Cedar Fair Entertainment Co., the parent company to Cedar Point, has given its last ride at Geauga Lake amusement park in Aurora.
The company announced Friday it will close the historic amusement park, which for many years had offered an affordable alternative for families in Northeast Ohio to the company's flagship park here in Sandusky, Cedar Point. Although Geauga Lake's Wildwater Kingdom waterpark will open for the 2008 season on the former Sea World side of the park, we have to wonder how long it will be before Cedar Fair pulls the drain plug on a seasonal waterpark that has only Memorial Day to Labor Day to attract families' ever-shrinking entertainment dollars.
The news Cedar Fair was unable to successfully market the 119-year-old amusement park also raises a few questions.
Did Cedar Fair plan to close the park to protect Cedar Point's market share when it purchased it for $145 million from Six Flags in 2004? Or has Cedar Fair, which purchased several Paramount Parks in 2006, grown too big and too fast for its own good?
We're proud of Cedar Point and its contributions to the community. However, the dismantling of a 119-year old tradition -- which actually began last year when the company starting moving some of the park's 40 rides to other parks -- is sure to be an unpopular move for those that frequented Geauga Lake each summer. While some rides will appear at other Cedar Fair locations, some may never be seen again.
Among coaster enthusiasts, the most concern is probably over the fate of the Big Dipper, which was built in 1926 -- nearly four decades before Cedar Point's Blue Streak -- and is one of the oldest operating wooden coasters in the world. This historic landmark is only 65 feet tall and travels 38 mph. However, it was a thrill to ride its tight out-and-back course and it proved that bigger and faster aren't necessarily better.
Cedar Fair would be wise to keep that in mind as it moves forward with its business plans.