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Drone Footage of Geauga Lake Will Haunt My Childhood Memories

There's a great chance you have no idea what Geauga Lake is or was. But as a native of Northeast Ohio, I can tell you it was a summer getaway for plenty of middle-class families. During the 1990s, Geauga Lake was our local amusement park, with rides like The Corkscrew, The Big Dipper and The Carousel; a water park; and just across a small lake, you could watch killer whales at SeaWorld Ohio. One year my dad's company held its annual picnic there, and I fondly remember wolfing down greasy French fries, destroying my cervical vertebrae in a bumper car, and getting stuck at the bottom of The Rotor for 10 minutes.

Eventually, the park transferred hands, nostalgic attractions were stripped away, and everything closed but the waterpark by 2008. It was a microcosm of so many economic problems that plague the region.

Nowadays, Geauga Lake is little more than ruin porn and silenced screams at the top of halted roller coasters. And to show that, the YouTube channel DiJi Aerial Media recently posted footage of the desolate park shot by Nick Nebelski and a friend with two Phantom 3 Advanced drones. The ethereal soundtrack skews toward melodrama, but I'd be lying if I didn't say the clip stirred emotions in me. Unless you ever visited, you won't feel those. But just imagine seeing the backdrop of your childhood memories turned into a graveyard.

Right now, the Meijer superstore chain has a contract to purchase about 1/10th of the total lot, but it hasn't come to a final decision of whether or not it will develop on the location originally built in 1887.

For a lot of people who visited as children, however, the abandoned park is just a sad reminder that nothing good lasts forever.


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Ryan Craggs is Thrillist's Senior News Editor. He moved to New York for work, because really, there aren't many jobs for him in Northeast Ohio. Follow him @ryanrcraggs.