My family and I were fortunate enough to be invited to Blogger Day at California's Great America on 06/25/16 as a member of the USFamilyGuide. They provided us with access to the park and a wonderful lunch in exchange for me sharing my families personal experience and thoughts on the park with you.
California's Great America is located in the sunny Santa Clara, CA within walking distance to the new Levi's Stadium, which is home to the NFL's 49ers. Our day started out early, the park open is open 10 am to 10pm in the summer season and we live north of Sacramento so about 2.5 hours away with traffic. Okay 7:30 am isn't that early, but on a Saturday morning you know how it goes. Luckily for us the weather was wonderful on Saturday staying in high 80s, low 90s to make one of the best experiences at an Amusement park.
We are an Amusement park family, we try to go several times a year and are real enthusiasts for thrill rides. This however was my fiance Chris' first Amusement park adventure. He isn't a fan of crowds as they give him severe anxiety so he typically avoids places like this. However, my dad literally goaded him into going with us and I promised him if it was too bad we would immediately leave. Not having frequented Great America in quite a few years so I was worried that it may be so crowded that we would have to leave quickly. However, that was not the case. We had an amazing day, the park is so very well maintained and has the same wide paths and large footprint that allows for you to feel like the park is empty despite it actually being quite crowded. The entire park is set up in a circle with rides spaced pretty evenly along that circle allowing for you to plan out your day and hit every ride along the way. For those with crowd anxiety this park is really designed to make your family feel like it's the only ones in the park.
When you first walk in the park you notice the giant wooden coaster Gold Striker. It boasts being the highest and fastest wooden coaster in Northern California and having ridden it I can very much believe it. At 108 ft tall the first drop is one heckuva doozie! And the boast of being the fastest I would completely agree. It is such a thrill that leaves you smiling and laughing at the end. My favorite thing about this ride was that I fit! I am nearly 6ft tall and not a thin woman so my thunder thighs got me extremely politely told that I didn't fit on the other wooden coaster. This one however I fit comfortably without any issue!
Two of my other favorite thrill rides are the Flight Deck and the Drop Tower. They are two completely different rides one being that it flies you through the sky with your feet dangling at high g-force. It feels like you are literally flying. The other is Drop Tower it will drop you in a free fall from 22 stories. They are totally different sensations but they both will put your heart in throat for a minute. The adrenaline rush on both was enough to leave me a buzz for a few minutes after. My fiance whom this was his first thrill ride experience is now hooked because of these two specifically. They really set him up to fitting in with my family and our idea of a good time.
After getting about half way through all the rides we opted to stop and enjoy a show. We opted to enjoy the Acroflyte show that is hosted at the Great America Theater. First of all I will highly recommend taking the time to stop and enjoy this show for the sheer fact that at mid day it's in an air conditioned darker room. It's the perfect way to give your feet and your body a much needed break. But if that break wasn't enough, just imagine that you were invited to a high energy acrobatic show that is worthy of it's own admission fee. The 30 min plus show was non-stop action with trampolines, acrobatics, high wire performers and pole climbers. My whole family was so very impressed by the show we would go back just to see it again. Definitely an amazing addition to the park.
As if all the amazing rides and the spectacular show we got to see weren't enough Great America now offers a full water park called Boomerang bay. Boomerang bay offers full sized waterslides, splash areas and a giant wave pool as pictured above. It's like getting admission to two parks for the price of one. Although, we didn't get to ride any of the water slides this time, next time we will make sure to bring our swimming suits. We also toured through and stopped for my sisters daily Starbucks in Planet Snoopy. We didn't have any little kids with us this time I look forward to coming back specifically to take Luke & Lily to both. It looked like there was a ton of fun things to keep the little ones occupied.
On our way through the Planet Snoopy zone we made our way to the Mass Effect ride. Mass Effect New Earth is a new ride that opened this year. This family friendly 4D Holograph experience is very unique. We have all seen the sit in the seat 3D adventure rides, but this one really steps it up a notch with a unique storyline, a live "tour guide" and physical effects. I don't want to mess up the surprises on the ride but I will say we weren't expecting things to occur as they did and we definitely enjoyed the ride.
Now that I have spent some time telling you about our day let me give you all the things I noticed that sets the park different from others in the area. One of the most prominent things I noticed first off is the prices. Parking at the park was under 20$ this is well below the norm for the area and for a themed park. As if it wasn't enough to get parked at a lower rate weekday admission is 39.99 per person. And for local Costco Members you can find a season pass that includes free parking at 72.99! That will pay for itself after your first trip. Which if you have even half as much fun as we did you will want to take a second and third. And it includes entry into Gilroy Gardens check out my review of Gilroy Gardens from a few years ago!
So I better cover the food since I am talking cost. Because honestly I know with my family that is a huge factor into our trip budget. I liked is that they offered known food favorites such as Panda Express and Subway. These well known brands offer my family food I know they will eat and the prices were extremely reasonable for a park. As I mentioned above my sister the Starbucks queen got one and I'd say it's almost cheaper than outside the park so no complaints there. Not to mention all the options, this park had food options spread out everywhere and all of them were open, that was impressive to me since I have been to other parks where the longest wait is when you wait to get a beverage. Not at Great America the wait and service is spectacular. I can not complain one bit about any of it.
If you get nothing or read past it all until here I just want you to know we had an amazing day at California's Great America and if you are debating where to take your family in Northern California for a wonderful day this is the park to pick.