kids encyclopedia robot

California's Great America facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts
Quick facts for kids
California's Great America

California's Great America Logo.svg

California's Great America 2.JPG
Slogan It's Amazing in Here
Location Santa Clara, California, United States
Owner Cedar Fair
General manager Manuel Gonzalez
Opened March 20, 1976 (1976-03-20)
Previous names Marriott's Great America 1976–1984
Great America 1985–1992, 2007
Paramount's Great America 1993–2006
Operating season Late March–December
Area 100 acres (40 ha)
Total 52
Roller coasters 9
Water rides 2
Status Operating

California's Great America (formerly known as Marriott's Great America and Paramount's Great America) is a 112-acre (45 ha) amusement park located in Santa Clara, California. Owned and operated by Cedar Fair, it originally opened in 1976 as one of two parks built by the Marriott Corporation. California's Great America features over 40 rides and attractions, and one of its most notable is Gold Striker, which has been featured as a top-ranked wooden roller coaster in Amusement Today's annual Golden Ticket Awards publication. Other notable rides include RailBlazer, a single-rail coaster from Rocky Mountain Construction, and Flight Deck, an inverted coaster from Bolliger & Mabillard. The park appeared in Beverly Hills Cop III and Getting Even with Dad, two films that were released in 1994.


Marriott & KECO Era (1976–1992)

Marriott's Great America, built by hotel and restaurant operator Marriott Corporation, opened to the public on March 20, 1976. Less than two months later on May 29, the company opened a second Marriott's Great America – later known as Six Flags Great America – north of Chicago in Gurnee, Illinois. A third park was initially planned for the Baltimore–Washington metropolitan area, but the idea was later abandoned after several failed attempts to sway local opposition.

Great america
View of California's Great America from above

The park, though profitable, was still an earnings disappointment for Marriott, leading the company in 1983 to explore options to sell. An interested party, Caz Development Co., appraised the land value at US$800,000 to $1 million per acre. Marriott also involved the city of Santa Clara in negotiations, which was already leasing 55 acres (22 ha) of parking space for the amusement park. Fearing homebuilding on the land by Caz Development would lower home values of existing homeowners, the city council approved a $101 million purchasing agreement on January 31, 1984, by a 4–3 vote that also had to be approved by city residents. The citywide vote passed, approving the sale by a margin of 3 to 1. Caz Development then sued the city and Marriott in the Superior Court of Santa Clara County to block the transaction. The court nullified the sale, forcing the city to attempt to salvage the deal through negotiations with the other parties. Unable to broker a timely agreement, the city council voted 6–1 to scuttle the sale on February 5, 1985, though the city was still interested in owning the park. After Marriott refunded a $20 million down payment back to the city, negotiations were restarted. All parties were able to agree on a compromise, which was signed in marathon sessions taking place in early June 1985. The city acquired the park for $93.5 million from Marriott, which retained 20 acres (8.1 ha) from the sale for development. Caz Development settled and was allowed to build a hotel and office near the park, which the city renamed Great America.

Kings Entertainment Company, who owned and operated other amusement parks, was hired in 1985 to manage Great America for the city. In 1989, the city decided to return the park to the private sector and sold it to Kings Entertainment. In the agreement, the city would earn 5% of all revenue that exceeds $56 million.

Paramount Parks Era (1992–2006)

Three years later Paramount Communications (formerly Gulf+Western), the owners of Paramount Pictures, sought to join other entertainment companies as a theme park owner. The company acquired Kings Entertainment, who owned Great America, Kings Island, Kings Dominion, Carowinds and Canada's Wonderland, for $400 million and created Paramount Parks. Viacom, the parent of MTV Networks (including Nickelodeon), then bought Paramount in 1994, allowing Nickelodeon theming and merchandise into the park as well. During the Paramount era, attractions from the Action FX Theatre, Nickelodeon Splat City (later Nickelodeon Central), Drop Zone Stunt Tower, Invertigo, and many more modern thrill ride attractions were added in. Because the park is landlocked in the center of Silicon Valley, several rides including the classic train ride and the Sky Whirl, a Marriott's Great America signature attraction, were removed to make way for newer attractions.

