SeaWorld Ohio
SeaWorld Ohio
Slogan The ocean is closer than you think!
Location Aurora, Ohio, U.S.
Coordinates 41°20?54?N 81°22?09?W / 41.34839°N 81.36919°W / 41.34839; -81.36919Coordinates: 41°20?54?N 81°22?09?W / 41.34839°N 81.36919°W / 41.34839; -81.36919
Owner SeaWorld Entertainment
Opened 1970
Closed 2000
Previous names Sea World of Ohio
Operating season March-October
Area 50 acres (20 ha)
Rides
Total 0
Roller coasters 0
Water rides 0

SeaWorld Ohio was a park in the SeaWorld chain of marine animal theme parks. The park opened in 1970 directly across the lake and less than one mile from Geauga Lake Park in Aurora, Ohio, United States. The small lake separated the two parks. Wildwater Kingdom, a small waterpark built by Cedar Fair in 2005, occupied the property until it closed in 2016.

History

SeaWorld Ohio opened to the public in the spring of 1970. The Ohio location was the second SeaWorld park to open in the chain, following SeaWorld San Diego which opened just six years earlier. SeaWorld originally looked into Ohio because the company believed their San Diego park was an attraction for total families, and wanted an area where parents do things with their kids. Their studies continued to show the Midwest as a potential location.[1] Also, the area between Detroit and Pittsburgh is within a days drive of half of the country's population. SeaWorld considered placing their second park near Youngstown, Ohio, but was persuaded to move north toward Cleveland by Funtime Inc., owners of Geauga Lake Park. Funtime saw the parks working together to become regional destinations.[2] SeaWorld Ohio was located approximately 20 miles southeast of Cleveland, Ohio in the Western Reserve city of Aurora. The marine park shared the lakefront of Geauga Lake with Geauga Lake Amusement Park, which only boasted two rollercoasters at the time.[3] Shortly after opening, SeaWorld Ohio was recognized as one of mid-America's most interesting and unique entertainment centers. The park gained over one million visitors between Memorial day and Labor day weekend each summer. The Ohio park also featured the same shows, exhibits, and attractions as the Florida and California Locations.[4]

After the success of Walt Disney World in 1971, SeaWorld viewed Orlando, Florida as perfect location for another park. The company added the third park to the chain, SeaWorld Orlando, in 1973. SeaWorld San Antonio was later built in 1988.

SeaWorld Entertainment never added a rollercoaster or flat ride to the Ohio park. The first rollercoaster in the chain was Great White, introduced to SeaWorld San Antonio in 1997. The Orlando and San Antonio parks added several rollercoasters, but SeaWorld Ohio and San Diego did not.[3] SeaWorld Ohio had an agreement with Geauga Lake not to compete. The two parks actually complemented each other and worked together on many promotions.[5] Also, though both parks were only a mile apart, they were in separate townships. The city of Aurora placed height restrictions on the property that made SeaWorld Ohio incapable of adding a tall rollercoaster.

Across the lake, Geauga Lake Park was sold in 1995 to Premier Parks, and expanded to replace a roller coaster with a newer version just a year later. Long before the sale to Premier, Geauga Lake had a water park since the early 1980s plus it offered a beach at the small lake until the late 1980s. Geauga lake also added The Wave, one of the largest wave pools of its time. At the beginning of the 1999 season SeaWorld Ohio was being referred to as SeaWorld Cleveland by parent company Anheuser Busch and all SeaWorld parks received a new logo. In 1998, Premiere Parks bought the Six Flags company and later re-branded Geauga Lake as Six Flags Ohio in 2000. After the conversion Six Flags refused to cross promote with SeaWorld Cleveland.

Exhibits and attractions

The marine life park included many animal and cultural exhibits. The Ohio Triquarium held many species of colorful fish, as well as see-and-touch tide pools. A unique attraction to the park were the fallow and sika deer, which guests could pet and feed. A Japanese village was also present at the park, similar to the ones at other SeaWorld locations. Within the Japanese Village 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. The animal park was beautifully landscaped, winning national awards. The park boasted hundreds of interesting trees and shrubs providing a rich backdrop.[4]

SeaWorld Ohio 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.[4]

