|California's Great America|
Santa Clara, California, USA
March 20, 1976
California's Great America is an amusement park located in Santa Clara, California.
The year was 1976, America's Bicentennial (or 200th birthday). A strong sense of patriotism was in the air and was also shown in the Amusement industry. Marriott, a well known hotel chain, went into the amusement business and opened up 2 identical parks under the name of Great America. One park was located in the Chicago suburb of Gurnee, Illinois which would become Six Flags Great America. The second park would be located in Santa Clara, California and become later known what it is today, California's Great America. As you enter the park in its early days, you could see a giant pool with a classic double-decker carousel called The Carousel Columbia. The parks were not coaster-less either, thrill seekers at both parks had custom Arrow Looping coasters called Turn of the Century (later renamed and re-themed Demon), custom made Schwarzkopf Speedracer coasters called Whizzer (defunct), and for the little ones, a Bradley and Kaye Little Dipper coaster called Gulf Coaster (defunct). Other rides included Log Flumes and other (at the time) state of the art thrill rides.
The park enjoyed success and in 1977, more specifically July 8th, 1977, Great America would give both of its park's Schwarzkopf Shuttle Loops called Tidal Wave (though the Chicago location did not get their Tidal Wave clone until 1978). A simplistic ride, riders get launched over sixty miles per hour through a vertical loop and up a 137 foot tall reversing spike to go through the loop again backwards, through the station, and up another spike before exiting. 1978 brought an IMAX theater featuring the film "To Fly!". The next year, the park received a clone from its sister park, an Intamin Observation Tower called Sky Trek, giving a birds eye view of the area.
The 1980's came and darkness took over as Marriott decided to re-theme its Turn of the Century coasters into Demon. The difference would be that Demon had two vertical loops instead of airtime hills. Demon also has cave and waterfall theming throughout the ride. Also in 1980 brought the end to the parks kiddie coaster, Gulf Coaster. As the 1980's went on, the California property did not add or remove anything due to the park's cramped space.
Marriott lost interest in the amusement industry and in 1984, they sold off their parks. Six Flags bought out the Illinois park and made it Six Flags Great America, but the California park would be bought by KECO (Kings Entertainment Company) and the Santa Clara Redevelopment Agency. Two years later, Great America added the largest wooden coaster in California called The Grizzly. Grizzly, which is a clone of a ride similar of that at Paramount's Kings Dominion, was a twisted wooden ride developed by KECO and based on the Coney Island Wildcat.
More thrills touched down at the park in 1987 when three new rides were added. The first was a Junior Coaster called Blue Streak (later renamed to Green Slime Mine Car, then to Runaway Reptar) and ultimately known as Woodstock Express. The coaster was relocated from Houston's Splashtown water park, which was previously known as Hanna Barbera Land and operated there as Scooby Doo. The ride was an Intamin Children's Coaster model with a thrilling 2 minute long ride for families.
Also added in 1987 was Rip Roaring Rapids, an Intamin AG River Rapids ride sure to drench its riders. Along with Rip Roaring Rapids, a new Swinging Ship flat ride called Revolution was added as well. Sadly, the next year, the park says goodbye to one of its classic rides, Whizzer, as it became scrapped. Schwarzkopf's thrilling ride which was cloned at Six Flags Great America still operates there as the only one left in the United States. When 1991 came, the park added one of the first Bolliger and Malibillard Stand-Up coasters called Vortex. Boasting heights over 90 feet and two inversions, Vortex remains to be a hit at the park to this day for its compact layout.
The next year, KECO [Kings Entertainment Company] gets bought out by Paramount Communications and became Paramount's Great America. This being a big change to the park, the next year would bring another unique reason to go to Paramount's Great America as one of Bolliger and Malibillard's first, shortest, and intense Inverted coaster model called Top Gun. Relatively short, but intense, Top Gun remains a hit to this day with your feet dangling at heights over 102 feet, three inversions, and speeds rushing fifty miles per hour. The lakeside location of this ride and its unique open air station also make Top Gun unique and a hit amongst enthusiasts. In 1995, Nickelodeon invaded Paramount's Great America and Blue Streak became Green Slime Mine Car and more pint sized thrill rides as well. More big thrills occurred in 1996 as a Second-Generation Freefall ride from Intamin towered over the parks skyline at heights over 224 feet called Drop Zone. With one giant drop, you free-fall down and experience intense airtime. Drop Zone became another hit at the park.