In its last years as a Paramount Park, Great America was co-owned with several broadcasting stations in the Bay Area, including KPIX-TV and KBCW.

Cedar Fair Entertainment Company (2006–present)

After Viacom and CBS Corporation split, Paramount Parks became part of CBS. The merger did not last long, as CBS announced plans to sell the theme park division.

Cedar Fair Entertainment Co. announced in May 2006 that they were acquiring the amusement park division from CBS. The transaction included licensing agreements with Nickelodeon and Paramount, providing the park the option to retain its Nickelodeon and Paramount theming for several years.

On October 25, 2007, Cedar Fair renamed the park California's Great America. For the 2008 season, the park saw the addition of a Huss Rides top spin ride called FireFall, a new ice show in the "Great America Theatre" (formerly The Paramount Theatre), and the addition of the Halloween Haunt event to the park.

In the summer of 2009, Cedar Fair announced that all the Nickelodeon themed areas would be replaced with Peanuts themed areas. In 2010, the newly rethemed Planet Snoopy opened in the park.

On January 27, 2011, the park announced Invertigo would be removed and relocated to Dorney Park, another Cedar Fair property.

On September 19, 2011, Cedar Fair confirmed reports that California's Great America would be sold to JMA Ventures, LLC for $70 million in cash. The sale required approval by the City of Santa Clara, and its city council was scheduled to vote on the matter on December 6, 2011. Cedar Fair, which purchased the park in 2006, expected to use the cash proceeds from the sale to reduce its senior secured debt. However, on December 6, 2011, JMA Ventures cancelled its plans to purchase the amusement park. In the same announcement, Cedar Fair also verified that a long-term agreement was reached with the San Francisco 49ers regarding parking and construction of a new stadium adjacent to Great America.

In 2018, the park opened RailBlazer, the first single-rail coaster in the US west of Texas.

California's Great America did not open for the 2020 season in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States, although it is expected to reopen for the 2021 season.

Areas and attractions

Intensity rating (out of 5)
  1 (low)   2 (mild)   3 (moderate)   4 (high)   5 (aggressive)

Note: Number ratings assigned per California's Great America, while the colors are unique to Wikipedia. For more details, see the California's Great America

Roller coasters

Roller coasters at Great America
Gold Striker Roller Coaster at Great America
Name Location Manufacturer Model Name Opened
Demon County Fair Arrow Dynamics Custom Looping Coaster 1976
Flight Deck Orleans Place Bolliger & Mabillard Inverted Coaster 1993
Gold Striker Celebration Plaza Great Coasters International Wooden Twister Model 2013
The Grizzly Action Zone Curtis D. Summers Wooden Double Out and Back Model 1986
Lucy's Crabbie Cabbies Planet Snoopy E&F Miler 1999
Psycho Mouse Action Zone Arrow Dynamics Mad Mouse 2001
RailBlazer County Fair Rocky Mountain Construction Raptor Track 2018
Patriot Celebration Plaza Bolliger & Mabillard Stand-up Coaster (1991-2017) Floorless Coaster 1991 (2017)
Woodstock Express Planet Snoopy Intamin Children's Roller Coaster 1987

Thrill Rides

Great America 7 2013-09-15
The Drop Tower
Name Location Manufacturer Model Name Opened
Berserker County Fair Schwarzkopf Bayern Kurve 1976
Celebration Swings Celebration Plaza Zierer Wave Swinger 2001
Centrifuge Action Zone Schwarzkopf Calypso 1976
Delirium All American Corners Chance Rides Revolution 32 2002
Drop Tower: Scream Zone Action Zone Intamin Giant Drop 1996
Orbit All American Corners Schwarzkopf Enterprise 1976
Tiki Twirl Action Zone Zamperla Disk'O Coaster 2006

