Why You Should Visit Great America Again This Summer

Nico Chilla, Features Editor

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While seniors spent May 13, 2017, enjoying themselves at prom, fellow staffer Leo Rassieur and I headed to California’s Great America for a “media day,” complete with free admission, Fast Lane passes, and food (you should be jealous). In this article, I hope to accomplish two things: deliver a review of our experience and disclose new information about the future of the park. Please note that this article is sponsored by Great America.

The Rides

Early on, we discovered that both of us have a relatively high tolerance for “thrill.” Leo, in particular, is borderline inhuman in his ability to be unfazed; while our fellow riders incessantly screamed and cursed, he could be observed sitting calmly with his hands clasped in his lap and a peaceful expression on his face. He even described the 55 mph propulsion of The Grizzly as “a leisurely pace”. However, we were admittedly impressed by the newest and fastest rides in the park. Notably, the park has finally fixed the longstanding issue of painful head cushions on what used to be called Vortex; The ride was marketed this season as a new floorless roller coaster, the Patriot. The fix allows riders to experience the coaster in its intended glory.

Another relatively new addition, the Mass Effect: New Earth 4D experience, caught us by surprise in how entertaining it turned out to be. The “ride” takes place in a large theater that boasts features like 3D-viewing, moving seats, fire, steam and wind simulation. It takes you through a five-minute storyline that frames riders as passengers on a spaceship. We assumed it would be geared towards a younger audience, but the show was in fact quite realistic and almost scary.

At the end of the day, we reached the consensus that Drop Tower, a ride where you plummet 22 stories in four seconds, is the one ride that significantly intimidates us both. Otherwise, we could be seen having casual conversations while hanging upside-down on H.M.B. Endeavor or spinning on Tiki Twirl.

The Fast Lane Passes

These thin wristbands elevated us to the status of royalty; they allowed us to bypass the line for any ride and go immediately to the front. This power earned us hateful stares from the ordinary riders that we passed, and thus we enjoyed a sense of elitism.

Perhaps the best part of having a Fast Lane pass was being able to ride the sky rail, Delta Flyer, over and over again. This scenic ride takes you across the park at a leisurely pace; it is intended for transportation, but after an exhausting day, Leo and I just wanted to relax. The operator would give us a look of confusion as we exited our cart and immediately turned around to get into another one. We continued this for almost an hour, even smuggling on some ice cream to enjoy while riding.

These passes were a fleeting taste of heaven; after the experience of having them, it will be difficult to transition back to being an average guest. However, one can make up for not having one by strategically visiting rides at different times and arriving in the park later in the day.

The Future

Great America has been a local attraction for many of us since we were young; by this time we have experienced most of what it has to offer. However, the park is planning a few things for the future that promise to make it a worthwhile trip even for seasoned veterans.

   At the media gathering, a Great America official told us that the Santa Clara City Council recently approved the park’s master plan for expansion. This means they are now permitted to substantially enlarge different parts of the property and build many new rides, including a possible 245-foot-tall roller coaster (for reference, Gold Striker is approximately 110 feet tall).

   Until then, the park has implemented some fresh activities for guests. Besides the aforementioned Patriot and Mass Effect rides, this December will be the second holding of Great America’s new Winterfest event. As a previous attendant, I can say that it is a worthwhile visit (as long as you bring many layers of clothing). Winterfest is accompanied by the notorious Halloween Haunt, an amusing night-time event full of spooky mazes and jump-scares. Among these, Great America also facilitates other activities like seasonal fireworks and concerts.

   Lastly, Great America has a message directed specifically to the high school community: they are offering jobs! The park provides an enriching working experience that is available every summer. For more information, click here.

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