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California Great America (CGA) Discussion Thread


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So, I can anyone estimate what the fate of this park? I doubt that they're getting anything next year. So what's going to happen then? If you haven't added anything new for a long time, does the park slowly fade away? I've been reading alot of Columbia's comments, and he seems to know what he's talking about, so maybe he could answer this. What does this mean? How does the park stay afloat? What is Cedar Fair trying to do that is or isn't working? I'd just like to know if someone could comment on that.

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So, I can anyone estimate what the fate of this park? I doubt that they're getting anything next year. So what's going to happen then? If you haven't added anything new for a long time, does the park slowly fade away? I've been reading alot of Columbia's comments, and he seems to know what he's talking about, so maybe he could answer this. What does this mean? How does the park stay afloat? What is Cedar Fair trying to do that is or isn't working? I'd just like to know if someone could comment on that.

 

I actually had a great conversation with Shane of "Amusement Attic" fame about this a few months ago. We both have a personal connection to the park in Santa Clara.

 

We basically came to the conclusion (Shane correct me if I'm wrong) that the park will eventually succumb to either a stadium or other development within the next decade, possibly sooner.

 

In regards to your questions, I"ll try to analyze them separately:

 

"Will the park slowly fade away?"

I think it has been fading away for some time, since at least 2005. Because it's been so slow, we haven't noticed until now just how bad it's become. (Think Frog and Boiling Water metaphor)

 

"How does the park stay afloat?"

A program of significant capital improvement year over year for at least 5 to 7 years with a good multi-stage marketing campaign behind EACH one. (Similar to the campaign stared under KECO in the late 1980's.) I.E. "Every year we add something, ANYTHING." (Shows alone do not count, btw)

 

"What is Cedar Fair trying to do that is / isn't working?"

IMHO: Cedar Fair is trying to milk every penny out of the park and every guest through the turnstile without re-investing anything back into it. Clearly, it's not working, as opinions of the park (even on their own Facebook "fan" page) continue to plummet. This can be a debatable issue: The better question might be, "Is Cedar Fair really wanting to continue operating this park?"

 

Based on the capital added to other Cedar Fair parks recently, the prevailing attitude would seem to be, "CGA can languish. It's already too much work with the proposed stadium, let alone all the other work of having to add capital."

 

In any event, should the worst play out, hopefully the city and 49ers will recognize the significance of the front entrance to the park and keep my namesake for prosperity. Ultimately, that may be the only successful of the campaigns to save CGA. (Or at least some part of it.)

 

"What can Cedar Fair do?"

Show the fans of the park, local residents and annual visitors that you're not in it just to sell it off - even ONE major capital improvement (Like a $10 million+ coaster "caliber" attraction would quickly sway opinions of the park 180 degrees, I can almost guarantee it.)

 

Again, just my analysis of the situation, take it with what you will. The lynch pin to the entire situation is that damn stadium and the mystery surrounding it. No longer can you blame the economy, especially when regional theme parks saw a huge uptick in attendance these past few years. (While Disney lost)

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I wonder how things will pan out once Kinzel retires. I really hope the best for the park, even if it means Cedar Fair letting go and some other amusement park operator (who will actually invest in the park rather than kill it off), then let that happen. Sure, we would lose out on Halloween Haunt, probably the only real positive thing Cedar Fair has done for us Bay Area people as of right now. The last major capital spent on the park was probably their wave pool in 2007, which was probably efforts Paramount pushed for before the takeover.

 

Honestly, from my observations, Haunt seems to be the park's peak season and not the summer. As mentioned, just adding something they can heavily market (like they did with Haunt) could easily pull back in the crowds. I'm sure if they had gotten that GCI coaster, we would have seen a dramatic positive change already. Like others have mentioned, initially I thought "Ok, the economy is bad so that's why nothing is really happening." My thoughts quickly transitioned to the 49ers stadium being an excuse not to have to do anything due to the uncertainty they are bringing on themselves. Personally, if things were allowed to work out for both the park and stadium to coincide, I think the park would be seeing a lot more. Otherwise, I also believe more time is being spent to fight against the stadium than the time spent to invest in the park. That, or the money is being used elsewhere for that shiny new coaster at another park back east.

