzel's era from a guest perspective -- amazing additions at CP, and even more amazing operational efficiency. But it was time for him to move on. Today, labor at CF parks is treated better (not that some of his legacy doesn't live on...) and capex is more thoughtful and modern across the chain.

 

I agree with the sentiment that SFWoA, for its short life, was something immensely special. They even got the operations to far surpass usual Six Flags standards once they combined the parks. For a well-rounded experience, it easily surpassed CP, GAdv, or any other regional park while it existed, and whatever you trace it back to, the fate of the park is pretty devastating.

Without any doubt, Cedar Fair could not have mismanaged this property any worse than it tried. From closing down the "Sea World" side of the park, to building Wildwater Kingdom on the wrong side of the lake (never mind "Hurricane Harbor" was already pretty new); Cedar Fair's mistakes seem almost orchestrated. Had Premier not been forced to sell SFWoA (or lose control of Six Flags in general), I wonder where the Aurora park would be today? Perhaps it would have overtaken Kings Island in terms of economic value.

 

If I recall at the time, Busch decided to sell the park when their desires to build a mega coaster on their side of the lake were thwarted. Having failed to acquire Geauga Lake, or construct rides on "their side", Busch decided to bail. Someone needs to write a book about this. It would be a fascinating read for any amusement park enthusiast. Geauga Lake really needs their own Harry Applegate. :)

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  • 3 years later...

Pulte Group completed the purchase of 245 acres of land from Cedar Fair and will start construction on Phase 1 of Renaissance Park at Geauga Lake soon.

https://www.pulte.com/homes/ohio/cleveland/aurora/renaissance-park-at-geauga-lake-210580

13

 

This is the initial site plan before it was refined.

AR-305109934.jpg

 

Refined site plans:

AR-307219966.jpg?MaxW=600

EP-307219966.jpg?MaxW=600&MaxH=600

 

https://www.auroraoh.com/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Minutes/_06032020-1266

Quote

CITY OF AURORA

PLANNING COMMISSION

MEETING MINUTES

JUNE 3, 2020

 

In attendance to answer questions for this agenda item was Jim O’Connor of Pulte Group. Also in attendance was Brian Uhlenbrock, Landscape Architect of Neff and Associates. They were seeking approval for phase 1 of the West portion of the subdivision.

 

Mr. O’Connor gave an overview of the project. Pulte Group has purchased 245 acres of the 560 acres located within the City of Aurora. He said that although code would allow up to 550 possible units for this project, Pulte was proposing to construct 308 units in total. He explained that with this mixed-use project, 20 acres will be designated for commercial uses, 97 acres of land is intended to become parkland, and three distinct types of housing will be constructed in the residential portion. He said there would be one Homeowner’s Association for the entire property. He explained that step one was to seek approval for the conceptual plan. They received that approval. The next step was to refine the plans and seek approval for the East and West preliminary plans. They received those approvals. They are now seeking approval of the final plat for the West – Phase 1 portion of the project. Phase 1 was said to have 50 townhouse units and 36 single-family units. He said this would be constructed in what was the Sea World parking lot area. He expected the homes to be 2,400 to 2,900 square feet and cost an overage of $400,000.00. He presented the landscaping plan for the project.

 

Brian Uhlenbrock presented the stormwater management calculations. He said that the run-off for this phase travels north to the Aurora branch of the Chagrin River. Currently there is a parking lot on the property. Mr. Uhlenbrock stated that 20 acres of asphalt would be removed. He explained that their stormwater management plan goes above and beyond requirements to improve quality and quantity of stormwater. He said that the plan would reduce stormwater run-off from their property 80% for a 100-year storm and 98% for a 1-year storm. He stated that this would be beneficial to properties downstream.

 

Mr. O’Connor stated that the run-off from this project does not contribute to Aurora Lake. He explained the lot split as an administrative function to create the parcel for the parkland. He said they were asking for approval for both agenda items and hoping to get under construction this summer.

