Geauga Lake began in 1872 as Giles Pond, owned by Sullivan Giles. It was a trolley park that was a popular spot for camping,
swimming, fishing and picnicking. Alexander Kent bought the park in 1888 and built a 75-room luxury hotel called Kent House
on the lake. The hotel was later destroyed by fire in the early 1900s. The park became known as Geauga Lake in 1889. That
year the park installed its first ride, a then-primitive steam-powered carousel. More rides would follow.
William J. Kuhlman purchased the park in 1925. At that time, Geauga Lake built the Big Dipper, the then-largest wooden
roller coaster of its time, 2,800 feet long and 65 feet high. The next year a new Marcus Illions carousel was added. In 1927,
Geauga Lake's Olympic-sized swimming pool was built, and it stayed in operation until the mid-1960s. Lake swimming also continued
over the coming decades. Many amusement parks at the time had race tracks, dance halls, and sometimes a theatre and bowling
alley, making them year round attractions. The race track was added in 1931, although it closed in 1969. The theatre, dance
hall, and bowling alley were also added around the same time. In 1938, Vi Schryer inherited the park. At that point, the park's
dance hall and ballroom were major draws, with big band music performed by Guy Lombardo, Fred Waring, Artie Shaw, and other
big names of the time.
In 1941, a tornado hit the park, injuring six, destroying buildings, and damaging the Big Dipper. The park reported $50,000
in damages, and had rebuilt by 1942. In 1952, a fire destroyed the park's bowling alley, theater, dance hall and roller rink.
Damages were estimated at $500,000. It was then that the park became strictly a seasonal amusement park, beach, and swimming
area. The pool was closed and razed in the early 1960s, but lake swimming continued.
In 1969, Funtime Incorporated purchased the park. The focus continued to be rides and swimming. The racetrack closed and
was razed in 1969. That area was sold, and in its place a marine life park, SeaWorld, was built and later purchased by Busch
Entertainment Corp. As a result, the two areas now had separate owners. The Sea World park was about a mile across the lake
from the amusement park and swimming area. Sea World and Geauga Lake were friendly neighbors for more than 25 years. Sea World
focused on marine life and shows, while Geauga Lake focused on thrill rides and swimming.
In 1972, the Gold Rush log flume water ride was added, and two years later Geauga Lake added the Skyscraper, which took
passengers up 21 stories for views of the park. Admission to the park was free until 1972. Until then, rides on various attractions
were purchased on a pay-as-you-go basis. Beginning in 1973, the park converted to an admission charge with a pay-one-price
for all the rides and attractions. The Geauga Dog became the park's mascot and would remain so until 1999. In 1976, the park
added the Wildcat compact steel roller coaster, and a year later the park added the Double Loop, a looping steel coaster.
For a time, the park ran a short-lived series of TV commercials featuring Geauga Dog and a singing, dancing adolescent boy
performing a song about the park. The boy's off-key singing and awful dancing were deliberate, a means of getting viewers
to notice the ad. It succeeded.
Corkscrew coaster made its debut in 1978, making Geauga Lake the first amusement park in Ohio and one of the first amusement
parks anywhere to have two looping coasters. Swimming in the lake continued to be a feature at the park, and in 1983, the
park added Boardwalk Shores, which featured a paddleboat marina, a new bath house, a children's swimming pool area, and water
slides. A year later, The Wave, the only authentic tsunami wave pool in the Midwest at the time, opened to rave reviews.
In 1986, more children's rides were added and themed as Rainbow Island, a children's dry ride area. Stingray water slides
and the Euroracer Grand Prix rides were added.
In 1988, Geauga Lake celebrated its centennial by introducing the Raging Wolf Bobs, a wooden roller coaster with a hybrid
twister/out and back design modeled after the original Bobs roller coaster at Chicago's defunct Riverview Park. Two years
later, the park re-themed the children's water area as Turtle Beach, which was advertised as the ultimate children's water
playground. Geauga Lake expanded its midway with The Mirage and the $2.1 million Texas Twister in the early 1990s.
A corporate deal in 1995 saw Premier Parks acquiring Funtime, giving Geauga Lake a new owner. Premier Parks invested $9
million in new rides, including the Mind Eraser, the steel looping shuttle Boomerang roller coaster, and Grizzly Run, a water
rapids ride designed by Intamin. These attractions opened in 1996, and the Corkscrew was closed and sold. The next year, the
park expanded its water area by 32,000 square feet with Hook's Lagoon. Several new water slides were also added.
