Lost Coasters of California – Part 9: Stealth

Paramount Park’s 13 year foray into the theme park business resulted in a significant number of successes and industry oddities.  The application of Paramount theming in existing regional parks gave us two significant B&M Top Gun inverts and the world’s first major linear induction motor launch coaster, Flight of Fear.  However their tendency to experiment and take additions in different directions also resulted in a string of failures and disappointments.  Kings Dominion opened the late Volcano, The Blast Coaster in 1998, a prototype Intamin inverted catapult coaster that never seemed to run reliably throughout its 20 years at the park, and the ill-fated prototype air launch coaster Hypersonic XLC in 2001.  Carowinds opened a Setpoint suspended water coaster in 2000 called Flying Super Saturator which lasted less than 10 years.  Canada’s Wonderland still has an odd collection of mid-size coasters for the world’s most popular regional park including 1995’s SLC Top Gun and 2004’s Zamperla flyer Tomb Raider, The Ride.  The chain’s flagship, Kings Island, received one of the most notorious failures of them all, 2000’s wooden hyper coaster, Son of Beast.  That same year the chain would add a unique prototype to Great America, the world’s first major flying coaster, Stealth.  

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Lost Coasters of California – Part 8: Invertigo

Last week we focused on Windjammer Surf Racers and how it was a product of Knott’s Berry Farm’s attempt to navigate the space between the family and thrill market.  It faced the problem of Magic Mountain dominating the thrill market with major coaster additions, many of which we’ve discussed here, and Disneyland’s hyper detailed themed experiences.   Northern California in the late 90s had a far less competitive theme park market.  After the construction and runaway success of Tidal Wave in 1977 Marriott’s Great America, eventually Great America in 1985 and then Paramount’s Great America in 1993, had remained consistent with coaster trends.  In 1986 they opened the wooden Grizzly, 1991 saw the addition of the B&M standup Vortex, and 1993 saw the addition of the still-beloved B&M invert Top Gun.  These consistent additions, despite changes in ownership, resulted in a solid coaster collection any regional park could be proud of.  

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Lost Coasters of California – Part 3: Tidal Wave

As we discussed in the last article on the Whizzer the Marriott’s Great America parks were bold designs that applied many lessons learned at other regional parks.  Part of this was a plan and specific plots designated for expansion.  In 1977, a year after its opening, the Santa Clara park was the first to receive a major coaster addition, the Tidal Wave.

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The Evolution of Northern California’s Coaster Landscape

America has a few regions that are “hotspots” for roller coasters, regions with 2 or more parks within a short distance from each other.  The most famous include Central Florida, Southern California, and Eastern Pennsylvania. Though long outshined by the plethora of parks  surrounding Los Angeles and San Diego, Northern California holds the distinction of being a region with three parks with major thrill roller coasters.  The roller coaster landscape of Northern California has changed dramatically just within the past 10 years.

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Backyard Bands and BBQ at California’s Great America

Byron: We were invited by California’s Great America to come experience the all-new Backyard Bands and BBQ event this past weekend, and it was an absolute delight. From delicious food to live music,  the event provides a unique and relaxing atmosphere that we hope to see return in the future. Below we’ll detail what specifically we liked about it and how it fits into the new identity this park is creating for itself. Continue reading “Backyard Bands and BBQ at California’s Great America”

California’s Great America – Opening Day Report 2018

Byron:  California’s Great America opened for the 2018 season this past weekend, and of course, we were in attendance for opening day. It was a pleasure to be back at the park and take an extended look at this changing and growing park. Below we’ll discuss how the rides are running, general park improvements, and of course the phenomenal progress of Railblazer. Continue reading “California’s Great America – Opening Day Report 2018”

The California Top 10 of 2017!

Sean + Alexander: Annually we have released a full California Top 50, but we decided to take it down a notch and really focus on what the top 10 best coasters in the state are, and why we think so. This year brought us Patriot, the state’s only major new coaster experience of the year, but every year again we completely find a new ranking appropriate. So sit back, and enjoy our end-of-the-year coverage finishing with The California Top 10 of 2017! Continue reading “The California Top 10 of 2017!”

WinterFest at California’s Great America – 2017!

Sean: WinterFest has returned for a second year and has proven to be fair competition with the rest of the state’s major Holiday events, managing to offer a unique experience while limiting guests to just three of the park’s major coasters. The event offers quality entertainment, awesome lights all around the event, and unique attractions such as ice skating, character meet ‘n greets and faux snow of course! McLaren and I hit up the event, and would love to show off what the event has to offer! Oh and there’s a little RailBlazer construction for you all.  Continue reading “WinterFest at California’s Great America – 2017!”

WINTERFEST AT CALIFORNIA’S GREAT AMERICA OPENS NOVEMBER 24

Ice Skating, Rides, Snow Falling, Millions Of Lights & Santa To Deliver Merriment

The Bay Area’s newest and most immersive holiday tradition, WinterFest, opens at California’s Great America on Friday, November 24 and will entertain guests on select dates through December 30. During WinterFest, Great America will be magically transformed into a winter wonderland where guests can experience unique new features, as well as fan favorites such as skating in front of the iconic Carousel Columbia, admiring magnificent displays of lights and décor, viewing spectacular live holiday shows, experiencing 25 rides and attractions, seeing Santa’s workshop and Mrs. Claus’ kitchen, and enjoying scrumptious holiday fare at numerous dining locations. Continue reading “WINTERFEST AT CALIFORNIA’S GREAT AMERICA OPENS NOVEMBER 24”

THE GREAT PUMPKIN FEST AT CALIFORNIA’S GREAT AMERICA BEGINS SEPTEMBER 30

The Great Pumpkin Fest at California’s Great America opens September 30 and runs Saturdays and Sundays through October 29 (closed October 22). The festival is a non-scary daytime event for the entire family and has become a Bay Area tradition for the extended Halloween season. Continue reading “THE GREAT PUMPKIN FEST AT CALIFORNIA’S GREAT AMERICA BEGINS SEPTEMBER 30”

RAILBLAZER – A Single Rail Coaster Coming to California’s Great America in 2018!

California’s Great America will introduce a groundbreaking new single rail steel coaster, RailBlazer, for the 2018 season. RailBlazer will be the first coaster of its kind on the West Coast featuring a single rail track throughout; the design requires the rider to straddle the rail, creating an extremely low center of gravity that amplifies every move and enables more dynamic turns and rotations than have ever been possible on a coaster. With an eight-passenger single file train hugging the rail, the coaster will give riders an unobstructed view of the ground and air as they speed smoothly over the twisting track. Continue reading “RAILBLAZER – A Single Rail Coaster Coming to California’s Great America in 2018!”