Geauga Lake: Big Dipper lovers hopeful as Cedar Fair's land sale stalls

4:29 PM, Aug 22, 2008   |    comments
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Sandusky-based Cedar Fair Entertainment owns Cedar Point and Geauga Lake, among many other amusement parks.

Cedar Fair's chief executive told financial analysts Thursday that two of the three bids for the three parcels that make up the 550-acre park were not high enough to make their sales worthwhile for Cedar Fair.

Those two parcels make up all but 11 acres of the property.

"We think the land is worth more," Kinzel said. That means that the sale of the park land is on hold indefinitely.

That could be good news for those trying to save the Big Dipper roller coaster.

While all but one of the other rides sold at the auction have been removed from the park, no one, including Cedar Fair, has learned who the real Dipper buyer is.

The Big Dipper stands untouched and in "limbo" in the park, with no new destination in sight where it would stand unoperating as a "nostalgia piece" or be put back into operation.

The undisclosed buyer's bidder at the on-site auction, Tom Woosnam of Akron-based Apex Western Machinery Movers, said June 17 that the buyer would be revealed in about two weeks.

But that has changed and, since a July 11 email to Channel 3 News, Woosnam has said that the buyer has changed his mind and will not be disclosing his name.

It's now Woosnam, the only visible face on the fate of the coaster -- not Cedar Fair or the unnamed buyer -- at the center of the firestorm about the ultimate placement of the historic roller coaster.

Posters on amusement park fan and ride Web sites still upset that Cedar Fair closed the park at all now worry that this "undisclosed buyer" doesn't even exist at all.

Woosnam sold the Raging Wolf Bobs to Clevelander Ray Edgehouse Jr. on July 8 and Edgehouse began selling the Bobs piece by piece on eBay three weeks ago. Edgehouse, who contacted Channel 3 News Thursday, also donated a section of the track and a coaster car to the Geauga County Historical Society.

American Coaster Enthusiasts, a fan organization, got worried in July when someone who claimed to be Woosnam began offering the Big Dipper for sale on a Sandusky Web site.

The only ride or item in the June 17-18 auction that required Cedar Fair's approval of the buyer was the Big Dipper.

If they didn't and still don't know who bought it, how can Cedar Fair spokesman Robin Innes say "it's a very special ride. We want to make sure it has a proper home" and make sure it is taken care of if they had and have no idea who bought it?

"We based it on his intention that they were going to keep the ride intact," Innes told Channel 3 News last week.

Keeping the historic 1926 roller coaster ride intact and not demolishing it, whether it operated again or not, was ACE's hope.

With today's news from Kinzel, bulldozers don't seem to be headed towards bulldozing the land anytime soon.

Colliers International was marketing the parcels and is moving forward with the third bidder for the 11-acre parcel where a non-profit group wants to buy all 11 acres and the small Geauga Lake hotel on the property.

The bidder for the parcel where the Big Dipper stands wants to develop the land for mixed-use retail/commercial.

Innes said last week that there is "no rush" to clear any of the land quickly and that the remnants of the park buildings and facilities are also still being dismantled.

Innes also commented on the fate of two other park rides that were not included in the auction -- the 1926 Illions carousel and the Americana ferris wheel.

"The carousel is still at the park and it will soon be transported elsewhere for rehabilitation and it will be put in another Cedar Fair Park," Innes said.

"The ferris wheel has been dissembled and transported to another location and will be put in another Cedar Fair park," he added.

Innes declined to name the park or parks the two rides were destined for.

Of the two rides that were auctioned off, the Big Dipper and the Itamin Skyscraper are still in place at the park. Innes said of the Skyscraper, "Eventually, it will be removed."

The Skyscraper observation tower ride was sold for scrap at the auction but the buyer resold it on eBay for $50,000.

WKYC-TV

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