Action Zone

Ride Opened Manufacturer, type Notes Rating
Centrifuge 1976 Schwarzkopf
Originally known as Fiddler's Fling. Its Six Flags counterpart retains that name as of today. 3
Drop Tower: Scream Zone 1996 Intamin
Giant Drop
227 foot tall tower where riders descend at speeds up to 62 mph (100 km/h) while free falling in cars that hold up to four passengers. Originally known as Drop Zone: Stunt Tower from 1996 to 2007. 4
Eagle's Flight 1976 Von Roll
Gondola lift
Eagle's Flight is the name for the Action Zone gondola station 2
The Grizzly 1986 Wooden roller coaster Modeled after the original Coney Island Wildcat. 4
Psycho Mouse 2001 Arrow Dynamics
Wild Mouse roller coaster
The last Mad Mouse to be produced by Arrow Dynamics. 4
Thunder Raceway 2001 Go-kart track Pay-per ride attraction. 4
Tiki Twirl 2006 Zamperla
Originally known as Survivor: The Ride! from 2006 to 2011. 4
Ride at California's Great America
Delirium (a pendulum ride)

All American Corners

Ride Opened Manufacturer, type Notes Rating
Mass Effect: New Earth 2016 4-D Theater Originally 'Action Theater' with several shows. 3
Delirium 2002 Chance Rides
Revolution 32
Designed by KMG of the Netherlands. 5
Flying Eagles 2002 Larson International
Flying Scooters
Cars can reach an overall height of 28 feet during ride operation. 3
Orbit 1976 Schwarzkopf
Originally the Orleans Orbit. 4
Rip Roaring Rapids 1988 Intamin river rafting ride Riders careen through the concrete channels in 6-person rafts while facing rapids, whirlpools, and waterfalls. 5

Celebration Plaza

Ride Opened Manufacturer, type Notes Rating
Carousel Columbia 1976 Chance Rides
Double Decker Carousel
A double-Decker carousel that has over 100 horses and stands an overall height of 101 feet tall. 1
Celebration Swings 2001 Zierer Wave swinger Originally operated at Carowinds as Whirling Dervish from 1979 to 2000. 3
Gold Striker 2013 Great Coasters International
Wooden roller coaster
Featured as a top 50 wooden roller coaster in Amusement Today's Golden Ticket Awards 4
Star Tower 1979 Intamin Gyro Tower Passengers ride in a rotating cabin where it reaches a height of 200 feet tall while taking in the surrounding views. 2
Patriot 1991 B&M
Floorless coaster
A floorless coaster where passengers descend down a 91-foot drop at speeds of up to 40 mph (64 km/h) while navigating through one loop and a corkscrew along the 1,920 foot track. Formerly known as Vortex from 1991 to 2016. 5
Whitewater Falls 1990 Intamin Spillwater A shoot-the-chutes water ride where 20 passengers sit in a large boat that eventually descends down a 45-foot drop creating a 20 foot tall wave. 4
Xtreme Skyflyer 1997 Skycoaster Pay-per-ride attraction. 5

County Fair

Ride Opened Manufacturer, Type Notes Rating
Barney Oldfield Speedway 1976 Arrow Dynamics Passengers ride in old-styled cars on a track around the Grizzly. 3
Berserker 1976 Schwarzkopf Bayern Kurve Originally known as Yukon Yahoo. 3
Demon 1976 Arrow Dynamics Originally opened as "Turn of the Century" in 1976. Reconfigured and renamed "Demon" in 1980. 5
RailBlazer 2018 Rocky Mountain Construction Replaced Invertigo, a roller coaster which closed on January 27, 2011 5

Orleans Place

Ride Opened Manufacturer, type Notes Rating
Delta Flyer 1976 Von Roll
Gondola line
Delta Flyer is the name for the Orleans Place station. 2
Flight Deck 1993 Bolliger & Mabillard
Inverted roller coaster
Formerly known as Top Gun. 5
Rue Le Dodge 1976 Soli Bumper Cars A classic bumper car ride. 4

Planet Snoopy

Planet Snoopy is California's Great America's kids area, which opened in 2010.