The late 1990's came and 1998 brought another coaster that was both unique and a clone. Vekoma, known for mass production of thrill rides, unveiled its Invertigo concept in 1996 and Paramount's Great America invested in America's first of this type. The ride became known as Invertigo, a bigger and suspended version of Vekoma's common Boomerang coaster. The ride also has a unique charm of face-to-face seating as you go through the towering 138 foot tall spikes and three inversions. Another big hit at the park, Paramount's Great America became an enthusiasts must visit in California.
It was 1999 and Paramount brought more change as a new Days of Thunder section was made after the hit movie. Tidal Wave, the parks Schwarzkopf Shuttle Loop, was renamed to Greased Lightnin'. Also, a motion simulator was installed with a show based on the movie Days of Thunder as well. More new sections came in 1999 as Kidzville was built and another coaster came just for the little ones, a Miller kiddie coaster clone called Taxi Jam. More thrills even entered the new millennium as a world's first hit the park. Stealthfully sneaking into the park came Stealth (now Nighthawk at Carowinds), Vekoma's first Flying Dutchman coaster. Riders board the trains in a unique lay-down position. Twisted gray and red track towering over 115 feet, 5 inversions, and speeds over fifty miles per hour, Stealth brought a hit to the park, but one major flaw was its major downtime.
The next year, 2001, brought the park its 25th anniversary, and what better way than with a new coaster. Psycho Mouse, an Arrow Dynamics made Wild Mouse, was built. The thrill park tones down to the family and Psycho Mouse, boasting over 14 hairpin turns and airtime hills, Psycho Mouse remains as the park's big hit with families. 2002 made riders delirious as a new flat ride from Chance Rides' Revolution model was introduced, Delirium (now one of the most popular rides in the park). A giant pendulum swings and spins riders around as Delirium operates. That year also brought a sad death to one of the parks classic coasters, Greased Lightnin'. Removed for unknown reasons, Greased Lightnin' now sits in pieces in a parking lot at nearby park Discovery Kingdom as the pieces still sit out there today as parts rot away and get stolen by enthusiasts and vandals.
The next year brought more Nickelodeon to the park as a new Nick Central expansion occurred. A fresh new look to the area as Nickelodeon's characters litter the area and Green Slime Mine Car gets renamed again to its current name of Rugrat's Runaway Reptar. But 2003 would also anger enthusiasts as well when Stealth would be removed for a new water park themed after Crocodile Dundee called Boomerang Bay. Stealth would not end up as the same fate as Greased Lightnin' as it was moved to the Carolinas at Paramount's Carowinds called BORG: Assimilator. 2004 came and Boomerang Bay opened and became a big hit at the park that for 2005, another expansion would be done for Boomerang Bay called Crocodile Dundee's Beach Club and triples the size of the park.
During the 2006 season, big news came to the park and the Paramount chain itself. On May 22nd, 2006, Cedar Fair announced that they bought out the entire Paramount chain for $1.24 billion dollars. The Cedar Fair chain doubled in size and many changes were underway for the entire chain in 2007. The first and most notable change from the new management is the Paramount name being dropped. Cedar Fair Entertainment Company renamed the park California's Great America.
Present Roller Coasters (7)Edit
|Flight Deck||Bolliger & Mabillard||Inverted||1993||Open|
|Gold Striker||Great Coasters International||Wooden||2013||Open|
|Grizzly||Curtis D. Summers||Wooden||1986||Open|
|Taxi Jam||E&F Miler Industries||Kiddie||1999||Open|
|Vortex||Bolliger & Mabillard||Stand-Up||1991||Open|
|Woodstock's Express||Intamin AG||Kiddie||1987||Open|
Past Roller Coasters (6)Edit
|Greased Lightnin'||Schwarzkopf||Shuttle Loop||1977||2002|
|Gulf Coaster||Allan Herschell Company||Kiddie||1976||1980|
|Psycho Mouse||Arrow Dynamics||Steel- Wild Mouse||2001||2007||Remy Rat 4-D|