Drone operator on Geauga Lake: ‘It’s sad to see what it has become’

AURORA, Ohio -- A new video that shows the abandoned Geauga Lake amusement park has gone viral.

From the street, you’d hardly recognize the former amusement park. From the air, drone video provides a new perspective of what the former park has become.

The video, recorded by Nick Nebelski of DiJi Aerial Media and Marc Yaeger on February 6, shows a barren space with most rides removed, leaving only cement footprints in their place. The Big Dipper roller coaster is among the few structures left. The front gate that greeted thousands of guests is now dilapidated.

It’s a far cry from the park that entertained families for more than a century. Cedar Point owner Cedar Fair closed Geauga Lake in 2007, three years after purchasing the park.

“It was neat at first, and then depressing,” Nebelski said, adding that he and Yaeger were curious about the current state of a favorite hotspot from their youths. “It was saddening and made you think of all the memories you had right there, and it really made you appreciate what it was much more, now realizing that it's gone.”

Meijer superstore chain spokesman Frank Guglielmi told Fox 8 News that the company has a contract to purchase a 41 acre portion of the 459 acre property owned by Cedar Fair. Guglielmi said the purchase has not been completed, and right now the company is looking at the feasibility of building on the land and speaking with the community and local officials as the company works to develop site plans.

He said Meijer stores average 190,000 square feet and employ 250-300 people. Guglielmi said the earliest a store could open in Bainbridge is 2018. He said the company is also looking into expanding to four additional Northeast Ohio sites.

A spokesperson for Cedar Fair said the property remains for sale and that the company welcomes buyers interested in purchasing parcels for development.

Bainbridge Township Zoning Inspector Karen Endres said the portion of the property located in the township, about 250 acres, is zoned for mixed use and planned unit development. That would target a development like Crocker Park, with restaurants and retail shops as well as residential space, perhaps along a lakefront boardwalk, according to Endres. She said only Meijer has submitted a formal proposal to the township. The rest of the property is located in Aurora.

Many who live in the area have fond memories of going to Geauga Lake as children and said they’d like to see the vacant land transformed into something that’s family-friendly.

“It breaks my heart, it really does. I worked at Geauga Lake when I was 16, 17 years old, and I had so many memories there growing up,” said Jennie Novak of Streetsboro. “I would love to see some kind of amusement park come in and just kind of take it over.”