In 1998, Premier Parks purchased Six Flags Theme Parks from Time Warner. The next year, a new chutes water ride was added
along with a new wave pool in the waterpark. The old wave pool was razed, filled, and used for other development in the park.
Premier Parks rebranded Geauga Lake as Six Flags Ohio.
In 2000, Six Flags received $40 million in improvements, primarily four new roller coasters. One was a junior roller coaster.
Others included a wooden twister roller coaster called The Villian, a Bolliger & Mabillard floorless looping roller coaster
called Batman Knight Flight, and a Intamin suspended impulse shuttle coaster called Superman Ultimate Escape.
Busch Entertainment determined that their Sea World parks should begin adding roller coasters, water rides, and other
attractions to supplement the marine displays and shows, and they began de-emphasizing the educational aspects of their parks.
They began modifying their Orlando, San Antonio, and to a lesser extent their San Diego parks to reflect this. Due to Geauga
Lake/Six Flags Ohio's close proximity, as well as the fact that that side of the lake had height restrictions, Busch approached
Six Flags about buying the Six Flags Ohio park. Six Flags then made a counter offer to instead buy Sea World Ohio. That fall,
Six Flags purchased Sea World, merging the two complexes into one, and changing the entire complex's name to Six Flags Worlds
of Adventure. The Sea World side became known as the "Wild Life" area and remained strictly marine life shows, minus
Shamu the whale. The original amusement park area became known as the "Wild Rides" area and continued expansion
with two more roller coasters, including a Intamin Impulse shuttle coaster called Superman: Ultimate Escape and a Vekoma flying
coaster called X-Flight. The small waterpark area also continued, so the park was marketed as "Three Parks for One Price".
Admission prices were raised.
To expand the waterpark area, in 2003 Six Flags added Hurricane Mountain, the then-largest water slide complex in North
America, and renamed the waterpark area Hurricane Harbor.
After being unable to turn a profit since being branded in 1999, Six Flags considered selling the park. Two months before
the 2004 season, a sale to Cedar Fair was announced, and would be finalized less than a month later. The park was immediately
"unflagged", "unbranded", and reverted to the name Geauga Lake. The Six Flags Looney Tunes characters
and superhero branding was removed. To conform with copyright laws, the names of many of the rides and roller coasters were
also renamed. The Hurricane Harbor waterpark area was renamed Hurricane Hannah's Waterpark and the marine life side was shut
down immediately before opening. The animals were retained by Six Flags. While most of the marine area was razed, the amusement
park area attractions and rides remained the same except for name changes.
In 2005, Cedar Fair invested $26 million in Wildwater Kingdom, a new waterpark on the former Sea World site. The Wildwater
Kingdom side had about six water slides and a children's water play area. The Hurricane Hannah area remained.
In 2006, Wildwater Kingdom is expanded to include Tidal Wave Bay, several more body and tube slides, as well as the moving
of the huge water slide tower from across the lake. The Hurricane Hannah area was then shut down, leaving Wildwater Kingdom
as the remaining waterpark. The season was also scaled back, eliminating the spring and fall weekend operations and opening
strictly between Memorial Day and Labor Day with one last weekend in mid-September. At the end of the season, the X-Flight
roller coaster was removed, as well as Steel Venom (formerly Superman The Ultimate Escape). The former was relocated to Kings
Island and opened as Firehawk in 2007, and the latter relocated to Dorney Park, where it will open for the 2008 season as
In 2007, the summer-only operation of Geauga Lake continued. Rumors ranging from the total closing of Geauga Lake to closing
everything except the waterpark to scaling back the rides area even more were rampant. Management refused to either confirm
or deny rumors and did not comment, except to say that the park will continue "to focus on fun filled wholesome family
entertainment" and a total closing will not happen. After the weekend Oktoberfest taking place September 15 and 16, 2007,
a decision was made. On September 21, 2007, Cedar Fair announced plans to not reopen the Geauga Lake ride side of the park.
They further announced that the Wildwater Kingdom side would reopen primarily as a waterpark and would be called Geauga Lake's
Wildwater Kingdom. This has led to petitions to save Geauga Lake, especially landmarks such as The Big Dipper and the carousel.