For the SeaWorld chain of parks, see SeaWorld.
|Slogan||The ocean is closer than you think!|
|Location||1100 SeaWorld Drive, Aurora, Ohio, 44202|
|Owner||SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment|
|Opened||May 29, 1970|
|Closed||October 29, 2000|
|Previous names||Sea World of Ohio|
|Area||50 acres (20 ha)|
SeaWorld Ohio was a theme park and marine zoological park, located in Aurora, Ohio. It was owned and operated by SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, formerly known as Busch Entertainment Corporation. The Ohio location was the second SeaWorld park to be built in the chain, following SeaWorld San Diego which opened just six years earlier. The park was developed by George Millay, founder of the SeaWorld brand.Wildwater Kingdom, a waterpark built by Cedar Fair in 2005, occupied the property until its closure in September 2016.
In 1966, Earl Gascoigne, marketing director at Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio, was impressed by the success of SeaWorld San Diego and eager to form a partnership with the parks founder George Millay. Gascoigne spoke with Millay about building a second park near the Ohio amusement park. Millay was uncomfortable with the location and sales agreement and declined to build there. Two years later, Millay and his team were looking to expand their brand eastward. George Becker, vice president and general manager of SeaWorld Cleveland at the time, explained that the company was looking for a location between Detroit and Pittsburgh. The land spanning between the two cities was the largest and highest-paid blue collar population in the United States. Becker understood that there were large, strong, families in this area that believed in doing things with their kids.
Earl Gascoigne had recently left Cedar Point to redevelop Geauga Lake, a struggling amusement park near Cleveland, Ohio, with his colleague and friend Gasper Lococo. The two men were searching for a way to increase attendance and revenue at Geauga Lake other than simply adding new attractions. Gascoigne took the opportunity to reconnect with George Millay. Now working with Funtime Inc., an entertainment company formed by Gascoigne, Lococo, and two other businessmen, Earl Gascoigne convinced Millay to build the second SeaWorld park adjacent to Geauga Lake. The Ohio SeaWorld project was announced in 1968.
SeaWorld Cleveland, originally referred to as Sea World of Ohio, opened to the public on May 29, 1970, after nearly two years of planning and construction. Located approximately 20 miles southeast of Cleveland, in the Western Reserve city of Aurora, Ohio, the 25-acre marine park welcomed over 5,500 guests on its opening day. The oceanarium cost $5.5 million to build, but greatly exceeded the expectations of Millay and his team. In its first 100-day season, SeaWorld Cleveland doubled attendance predictions as more than 1.1 million people visited the park in 1970.
The marine park was beautifully landscaped, winning national awards. The park boasted hundreds of interesting trees and shrubs providing a rich backdrop.
Six Flags announced that it had reached an agreement to purchase SeaWorld Cleveland from Busch Entertainment Corporation on January 10, 2001.
SeaWorld Cleveland had various attractions, including rides, exhibits, and live shows.
When SeaWorld acquired the Aurora property in 1970, the company agreed to a competitive restriction with Geauga Lake, which prevented them from adding roller coasters or water rides. Honoring the no-compete clause, Geauga Lake was restricted from adding animal attractions, while SeaWorld was limited to theaters and motion-based attractions. Instead of rides, there were several different playgrounds located within the park since its opening in 1970.
|1||Mission: Bermuda Triangle||2000||2003||A motion-based simulator ride that displayed undersea footage and special effects. The attraction was situated in a 12,000 square foot Quonset hut, containing four submarine style simulators giving guests the thrill of traveling underwater in the Bermuda Triangle. Mission: Bermuda Triangle was the largest capital investment made at the Ohio park, and the only ride added under SeaWorld ownership.|
|2||Pirates 4-D||1997||2003||A 4-D film first shown at SeaWorld Cleveland, featuring Leslie Nielsen and Eric Idle.|
|3||Shamu's Happy Harbor||1992||2007||A three-story net climbing structure and pirate ship playground. After the park was acquired by Six Flags in 2001, the attraction was known as Happy Harbor.|
|4||Cap'n Kids' World||1975||1991||Large pirate ship playground and ball pit. Portions of this attraction were retained for Shamu's Happy Harbor.|
The marine life park included many animal and cultural exhibits.
|Carnivore Park||1998||1999||An attraction featuring animatronic dinosaurs|
|Patagonia Passage||1996||2003||A habitat featuring Commerson's dolphin and Magellanic Penguin|
|Dolphin Cove||1995||2003||Dolphin Cove allowed guests to view, touch, and feed dolphins|
|Sea Lion and Seal Community Pool||1982||2003|
|World of the Sea Aquarium||1973||2003||The Ohio Triquarium held many species of colorful fish, as well as see-and-touch tide pools|
|Japanese Deer Park||1971||1984||A unique attraction to the park were the fallow and sika deer, which guests could pet and feed|
|Hawaiian Punch Village||1971|
|Trout Fishing Pond||1970|
|Japanese Village||1970||2003||Costumed Amas dove for oysters which provided pearls for jewelry sold within the park. Thousands of Koi filled the ponds in the village. The area was also dotted with cultural Japanese artifacts.|
SeaWorld Cleveland offered a wide variety of shopping and dining. Gift shops within the park held thousands of items from all over the world. Food locations served meals such as Whaleburgers along with fish and chips. The park also featured Polynesian dining. Snack stands sold popular items such as popcorn, soft pretzels, ice cream, and soft drinks.
