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Conneaut Lake Park cancels 2020 season amid coronavirus

The historic park features some iconic rides that are decades-old.
Credit: Ryan Haidet, WKYC-TV
This is the first drop of the Blue Streak, which is an out-and-back roller coaster. It opened in 1938. Photo taken July 20, 2014.

CONNEAUT LAKE, Pa. — It’s a tourist destination many Northeast Ohio families have visited throughout the years, but the thrills at Conneaut Lake Park will have to wait until next summer.

The amusement park, which is located just across the Ohio border in northwestern Pennsylvania, has decided to keep its gates closed for the 2020 season.

Conneaut Lake Park officials made the announcement "with great sadness" Wednesday in a letter to their fans on Facebook.

This decision to remain closed this year comes as other amusement parks like Disney World and Universal Orlando have revealed their reopening strategies.

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Conneaut Lake Park, which features the legendary Blue Streak roller coaster built in 1928, is also currently dealing with chapter 11 bankruptcy. 3News visited the park in 2014 as efforts were underway to save the historic location from permanent closure like Geauga Lake. Check out some of the images from that 2014 visit: 

Here's the 2020 cancellation letter from Conneaut Lake Park:

Under normal circumstances, we would be excitedly preparing the park to welcome you all for our 2020 season. Sadly, these are not normal times. So it is with great sadness that the Conneaut Lake Park Board of Trustees announces the cancellation of its 2020 park season.

As most of you are aware, many people have worked tirelessly over the past five years to bring the park back to life. Both then and now, the health and safety of our staff and guests are always our top priority. Unlike many of the parks around us, Conneaut Lake Park is currently under a chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization, which makes times like these especially challenging for us. We have been in contact with a representative from our secured creditors regarding the bankruptcy plan.

We have been given no guidance on whether amusement parks are allowable in the Green Phase, however, even moving to the Green Phase only allows businesses to operate at 50 percent capacity. Compounding this are social distancing protocols and sanitization requirements, all resulting in a diminished operations model that would require resources the park simply does not have while working its way out of bankruptcy. We have brought the park back to life on the premise of a crowded midway and without crowds, our business model does not work. Additionally, we do not have the logistical infrastructure to control the number of people at the park as the IAPAA guidelines and known federal and state protocols require, nor virtual infrastructure to control crowds like larger amusement parks are in the process of implementing. There is also the anticipated increased liability insurance costs for parks operating amidst the pandemic. All of these obstacles would make creating a fun and safe park experience while adhering to our fiscal responsibilities truly impossible.

We sincerely appreciate your patience, kindness and understanding during this unprecedented time. This decision was not made lightly and has been incredibly difficult and frustrating for all involved. Conneaut Lake Park has been helping folks make memories with their loved ones for 128 years and we look forward to returning to that tradition for the 2021 season. Thank you to all who have continued to support us. We are truly grateful.

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