 

Random note: How do parks like Raging Waters and Waterworld survive with no major capital spent on those parks? Yet, they don't look like they're ready to pull the plug anytime soon?

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My last visit to Great America was in 1999, about four or five months before Stealth opened. It was for an ACE event, and we got to tour the Stealth site (somewhere, I have a picture of myself next to the loop). Of course, since it wasn't open and I haven't been back, I never got to ride it. [/rambling]

 

What I'm getting at is that it's been quite some time since anything major went into that park, which is one reason why, despite only living about 350 miles from it, I haven't gone back. I've often wondered if in fact the proposed 49er stadium will kill off the park.

 

Unlike its counterpart in Illinois, there isn't much (or any) room for expansion, so I can't see this park being open more than a few more years. Unless, of course, there are things that I don't know...

 

Eric

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My last visit to Great America was in 1999, about four or five months before Stealth opened. It was for an ACE event, and we got to tour the Stealth site (somewhere, I have a picture of myself next to the loop). Of course, since it wasn't open and I haven't been back, I never got to ride it. [/rambling]

 

What I'm getting at is that it's been quite some time since anything major went into that park, which is one reason why, despite only living about 350 miles from it, I haven't gone back. I've often wondered if in fact the proposed 49er stadium will kill off the park.

 

Unlike its counterpart in Illinois, there isn't much (or any) room for expansion, so I can't see this park being open more than a few more years. Unless, of course, there are things that I don't know...

 

Eric

 

My last visit to GA was also around that time until the Cedar Fair purchase in 2007. Sadly never got to ride Stealth but got a good look at the construction site via the Logger's Run.

 

I don't think the stadium so much is going to kill of the park, I think the way things are being handled to fight off the stadium and resulting neglect in the actual park is going to put it in danger. Ok, maybe the parking dilema may cause some issues.

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Yea, there was a brown one and a black one. They now seem to sport similar/same colors as the Giant Dipper's cars with the red and blue trim. Ok, so the Giant Dipper's cars have a brown body with blue/red trim, and Grizzly has a yellow body with blue/red trim. Funny thing is that both coasters use the same types of trains, yet the Dipper is smoother.

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I think the Dipper's trains are the only ones that don't have openings for entry and exit on both sides. But I think those were the first Morgans ever for wooden coasters.

 

And Grizzly's Morgans are the only ones with square wheels.

 

Eric

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I don't know when they changed to red and blue but when I worked there in 1989 there was a black train and a brown train.

 

Also, compared to the Giant Dipper trains, the Grizzly trains have some giant wheels.

 

Something else that was different, the programming for the brakes to get the train through the emergency brakes and into the station loading area was totally different, IMO it was a lot smoother, none of this "grab-release-grab-release-grab-release-grab" nonsense it does now when it brings the train to the loading area. Instead, the breaks after the emergency brakes stayed close, as the train would hit the first one, slowing it down a little, that one would open and stay open, then it would hit the next one slowing it a bit then that brake would open, etc., until it gently got to the last one then they would all close, the same was true on Demon as well. I can't stand how they operate now, it's annoying!

 

Funny, if you timed it right, you could let go of the dispatch button (you had to hold it down until the train got to the end of the station) just before the train got to the station brakes, then hold it down again and because of the way it was programmed, it would make the train go kind of fast in the station and come to an abrupt stop!

 

I don't know if this is any different now, but back then when you were running two trains, it would not let you dispatch the 2nd train until the 1st train passed the proximity sensor at the top of the turn above the station.

