The last remnant of Sea World and Geauga Lake is no more.
Cedar Fair announced Friday afternoon that Wildwater Kingdom in Aurora will not reopen in 2017.
The water park that was once home to the former Sea World theme park will mark its last day of operation on Labor Day.
“Cedar Fair has been working cooperatively with both Bainbridge Township and the City of Aurora to redevelop the entire property into what will best benefit the surrounding communities,” Cedar Fair said in a news release. “After examining its long-range plans, Cedar Fair has determined that the time is right to begin this transition and will continue to work together with community leadership in the positive future development of the property.
“Cedar Fair would like to thank the residents of Northeast Ohio for supporting Wildwater Kingdom each summer.”
The park has struggled to find its footing since Cedar Fair announced in 2007 that its sister park — Geauga Lake, home to roller coasters and thrill rides — would close for good. That just left the 17-acre water park that straddles Aurora and Bainbridge Township as the final piece of the once-bustling tourist destination that was home to Shamu on one side of the lake and the historic Big Dipper on the other.
The water park was once part of what was billed as the biggest amusement park in the world when Six Flags opened Worlds of Adventure in 2001, merging the former Sea World property with Geauga Lake to create a single park.
When Cedar Fair closed Geauga Lake, that left just Wildwater Kingdom and its 15 water slides, including Thunder Falls — billed as the tallest water-slide complex in Ohio — a wave pool and a lazy river.
Longtime season pass-holder Tammy Pryatel of Medina said the closing comes as a surprise but not a shock.
“What a bummer,” she said. “This is so disappointing.”
The lack of new attractions in recent years, she said, made her wonder whether she would have to find a new place for her son, Andrew, 9, to swim and play.
“I am sad it is closing,” she said. “There is nothing like it around here unless you want to drive to Sandusky.”
The property has been the focus of redevelopment initiatives, as Meijer makes plans to build a new store on 41 acres of the Geauga Lake side of the park. Bainbridge Township officials had asked for — and Meijer agreed to — a nod to the property’s nostalgic past, with a mural depicting the amusement park inside the store.
Cedar Fair’s announcement comes just one day after it announced plans to rebrand and expand the water park at the company’s signature park, Cedar Point.
Wildwater Kingdom in Aurora was the amusement park chain’s only standalone water park outside of California.
Cedar Point’s Soak City water park will get a complete makeover and a new name for next summer. It will be renamed Cedar Point Shores Water Park.
Wildwater Kingdom has just seven more days of operation left before it closes for good, as it is only open weekends and Labor Day.
Craig Webb can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 330-996-3547. Visit his amusement park “Airtime” blog on Ohio.com and Facebook. Follow him on Twitter @CraigWebb68.