Monday, September 1, 2014

Trip Report and News Update- Conneaut Lake Park

 News Update and Trip Report for Conneaut Lake Park.

 Honestly, when we headed on Conneaut Lake Park it was with intentions to bring the park more to the attention of people. To remind them this great little place still existed but with recent news and the state of the park in general.. I won't be doing that.

 Unlike our normal 'Park Reviews' which rate and review the various qualities and perks of amusement parks and theme parks, a 'Trip Review' is simply a statement of what we found and what we did.  This decision wasn't easy and I've mulled it over for weeks now, knowing the many problems Conneaut Lake Park has (and is still going through) I know I can see the effort and beauty there, others may not. Rather then damage the park, this is the reason for simply a report.

 This choice was in no way swayed by the park but is my own. All opinions and views are my own and not those of the park, we where not invited nor did the park know we where present.

 One thing you need to understand before continuing is that Conneaut Lake Park is in trouble. Big trouble. Run into the ground by a corrupt board of trustees, the place isn't in good repair but they've made due with what they can. Their deeply in debt with back-taxes and the state of the park isn't good. As of mid-August, the county isn't even willing to give the park a chance to come back. They simply want to put the park under Sheriff Sale, get their money and run. No matter the history, memories or the change this could be a great little park again. The all powerful dollar speaks. 

(Keep reading for more information, reporting and news about Conneaut Lake Park)

 As I said, things aren't great but you can see with a little bit of care and some small investments, good things could happen. Many classic rides reside here, some many not operate but they likely could if the park had a chance again. 

 Besides a classic 'Flyer' they also have an original 'Tilt-A-Whirl' and an 'Umbrella Ride' in the front area of the park. The 'Tilt-A-Whirl' wasn't operating and the other rides seemed to share a team of operators which moved back and forth to each one as folks wanted to ride. More proof of a really non-existent budget which could easily be fixed without an embezzling board.

 They really do have some amazing antique rides hidden inside, for example, A Tumblebug. 

 Almost none of these exist anymore, I've only seen and ridden two of them in my life. The other lives at Kennywood Park as 'The Turtle' and is a fan favorite. With a little bit of love and some care, this park could really grow back into a great little hidden gem in Western Pennsylvania. It's got rides and potential but needs someone to give it a chance.

 Really, the place has a small waterpark included. 

 Yes, it's not operating and out of curiosity I asked someone who worked for the park when exactly the last time it opened was. Apparently due to lack of funds, the park had to close it in 2008. While a shame, it appears they've tried their best to up-keep and I suspect it wouldn't take much to get it re-open. Waterparks make money and bring people in, people in the park spend money, money pays bills and keeps the park alive.

 I don't admit to know deadly-squat about tax laws or lawyers but common sense tells me having a thriving park in your area will generate money and tourism. Seriously, giving them a break and helping would likely do a LOT more then just selling off the parts to the highest bidder. With the current condition, I doubt they'd sell for a lot of money anyway. 

 However, Conneaut Lake Park has two amazing little gems. Rides which should be getting people into the park far more often. They likely would if they had more time to promote the park. 

 Blue Streak, a classic wooden coaster built by National Amusement Devices in 1938. It's had a hard life and has closed various times in the past due to lack of funds to upkeep it but they park keeps fighting and re-opening it. This amazing little coaster may not look like much from what you can see but it's truly an amazing ride. It's surprisingly smooth, have the Ge-Forces and the Air-time riders beg for. It's long, a lot longer then you think at first glance and wicked. It's got the right combo of smooth and wooden roughness to make it a truly great coaster. I've seen parks keep going on less, Blue Streak could keep this place alive if given a chance!

 The other great park of Conneaut Lake Park? The Devils Den, a classic and original Dark Ride. 

 You can't FIND these types of ride just anyplace these days. Most parks have removed them or allowed them to rot. While Conneaut's wasn't in good shape, it was recently revitalized by the television show "Mission: Amusement" and was the pilot episode. A lot of work was done but kept the original feel of this classic dark ride attraction. It's cheese, it's campy and it's great. Not scary enough to scare the kids and adults love them because these are the 'haunted houses' of their youth. I suspect if more people knew this still existed, they'd come in the gates also! 

 Speaking of Conneaut Lake Park being on the television show "Mission: Amusement" brings me to "Haunted Hostile" which was the big project of the show. 

 Things have changed as you can see, when asked no one would give me an answer. I'm not sure if the original facade took damage over the winter and couldn't be repaired or if someone decided they didn't like it. A shame since this was a big draw for the park over the Halloween season. While not open year-round, we plan to re-visit during this upcoming Halloween season to view the attraction for ourselves. Perhaps with some advertizing and word-of-mouth, a little press work, this could draw bigger crowds to help the park stay afloat. 

 The point is, while Conneaut Lake Park may not have much compared to the 'mega parks'.. what is has is worth saving. Love, Care, Support and some proper investing would go a long way. A much farther way then just selling off pieces in vein hopes of making some money off it. 

 This isn't just because it's an amusement park, which I hate to see close at any point but it's history. It's memories. It's a part of this community and that alone is worth saving. So I really hope someone wakes up and pays attention, don't just sell someone to get money. Nurture it and help it, you'll likely be repaid greatly. Quick fixes rarely work and often help no one but the greed folks behind the move, so stand up and tell people to visit. Tell them about the cool original rides the park has running, spend a little bit at the food stands (which are very nicely priced!) and buy a little something (also good prices if limited selection).

 Right now, I'm unsure of the status of Conneaut Lake Park's future outside of the summer operation schedule. It appears the park is going ahead with their Fall Schedule including Pumpkin Fest, Ghost Lake and Bundle Up. We have contacted the park for more information but have yet to hear back. 

 So wake up. I'm talking to you: Sadsbury Township, Conneaut Lake School District, Crawford County and Summit Township. Figure out a way to keep this park open and people visiting, you'll benefit more from an operating park then a Sheriff's Sale and Foreclosed property!

(As I said, I'm not a lawyer or know much about tax laws. I'm just one person, using common sense, who believes another and better answer can be found).

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