RIP Wildwater Kingdom


   WildWater Kingdom in Aurora’s closure Labor Day was like a cold splash of water to the faces of those students and staff who worked and visited there with families during their summers off from school. This Cedar Fair park has been a part of the community since 2004, but amusement parks have been on this property for over a century.

RIP Wildwater Kingdom
Photo courtesy of senior Racheal Pelter

Theme park history here began with Geauga Lake, the largest park in the world back in 1887. After Six Flags bought the park in 2001, it became Geauga Lake & Sea World Ohio.

After financial issues, the property was sold to Cedar Fair in 2004. The company opened Wild Water Kingdom a year later. Years and years of thrills and attractions only to end by Cedar Fair’s own hand.

The historical significance has not stopped developers from changing the venue from roller coasters and waterslides to shopping centers, eateries and living establishments. Other ideas for the area include a movie theater, waterfront access to the lake, as well as hospital and local university branches.

To preserve historical aspects, the developers plan to incorporate some of the original Geauga Lake architect into the construction, such as the wood from the old roller coasters in the boardwalk.

“We figured it was going to close down soon, especially with Cedar Point building their new water park,” sophomore Jessica Danner said, a frequent visitor.

The “new water park,” however, turned out to be improvements to the current one at Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio.

New attractions in Cedar Point’s Soak City include a water playground, new tube slide for pairs, and a six-story-tall slide with a near vertical drop. That ride begins when the floor falls out from under the rider. The waterpark will also be renamed Cedar Point Shores.

For some people who grew up here, the updates to Sandusky’s park just cannot beat their Wildwater Kingdom.

“I loved working at WWK,” said senior Racheal Pelter, who worked at Calypso, WWK’s pizzeria, for two summers.. screenshot_20161102-142154“It turned out to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I made so many friends at the Kingdom that I know I will have for life…we became such a family….”

Pelter said one of her favorite memories was when she and a friend were on the park grounds using Snapchat and an auditor walked up. “But it was okay and we passed,” she added.

Pelter said the announcement of WWK closing was tough on her. “It’s going to be hard to find a job with such amazing and genuine people ever again,” she said.

WWK may have been in Aurora, but it was a major part of surrounding communities, with it being a popular location to cool off during the hot summer months and as an employment site for many students.

Whether a part of foodservice, sales, lifeguarding or season pass holders, many students were affected by its closure.

Students are not the only ones affected; numerous teachers and parents in the high school were once attendants and or workers in the parks when Wildwater Kingdom was Geauga Lake. Adults would take their children to Sea World, only for them to grow up and work on that same land at Wildwater Kingdom.

“The last day was crazy,” said sophomore Fidelina Valverde Rivera, who was a long time passholder. “Every attraction was packed to the max… everything in the store was 70% off, so my mother and I  –being avid bargain hunters–made the most of the sale.”

Valverde Rivera had considered working at the park next summer, but since it is no longer an option, she hopes to still make the most of the change. “A mall or shopping center is in the works for the land where both parks once resided,” she said,“which would ultimately open up job opportunities for myself and other locals.”

Whatever the 550-acre property becomes, those in the community will always have the memories they created at Geauga Lake and Wildwater Kingdom.