The Great America is in California

It's a BAD place. Bad in both ways the word is used. If you live in the Southern California area, there is no need to drive north to San Jose, you have your own awesome fun parks. In Northern California, there are really only a few major ones: Great America in San Jose, Raging Waters in Sacramento and Concord, Marineworld in Vallejo. Raging Waters is a water ride park with some great 3-4 rides. On hot days it is perfect for family fun. Marineworld in Vallejo is a combo ride-animal park, with a only a few thrilling rides. It is not a water park, so once you have tired of the rides, you are left with marine and wild animal park. It is really the most limited of the fun parks sitting on the bay. Santa Cruz has a small park on the ocean, cute but fairly lame.

That leaves us the largest and best in San Jose. This is the size of Disneyland and California land in Anaheim. One ticket allows you to go to the ride park or Bommerang Bay, which is very much like Raging Waters! Great America is a ride park for those mostly 45" tall and more, but be prepared to mostly tweens, teens, and twenty-somethings. Be prepared for hot afternoons and many less than desirable characters hanging about in gangs because there is nothing else to do. There are a ton of foul mouthed, gangster wanna be teenagers. You might stay in line for 30-45 min. in line to get on the ride but the ride is less then a 45 seconds. But, what a thrill, like no other, within that time. Most likely, you will want more.

Be prepared to leave all food and fluids at the entrance station, none are allowed in because they want you to pay for the abnormal high prices inside. Be prepared to take off hats and sunglasses for nearly all of the thrill rides, you will be asked to stow them. To give you an idea of the pricing, they have a Panda Express located in the park and the plates average over $11 each. These same portions would be $6 or $7 outside of the park. A hotdog, chips, drink-$15. They charge nearly $4 for a single soda (no refills). The water fountains are sparse and usually have low pressure. Parking is $10-12, unless you have a Gold Pass.

But for all the money you spend, most of the time its just waiting in line with all the teenagers kissing and getting all public affection. I like all the rides except drop zone. The ride takes you hundreds of feet into the air and within seconds you drop. It feels like death is pending. What a rush that lingers LONG after the ride! Be prepared to wait 40 minutes and then be told the ride is broke down, or, only doing two rides in 2.5 hrs because of crowds and lines. It can be REALLY bad. We went on a fair amount of the rides: Tiki Twirl (one of the better ones), Demon roller coaster, Psycho Mouse (headache inducing ride), Flight Deck, Vortex, and Star Tower (great view of Silicon Valley). The water park has some fun rides to cool you off. The down side is that you need to bring towels along with you.

The Rides

Scary: Top Gun, Drop Tower, Demon, Invertigo, and Revolution

Fun: Psycho Mouse, Firefly, Grizzly, and Survivor Ride

Water: Rip Rode Rapids, Logger, and White Water Fall

Boring Rides: Orbit, Flying Eagles and Vortex

One can avoid long lines to some degree by buying a Fast Track pass for $30. At D-land, it is free. So, instead of waiting 60 minutes for a 30 second ride, you wait 30 min. If you are disabled, I would avoid the park, it is just too much hassle.

Overall, the place seems worn or aged. The teens they hire to work there have ghetto attitudes and will steal from you if an opportunity exists. The restrooms are to be avoided for as long a possible. So, for about $60 person to get in, at least another $15 person for food, and $12 for parking, even for one person to go alone runs $90.

Once is enough for the memories embedded from the rides.

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Comments 6 comments

john000 profile image

john000 4 years ago from Superior, Arizona

What a great idea to feature the central valley and mid coastal area of California for fun parks and entertainment. I have taken my daughter to Santa Cruz and she loved it. This article shows how much we may not be aware of and how easily we could plan a reasonable outing. Great concept and great writing. Keep writing. I vote up.


Jim 4 years ago

California would probably be great if you got rid of all the hippies and homos, in other words, all the Californians.


perrya profile image

perrya 4 years ago Author

There is a smaller water park with a few good rides in Redding, which is in very northern CA. if you like that area for other reason, spend a day at their waterpark to keep cool. Its not bad at all.

As to all californians being hippies and homos, that sounds like something I might hear back in the 70's, Jim r U for reel?


john000 profile image

john000 4 years ago from Superior, Arizona

It is too bad that many people identify all of California with a small segment of the population (guilty of nothing) that exists in all states. I have married into a family of Californians and it is the best thing I ever did.


perrya profile image

perrya 4 years ago Author

Cool, we come in all variations.


kschang profile image

kschang 4 years ago from San Francisco, CA, USA

Bonfonte Gardens aka Gilroy Gardens in Gilroy is only about 30 minutes down the road and much more relaxing. AND it's aimed at smaller kids.

Those who are fascinated by trains can go to Roaring Camp, have a BBQ lunch there, and take the train down to Santa Cruz Boardwalk.

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