 

Something else that used to happen a lot but they have since fixed, there used to be a photocell sensor to tell the PLC when the train was at the emergency brakes. A sender on one side and a receiver on the other side, going across the track diagonally. Well, because it was a photocell, when the sun hit it just right, EVERYDAY around 5 o'clock, it caused the PLC to think there was always a train on the emergency brakes so as the next one was going up the lift the ride would "set up" or stop when it got to the top as that would indicate that there would be two trains in the same block, (this block was from the top of the lift to the emergency brakes). This happened all summer long. They tried adjusting it, moving it around, didn't matter, same thing happened. Finally, they got rid of it and placed a different sensor in a new location. Boy that sure was fun!

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I think the Dipper's trains are the only ones that don't have openings for entry and exit on both sides. But I think those were the first Morgans ever for wooden coasters.

 

And Grizzly's Morgans are the only ones with square wheels.

 

Eric

Grizzly is one smooth woodie. It's the second smoothest wooden coaster that I've ridden after Terminator. Honestly, nobody gives Grizzly a chance.

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Grizzly is one smooth woodie. It's the second smoothest wooden coaster that I've ridden after Terminator. Honestly, nobody gives Grizzly a chance.

 

Actually, I've noticed over the span of the 4 years I've been going, Grizzly has been running with more round wheels (as in a smoother ride). I can finally enjoy the first drop without getting jackhammered at the bottom, even get some airtime coming off the first drop and some mild floater air after the 10-minute turnaround.

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I like the Grizzly (yes I said it). It isn't my favorite ride in the park, nor does it need to be. I find it moderately enjoyable, especially since portions of it were retracked last off-season, which made a HUGE improvement.

 

Sure, the 10-minute turnaround isn't great, but I take that time to check out the view, and see how long the lines are for Invertigo and the Demon.

 

The families that I've seen ride the Grizzly love it, plus it usually has one of the longest lines in the park, and I'm sure that's all that CGA cares about. I'd rather have an average coaster in the park than a Paramount-special empty gravel lot (cough Triple Play cough Tidal Wave cough).

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I like the Grizzly (yes I said it). It isn't my favorite ride in the park, nor does it need to be. I find it moderately enjoyable, especially since portions of it were retracked last off-season, which made a HUGE improvement.

 

Sure, the 10-minute turnaround isn't great, but I take that time to check out the view, and see how long the lines are for Invertigo and the Demon.

 

The families that I've seen ride the Grizzly love it, plus it usually has one of the longest lines in the park, and I'm sure that's all that CGA cares about. I'd rather have an average coaster in the park than a Paramount-special empty gravel lot (cough Triple Play cough Tidal Wave cough).

 

Don't forget The Orbit! Most of those lots were post-Paramount era, ala the Kinzel era. (Tidal Wave was on it's way out for YEARS)

 

Most wonder why Grizzly is perennially voted "worst" in the Mitch Hawker poll. It's a combination of rough (of which I'll argue SoB was MUCH worse) and lack of doing anything. (10 min. turn, no bunny hills).

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For anyone who has ridden both, which ones is the better of the Grizzly's? GA or KD. GA's seems so long and drawn out while KD's seems to me to be more compact, although that 1st turn around is rather slow. I find that after that all hell breaks loose and it is a pretty awesome ride, especially at night.

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I like the Grizzly (yes I said it). It isn't my favorite ride in the park, nor does it need to be. I find it moderately enjoyable, especially since portions of it were retracked last off-season, which made a HUGE improvement.

 

Sure, the 10-minute turnaround isn't great, but I take that time to check out the view, and see how long the lines are for Invertigo and the Demon.

 

The families that I've seen ride the Grizzly love it, plus it usually has one of the longest lines in the park, and I'm sure that's all that CGA cares about. I'd rather have an average coaster in the park than a Paramount-special empty gravel lot (cough Triple Play cough Tidal Wave cough).

 

This is why retracking helps. Not only does it smoothen out the ride, but it also makes it move slightly quicker! Looking at videos from 2006, you can clearly see that it went slower around that turnaround.

