Skip To Content
    This post has not been vetted or endorsed by BuzzFeed's editorial staff. BuzzFeed Community is a place where anyone can create a post or quiz. Try making your own!

    Cleveland Teenager Breaks Into Abandoned Amusement Park, Is Pretty Amused

    Lillie had no idea how hard it would be to get into Geauga Lake, but at the end of the day, everything she captured was well worth the trouble.

    Ashley Riddle

    Cleveland native, Lillie Smith, found herself making a bucket list one afternoon, and finding some of them extremely possible to achieve, decided to go out and cross one item in particular off. "Ever since I can remember, the amusement park side of Geauga Lake has been closed. The water park side is still, surprisingly, open, but I always wanted to go; and it closing down wasn't going to stop me."

    So that's exactly what she did. She did some research, grabbed a friend, and armed with her bookbag, a Gatorade, her Nikon camera, and sense of adventure, they headed out from Cleveland, to it's location in Aurora, OH, about a 45 minute drive.

    Smith arrived around 2pm with a setting sun already making it's debut. They grabbed their gear, hustled across the street from where they were parked, and ran through the field, all while trying to stay out of sight. Arriving at the front gate, they were greeted with the deteriorating ticket booths, unguarded by fencing like the rest of the park.

    Lillie Smith / Via Instagram: @rrplillie

    After a bit of scouting, the girls realized that the information given to them on how to get inside wasn't reliable, leaving them to improvise their own way in. Ashley easily climbed up and over the 10 foot fence, while Lillie had a few issues with anxiety and fear of heights, "Even with her cheering me on and telling me I could do it, as soon as I got to the top, I found myself not being able to breathe and just standing there, exerting all of my strength in my arms and legs, struggling to hold on and not fall. Geez I'm making it sound like an action movie. *laughs* I swung my first leg over, and this is where I wish we got pictures or videos because thinking back now it's a little funny. I got my knee-pit caught on the top metal post of the fence, which made me freak out even more. So my first reaction was to try and pull it back, which resulted in me ripping my one nice pair of jeans, and falling in a cannonball like motion onto some pretty solid concrete. After Ashley was finished laughing, she asked if I was alright and we laughed a bit and started looking for another way in. About an hour later, I was inside with her."

    She decided not to share how she got in as it was damaging to the park and does not want to encourage/condone trespassing.

    "Walking through the front gates was like a dream come to life," she said.

    Lillie Smith / Via Instagram: @rrplillie
    Lillie Smith / Via Instagram: @rrplillie

    "I looked around, and realized that Mother Nature had reclaimed what was originally hers, and it was pretty beautiful. I was lost in my own wonder and I heard Ashley yell over 'Come on! Let's go over to the roller coaster!' I couldn't help but snicker because it made it seem like we were in a real amusement park with functioning rides; when in actuality, the ticket booths and the coaster were the only things left standing."

    With their cameras in hand they walked over to the Big Dipper, and wasted no time inspecting every inch of the wooden beast.

    Lillie Smith / Via Instagram: @rrplillie
    Lillie Smith / Via Instagram: @rrplillie

    "You know, all I wanted to do that day, was climb to the top of the roller coaster. That's it. After taking a few pictures of the outside, inside, and storage shed, I decided, 'What the hell? You only live once and this might be my only opportunity...'"

    Lillie Smith / Via Instagram: @rrplillie
    Lillie Smith / Via Instagram: @rrplillie
    Lillie Smith / Via Instagram: @rrplillie

    "So after climbing all over the tracks trying to get the basic pictures, I went for it. I know what you're thinking though, 'how does a girl who can't even climb over a 10ft fence climb to the top of a 65ft coaster with no problem?' Well, I haven't got a goddamn clue. Adrenaline maybe? But at the end of the day, I did it, and that's what matters."

    Lillie Smith / Via Instagram: @rrplillie

    "I walked about half the length of the track before I had the willpower and was able to wrap my mind around the idea of actually making it up the makeshift steps they had for the employees. This picture right here was probably my favorite one I got that day. I was about 15ft up and had to balance perfectly to get it, so I was a little nervous, but really excited at the final result."

