AURORA, OH (WOIO) - SeaWorld closed its doors in Ohio back in 2000, now all we have left is memories.
Fond, but distant memories.
The theme park first opened May 29, 1970.
It took a total of three years to develop the $5.5 million project.
Attractions like Shamu, Dolphin Cove, the Pearl Diving Pool, Shark Encounter, Patagonia Passage, the Wild Wings Bird Show and Flamingo Lagoon brought millions to Ohio each summer.
Although the marine theme park closed in 2000, the same space was used for Geauga Lake’s Wildwater Kingdom from 2005-2016.
It was a landmark in the state, people traveled far and wide to watch some of the world’s most majestic creatures fly through the air.
The park started to decline over time thanks in part to animal activists who were upset over the treatment of marine life.
National Geographic did a story about the pressure put on the park to end whale shows.
The theme park was under a lot of scrutiny in 2013 after the release of the documentary Blackfish.
Blackfish exposed many of the dark secrets of the marine entertainment industry, watch the trailer below.
Years ago, Nico Maragos, a former SeaWorld Ohio employee, gained access to the abandoned theme park in Aurora to take the photos featured in this post.
Through Maragos’s camera lens, the deterioration of the 50-acre theme park is apparent in before and after side-by-side pictures.
Maragos started working at SeaWorld in 1993 in operations and moved on to become a bird trainer at the Wild Wings Bird Show.
In 1997, he moved to the animal care department to take care of the dolphins at Dolphin Cove and eventually he became an animal trainer for the dolphins and sea lions event during the first season of Six Flags Worlds of Adventure.
The demise of the park started even before the controversy over the treatment of marine life after receiving intense pressure from activists.
In 1996, a water ski performance went terribly wrong and a speedboat went over a railing into the spectators in the front row and 23 people were hurt.
That, coupled with the controversy over orca shows, and the inability to add roller coasters like other parks in the United States because of an agreement with Geauga Lake next door started the decline for the park.
Maragos, who now lives in Detroit, visited the Cleveland area and was given permission to take a look around in 2017.
He posted more than 35 photos on Facebook and they instantly went viral with more than 3,000 shares, 1,400 comments and 2,100 reactions.
“As you can see from the comments people are posting, it’s still very much talked about and missed,” he previously said.