 

https://www.auroraoh.com/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Agenda/_07202020-1285

Quote

City of Aurora, Ohio

CITY COUNCIL

Meeting Agenda

Monday July 20, 2020

 

Legislation:

Ord. 2020-081 From Planning An Ordinance approving the final plat for Renaissance Park at Geauga Lake located on the east side of Squires Road, in the M-1 Mixed-Use Zoning District and declaring an emergency in order to allow the project to begin during the construction season       3RD Reading

 

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  • 3 months later...

Cedar Fair sold off the remaining Geauga Lake land.

 

https://www.crainscleveland.com/real-estate/industrial-commercial-properties-buys-geauga-lake-land

Quote

November 01, 2020 04:00 AM

Industrial Commercial Properties buys Geauga Lake land

STAN BULLARD

 

The time is here to say final goodbyes to remnants of Geauga Lake Park and Sea World.

 

However, it's also time to say hello to the Geauga Lake District. That's the new name for 377 acres in Bainbridge Township that circle the namesake inland lake, and the name that the property's new owner, an aliate of Industrial Commercial Properties (ICP) of Solon, will use for it. ICP plans to play the role of master developer of the site, including installing elements that recall the original amusement park dating from 1887.

 

The sale for an undisclosed amount on Friday, Oct. 30, to ICP ends the era of Sandusky based Cedar Fair LP's ownership of the last of the vast site, which includes the former Sea World property. It follows Cedar Fair's sale of another whale of a site carved from the former amusement park in Aurora to PulteGroup of Atlanta.

 

Chris Semarjian, the owner of ICP, said in an online interview, "We are a family here in Greater Cleveland. We want it to be something great and leave a legacy. Geauga Lake is a fairly large body of water, a spring-fed lake. There have not been too many developments like this in our market."

 

Underscoring the family connection, Austin Semarjian, the owner's son and a vice president at ICP, found the opportunity that the firm is undertaking. He was talking to home improvements retailer Menards for a different site ICP controls and learned it wanted to do a store on some of the Geauga Lake land. That caused ICP to focus on the sprawling site for the first time.

 

The Cedar Fair sale literally sets potential construction on the site in motion. A land sale to Menards for one of the Eau Claire, Wis.-based chain's home improvement stores fronting on state Route 43 took place simultaneously with the larger deal.

 

How did Austin Semarjian interest his father in undertaking a variation from its core business and such a leviathan in terms of property development?

 

"Once we found some prospective users, he was interested," the younger Semarjian said. "He's a deal junkie."

 

The site will include additional retail locations, a proposed mixed-use restaurant and entertainment district, and a residential office district near the lake, as well as multifamily residential and institutional sites.

 

Although ICP's name is synonymous with industrial real estate projects, its 140-property portfolio in Ohio and Michigan also includes oce and commercial uses that total 42 million square feet. There will be no industrial property at Geauga Lake.

 

"It's too far from the highway" to be competitive for industrial use, Chris Semarjian said. He noted the company has retail properties in its holdings, as well as ICP staffers, from both the former Forest City Realty Trust Inc. and SITE Centers, which have land development and retail expertise.

 

Moreover, he said ICP has vast experience with land from buying former stores, offices and massive industrial buildings and converting them to new use.

 

However, ICP will not plan to do every project at the Geauga Lake District alone.

 

For example, the firm is entertaining offers from developers of multifamily properties to develop the 300-some apartments that would go on multifamily-zoned parcels. And Menards may not be alone among retailers to build and own their own structures on the site. Moreover, ICP may entertain joint ventures, particularly in segments such as oce or even office-residential use.

 

"We have asked everyone we work with to focus on architecture," Chris Semarjian said. "Its not about selling land. I'd rather leave a little room on the negotiating table for architecture. We have structured this so we will be able to maintain design control."

 

One reason for exerting such design control is that it was necessary to do so to obtain support from Bainbridge Township trustees for ICP's plans, particularly the desire to pay homage to the old landmark with elements of the new project. To that end, the proposed street that will provide access to sites on the lake's west side will be called Geauga Lake Boulevard.

