California’s Great America
San Jose / Santa Clara, CA
Cedar Fair Entertainment
See our WinterFest 2017 Report Here
Park News - (2/26/22) Don’t say Screamscape didn’t warn you, but California’s Great America has now confirmed that the era of Halloween Haunt is no more. Instead the park will only offer a new family friendly event called Tricks and Treats in 2022, offering “all fun and no fright.” You can learn more at the official website.
(1/16/22) Thanks to one of our readers, we have an extensive update on various projects taking place at California’s Great America this off-season. For starters, White Water Falls is getting more work done to it, this time the entire wood bridge at the exit has been removed and will get rebuilt. The Orbit ride has been taken apart all the way down to the main arm, which has now been repainted blue. I’d expect the rest of the ride to get a lot of touch-up work in time to put it back together in the Spring.
(2/6/22) While nothing has been confirmed by the park, we’ve heard a rumor that California’s Great America might be planning to cancel their Halloween Haunt event this year. An annual “Haunt” event is pretty much a staple event for for every major Cedar Fair theme park, and while many were canceled in 2020, they were all back for the 2021 season.
With that in mind however, we know staffing became a huge issue that affected many of Cedar Fair’s theme parks throughout the 2021 season, preventing some parts from offering 7-days a week summer operations, and we saw some severe cutbacks in terms of hours of operation throughout the summer and fall months. I’m sure this had a negative impact on the park’s Halloween festivities, and in cases where staffing became a critical issue, I could see some parks possibly looking to put their Haunts on “pause” this year if they felt they had no alternative.
So what’s going on at California’s Great America? I’m told that this may be a new decision made by the park’s GM and crews have already taken apart the Zombie High maze, and have started on Tooth Fairy and Roadkill Roadhouse. Keep in mind that the removal of a haunt is also a normal part of operations if they were planning on replacing them with new haunt concepts, so this alone should not be taken as a clear sign of cancellation. However it is worth mentioning that I believe the Tooth Fairy haunt is one of the park’s newest and most popular Haunts, so it really shouldn’t be on the chopping block so soon.
Perhaps the most disturbing rumor of all has simply been that the park’s current GM (who came from Gilroy Gardens to CGA in 2021) apparently just doesn’t like the Haunt and is said to have pushed forward with an agenda to give the park a number of reasons to cancel it.
Right now on the park’s official website under the Seasons of Fun section it does still mention the Great Pumpkin Fest and Halloween Haunt by name under the park’s listing of Fall events. However, if you click on the listings of benefits for the various tiers of season passes, they only have a line labeled “Admission to Special Events” as a benefit currently. Meanwhile if you look at the same pages on other park websites, such as Kings Dominion or Carowinds, those parks clearly list those benefit lines as offering admission to those park’s Halloween Haunt / SCarowinds and WinterFest events clearly by name. The relabeling of this line of benefits on the CGA website to just say “Special Events” would allow the park the ability to cancel not only their Halloween Haunt event but also WinterFest.
Speaking of putting rides together… rumor has it that the park may have pieces of a Scrambler ride in storage somewhere and be planning to install it. One possible location may be the former site of the Firefall ride (Huss Top Spin), which I believe is located next door to the Mass Effect attraction building. According to our source the area currently has a lot of survey markings on the concrete in the area, so something seems to be planned for the area.
Lastly I’m told that Gold Striker appears to have GCI on site doing some re-tracking work on the popular wooden coaster. Several track sections are in the process of being removed and rebuilt. If you hop on over to the park’s live webcam, you can actually see sections of the removed track sitting on the park pathways next to one of the turns.
2022 - Liberty Twirler - (3/12/22) Looks like our rumor from January about adding a Scrambler to California’s Great America was right on the money. We were told at the time that the pieces of the new ride were said to be hidden away “in storage”. This week the park confirmed that the ride will indeed be added to the park’s All-American Corner section and called Liberty Twirler. As rumored, it looks like Liberty Twirler is going in right next door to Mass Effect on the former location of FireFall.
The park is also promoting a series of special events over the year including:
Friday Nights at Great America (select Fridays from March to November) - Featuring live bands, food, drinks and of course, rides.
Red, White & Brews (Select Dates: May 27 to June 19) - Featuring a celebration of American food and fun, filling Hometown Square with live entertainment, locally sourced brews, special new food items and various games and activities.
Carnival at Orleans Place (July 20 - Aug. 7) - A New Orleans festival with Cajun flavors, fireworks, music and other entertainment.
Tricks and Treats (Sept 23 - Oct 30) - The replacement for the lost Halloween Haunt, feature of a more kid friendly event concept aimed at “all fun and no fright”, letting the little ones explore non-scary themed mazes, costume parties, games, and encounters with non-scary characters.
WinterFest (Nov. 25 - Jan. 1) - WinterFest will return later this year with the plan to be “sparkling brighter than ever before” with the arrival of festival winter displays, holiday food items and cheer to everyone with a winter wonderland experience.
2023/2024 - Launched Coaster - Rumor - (11/7/21) Not much to report right now, but hearing that California’s Great America could be in the early phases of planning for the park’s next coaster. The early contender being considered so far is said to be a launched coaster, which was included as part of an approved masterplan presented to the city several years ago. One concept rumored to be under consideration for the park would be a multi-launch coaster from Mack Rides, not unlike Copperhead Strike at Carowinds, but with a custom layout.