Ride Opened Type Notes Rating
Character Carousel N/A Carousel Previously included Hanna-Barbera characters 1
Flying Ace 1999 Originally known as KidzAir 2
GR8 SK8 2015 Originally at Knott's Berry Farm as Joe Cool's GR8 SK8. 3
Joe Cool's Dodgem School 1999 Kiddie bumper cars Originally known as Fender Bender 500. 2
Kite-Eating Tree 1999 Originally known as Junior Jump Club. 2
Lucy's Crabbie Cabbie 1999 Kiddie roller coaster Originally known as Taxi Jam. 2
Peanuts 500 2015 Originally operated at Knott's Berry Farm as Charlie Brown's Speedway. 2
PEANUTS Pirates 2003 Breakdance 4 Originally known as SpongeBob's Boat Mobiles. 2
Planet Snoopy Construction Zone 2014 Playground Originally known as KidZ Construction Co. 1
The Pumpkin Patch 2003 Originally known as Wild Thornberry's Treetop Lookout 2
Sally's Love Buggies 2003 Originally known as Dora's Dune Buggies 2
Sally's Swing Set Family Wave Swinger Originally known as Swing Swing Swing 2
Snoopy's Space Buggies 2015 2
Snoopy's Space Race 1976 Originally known as Buzzy Bee and later Ghost Chasers. 1
Woodstock Express 1987 Steel roller coaster Originally known as Blue Streak, Rugrats Runaway Reptar 3

Time Capsule

A time capsule was buried at then Paramount's Great America in the former KidZville area of the park on March 29, 2002. The time capsule is set to open on March 29, 2152. The time capsule reads, "At this site is buried a time capsule with essays by students in second through twelfth grades in the Santa Clara Unified School District and other local schools. What will the next 150 years in Santa Clara be like? In honor of the City of Santa Clara's sesquicentennial 1852-2002."

South Bay Shores

South Bay Shores is a water park located within California's Great America that opened in 2004 as Crocodile Dundee's Boomerang Bay. The name was later shortened to just Boomerang Bay in 2007. In August 2019, it was announced that Boomerang Bay would be expanded and renamed South Bay Shores. Access to the park is included with the price of admission to California's Great America.

Defunct attractions

Past rides and attractions include:

  • H.M.B. Endeavor: An Intamin Looping Starship that was removed after the 2017 season to make way for a water park expansion of South Bay Shores.
  • Snoopy's Splash Dance: A kiddie splash walk-through attraction that was removed after the 2017 season to make way for a water park expansion of South Bay Shores.
  • Logger's Run (ride): A Log flume ride that was originally located in All American Corners that was removed after the 2017 season to make way for a water park expansion of South Bay Shores.
  • Firefall (ride): A HUSS Park Attractions Top Spin flat-ride attraction that was originally located at the now abandoned Geauga Lake amusement park. The ride unexpectedly closed after the 2016 Halloween Haunt season.
  • Vortex: A Bolliger & Mabillard standup roller coaster, was the second standup to be built by B&M. The ride was closed on Labor Day 2016 to be converted into floorless Patriot for 2017.
  • Invertigo: An inverted Vekoma shuttle coaster, was North America's first inverted face-to-face roller coaster. It was removed due to reliability issues; topped by three breakdowns that made the news. The site was eventually used for RailBlazer Invertigo was later known as Stinger at sister park, Dorney Park, until its closure in 2017.
  • Stealth: A Vekoma Flying Dutchman that was removed for construction of Boomerang Bay and relocated to Carowinds as Nighthawk.
  • Great America Scenic Railway: A custom-built, 3 ft (914 mm) narrow gauge railroad around the perimeter of California's Great America. The roadbed can still be seen in many places. Great America Scenic Railway was rumored to have closed to make room for Hypersonic XLC, a coaster that was later cancelled and moved to sister park, Kings Dominion.
  • Yankee Clipper: An Arrow Dynamics Hydro Flume that used to interlock with Logger's Run. Yankee Clipper was removed to make room for Stealth.
  • Greased Lightnin': Originally The Tidal Wave, was a shuttle loop roller coaster manufactured by Anton Schwarzkopf. A model of The Tidal Wave exists in the park office.
  • The Edge: First-generation Intamin Freefall
  • Skyhawk: An Intamin Flight Trainer that was rumored to be removed for its maintenance issues such as clear canopies on the cabins that would frequently fall off mid-ride.
  • Sky Whirl: A Triple Tree Wheel supplied by Intamin, later known as Triple Wheel, then removed to make room for Invertigo.
  • Lobster: An octopus/spider ride that was removed to make room for the Action Theater.
  • Bottoms Up: A classic amusement ride known in the industry as a Trabant.
  • Triple Play: A Huss Troika ride that was next to Vortex.
  • Nickelodeon Central: A themed area containing rides, mascots, and attractions that were based on shows from Nickelodeon and Nick Jr. It was closed in 2009 and changed into Planet Snoopy.
  • Whizzer: Originally named Willard's Whizzer, the original steel family roller coaster was made by Anton Schwarzkopf. Whizzer was removed because of maintenance issues and declining popularity. Gold Striker and Xtreme Skyflyer were eventually built on the site.
  • Trolley Cars: In early years, Trolley Cars traveled in the Hometown Square area and other parts of California's Great America.
  • Dolphin and Seal Show: During the Marriott era, dolphins and seals were kept to do daily shows. The show was removed when Paramount took over, and today it's now known as Peanuts Playhouse Theater.
  • Smurf Woods: A Smurf-themed small kids area with small Smurf mushroom houses. Today, this area is now Planet Snoopy.
  • Cajun Carpet: A Huss Rainbow located near the Orbit and Rip Roaring Rapids.
  • Gulf Coaster: A steel kiddie coaster
  • Ameri-Go-Round: A PTC carousel that was removed in 1995 for Drop Tower.
  • Hilltopper: A classic Himalaya ride located just to the right of the Demon's entrance adjacent to the lift hill. Whitewater Falls' station roughly occupies the space now.
  • Saskatchewan Scrambler: A classic Scrambler ride in the original Yukon Territory area, and later moved to the County Fair area and renamed Industrial Revolution.

