Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Sabrina's Brochure Spotlight: Marriott's Great America (California) 1977

This week's "brochure" isn't really a brochure per se, but it's a piece of industry history for sure. This card was put out by the Marriott Corporation in 1977 to advertise one of its two Great America theme parks, in this case the one located in Santa Clara, California. Both this park and its sister park of the same name in Gurnee, Illinois had just opened the previous year.

So what constituted "state of the art" in coaster technology back in 1977? Why, Schwarzkopf Shuttle Loops--of course! One such coaster, originally named Tidal Wave, made its debut at Marriott's Great America during this year and it was billed as the "world's tallest thrill coaster". You can just barely catch a glimpse of the park's Arrow Custom Looping Coaster, known at the time as Turn of the Century, behind it in the photo.

Another trademark of the Great America parks is their beautiful double-decker carousels. I've never had the pleasure of visiting the California park, but I thoroughly enjoyed my ride on the Gurnee rendition of this classic.

This ad also mentions another notable ride which used to exist at both Great America parks: "the world's first triple-armed Ferris wheel". Developed by Intamin, this ride wasn't really a Ferris wheel in the traditional sense of the word. In fact, a written description is not going to do it justice so why don't you just check out this photo! Double-armed versions of this ride popped up at a handful of other parks, but to my knowledge, the Great America parks were the only ones to be graced with the triple-armed version. Sadly, all of them are long gone now.

All the other elements of a great theme park were also present at Great America in 1977: shows, shops, eateries, costumed characters, two flume rides, even more coasters, and a host of other family rides and attractions. And all for an admission price which seems like pocket change compared to today's prices! My, how times have changed.