TPJThemeParkJames

California's Great America

Santa Clara, California, USA

Sister park to what is now Six Flags Great America near Chicago, California's Great America is located near the heart of Silicon Valley and plays host to a collection of rollercoasters and other rides.

Opened20 May 1976
SeasonLate March to October (daily opening June to mid-August).
WinterFest event in December.
OwnerCedar Fair
Websitewww.cagreatamerica.com
Nearby Six Flags Magic Mountain (313 miles)
Universal Studios Hollywood (338 miles)
Disneyland and Disney California Adventure (372 miles)
New York-New York Hotel (528 miles)
Adventuredome (531 miles)

Carousel Columbia during the park's Halloween event night time openingThe Marriott Corporation (owner of the famous hotel chain) originally opened the park as Marriott's Great America in 1976. It was one of two parks opened within a couple of weeks of each other. The other Marriott's Great America, built near Chicago, has since been sold to Six Flags and has become Six Flags Great America. Ironic then, that two parks that originally shared so much in common are now owned by rival chains - California's Great America now belongs to Cedar Fair.

Notable attractions include: Gold Striker, a GCI wooden coaster opened in 2013 and regarded as one of the best in the world; Flight Deck, B&M's second inverted coaster; and Carousel Columbia, a double-deck carousel which dominates the park's entrance plaza.

B&M's second ever coaster originally opened in the park as Vortex in 1991, a stand-up coaster which has been converted to reopen with B&M floorless trains for the 2017 season.

Attractions

Gold Striker

Gold Striker

Northern California's tallest and fastest wooden rollercoaster - what amazing, ahem, local records - but also a superb ride

Psycho Mouse

Psycho Mouse

Arrow Dynamics' last mouse, and it's a good one - well maintained and a smooth ride experience

Flight Deck

Flight Deck

Definitely a B&M inverted, but one with a lot of straight track between not that many elements

Grizzly

Grizzly

Voted for 15 years as the worst wooden coaster in the world in Mitch Hawker's Poll, and it's hard to argue with the critics

How to Get There

  The closest airport to California's Great America is San Jose (SJC) and is well served for domestic flights - Southwest seem to have the biggest range of cities. In addition, British Airways have recently introduced a direct service from London Heathrow on several days of the week. However, most international travellers will probably opt for the larger San Francisco International (SFO) which is only about 30 miles away.

  From San Jose Airport, the park is a 6 mile drive North on Route 101. From San Francisco, drivers have the option of a 30 mile drive South on Route 101, or a longer but much more scenic and often less busy drive South on Interstate 280 (then locally on 85 North followed by 237 East). I'd definitely opt for I-280 given the choice. From whichever route/direction, head for Great America Parkway and the easy-to-spot Levi's Stadium.

  By public transport from San Francisco, take the Caltrain to Mountain View. The BART train from San Francisco Airport links up with Caltrain at Millbrae. The 902 Light Rail service from Downtown Mountain View has a stop at Great America.