Attraction Animal Featured Current Status Description
Shamu Stadium Orca Demolished Shamu stadium housed many Shamu shows which centered around killer whales. Orcas that were featured at SeaWorld Ohio include Katina, Katerina, Kayla, Kalina, Keet, Keto, and Sumar. Because of the off season, the Orcas were moved to other SeaWorld parks in the chain during the off season.
Dolphin Cove Dolphin Coral Cove Dolphin Cove allowed guests to view, touch, and feed dolphins.
Sea Lion and Otter Stadium Sea Lion and Otter Tidal Wave Bay Several shows throughout the day presented Sea Lions and Otters to large crowds. Themes of the shows often changed.
Shark Encounter Shark Standing Large aquariums allowed guests to view many species of sharks. Tunnels through the tanks also created a unique underwater experience.
Garden of Discovery None Demolished Landscaped Garden
Shamu's Happy Harbor None Demolished Shamu's Happy Harbor was a large children's area that had many climbing attractions. A large pirate ship was located near the lake, but the most popular, and largest, attraction were the Happy Harbor Nets, a four story playground composed of all nets and a large ball pit at the base.
Harbor Theater None Demolished A large 4D theater that presented different shows each season.
Mission: Bermuda Triangle None Demolished A large theater with moving seats. The attraction was built in 2000, making it the last attraction added by SeaWorld to the Ohio park. Cedar Fair later changed the attraction to Dino Island II, Escape from Dino Island, and left much of the scenery.
Intensity Games Water Ski Spectacular None Coconut Cove Many different ski shows were housed in the ski stadium until 2003.
Flamingo Lagoon Flamingo Pond Flamingos could be seen walking around a small pond just inside the entrance.
All Star Mutts Dogs and Cats Liquid Lightnin' A show featuring dogs and cats.
Sea Lion and Seal pool Sea Lion and Seal Waterfall Guests could view and feed sea Lions and seals.
Patagonia Passage Magellanic Penguin Tidal Wave Bay Featured penguins and small dolphins.
World of the Sea Aquarium Various Sea Life Standing Three indoor aquariums helped Ohio's World of the Sea Aquarium gain the second title, "Triquarium." The aquarium boasted many different colorful forms of sea life from fish to stingrays. The aquarium also featured a stingray touch pool.
Tropical Aviary Various Birds Wildwater Kingdom stage Guests could view many tropical birds including parrots.
Water Fowl Display Demolished
Wild Wings Bird Show Various Birds Demolished Many shows throughout the day allowed visitors to view birds in flight.
Pearl Diving Exhibit Oyster Standing Guests could watch SeaWorld divers collect pearls.
Asian adventures None Standing Originally known as "Japanese Village," this attraction showed beautiful Japanese culture.
Penguin Encounter Various Penguin Demolished Guests could view penguins swimming in large aquariums.
Cap'n Kidd's Land None ? Children could play on several different play structures; swing from a zip line, and more.

Decline

The Northeastern climate resulted in the park only being able to operate late spring to early fall while Orlando and San Diego operate year round and San Antonio only closes from January into February. Attendance at SeaWorld Cleveland was down and the park was becoming outdated. 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.[6] 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.[7] 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.

Attendance averaged around 1.5 million visitors after the parks were combined.[8] Six Flags expanded the water park in 2003 but the new slide towers did not boost attendance. Many believed Cedar Point, located about 100 miles northwest of the park (60 miles west of Cleveland) gained most of the business in the market. Six Flags faced additional financial issues as well. Six Flags intended to sell a few properties but this was not originally to be one of them. Six Flags Worlds of Adventure was one of Six Flags' best performing parks. 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[9] 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.[10] 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.[11] 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.

Wildwater Kingdom

Attraction Replaced Description
Coral Cove Dolphin Cove Activity pool with basketball hoops, interactive water sprays and climbable floatables
Liquid Lightning All Star Mutts/Tiger Island Tornado slide which dropped 60 feet (18 m)
Riptide Run Nothing 1,100-foot (340 m) long lazy river
Splash Landing All Star Mutts/Tiger Island Four-story children's play area with 7 water slides, soaking gadgets, geysers, water cannons and a giant bucket that dropped 1,000 gallons of water at several-minute intervals.
Thunder Falls Wetland 100-foot (30 m) high tower that featured 4 inner tube slides and 3 body slides, the tallest water-slide complex in Ohio.[12] It opened in 2003 at Hurricane Hannah's (the water park located next to Geauga Lake before Wildwater Kingdom opened) (Hurricane Hannah's was a former dining place at cedar point until it closed.) the slides was moved to Wildwater Kingdom when it opened.
Tidal Wave Bay Sea Lion and Otter Stadium and Patagonia Passage 38,000-square-foot (3,500 m2), 390,000-gallon wave pool, was one of the largest outdoor wave pools in Ohio.[12]

Notes

  1. ^ "SeaWorld: Whales in Blue-Collar Land". Jack Markowitz. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. 27 July 1972. Retrieved 2015. 
  2. ^ "Only Memories remain at Geauga lake Amusement Park". David Glasier. PR The News-Herald. 28 May 2015. Retrieved 2015. 
  3. ^ a b "Rollercoaster Data Base". rcdb.com. Duane Marden. 6 June 2015. Retrieved 2015. 
  4. ^ a b c Cite error: The named reference This_is_SeaWorld was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  5. ^ "1997 Brochure". SeaWorld, Inc./SixFlags Inc. SeaWorld/Geauga Lake. 1997. Retrieved 2015. 
  6. ^ "SeaWorld.com". SeaWorld, Inc. SeaWorld, Inc. 2001. Archived from the original on February 2, 2001. Retrieved 2015. 
  7. ^ "SeaWorld to be Bought by Six Flags". news.google.com. Toledo Blade. 11 January 2001. Retrieved 2011. 
  8. ^ "$145M sale of Six Flags solidifies Ohio market; Cedar Point's parent company to buy Cleveland-area competitor". Julie McKinnon. Toledo Blade. 3 November 2004. Retrieved 2015. 
  9. ^ "Six Flags agrees to sell Ohio park for $145M". Pittsburgh Business Times. Pittsburgh Business Times. 10 March 2004. Retrieved 2015. 
  10. ^ "Geauga Lake's new twist". John Booth. Crain's Cleveland Business. 5 February 2007. Retrieved 2015. 
  11. ^ "Closing marine attractions catalyst for Geauga Lake's demise". Shaheen Samavati. The Plain Dealer. 25 September 2007. Archived from the original on February 2, 2001. Retrieved 2015. 
  12. ^ a b "Wildwater Kingdom Celebrates Independence Day with Special Deals and Discounts". PR Newswire. PR Newswire. 29 June 2012. Retrieved 2015. 

Cite error: A list-defined reference named "This_is_Sea_World" is not used in the content (see the help page).


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