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What's Next For Aurora and Bainbridge After Wildwater Kingdom Closes?

photo of the Tawney Family

The former home of Shamu, the Big Dipper and Hurricane Harbor will fall silent on Labor Day, as the last remnants of what was once Sea World and Geauga Lake close forever.

Cedar Fair – which owns the 650 acres where both parks once stood -- announced Friday that it’s shuttering the remaining park, now called Wildwater Kingdom.

Officials in Aurora and Bainbridge have looked at several redevelopment plans for the entire property, including mixed-use retail or a movie production complex.

Cole Tawney from Stow is a season pass-holder and he says neither of those would be as much of a draw as the water park.

“We drive probably about 25 minutes to get up here.  So we’re really not going to come back to this area unless there’s really something good to draw us back.”

Cedar Fair said in a statement that “the time is right” to begin the transition.

Annette Banig from Hudson also holds a season pass, and she goes several times a week.  She says this year has been different from previous summers.

"They had this huge awning of shade and it blew off, mid-summer, and they never replaced it.  So, we thought that was an indicator.  The hand blowers weren't being repaired.  So I think it was just ‘tick-tock.’"

Sea World opened in 1970 next to Geauga Lake, which opened in 1887.  They merged in 2001 into one of the biggest amusement parks in the world, but by 2007, only Wildwater Kingdom remained.

Kabir Bhatia is a senior reporter for Ideastream Public Media's arts & culture team.