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Most wonder why Grizzly is perennially voted "worst" in the Mitch Hawker poll. It's a combination of rough (of which I'll argue SoB was MUCH worse) and lack of doing anything. (10 min. turn, no bunny hills).

 

I can see why. Like you said, the Grizzly doesn't really do anything, other than going straight and turning around, which repeats more-or-less four times. But the roughness has been slightly smoothed, maybe it won't finish at the bottom this year...

 

This is why retracking helps. Not only does it smoothen out the ride, but it also makes it move slightly quicker! Looking at videos from 2006, you can clearly see that it went slower around that turnaround.

 

I did notice that the 10-minute turnaround was more like a 9-minute turnaround last season, thanks to the retracking. I've always thought that if the Grizzly's turnaround was similar to the SCBB Giant Dipper's turnaround (i.e. banked, sharper), it could go a long way towards improving the ride, and maybe it might actually do something.

 

While on the subject of the Grizzly, isn't this season going to be it's 25th anniversary? Maybe it's getting a Texas Giant-style makeover! /joke

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I wouldn't count on any big ride/coaster for the 25th Annieversery. Last mega coaster was Stealth & it's been long gone. I can't believe CF doesn't care about the coasters or getting new ones. Come on CF DO SOMETHING we've all been waiting years. Don't keep us waiting until the cows come home! Turn it into a Cedar Point!!! That's what CGA REALLY NEEDS!!! Give us a Raptor, Millenimum Force, Maverick, Top Thrill Dragster, Wicked Twister!!! & How about some giant slides for Boomerang Bay? Boomerang Bay is barely worth doing it's so small. I guess a petition should be started by us at TPR then presented to CF by TPR! Something has to be done otherwise we will keep seeing nothing & I am so sick & tired about how CGA keeps getting ignored right & left.

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Unfortunately, Cedar Fair is going to do what is profitable for them, not really what we want. If that means installing that multi-million Intamin coaster at a theme park that already has one, and will in return bring in more cash, they'll do it. Great America will never be a Cedar Point and I don't think it really needs to be. The park is already landlocked as it is unless in the distant future (provided the park's still even there) they decide to buy the property the offices are sitting on and eliminate part of their pesky neighbor problem *Ok, Billy you can stop dreaming now.* We can definitely use something to keep things fresh and to keep attendance up. Doesn't have to be a giant 300-foot coaster. Just something needs to be added to their collection, I still keep visioning a mega lite loaded with bunny hills through where the old train ran through, and using Tidal Wave's station as I'm sure some paths can still be worked into that area. You can only advertise having 2 parks in 1 so many times to draw in the crowds.

 

And I believe it's their 35th anniversary...and I have a strong feeling that the only things we will definitely see are a couple new summer shows, and maybe a new Haunt maze and even more awesome Haunt improvements overall...and maybe another restaurant rename. But again, I could be totally wrong and there could be something new. Someone please tell me that I am wrong, lol.

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I wouldn't count on any big ride/coaster for the 25th Annieversery. Last mega coaster was Stealth & it's been long gone. I can't believe CF doesn't care about the coasters or getting new ones. Come on CF DO SOMETHING we've all been waiting years. Don't keep us waiting until the cows come home! Turn it into a Cedar Point!!! That's what CGA REALLY NEEDS!!! Give us a Raptor, Millenimum Force, Maverick, Top Thrill Dragster, Wicked Twister!!! & How about some giant slides for Boomerang Bay? Boomerang Bay is barely worth doing it's so small. I guess a petition should be started by us at TPR then presented to CF by TPR! Something has to be done otherwise we will keep seeing nothing & I am so sick & tired about how CGA keeps getting ignored right & left.

 

I hope you're kidding (it'd seem that you're not). Cedar Fair would never turn this 100 acre landlocked park with a growing threat (49ers stadium) into a Cedar Point (or even a mini Cedar Point). The likeliness of just as likely that we will find aliens on the moon tomorrow. That will never happen. Sorry to burst your bubble, but that's just impossible. Trust me it saddens me too.

Edited by ABW
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