???? - New Hyper Coaster - Indefinite Hold - (7/25/21) Remember how long before the pandemic California's Great America had filed paperwork to get clearance from the FAA to build a very tall roller coaster? Following the new master plan filed after Cedar Fair bought the property under the park from the city in 2016 the let it be known they wanted to build a new steel coaster over 200 feet tall. In 2018 the height variance to the FAA was found mentioning a 210 foot tall steel coaster with a construction timeline of March to December 2019 which would have saw it open for the 2020 season.
Those plans and applications then vanished and now we know why. A new post from Coaster101 with details mentioned at Coasterstock 2021 at Kings Island shed a little light on the missing CGA coaster and a connection to Kings Island’s ORION that opened in 2020 instead. According to the Coaster101 update, the original contract Cedar Fair had with B&M for a 2020 ride was indeed for California’s Great America, with the design work for the project working under the codename “Megabite”. They say that as construction costs for the Megabite project began to soar Cedar Fair opted in June 2018 to switch and redesign the B&M project to Kings Island for 2020 instead, resulting in Orion.
Time will tell if the corporate office decides to revive this project or not.
(3/31/19) Some new rumors are starting to float in about the next coaster planned for California’s Great America. Some of this is in contrast to the previous details leaked out when the park filed for (and was granted) a height variance with the FAA for a new coaster up to 210 feet tall. That variance was good for a project that would start construction during 2019, which would be for a new 2020 attraction, but the latest rumors suggest the park may opt to wait to open a new coaster in 2021. The new rumors also suggest it could be a multi-launched coaster, not unlike the new Copperhead Strike that just opened at Carowinds, but if that was the case it may not even need the 210 foot height variance if the entire project has changed. That doesn’t mean they could built something totally unique instead up to 210 feet in height, but if they wanted to wait until 2021, they would have to get some kind of extension on the FAA variance.
Of course, they could opt to build new coasters in 2020 and 2021, but I highly doubt that is the case, but either way it looks like they have some options open at the moment. So keep your eyes peeled for clues when visiting the park this season, as we also know they were planning a waterpark expansion as well that has yet to happen.
(6/21/18) If you scroll down to the latest update (6/5/18) at Coaster-Nation, they show off an approval from the city of Santa Clara for CGA to build a 210 foot "steel roller coaster ride".
(6/17/18) While the previous FAA details had vanished, a reader pointed out a new revised application from the park to the FAA for a height variance for a new attraction. A few little things have changed as well, as instead of a 240 foot attraction, the new application lists only building a structure 210 feet tall above ground level and appears to be complete this time, with the park given permission to go ahead with the project with some new timeline dates for construction to be done between March 1, 2019 and finished by December 31, 2019, which would make this a new attraction for the 2020 season.
The location is coming up slightly different as well, as the old coordinates seemed to indicate putting it on the Peanuts Pirates location, instead the coordinates now show it taking over the site of Snoopy's Splash Dance water play attraction.
???? - Future Park Plans - (1/26/17) Good news for California's Great America as CoasterDemon reports that the Santa Clara City Council has unanimously approved of the park's new master plan and needed rezoning. Meanwhile Coaster101 got a look at the expanded final proposal from the park, as presented to the council, which offers a few more details about just what they have planned for the park. Items of interest include mention of a launched coaster, a steel hypercoaster, as new flume ride, suspended family coaster and even a new family/child friendly sized wooden coaster.
(12/12/16) According to an article posted by the NoCal ACE website California's Great America is gearing up a new 20-year Masterplan for the park that would see a number of new 200 foot tall (and taller) rides into the park's future as well as an expanded waterpark and some remodeling of the park's main entrance. In fact, it seems a 200+ page report on their future plans has already been published for public viewing on the City of Santa Clara's website ahead of a planned meeting to go over it that may take place as early as December 19th.
(3/31/16) Cedar Fair and California's Great America made a huge announcement a few hours ago regarding the park's future. Not only did they announce their intention to buy the land under the park that will soon be put up for sale by the city, but they have also applied to make zoning changes for the property that will allow them to add more new tall rides to the park (over 200 ft) without jumping through as many hoops as before, or annoying complaints from neighboring office buildings.
Add onto this a new plan that would see a new entertainment complex built just outside the park's main gate that would incorporate the existing amphitheater, but would be open to the general public. In other words, it looks like they intend to build their own version of a Universal CityWalk project, which certainly would help keep the site alive and active all year round, though size-wise a better comparison may be to think of it being more like the Marketplace outside Knott's Berry Farm. Some great images of the new proposed use map for the property and other important notices can be found at GreatAmericanThrills.
Looking at the new map, a few interesting items stand out to me right away, such as #10 where they plan to build a "Major Attraction" such as a "Steel Roller Coaster" or "Water Coaster" on the site of the old Invertigo. There are several spots listed as #11, where they are planning new family attractions (kiddie coasters, climb & play structure or family flat rides), plans to build a Ropes Course and Dinosaur's Alive attraction in the Grizzly / Demon area of the park, further expansion of Planet Snoopy, a re-branding and expansion of the waterpark, as well as plans to build a new dedicated entrance to the waterpark from the new Entertainment District, and plans to "Re-market" the Vortex Roller Coaster (likely the rumored conversation from Stand-Up to a Floorless coaster).