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Norton: Geauga Lake Big Dipper now up for auction in June

3:25 PM, Apr 30, 2008   |    comments
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BAINBRIDGE -- Geauga Lake Park began selling its small amusement park memorabilia this past weekend at the gift shop outside the main gate of Geauga Lake's Wildwater Kingdom in adjacent Aurora. Click for related story on what's available The shop will only be open weekends, from 5-8 p.m. Fridays and noon-6 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, and there is no parking or admission fee required. On Tuesday, the brochure for the park's overall ride and equipment auction, scheduled for June 17-18, did not have the historic Big Dipper listed. As of this morning (April 30), following a Web site story posted Tuesday (April 29), a note on the Norton Auctioneers of Michigan Web site now states that, although the Big Dipper isn't listed in the published auction brochure, the Big Dipper will be among the items offered at the auction. The brochure, available on the Norton Web site, lists six other rides; three roller coasters; two water rides; the "Aurora Bell" and the "Cuyahoga Queen" 180-passenger ferry boats; the Shark Encounter aquarium (without, of course, the sharks); a 1,000-foot-long floating bridge; and the 800-seat Iwerks 4-D Theater. The Big Dipper is the 12th oldest existing roller coaster in the world. "It has not been decided yet if (Cedar Fair) will sell it prior to the auction, move it to another location or sell it at the auction," Norton Auctioneers vice president Denise Kinsey said Tuesday. Earlier this month, four Cedar Fair Entertainment Inc. stockholders, who asked not to be named, said Cedar Fair was set to announce April 23 that it would dismantle the 1925 roller coaster and store it until it could be rebuilt at another Cedar Fair park, likely Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio. But that announcement never came that day or to date. Previous attempts to sell the Big Dipper have failed. Cedar Fair, based in Sandusky, Ohio, owns Cedar Point, Geauga Lake, King's Island and other amusement parks across the U.S. Cedar Fair officials have not returned requests for comment. Geauga Lake's origins date back to 1888. On Sept. 21, 2007, Cedar Fair announced the closing of the amusement park side of Geauga Lake in Bainbridge, citing low attendance and it not being economically feasible. The closing was accompanied by clamors of outrage and disappointment, especially since the closing occured after the park had closed for the 2007 season, leaving park enthusiasts without a chance to take one last ride at the 119-year-old park. The park has a storied history in this part of the Midwest and for park enthusiasts worldwide. Ironically, in Cedar Fair's remaining two parks in Ohio, the 2008 season themes are all about family and "history, tradition and nostalgia." Cedar Point's 2008 season theme is "Families Rule at Cedar Point." Kings Island, outside Cincinnati, also has a new theme for 2008. "Our theme this year is history, tradition and nostalgia," said Don Helbig, director of public relations. "We're getting back to being a home-grown park. However guests arrive, they're going to find changes, all of them aimed at restoring the park's history." More ironically, compared with Geauga Lake's 1888 opening, Kings Island opened in 1972. In addition, the nostalgia and park history theme was the same message Cedar Fair delivered when it purchased the Six Flags property and changed the name back to Geauga Lake Park in March, 2004. Cedar Fair is keeping its Geauga Lake Wildwater Kingdom part of the park in Aurora open and plans Opening Day for May 24. That follows the May 23 bid deadline for developers to bid on the 600-acre parcel that once was the amusement park side of the lake. Area residents want the parcel developed as mixed-use, with residential and some retail development. Others have even suggested that the Big Dipper become the centerpiece for a mixed retail-residential development.


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