|Coaster Landmark - Big Dipper|
Photo: Scott Short
American Coaster Enthusiasts recognizes Big Dipper as an ACE Roller Coaster Landmark, a designation reserved for rides of historical significance.
In 1920, The Geauga Lake Amusement Company headed by William Kuhlman bought the Geauga Lake property and began to develop the grounds back into an amusement park adding several rides and building a new dance hall in 1921. In 1925, the largest addition added would be a new John Miller-designed wooden coaster called Sky Rocket. At a height of 65 feet, the coaster featured a track length of 2,680 feet. The out-and-back, slightly curved layout of the track featured several airtime producing hills. Its fourth drop included one of John Miller’s signature features that many of his coasters were known for, a double-down dip.
Sky Rocket continued to thrill guests coming to Geauga Lake through the Great Depression and World War II. The Schreyer family acquired the park in 1945 after the death of William Kuhlman and continued to operate and invest in the park. In 1947, the coaster would be renamed Clipper and receive two new trains from National Amusement Device. At the dawn of the 1960s, Geauga Lake began to feel the struggle of competition and changing times. Four members of Cedar Points management team who had helped revitalize and rebuild struggling Cedar Point into a leader of the amusement industry in the 1950s bought the park and ventured out on their own. As part of a multi-million dollar, ten year revitalization of the property, the immediately began restoration of the historic Clipper roller coaster and re-christened it, Big Dipper in 1969.
The coaster was completely rebuilt in 1980 and rebuilt yet again in sections from 1989-1994. The park was sold to Premier Parks in 1995 which then bought the entire Six Flags chain of theme parks in 1998. Geauga Lake was renamed Six Flags Ohio in 2000, then rechristened once again in 2001 as Six Flags Worlds of Adventure after Six Flags purchased neighboring SeaWorld of Ohio and incorporated the two parks into one giant mega-park. Financial hardship due to the park’s rapid expansion ensued and the park was sold to Cedar Fair in 2004. Renamed Geauga Lake, Cedar Fair tried to downsize the park back into a family amusement park. Attendance plummeted as the Wildlife side of the park (former SeaWorld) was shuttered and transformed into a waterpark in 2005. The ride side of Geauga Lake was permanently closed in 2007 and most of its rides moved, sold or demolished save for Big Dipper. Big Dipper continued to stand with hope that one day it may be resurrected or moved. Eventually, it too was demolished during the week of October 17, 2016, forever ending an era. Big Dipper is the only ACE Roller Coaster Landmark that has been demolished.
*Big Dipper's Landmark status was approved by ACE's Executive Committee in September 2009, while it was standing but not operating. As it never reopened, it was never ceremonially dedicated.
Coaster: Big Dipper
Park: Geauga Lake - Aurora, Ohio (Removed)
Height: 65 feet
Length: 2,680 feet
Photo: Dave Jackson
Photo: Scott Short
Video: David Jellis