Santa Clara’s California’s Great America has a fascinating history: from having some of the coolest prototype coasters ever made, to one of the most impressive coaster lineups, to neglect, and now an impressive glow-up. Let’s see what has become from the park.
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The Coaster Kings Crown Rating currently features five (5) categories. In each category a park can score one (1) thru five (5) possible crowns. The more crowns, the higher the score. The average amount of crowns awarded among the categories creates a final overall rating: the Crown Rating.
What was once a prestigious Marriott park is now a polished Cedar Fair park. The decades in between saw neglect, over ambition, and some changes in ownership. Did you know for a split second after Cedar Fair Paramount acquisition, the park was going to be named Knott’s Great America? Wild. One thing has always been true, no matter the state the park was in, it’s had amazing flat rides and some admirable coasters.
Speaking of coasters, California’s Great America is home to one of the best woodies in America: Gold Striker; a wonderfully snappy and unique B&M Invert: Flight Deck; and the beloved RMC Single Rail Coaster: RailBlazer. Beyond these 3 stellar coasters, the park is also home to an Arrow wild mouse, another wooden coaster, some kiddie coasters, a classic Arrow looper and a B&M Floorless Coaster. All with a modest size, but contributing to an overall strong lineup.
Even in the Non-Coaster ride department the park scores well. You’ll find a ton of classic flat rides here, including Beserker, the last Schwarzkopf Bayern Curve left in the United States! The park is also home to the iconic Columbia Carousel and Sky Tower. In addition, rides like the spectacular Mass Effect helped elevate the quality of the lineup despite closures of rides like FireFall and Endeavor. For those looking for a cool drop ride, the wonderful Drop Zone Intamin Drop Tower offer spectacular views of surrounding Silicon Valley and nearby SJC Airport.
While the park’s lineup is pretty well balanced and misses highlights like dark rides and some more water rides, the park gets points for its water park. Previously named Boomerang Bay, it needed some serious help. Luckily California’s Great America relaunched the included water park in 2021 to become South Bay Shores, featuring your signature Cedar Fair water slide additions. In addition, not many parks still have a noteworthy sky ride; California’s Great America’s is one of the best around!
While no Cedar Fair park (besides Knott’s Berry Farm) really stands out with food and beverage, California’s Great America’s location in one of the toughest food markets in the US helps with its quality. Options are straightforward, but variety/quality/efficiency are as good as it’s going to get for a major regional chain theme park. We have Silicon Valley to thank for the park leading in digital ordering at some of their food locations.
Overall atmosphere for California’s Great America is quite good! The park is incredibly polished, always enjoyed in the California sun, and the abundance of water features, gardens, etc. really make the park a pleasant place to be. General infrastructure such as restrooms, midways, etc is in good shape. Operations are generally decent, and though they could use some improvement, they do not ruin a the experience. California’s Great America is definitely one of our favorite Cedar Fair parks.
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