Marriott’s Great America, built by hotel and restaurant operator Marriott Corporation, opened to the public on May 20, 1976. Less than two weeks later on May 29, the company opened a second Marriott’s Great America – later known as Six Flags Great America.
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. The city eventually 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 (Kings Island and Kings Dominion for example) Company, who owned and operated other amusement parks, was hired in 1985 to manage Great America for the city.
Paramount acquired Kings Entertainment, 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. In 2000, the park added the first flying coaster in the world to their coaster line-up, Stealth. Stealth was a Vekoma Flying Dutchman, and was extremely popular among guests. The park had to remove the fan-favorite in 2003 to make room for their in-park water park Boomerang Bay. Stealth got moved to Carowinds, also Paramount by that time, and has since recieved a make-over and is currently named Nighthawk.
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.
In May 2006, it was announced that Cedar Fair Entertainment Co. would be acquiring the entire amusement park division from CBS. The transaction includes licensing agreements with Nickelodeon and Paramount, providing the park the option to retain its Nickelodeon and Paramount theming for several years.
The park seemed to have had a hard time the last couple of years, with removal of Invertigo, and Cedar Fair wanting to sell the park. The last new coaster before Gold Striker opened in 2001, Psycho Mouse, and many were delighted to see the park add a new big ride in 2013. The park seems to be ready for the next couple of years.
Below you’ll find a list with all current rollercoasters the park operates. Click on the name of the ride to get the statistics from RCDB.com .
- Demon is an arrow looper, that started it’s life as ‘Turn of the Century’. The track got altered along the way to add a double loop into it, and got renamed Demon.
- Flight Deck is a unique custom designed B&M inverted coaster. It has a relatively small layout, and is definetly one of the park’s major attractions. It used to be named Top Gun, with the Paramount License still active.
- Gold Striker is the park’s newest addition, and is the longest wooden coaster in nothern CA. It is a GCI that had some noise problems, but these have been solved and the ride is running smooth. It is believed to be CA best wooden rollercoaster.
- Grizzly is the park’s first wooden rollercoaster, and is believed to be rough now-a-days. It is still a fun classic woden coaster ride.
- Psycho Mouse is the park’s wild mouse coaster made by arrow. This is one of the last arrow coasters to be opened.
- Taxi Jam is a coaster for the younger visitors of the park.
- Woodstock’s Express is too.
- Vortex is the 2nd B&M coaster to be built. The ride is similar to Vortex from Carowinds, which opened as 3rd B&M, but has some significant differences in the track layout. Vortex is a stand-up coaster.