Fast Lane

Fast Lane, first introduced at a Cedar Fair park in July 2011, is a secondary queue system that offers shorter wait times on the park's most popular rides. FastLane is a system where in addition to a standard admission charge, visitors can purchase a wrist band. The band grants access to the Fast Lane queue. In theory, a limited number of wrist bands are available each day.

Halloween Haunt

Halloween Haunt California's Great America logo.jpg

Halloween Haunt is a seasonal event at California's Great America. It had a "teaser" maze in 2007, but officially began in 2008 and is patterned after other Cedar Fair HAUNT such as Knott's

SCarowinds HAUNT XL The annual Haunt includes over 500 monsters placed in various haunted mazes and scare zones throughout the park.

Current attractions

For 2017, Halloween Haunt features eight haunted mazes, three scare zones, four shows, and five Skeleton Keys. It gives guests with the Fright Lane pass an extra rooms to go through in which are scattered throughout the park. These rooms are interactive.

Attraction Type Opened Location
Backwoods Maze 2017 Celebration Plaza
Chaos House Maze 2017 Rue Le Dodge
CornStalkers Maze 2008 County Fair
Feary Tales Scare Zone 2017 Planet Snoopy
JesterTown Scare Zone 2017 Orleans Place
Madame Marie's Blackout (formerly "Madame Marie's Massacre Manor") Maze 2012 (flashlight element added in 2018) Hometown Square
Roadkill Roadhouse Maze 2014 Celebration Plaza
Tooth Fairy Maze 2018 Action Zone
Ripper's Revenge Scare Zone 2018 County Fair
Wax Museum Chamber of Horrors Maze 2014 All American Corners
Zombie High Maze 2013 Action Zone
Nytewalkers Show 2014 Celebration Plaza
Blood Drums Show 2016 All American Corners
El Alonzo, the Second Greatest Showman Show 2018 Showtime Theater in Orleans Place
Sideshow Show 2015 All American Corners
Demon Re-Ignited Attraction 2017 Country Fair

