Sunday, August 13, 2006

The Soul of an Amusement Park

I have been working long hours lately and wanted to do something fun with the family on Saturday. At the last minute we decided to go to Geauga Lake Amusement Park. It is less than an hour away and with young kids, it is not necessary to drive the extra distance to Cedar Point, as it is famous for bigger roller coasters, which I could not have gone on with them anyway. For those of you that do not know the history, Geauga Lake used to be an amusement park across the lake from Sea World. Then they bought Sea World and merged them. Then they became Six Flags. Then they closed the Sea World section and made it sort of a lame part of the park, with some minor attractions. Then Cedar Fair bought it and really changed things up. All of this happened in about a 8 year span. There is buzz marketing relevance coming, stay with me…. The constant changes have left the park without a vision or a soul. The coasters are still fun, and they have invested heavily in turning the old Sea World side into a water world theme park, but there is a real lack of identify. There are lots of places that once used to be cool restaurants on the lake and great little shops. Now many of them are boarded up or employee only areas. It was fun in the past to listen to live music and have a drink in the late afternoons. Riverboats still sit on the lake and I have not seen them move in years. The whole park seems like a carnival in a parking lot. Here today, vacant tomorrow. Amusement parks usually thrive on the buzz they create by adding the next “world’s largest rollercoaster” – replace largest with fastest, highest, etc. Sometimes you do not need buzz. In fact, you are better off without it. In the case of Geauga Lake, it is fine but I hope the current owners stay in place for a few years and care enough to make it seem special. To give it an identity it has clearly lost. Maybe next year it will be the Aurora metro park zoo and video arcade.