Fun Fact Friday -1 November 2013-

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Please notice that, Cedar Fair operates the park, the park is still owned by the City of Gilroy. Also, there is a small grammatical error, it’s suppose to say Bonfante Gardens!

Throwback Thursday–Sky Whirl and Triple Play

Sky Whirl was a triple ferris wheel that operated at California’s Great America in Santa Clara from 1976 until 1997.  It was a Tree Triple Wheel model, supplied by Intamin and manufacture by Waagner-Biro.  Sky Whirl resembled a huge tree with three arms, with each arm supporting a giant wheel. Two wheels were spinning while the third was on the ground loading.  Sky Whirl was featured in the movie Beverly Hills Cop III, which was filmed in 1994, but closed 3 years later in 1997, to make room for Invertigo, which now resides in Dorney Park as Stinger.

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Triple Play was a HUSS manufactured Troika model. The Troika is a ride, designed and manufactured by HUSS in the mid-1970s.  Triple Play opened at Great America in 1976 and closed in 2004.  Triple play consisted of three arms radiating from a center column. At the end of each arm is a star shaped structure holding seven gondolas, each of which seats 2 people side by side.  When the ride was activated, the central column rotated clockwise, while the Star at the end of each arm rotated counterclockwise. Hydraulic cylinders then raised the arms to an angle of 40°. The gondolas did have some capacity to rock from side to side. At the end of the ride cycle, the arms were lowered, and the rotation stopped.  This ride was located next to the entrance of Vortex, and was considered the perfect ride for intermediate thrill seekers, who were ready to graduate from Kidzville, but not yet ready for the larger flat rides like Orbit.

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Drop Tower @ California’s Great America

This will be a rather short Ride Review of Drop Tower at California’s Great America, which is an Intamin ‘Giant Drop’ drop tower with 6 cars going up the tower individually (each carrying 4 riders)

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Riders will approach the 224 ft tall drop tower as they walk towards the back of the park. You can’t miss the tallest structure in the park! A huge sign saying; ‘Drop Tower’ will indicate that the adventure is about to start! Riders will approach the beginning of the line and will basically enter a huge set of switchbacks under an old sun-cover that is tearing apart slowly. Yes, indeed, they still need to fix this area of the park. Continue reading “Drop Tower @ California’s Great America”

Throwback Thursday–Whizzer at California’s Great America

Whizzer opened in 1976, in both Great America Parks (California and Illinois) as Willard’s Whizzer, named for the parks owner Willard Marriott.  An electric motor beneath each car powered the four-car trains to the top of a unique spiral lift hill, where gravity then took control and delighted riders with a series of swooping dives and ground-hugging turns. whizzer lift

Guests sat in comfortable, tandem-style seats that were originally designed without any form of restraint device but seatbelts. From the start, both Willard’s Whizzer roller coasters suffered from problems with the braking system that would sometimes allow the trains to collide in the station.  Unfortunately, no immediate solution was put forth to remedy this problem. Continue reading “Throwback Thursday–Whizzer at California’s Great America”

Sierra Sidewinder @ Knott’s Berry Farm

This Ride Review is ‘reviewing’ the, currently, only Spinning Coaster in CA! (Undertow hasn’t opened yet, and Pandemonium closed in 2011)

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Sierra Sidewinder opened in 2007 pretty unique, since there are only 3 Mack Spinning Coasters, and the other two are located in Europe! The ride is located in Camp Snoopy, right of the entrance plaza and is a nice family coaster that is super re-ridable, and you want to ride it over and over again since not a single ride is the same!

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Riders will approach the ride’s line after entering Camp Snoopy, the family/kids area of the park. The line exists out of 2 sets of switchbacks surrounded by wooden fences. The line is located right under the roller-coaster, so guests will see spinning coaster-cars fly by ever 2 minutes or so! Once guests have walked past, or through, the switchbacks, they will take the stairs up to the station, where they can choose a row to sit in. They will eventually board the relatively small trains, fasten their seat belts, lock their restraints and off they’ll go!