Attraction history

California's Great America's timeline

Aerial view of California's Great America 3
Water slides viewed from the cable car
The former Invertigo coaster (Removed 2011)
Invertigo At Great America
Complete View of the former Invertigo coaster
  • 2020: Boomerang Bay expanded and renamed South Bay Shores. Closed for the entire season due to COVID-19 pandemic
  • 2019: Drop Tower gets a new paint scheme to represent a Redwood Tree. Pre-K pass is introduced for the 2019 season.
  • 2018: RailBlazer, one of the world's first Raptor Track Coasters by Rocky Mountain Construction. Halloween Haunt and WinterFest expansions.
  • 2017: Patriot, a floorless conversion, repaint and re-theme of the park's stand-up coaster, Vortex. Halloween Haunt and Winterfest expansions. Sweet Tooth, funnel cake shop, FireFall, Logger's Run, H.M.B Endeavour and Snoopy's Splash Dance are removed.
  • 2016: A 4D holographic attraction themed to BioWare's Mass Effect video game in newly renovated Action Theater. Winterfest debuts. Halloween Haunt expansion.
  • 2015: Planet Snoopy takes over the former KidZville section of the park. Halloween Haunt expansion.
  • 2014: Flight Deck re-painted red and white, Grizzly Loading Dock painted red and white, Fun TV added to most rides, Grizzly re-tracked and new flooring in Carousel Columbia. Halloween Haunt expansion. Picnic Pavilion make-over and new entrance from the parking lot. All 6 Drop Tower cabins operating, and KidzVille Shooting Range removed for birthday party area. All Day Dining Pass and new food options added. Halloween Haunt expansion with more monsters, two new Haunted Mazes for 2014, and one new Haunted Attraction. Werewolf Canyon and Slaughterhouse: Annihilation mazes removed. The Overlord is removed as Haunt icon. Skeleton Key is added, giving 5 mazes a new interactive room.
  • 2013: New Great Coasters International wooden coaster, "Gold Striker" added; Happy Feet: Mumble's Wild Ride in the Action Theater; Subway added, Halloween Haunt expansion.
  • 2012: Several park improvements such as a repaint of Carousel Columbia, Demon and Flight Deck. ADA improvements including an elevator lift entrance for Loggers Run and Vortex. Also, The Grizzly is retracked, Fast Lane. Construction commenced on Levi's Stadium, the new home of the San Francisco 49ers, in the former Great America overflow parking lot. Halloween Haunt expansion, Construction of 2013 attraction, Gold Striker (wooden coaster), in former Whizzer site.
  • 2011: Invertigo is removed to be sent to Dorney Park; Three new live shows. Halloween Haunt Expansion.
  • 2010: Planet Snoopy (Retheme of Nickelodeon Central); Hanna Barbera references removed in KidZville; Panda Express
  • 2009: All Wheels Extreme Stunt show; Chipper Lowell Experience show; expanded Halloween Haunt
  • 2008: Park is renamed to California's Great America; FireFall; Dora's Sing-Along Adventure; Endless Summer On Ice show; Halloween Haunt debuts
  • 2007: Park is renamed to Great America; Great Barrier Reef Wavepool added to Boomerang Bay; Ed Alonzo Misfit of Magic; Twistin' to the '60s Show
  • 2006: Tiki Twirl (Formerly Survivor: The Ride); Park is sold to Cedar Fair
  • 2005: Boomerang Bay expansion to include lazy river, two other waterslides and a large swimming pool.
  • 2004: Boomerang Bay is added including a complex of children's water slides/play area, a 4-person adult raft/tube ride, a two-person inner-tube water slide and a fully enclosed two-person inner-tube water slide. Triple Play is removed
  • 2003: SpongeBob SquarePants 3-D in the Action Theater; Nickelodeon Central (expansion of Splat City); Stealth (flying steel coaster) is removed and sent to Carowinds as Nighthawk
  • 2002: Delirium; Flying Eagles; Greased Lightning (shuttle loop coaster) is removed; Time Capsule buried
  • 2001: Psycho Mouse; Celebration Swings; Thunder Raceway; Stan Lee's 7th Portal 3D/ Smash Factory in Action Theater
  • 2000: Stealth (flying steel coaster) opens to the public; Scenic Railroad and Skyhawk are removed
  • 1999: KidZVille; Tidal Wave renamed Greased Lightnin'; Stealth is constructed and tested all season; Logger's Run modified to allow construction of Stealth
  • 1998: Invertigo; James Bond: License to Thrill; in the Paramount Action F/X Theater Yankee Clipper is removed
  • 1997: Xtreme Skyflyer; Triple Wheel (originally Sky Whirl) is removed
  • 1996: Drop Tower Scream Zone (Formerly Drop Zone Stunt Tower)
  • 1995: Nickelodeon Splat City; The Edge and Ameri- Go Round are removed.
  • 1994: Action Theater featuring Days of Thunder
  • 1993: Park is renamed Paramount's Great America; Flight Deck (Formerly Top Gun); Lobster is removed
  • 1992: KECO is acquired by Paramount, and renamed Paramount Parks; IMAX Pictorium Theater received a $1.5 million upgrade allowing it to screen 3-D films.
  • 1991: Vortex; Saskatchewan Scrambler is removed.
  • 1990: Whitewater Falls
  • 1989: Skyhawk; Park is acquired by KECO from the City of Santa Clara; Dolphin and Seal show and Cajun Carpet are removed.
  • 1988: Rip Roaring Rapids. Whizzer and Bottom's Up are removed
  • 1987: Woodstock Express (Formerly Blue Streak/ Green Slime Mine Car Coaster/ Runaway Reptar); Smurf Woods; Fort Fun; HMB Endeavor (Formerly known as The Revolution)
  • 1986: The Grizzly; Redwood Amphitheater with the Miami Sound Machine
  • 1985: Park is renamed Great America.
  • 1984: Park is sold by Marriott corporation to the City of Santa Clara; management transfers to Kings Entertainment Company (KECO); Hilltopper is removed.
  • 1983: The Edge; Red Baron and Ladybugs are removed.
  • 1982: Atari Video Adventure
  • 1980: The Demon (remodeled from Turn of the Century); Gulf coaster is removed
  • 1979: Star Tower (formerly Sky Tower)
  • 1978: IMAX Pictorium Theater, with film Man Belongs to the Earth
  • 1977: Tidal Wave
  • 1976: Marriott's Great America opens
A panorama from the peak of Star Tower at California's Great America in 2015