Several stadiums, theaters, and event pavilions made up the 50-acre theme park.
|Great Lakes Catering Reserve||Open-Air||2003||Four catering pavilions with food service|
|Harbor Theater||Enclosed||1997||2007||Large 4-D theater constructed for the 1997 season|
|Lakeside Pavilion||Open-Air||2003||Event pavilion located on the shore of Geauga Lake|
|Nautilus Theater (Olympic Theater)||Open-Air||1977||2003||Large, rectangular-shaped, stadium||
|Reserved Picnic Pavilions||Open-Air||1971||Several pavilions catered to group outings and picnics|
|Sea Lion and Otter Stadium||Open-Air||1970||2003||3,000 seat, seashell-shaped, stadium situated on a hill, allowing upper and lover access. Opened with the park in 1970.|
|Shamu Stadium||Open-Air||1970||2003||4,000 seat, seashell-shaped, stadium situated on a hill, allowing upper and lover access. Opened with the park in 1970.||
|Ski Stadium (Baywatch Stadium)||Open-Air||1971||2008||3,500 seat lakefront stadium on the shore of Geauga Lake. The Ohio park was the first in the SeaWorld chain to feature a water ski show and stadium. Due to extreme popularity, the stadium was expanded a few years after opening.||
|Woods Arena||Open-Air||1988||2003||Large, rectangular-shaped, stadium. The stadium remained standing until 2015, when it was scrapped.||
Busch Entertainment Corporation, parent company Anheuser Busch, recognized that the park would require costly updates. However, the park did not consider closing for 2001 as SeaWorld advertised new shows for the next season on the park's website. Six Flags approached Busch about buying SeaWorld Cleveland during the 2000-2001 off season and Busch accepted the offer from Six Flags for $110 million in January, 2001. Six Flags then combined Six Flags Ohio (Geauga Lake) Park with SeaWorld Cleveland to form a megapark known as Six Flags Worlds of Adventure. During this era, the former SeaWorld park became known as the "Wild Life" side of the park which had few rides. The other side of the park included the "Wild Rides" and "Hurricane Harbor" sections. From 1996-2001, Six Flags had added seven roller coasters to the park.
In November 2003, Cedar Fair approached Six Flags about buying Worlds Of Adventure and Six Flags originally declined. In March 2004, after realizing the company could use the sale of Worlds of Adventure to escape major debt, Six Flags decided to sell the megapark to Cedar Fair for $145 million not including the park's animals, which Six Flags relocated to other parks such as Six Flags Marine World and Wild Safari.
Cedar Fair immediately closed the wildlife/former SeaWorld Ohio side of the park for the 2004 season, and unbranded or "unflagged" the park. Cedar Fair was forced to change the names of various attractions throughout the park and the water park title from Hurricane Harbor to Hurricane Hannah's. Many of the rides contained Looney Tunes and DC Comics references within their names and theming which had to be removed. Many characters and park scenery was also replaced. Most of the changes were due to Six Flags not including the rights to Looney Tunes and DC Comics with the sale, which Cedar Fair would have most likely removed either way. After the changes, Geauga Lake's attendance dropped from 1.5 million to just 700,000. Removing the animals was a major miscalculation on Cedar Fair's behalf. Both Geauga Lake and SeaWorld Ohio benefited each other, and with the removal of the marine life park attendance dropped severely. In 2005, the former SeaWorld Ohio park was transformed into a small water park and Cedar Fair changed the park name to Geauga Lake and Wildwater Kingdom. Stadiums and structures established by SeaWorld were either converted to suit the waterpark or demolished. Hurricane Bay, a wave pool Six Flags built in the "Hurricane Harbor" section, remained open through 2005 until Tidal Wave Bay, a 390,000 gallon wave pool opened where the Seal and Otter Stadium once stood in 2006. The wave pool was to be part of a much larger phase two expansion, but the addition was scaled back due to high costs. The land Shamu Stadium occupied currently sits vacant. The Ski Stadium remained and housed different shows until Geauga Lake would close in 2007. Many other structures remain but are unoccupied.
On the "ride side," 2006 saw the last season for the park's most popular attractions, X-Flight and Steel Venom. The Bellaire Express monorail was also removed after the 2006 season, long with the cancellation of Geauga Lake's Halloween Haunt. After the cancellation of Halloween Haunt, Geauga Lake and Wildwater Kingdom had only a three-month operating season (end of May through early September). Attendance slowly increased between 2004 and 2007, but Cedar Fair had a wild expectation for the park. In 2007, rumors about the closing of the entire park became rampant, but management refused to deny or confirm any information, or even comment. Days after the 2007 season came to a close, Cedar Fair held a meeting and opted to shut down the dry attractions Geauga Lake and Wildwater Kingdom, leaving only the waterpark attractions open. Cedar Fair assures that the decision was made the day of the meeting. The Dominator and Thunderhawk rollercoasters were removed days later. The amusement park closed after 119 seasons and all contents were moved to other Cedar Fair parks, or sold at an auction in 2008. The Big Dipper rollercoaster is the last remaining structure on the site. The Geauga Lake land is listed for sale as of 2015.
The park opened as Geauga Lake's Wildwater Kingdom in 2008 but "Geauga Lake" was later removed leaving the current name, Wildwater Kingdom. The park remained operating until 2016. The waterpark has not featured a new attraction since 2006 and many remaining SeaWorld Ohio structures have been demolished. Harbor Theater, Shark Encounter, the Japanese Village, and the Triquarium remain standing but are unused, along with many other various buildings. Cedar Fair has not listed the nearby property for sale, which leaves room for future expansion to Wildwater Kingdom. On September 5, Wildwater Kingdom closed permanently.
On March 10, 2004, Cedar Fair announced that they would be purchasing the entire Six Flags Worlds of Adventure property, which was a combined Geauga Lake and SeaWorld.
An 18-foot motorboat wrecked into the ski stadium audience of 4,000 people on August 17, 1996, injuring 22 people. Those injured aged from 2 to 78, and four were in critical condition. The boat was a part of the Baywatch Ski Show and crashed after a mechanical failure.
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