For those who don't like reading, music video & pics are below the text.
Geauga Lake never really looked like much on the surface but with seven new credits (eight had Raging Wolf Bobs not derailed about a month before my visit) and also being owned by Cedar Fair (hooray for Maxx Pass!) I had to stop by. And I'm really glad I did!
Let me start off by saying that this park was kind of strange. Its location takes you by surprise - across the street from strip malls in a normal suburban community. The layout was unique - a large lake separates the two sides of the park. The guests were (how do I put this...?) working class (there, that's a nice description) - lots of tattoos, smoking, some mullets. The park regulations were lax - shirtless guys, bathing suit-ed girls (on the ride side of the park).
Since every coaster was new to me, I had a full day planned and decided to start out with Dominator - my first floorless coaster. To my surprise, they were only running one train, so the line moved rather slowly. I thought a one-train operation was very odd considering it was a Saturday in July; you'd figure one of their busiest days of the season. Thankfully, as I was the next to board, they transferred the second train onto the track. Now, one would say (as one did next to me in line) "I don't want to wait while you put another train on the track". This kind of frustrated me. I wanted to explain to her that once they put this second train into service, she could come back in a half-hour and walk on to Dominator...
So, they get the other train into the station and this guy that was waiting for front row with his family (significant wait with the one-train operations) tried to board with a backpack. When the ride-ops told him that he couldn't bring that on board, he had no idea what to do with it; he even tried giving it to someone else in his row to hold on to. You have got to be kidding me! You've been standing in line for how long and didn't notice backpacks, toys, etc. being put into the bins?!? Are you that clueless?!? Did it never once enter your mind, "Um, where am I going to put this while I'm riding?"? Then, after he locates the (huge metal) bin near the exit, the rest of his family starts giving him their glasses, shoes, hats, etc. After all was said and done (and after much eye-rolling and fuming by yours truly), it took this guy three minutes to get all of their belongings into the bin. OK. Rant over. On to the ride.
Dominator kicks a$$!! Loop, cobra roll, interlocking corkscrews; who could ask for more?!? The floorless aspect wasn't as special as I had kind-of-expected - many mega-hypers and mega-twisters have seats so high that your feet don't touch the car's floor, plus the train is going so fast that I didn't even notice that the track was visable. The great part about the ride for me was that the seats were so damn comfortable that you felt like you were traveling at 60 mph in your Lay-Z-Boy. This is definitely a re-rideable coaster and I did ride it a couple times. Thank god Dominator was at a park with low attendance coz if this coaster were at Cedar Point, you'd have to wait close to two hours for one ride! And two rides in an hour would be impossible!!
Big Dipper was the next big (pardon the pun) hit at the park for me. Built over 80 years ago, although it was rehabbed in 1980, this coaster gave one of the best woodie rides I've had ever. The airtime was constant, the pacing was great, the laterals were existent but not too extreme, the speed was fast but not too fast, and the length was perfect. It was a perfect coaster! The padding on the facing in front of you also helped absorb all of the shock to your knees while in the tiny but comfortable trains. This was also a re-rideable coaster and multiple rides beckoned me as well.
After that, you've got Villain (a herky-jerky rough wood hybrid that beat you up pretty good), Thunderhawk (a standard Vekoma SLC that's more painful than a root canal with no anesthesia but not as painful as SFKK's T2), Head Spin (a typical Vekoma boomerang/headbang), and Double Loop (an Arrow umm... double looper).
The Beaver Land Mine Ride kiddie coaster has one of those 20 car trains that are so strange to watch! Seriously, the front of the train is heading up the first hill while the rear of the train is still on the lift! They ran two circuits so this little coaster was pretty enjoyable.
On my walk back from the water park side (which is really nice), I passed by the Raging Wolf Bobs which was still SBNO. It looked in dire need of a paint job but, I'm guessing since there was no indication that it would be running soon, they're probably gonna let this one crumble to dust. That makes me sad coz it was modeled after Chicago's ancient Riverview Park Bobs (I'm a bit obsessed with the history of that park with me being from Chicago and all). Plus, I'll probably never get this credit!
As far as non-coasters go, the park had your standard collection of flats: Flying Bobs (Hay Baler), Top Spin (Texas Tornado), Octopus (Black Squid), Scrambler (Boardwalk Typhoon), Swinging Ship (Bounty), Swings (YoYo's), Magic Carpet (El Dorado with a car shaped um... car), etc.
I checked out the 4D film Legoland Racers (something I never do at parks) which was pretty fun although instead of simulating snow they just sprayed water on you (probably to make us cold). I was also tempted to try the Dino Island II sim/movie but skipped it in the end.
The park does have one of the nicest kiddie areas I've ever seen (I even liked it better than Kings Island) - close to ten rides catered to little kids in addition to a huge maze/slide and a huge foam ball fort.
Overall, Geauga Lake was a lot of fun but I have a feeling it would be less fun if the crowds were bigger. I mean, I got my seven credits before 1 pm and was able to score re-rides and capture lots of memories.
I was kind of skeptical, though, as to how long Geauga Lake would be operating as a ride/water park. I had a strange feeling that rides would continue to disappear slowly or gain SBNO status (Skyscraper was stuck 3/4 of the way up the tower, the old waterpark is still erect but fenced off, the lake ferries were parked at the closed-off dock, there was no water show even though they have a huge stadium for it, and Raging Wolf Bobs) in lieu of focusing on the water park.
And as we know, in the end, Geauga Lake as we knew it will cease to exist. I am especially glad that I was able to visit this park in its last ride-operating season. Now I can possibly pass along memories like my folks did to me about Riverview Park in Chicago. Although somehow, the details of Geauga Lake will most-likely pale in comparison.
Thanks for reading!
BTW: Posted in multiple parts due to large number of pics.
Here's the music video I made with the footage I shot:
This pic looks like it's from the 80s & rightfully so - Geauga Lake was kind of caught in a time warp.
The view right after entering the park.
First stop: Dominator - my first floorless.
Dominator heading up the lift.
I still can't figure out if I like banked/turning first drops or straight ones. I guess it depends on the coaster. This was a good one, nonetheless.
The huge loop...
Dominator's beautiful B&M goodness!
I can't tell which track is which; looks like a pretzel to me.
Sun behind the loop.
Train in the loop.
Me under the loop.
Symmetical-ish cobra roll shot.
Over-banked high-speed turn. Awesome!
Look mom, no floor.
The Batman building was still visable. They could've painted over it but why waste money on GL?!?
Floorless cobra roll = fun!
I absolutely love B&Ms!
And I love B&M cobra rolls even more!
Second drop (after the MCBR that was barely turned on).
Time for the second half of the ride...
Interlocking corkscrews. Yummy!
(Insert caption here...)
This angle makes the turn-around look like an inclined loop...
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