Sunday, November 25, 2012

From The Vault: SeaWorld Ohio 1998 Trip Planner

As promised from last week's Vault, here is the SeaWorld Ohio trip planning booklet from 1998.  The park is now known as Wildwater Kingdom, and besides perhaps some fish no animals call this place home anymore.

SeaWorld Ohio first opened in 1970, directly across the lake from then Geauga Lake.  A part of the Busch properties, it thrived for some time, eventually being sold to Six Flags, and then to Cedar Fair - which marked the end of animals at the park.  Instead it was cleared out and water attractions were moved or built, and today it still operates as Wildwater Kingdom.  That's the park history in one minute or less.

Here we see the cover of the booklet, advertising plenty of New Sensations to experience at the park.  What was new?  Let's see!

There really was plenty new in 1998 for guests to check out, the biggest of which was the new Shamu Advenutre show, presented by Jack Hanna and featuring the park's killer whales, Shamu and Namu.  A popular part of SeaWorld Ohio was the water ski show, and there was a new one this year named Intensity Games.  I wonder if it was anything like Hunger Games?

The park also celebrated each night like it was the 4th of July with the Red, Bright and Blue laser and fireworks spectacular.  The show utilized a huge water screen in the center of the lake that had lasers displayed on it.

And we must not forget the pooches, they were the main draw of the all new, All-Star Mutts show.

As a marine life park, most of the shows featured animals as the stars.  Such was true of both the park's bird show and sea lion show, who was home to Clyde and Seamore.  To keep guests busy into the evening hours, the park presented the Rockin' Summer Nights show, a special evening killer whale show at Shamu Stadium.

As with other Busch parks at the time, Jack Hanna often visited for special events, and the tie (which has grown considerably stronger since then) with Sesame Street can be felt.

If I remember correctly, the SeaWorld Parks added the word "adventure" to their name around this time, and that was the start of more traditional amusement rides being added to the properties.  SeaWorld Ohio had a 4-D theater that was showing Pirates! 4-D Hi-tech Adventure at the time.

An aquarium and outdoor sea lion pool were also highlights, and I believe a dolphin area was transformed into a water activity area, and part of the lazy river, when the water features took over.

Shark!  The amount of different animal exhibits was pretty neat, and much like those at the other SeaWorld parks.  Many remember SeaWorld Ohio as a small park, and lesser than its siblings, but its atmosphere and selection of attractions made up for that, I think.  The locations was pretty nice, too.  I remember sitting in Shamu stadium watching the Big Dipper rolling across the lake and thinking why, oh why, did my family pick this over Geauga Lake?!  Now I'm just happy I visited at all.

Here the information part of the booklet, which features the park's schedule - May through September - direction, hours and the like.  There's also the park map, which is pretty fun to take a look at, and consider what resides there now.  In fact, here's a pretty good comparison of just that:

Things are quite different these days.  Both of the park's large stadium theaters are gone, one has turned into a wave pool.  The water ski stadium is now home to lounge chairs, and the Eagle Reserve is home to a really rather tall tower of water slides. 

Not all of the former SeaWorld Ohio park is used, though, on the right side where the 4-D theater, shark encounter, and Shamu's Happy Harbor play area once were is now closed off and slowly rotting.  On the left part of the park everything above the former sea lion stadium is closed, including the former aquarium. 

I've always thought it was odd that the former bird show theater is still standing, if for no other reason than the value in the aluminum seats.  With a second phase originally planned for Wildwater Kingdom, then later canceled, perhaps more of the park will eventually be developed.  And perhaps not.