Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Aerial Antics: California's Great America

This week I thought we would visit sunny California and see the sights at California's Great America. The park, then known as Marriott's Great America opened to the public in 1976, the same year as it's sister property outside of Chicago. The park changed owners a couple times before settling as a Paramount Park, from which Cedar Fair purchased it - and that brings us to current day.

One big attraction during the Paramount era was Top Gun, now known as Flight Deck. The B&M inverted coaster opened in 1993 when the ride style was still very new. As with most B&M coasters, it's still one of the more popular rides at the park.

The amusement industry had a bit of a 'fling' with B&M stand-up coasters in the early nineties, during which California's Great America added Vortex. It's not a huge ride, but the catch isn't a long layout, or huge drop, it's the fact that riders stand the whole time! It sports a pretty funky paint job these days, too.

Invertigo. Never been on one of these since my opportunity to try the similar ride at Kings Island passed me by due to some technical difficulties the ride had. You don't typically hear amazing reviews for these inverted Vekoma Boomerangs, but at least it has a striking color scheme!

Just a side note, you can still see the supports for the park's former Tidal Wave aka Greased Lightnin' Schwarzkopf Shuttle Loop coaster which was removed from the park in 2002. Purchased by Six Flags, and moved to Discovery Kingdom's parking lot, the ride was never rebuilt and eventually used as spare parts for Kentucky Kingdom's coaster of the same name. Oddly enough the Kentucky Kingdom version was originally the ride that opened at Great America in Chicago and was also known as Tidal Wave! How weird!

And here's Grizzly. That's all.

The park's water area, known as Boomerang Bay, was focused on a lot just before Paramount sold all their parks to Cedar Fair. Above we see the selection of water slides and attractions that have been added, and you can also see the park's former coaster Stealth's station in there with "Boomerang Bay" painted on it.

Cedar Fair continued the trend of water park expansion by adding the Great Barrier Reef wave pool in 2007. That update didn't make the bird's eye images, but you can see it on a comparison of Google and Ping's aerial images:

So what does the future hold for California's Great America? Well we know a wooden coaster was designed for the park and then not built, and with all the drama surrounding the 49ers plans for a new stadium in the park's parking lot, things look pretty muddy at this point. But we'll hope for the best, ok?

If you want to check out the images, follow this link.