California's Great America

05/11/2013
California's Great America In Santa Clara, is the second major amusement park near San Francisco. This park is part of the Cedar Fair group, along with Cedar Point in Ohio, Canada's Wonderland at Toronto and Knott's Berry Farm in Anaheim which we will visit later this trip. Again the weather is great so a long sleeved shirt is required to prevent my sunburn to grow even worse.

The park is easily found, thanks to Garmin, and we pay $15 to drive onto the parking lot. It's quite unclear where we should leave the car because there is little to distinguish between the normal parking bay and the portion for preferred parking.

Once inside, it becomes clear that indeed Gold Striker will not open today. The new wooden coaster is advertised everywhere but there's a sign at the entrance: 'launching soon'. That's too bad because, according to the schedule, it should already have opened early may. There seems to be an issue with the noise that has not yet been resolved.

When we arrive at Vortex it shows that it suffers a technical failure. Not a very good start. Like Six Flags we visited yesterday this park also offers a total of 8 roller coasters but with Taxi Jam Lucy's Crabbie Cabbies being a kiddiecoaster which doesn't allow adults, now only 5 remain.

At the far left of the park from the entrance we find Flight Deck (#782), an inverted coaster by B&M build in 1993 and thus one of the older B&M coasters. Not exactly a record holder in terms of length (2260 ft), height (102 ft) or speed (50 mph) but for a roller coaster ride of 20 years old still a great smooth ride with 3 pleasant and not too violent inversions including a delicious zero-G roll. This one also pleases Hellen quite well.

From here we take the cable car to the other side of the park, along the way we can make some nice pictures of inbetween attractions. At Demon we see the train has stranded on the lifthill. It looks like another malfunction and sure enough this roller coaster would be closed moments later.

In the meantime it is getting pretty crowded. For Psycho Mouse (#783) is a hefty queue of 3 quarters of an hour. It is also not operated very efficiently. The empty seats are not filled up and frequently there is only one cart at a time on the track. When it's finally my turn I am the single occupant on this cart as well and there is no other mouse on the track. The capacity of a mouse coaster often is not that high which results in quite severe long queues. The track is not very special after all.

Located next to Psycho Mouse is Grizzly (#784), a wooden roller coaster from 1986 with a rather classic layout. Here we find again a giant queue which moves very slowly. With direct sunshine from above and little shade it quickly becomes unpleasant but we persist. We choose a seat not directly on top of the wheels (front of the coach) and then Grizzly turns out to be a fairly innocent coaster, almost tame. Nice but no wow factor.

California's Great America has a pretty extensive food court with, among other things, a sushi bar. For lunch we choose some nice salmon and unagi packets. Very tasty and a lot healthier than all those fries and burgers.

On the other side of Psycho Mouse we find a small roller coaster. Woodstock's Express (#785) is one of the few children's roller coasters made by Intamin. The course is longer than meets the eye, about 1300 feet long. And quite a nice ride too.

The section for the smallest visitors looks very cheerful and pleasant. There is also a water playground. As expected, Taxi Jam is accessible for us. It is also too busy to try to convince the operators there.

When we walk past Demon (#786) it turns out it operates again. The queue is completely filled though and so it will take some time to get through. Halfway down the row, after a turn, the station becomes visible and the queue doesn't seem too bad. Later it turned out there was a meandering path in front of the station that I had overlooked. There is only one train so eventually an hour wait, the largest portion of which in the sun. The ride is OK, looks a bit like the Python and is fortunately not too rough for an Arrow. The coasters seem to be neatly maintained here.

Before we leave the park we take another look at Vortex Patriot (#787). We're in luck because it turns out to have reopened just a few minutes ago. After Ironwolf in Six Flags Great America in Chicago, this is the oldest B&M roller coaster. It is a stand-up coaster, rather than to sit in a chair you stand upright with only a little saddle to sit on. There are height-adjustable shoulder braces. Boarding is a bit time consuming but because the coaster just opened again I can get in almost instantly.

The layout is not extraordinary spectacular although a looping and a corkscrew while standing up can be exciting enough by itself. Furthermore there are many curves and altogether a complete ride. Stand-Up's will probably never really become my favorite. Especially the older versions are not always that comfortable. With Chang in Kentucky Kingdom and Mantis Rougarou in Cedar Point as good exceptions.


Immediately after the entrance to the park this picture.


Nicely decorated double-deck carousel. For this ride is also quite a queue.


Gold Striker has not yet opened. The last few evenings there were 'promotion' sessions.


The first drop is already covered by a tunnel to reduce the noise.


Vortex has faced technical difficulties for the largest portion of the day.


A fine roller coaster this Flight Deck. So far, by far the best of the park.


A bit of theming in the queue. This coaster was called Top Gun until 2008.


The zero-G roll runs across the main footpath.


The cable car takes us to the other side of the park. With another good old-fashioned manual system to get the cable cars off and onto the cable.






Psycho Mouse turns out to be one of the few Mad Mice made by Arrow. The other two I have ever done before.


Pity the slowness with which the roller coaster is operated.


Yet the Psych Mouse has been approved.


Unfortunately no other pictures of Grizzly other than this one. Maybe just a little too boring.


Lunch.


These I still like a lot. The classic flying scooters with sails at the front that you can control from the cart.


From this angle the Drop Tower doesn't seem to be enormously high.


A surprising Woodstock's Express, also not really a recent acquisition.


A lot of hidden track.


Very colorful part in Camp Snoopy.


Water Fun.


Unfortunately we have to skip this Taxi Jam.


It can't possibly be the weight of the occupants.


The Demon has recovered. Here too, it would be nice if something was done about the low capacity.


The course is also not very photogenic. From the cable car you will get the best picture.


Vortex lifthill and corkscrew.


Almost the whole track. It seems a lot of steel still.