    Ashley Riddle / Via Instagram: @rrplillie

    "So I get to the point where I have to start walking up the hill, and about halfway up, I get the churning in my stomach, 'Will I get caught?' 'Will someone see me?' 'Will I fall?' 'Should I turn back?' I pushed all of the voices out of my head and forced myself to continue because this is kind of a once in a lifetime thing right here, and if I went back down, I would've regretted it forever."

    Lillie Smith / Via Instagram: @rrplillie

    "As I got to the top, I was greeted with the most confusing beauty I'd ever seen. I can always find beauty in everything but this beauty was so bittersweet because as this was somewhere that families used to come and spend time and make memories together, it was now a desolate wasteland waiting to be purchased and torn down. I'm someone that loves abandoned things, but since this is somewhere that I personally have a history with, with my family, and a good friend of mine that's away across the country at school, it hurt to see it so looking so sad and miserable."

    Lillie Smith / Via Instagram: @rrplillie
    Lillie Smith / Via Instagram: @rrplillie
    Lillie Smith / Via Instagram: @rrplillie

    "I sat at the top and took everything in; I pondered life, and regrettably looked down. I was pretty high up and not to fond of it, but I managed to keep myself together as I grabbed my camera, snapped a few shots, threw it across my side, and took out my phone. I'm a proud owner of a selfie stick, I will not deny, but I only pull it out for special occasions, so I brought it that day. I got what I deem as my coolest selfie, and started carefully working my way down."

    After Smith was back down, she met back up with her friend and the two went onward and utilized what little bit of sunlight they had left. Riddle had found a way under the coaster so they ducked under and tried, and failed, to look for the missing carts.

    "I mean, I exerted all of my energy trying to hop a fence and then on top of that, climbing to the top of the Big Dipper. Like, they put even more effort into building it than the little dipper that's for sure. *laughs* I'm sorry I'm too corny for my own good. Must be an Ohio thing. All of our excess corn rubs off on us. But yeah, I was tired, so I let her look for a bit."

    Lillie Smith / Via Instagram: @rrplillie

    They made their way over to an open are where they saw a body walking toward them. While Ashley suggested running, Lillie reminded her that they'd only get in more trouble if they ran.

    "She asked if I though he saw us. I thought about it for a second, and then said, 'yeah, he probably saw a 6ft tall idiot on top of the Dipper pondering life, you know I'm not subtle.' I told her just to stay calm because coming back at authoritative figures only lands you in more trouble, and I just laughed at her when she suggested running. I could barely walk after all of that climbing, so I wasn't about to run.

    He asked if we knew we were trespassing and I answered honestly, 'yes, but I thought that the sign had to say POST NO TRESPASSING for it to be illegal, not just no trespassing?'
    He didn't respond but continued on, 'what are you guys doing here?'
    I told him I had an assignment for class to shoot abandoned areas and I'd chosen Geauga Lake because I'd heard great things about it. He told me that he'd called the Bainbridge Police Department and they'd come and issue us a warning, and I assured him I'd be happy to comply with whatever he needed as we had nothing to hide."

    Lillie Smith / Via Instagram: @rrplillie
    Lillie Smith / Via Instagram: @rrplillie

    "He walked us to the gate as I struck up a conversation about school, his kids, and about how the cost of college had drastically increased. I was telling him about how I'd taken up two jobs just so I could pay for it and I'd recently acquired a third just to stay safe.

    Before we left, we showed him how we entered, so he could repair it, he closed and locked the gate behind us, we said our goodbyes, and called it a day.

    We were extremely lucky not to have been fined with trespassing or even jailed since this isn't the first time I've been caught trespassing for photography. I know enough to respect the police because they're just doing their job and all they know about me is that I'm a punk that likes breaking into places for art.

    If I can leave anyone with anything it's that you should go out and enjoy the world before something happens to it. Go live while you have the time. Go experience what life has to offer you while you're still young, before you start actually thinking that what you're doing might be a bad idea.

    Go be reckless youths, but for the love of god, please be polite while you're doing it. "