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The ride’s vehicles are locked (so they don’t spin) for the pre-lift and lift-hill section of the ride. Once the train reaches the top of the 62.3 ft lift-hill, the train’s cars will unlock their awesome spinning feature, and there is no stopping to ’till the end. The ride doesn’t have a large drop. The drop is only 39 ft, and goes right into a set of banked turns, the 3rd one being 90′ degrees tilted! After this the train will make a quick, sudden, transition into a double downwards helix, where the train will come very close to the ground. The train will then also reach it’s maximum speed of 37 MPH. Riders will then be thrown into a waving transition, in which the train will quickly bank about 45 degrees either way twice in a row. This movement is followed by two banked turns that run into the brake run. The train’s cars will then be rotated back to the original starting position for it to re-enter it’s station.

Perfectly aligned vehicles, since the cars don't start spinning 'til the first drop!
Perfectly aligned vehicles, since the cars don’t start spinning ’til the first drop!

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This ride may be a little short, but it really offers a unique ride that is different and exciting every time you ride, due to the spinning. The ride is nicely located, and circles some smaller rides that are located in the kids area. The ride’s lines tend to be short throughout the day, and even when the switchbacks are both full, the line will only be about 30 mins. So you can never go wrong with Sierra Sidewinder! Check it out next time you’re at Knott’s Berry Farm!

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Vortex @ California’s Great America

In this Ride Review, we’re taking a look at the 2nd B&M ever made. VORTEX at California’s Great America that is. 

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Vortex is located behind the big carousel, and is hard to miss since it is the only roller coaster before heading past the food locations to the back and middle of the park. Riders will approach the line where a wooden sign indicates that they’re about to board Vortex. The lines is simply all switchbacks that seriously never fill up. Riders will then approach the stairs that lead to the station. The station is out door, and there will be a canopy for the operator that will assign you a row. Continue reading “Vortex @ California’s Great America”

Xcelerator @ Knott’s Berry Farm

This Ride Review is reviewing the first ever Intamin Accelerator Coaster, XCELERATOR at Knott’s Berry Farm. Xcelerator opened in 2002 and replaced Windjammer Surf Racers.

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Riders will approach the ride as they made their way around the park to the fifties themed area next to the boardwalk. Excelerator stands out with it’s 205 ft. hill. Once you think you’re there, you are not yet, as the ride entrance is located under the hill, on the other side of the themed area. There will be a large sign indicating that the Xcelerator entrance is to be found over there. Once you’re about to enter the line there is a test seat for larger guests to see if they fit in. We advise tall, and guests of an larger body sizes to sit in the test seat to make sure they can ride. Once you decided to enter the line, you’ll pass under the track, pass by lots of (never filled) switchbacks to a little path that will turn in to a ramp to the station. Once in the station you get to choose your row, and you’re ready to board!

The station
The station

Riders board the train, painted and modeled after a 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air’s with flames painted on the hood, buckle their lap belt, and pull down the lap t bar.  After a series of red and yellow traffic lights, the bottom light flashes green, the train is pulled back by a catch car and the ride launches riders to 82 mph in 2.3 seconds. After only 157 ft of straight track, the ride heads up a 90 degree, 205 ft tall hill.  At the top of the hill, the ride switches from the side of the track to the top due to a twist in the track.  At the top, it slows enough to see the surrounding Orange County, then plunges back down the other side of the 90 degree, 205 ft hill while twisting back to its original position.  Once down, the track hits two over banked turns that make a figure eight.  The over banked turns are 110 ft and 95 ft tall respectively, and slow the vehicle down to 67 mph before being stopped by the brake run.  The ride only lasts about thirty seconds, but it is sure to leave all riders breathless.

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Once the train has returned to the station, riders will pick up their belongings, and leave the station to go see their on-ride photos. The photo-booth is located next to the launch track, and riders will have a sense of the speed as the launched trains fly by!

Figure eight!
Figure eight!

The lines for Xcelerator tend to be short ’til about noon, but can get pretty long from that point on, especially if they only operate 1 of the 2 trains. This can form a line that may seem short, but takes a while before you get to the actual boarding platform. After 6/7 PM the lines will lessen again, and because of Xcelerator’s popularity at night, it might have short periods of extended waits after that. If the lines are backed up somewhere in the area of the switchbacks, we advise you to come back later in the day, as the lines will most likely be shorter!

The exit of Xcelerator!
The exit of Xcelerator!

