The past two months have been, well, a roller coaster ride for the 1925 Big Dipper at Ohio’s Geauga Lake amusement park, which has been in operation since 1888.
The last of 13 wood roller coasters designed by John Miller, the ride is for sale, along with two other wood coasters and the entire 500-acre site in Aurora, Ohio. With no buyers, its future looks bleak. In September, its owner, Cedar Fair Entertainment Company, announced its plans to turn the park into a water park and sell its 40 rides in time for opening day in May 2008.
U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) has asked Cedar Fair to reconsider its plans. “Ideally, keeping the Big Dipper in its Aurora, Ohio, home would be preferable—perhaps by including the coaster as part of a mixed-use retail and amusement complex or as part of a classic amusement park museum,” Brown wrote in a letter to Cedar Fair officials last month. “As Cedar Fair makes final decisions on the future of the Dipper, I strongly urge against destroying or scrapping this unique piece of Buckeye State history.”
American Coaster Enthusiasts, a 30-year-old group based in Zanesville, Ohio, is struggling to find a developer to build stores and restaurants around the Big Dipper.
Cedar Fair plans to sell and relocate two of its roller coasters to other parks, according to the group, but the three wooden roller coasters are still threatened with demolition.
American Coaster Enthusiasts has rescued almost 50 rides in the past, storing them until the group finds a site to reconstruct the coasters. The group is considering buying the closed Geauga Lake & Wildwater Kingdom, formerly a Six Flags property.