 

An element of public art recalling the Big Dipper, a famous wooden roller coaster at Geauga Lake Park, is included in designs for the entrance of the new development. Some large land developments don't have names, but this one will have signage for itself as the Geauga Lake District.

 

Some old roller coaster cars also may find their way to be displayed in the district, according to Chris Salata, ICP's chief operating officer.

 

"A lot of us grew up in Northeast Ohio and remember visiting this park while we were growing up," Salata said. "It was very important to see that history remembered. That nostalgia is important to public ocials and the public. We'll also have a signicant amount of green space and connectivity (such as conservation areas and walking trails) to give it connectivity and create a lifestyle environment."

 

For Jeff Markley, a landscape architect and longtime Bainbridge Township trustee, ICP's willingness to accept that vision was not negotiable, a sentiment shared by the other trustees. The other proviso is that all of the lakefront surrounding the 50-acre body of water has to remain available for public use, which ICP agreed to do.

 

Bainbridge also had to work around the limitations of Ohio law because it's a township, Markley said. Bainbridge Township could not authorize a development agreement such as cities often do. The solution: a Geauga County lawsuit so the judge could tell the parties to negotiate a settlement or the court would do it. The court settlement was timed to go into effect simultaneously with the closing of the property sale.

 

ICP publicly set the basis for that agreement — and the court case — with the township zoning board's rejection of an initial proposal last January.

 

However, a more difficult arrangement had to be engineered to ensure the delivery of sewer and water lines to the site from Aurora. The lack of utilities was a factor in the demise of a prior plan for big retailer Meijer to take a 50-acre chunk of the township land. Trustees had fruitlessly explored multiple options for utilities. The only solution: a Joint Economic Development District (JEDD) under state law, which eluded the city and township since 2013.

 

Tony Visconsi, a managing director who headed a Hanna Commercial team handling the offering for Cedar Fair since 2017, said the need for the JEDD, along with costs for demolishing or redeveloping structures left over from the park, torpedoed about 50 prospects from pursuing the township land.

 

"ICP was familiar with JEDDs," Visconsi said in an interview. "It wasn't easy getting the (township and city) together, especially with money involved. The key was the ability of ICP to broker a deal between Aurora and Bainbridge to secure utilities. ICP did a masterful job helping the parties come together."

 

The JEDD, adopted in September, became effective just prior to the property sale. In addition to Aurora receiving fees for providing utilities, the JEDD divides proceeds from the 2% municipal income tax levied on occupants of the site; 25% goes to both the city and township, 25% to Aurora utility department for operations, and 25% to the JEDD needs of the district.

 

"I'm excited and optimistic for it all to begin," Markley said. "We would not let the lake be privatized. I'm hoping a future phase will include a museum to house artifacts from the site collecting dust in people's basements."

 

Anne Womer Benjamin, Aurora's mayor, said in a phone interview, "I'm pleased there is an interested partner willing to undertake that redevelopment. I think it will be beneficial to Bainbridge and Aurora and all of Northeast Ohio for the site to be productive once more."

 

Semarjian said that in addition to the initial Menards store, prospects from apartment developers to restaurateurs are in talks for sites.

 

"It's our hope that with utilities and proper zoning there will be strong demand ... for highend aesthetics and quality construction," Salata said. "This is a multiyear development project, and we will see how quickly it develops."

 

Project details:

https://icpllc.com/commercial-property-for-lease/the-geauga-lake-district/

20051-RDL_Geauga_Entry01-2_dc-scaled.jpg

 

20051-RDL_Geauga_Aerial01-2_dc-scaled.jp

 

20051-RDL_Geauga_Green-scaled.jpg

 

Exhibit-B-Master-Plan_2020-10-14-scaled.

Edited by Medusa42
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The only half-good thing that came out of this whole fiasco with the unannounced closure of Geauga Lake is that it proved to many Cedar Fair loyalists that the high and mighty owner of Cedar Point wasn't as perfect as they all thought.  The closing of GL came two short years after the shuttering of AstroWorld which at the time had many cursing Six Flags and wishing all parks could be owned by Cedar Fair.

 

 

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