Xcelerator is definitely a must-do at the park, and is, together with Silver Bullet, the most popular ride there. Without a wait this is an amazing ride, but with wait it might disappoint, therefore try avoiding lines and have a blast!

2014 CA Season Pass prices.

For today’s Tomorrow Tuesday we are looking ahead, and we are showing you all the Season Pass prices for the major CA Theme Parks. Please note that these are the regular passes! For more detailed info go to our Quick Links page, or our Current Ticket Prices page, or click on the name of the park below.

GhostRider Ride Review

For this ride review, we’re looking at the longest woodie in CA, and one of the longest woodies in the world. GHOSTRIDER

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When riders approach GhostRider, they will enter an engraved rock, saying ‘Ghostrider’, and will walk through a small ‘mine’. Riders will then walk up to the station, and will pass by the beginning of the ride. Right before entering the station riders will pass by a medium set of switchbacks. This is very most likely not used too often, because when you enter the building there is another big set of switchbacks, which hardly ever gets touched too. Riders will go up the stairs, and figure out why these first two switchbacks weren’t filled. There is an enormous set of switchbacks on the top level/ station as well. This might get filled up entirely at times, but the other 2 switchbacks + line are a little too much. X2’s 3-4 hour line will hardly fill up those switchbacks! 

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Once you are up in the station and you’ve waited through the switchbacks, you’ll get split up in 3; the front cars, middle cars, and back cars. We advise you to ride in the middle for the most comfortable ride. Once you’ve buckled your seat-belt and closed your restraint the ride ops will do a safety check and the train leaves the station.

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The train with riders will have a ‘drop’ ride out of the station and will turn to approach the lift-hill. The lift-hill is 118 ft tall, and is followed by a covered drop of 108 ft. From this point on the ride is pretty much non-stop racing over the 4,533 ft track. There is a little brake halfway through the ride that is followed by another drop that offers some nice airtime and has a nice speed all the way back to the station. The ride offers lots of airtime, and different mixes of G’s but it is no longer smooth. It opened as a smooth, ‘must-do’, but the ride leaves riders soar nowadays. It’s still a nice and lengthy ride, which is really nice, but we’d understand that people wouldn’t wait long for it.

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Therefore the lines are never too long anymore, and the first and second switchbacks aren’t needed The lines get about 20 minutes long, and maybe more or less depending on what time of the day you decide to ride. Lines are hard to estimate for Ghost Rider, since it is close to the entrance, doesn’t have many other rides close to it, and is very popular at night, because all the handrails are lit up gold.

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It is definitely a ride that you’d want to have ridden, but when lines are long, consider coming back later on in the day. The ride is good because it’s so lengthy, reaches speeds of 56 MPH, and has a maximum drop-angle of 51′ degrees. The entire ride takes about 2 minutes and 40 seconds!

Flight Deck Ride Review (CGA)

For this Ride Review we’re taking a look at Flight Deck from California’s Great America!

Flight Deck is a custom B&M Inverted coaster, and is relatively small, but packs a lot. It is most definitely the ride at CGA that has the most theming to it. The ride opened as Top Gun, when the park was still owned by Paramount, and still has all the scenery that came with it. The only difference is the lack of music and branding the ride has, it seems kind of alternative, and could use a little help finding a unique identity once again. Other than that, Flight Deck is among the best rides in the park, battling with the all new Gold Striker.

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Once riders have made their way to the entrance of the ride, they are welcomed by the ‘Flight Deck’ sign that stands under the ride. The line is pretty short, moves really fast, and has lots of scenery. The line will pass by a huge screen with an aircraft carrier on it, and will ultimately pass under the huge ‘Flight Deck’ sign. From this point you’ll enter the more ‘themed’ line where you walk through a small, we guess, flight deck :D. Once you’ve had enough time to enjoy the scenery you’ll get to the stairs that lead up to the station. The ironic thing about CGA is that most rides have half covered waiting lines, but stations out in the sun. We’re not a fan of that, we advise them to just place some covers over the stations, which will hardly cost them any money and will make guests a whole lot more satisfied. Anyways, you will be assigned rows, and you’ll wait in the sun a bit before you board the trains, that have way shorter seat-belts than any other B&M we’ve ever been on… Continue reading “Flight Deck Ride Review (CGA)”