In film and television

Beverly Hills Cop III

Though appearing under the name "Wonder World", Paramount's Great America was used for exterior scenes of the theme park in the 1994 film Beverly Hills Cop III (itself released by Paramount Pictures) after Knott's Berry Farm declined filming rights.

Writer Steven E. de Souza originally wrote the story as more "Die Hard in a theme park". He was told that each of the rides he had designed would cost about $10 million to build and the whole film would cost about $70 million. When box office results for The Distinguished Gentleman came in, Paramount ordered the budget to be cut to $55 million.

Some modifications were made to the Columbia Carousel and Vortex roller coaster. Most of the Sky Whirl/Triple Wheel stunts (renamed "The Spider" for the film) were filmed in a studio. To film the exterior scenes, the motors of the Triple Wheel were left unpowered; instead, to ensure the ride did not move too quickly, some cages were loaded with sandbags to unbalance the mechanism. In this scene, George Lucas has a small part as the man Axel cuts in front of to get on the ride, also known as 'disappointed man' (this can be seen in the credits). John Singleton and Martha Coolidge also made cameo appearances in the film.

Many rides that were seen in the movie including Triple Play/Sky Whirl have since been removed. Also, the carousel at the back of the park (the Ameri-Go-Round, not the Columbia Carousel) was altered. The Ameri-Go-Round carousel has since been removed and Drop Zone is now in its place. The tunnels that supposedly ran under the park are a myth as well. No tunnels run under the park, as many thought after this was released.

The Alien Attack ride featured in the Wonder World theme park was in fact the "Earthquake: The Big One attraction" from the Universal Studios Florida theme park in Orlando, Florida. The "aliens" featured in the ride are suited actors (and not animatronic as suggested in the film) that closely resembled the Cylons from the original Battlestar Galactica.

Other film and television

  • Paramount's Great America was also used as the theme park Macaulay Culkin visits in the 1994 film Getting Even with Dad (not released by Paramount Pictures but rather Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer).
  • The park's inverted steel coaster "Top Gun" (later renamed to "Flight Deck") was featured in a 2007 Excedrin commercial with music from The Stremes.
  • Marriott's Great America was used in the 1983 George Lucas and John Korty animated feature Twice Upon A Time. It was used both as a background for animated scenes and for a short live-action shot at the end of the film.
kids search engine
California's Great America Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.