Planet Snoopy Expansion at California’s Great America
By Marc Ricketts
California’s Great America enters its 40th Season in 2015 with an expansion of Camp Snoopy and a couple of new shows added to the park’s entertainment lineup. Yes, after a protracted political process involving some particularly nasty exchanges between Chucky from the Rugrats and Peanut’s music whiz Schroder at a memorably raucous city council meeting, the Municipality of Kidzville has been absorbed by that unstoppable Megalopolis known as Planet Snoopy. So what does this mean for everybody else?
There are three new rides, although the Gr8 Sk8 was not operating on this June weekday visit. One assumes that riders will go back and forth on what is essentially an overgrown see saw. It does sport safety restraints that are more beefy than what is normally encountered on child focused rides.
The other two newbies, Peanuts 500 and Snoopy’s Space Buggies are fairly standard flat rides, either of which would feel right at home in Bugsland.
The rest of the former Kidzville still has most of what was there 15 years ago when the Boy was riding and playing in there, but all have been renamed and given Peanuts makeovers (except the small carousel which long ago lost Yogi Bear, et al, for an assortment of horses plus an occasional zebra). There have been no substantial changes in the original Planet Snoopy.
There is a new production in the Peanuts Playhouse: Charlie Brown’s Happy Campers. Like past shows, it’s a loose collection of musical numbers with multiple opportunities for audience participation. It’s nothing that will shake up the theater world too much, but credit the performers for giving it their all, even with fewer than 50 people in the audience.
Many shows at Great America are dark two days a week, and on this day that meant there was no Peanuts Jam Session at the newly renamed Peanuts Show Place, where your humble narrator shocked his child long ago by surreptitiously volunteering for the Scooby Doo show. To be sure, sitting through a Peanuts Jam Session sounds absolutely ghastly. But since last season’s magic [sic] show was absolutely ghastly, this is a sideways move at worst.
Another show that was dark was 40 Years of Summer at the Theater Royale.
It actually seems really empty over there, doesn’t it?
As you may have heard, there was an accident involving the B&M inverted coaster Flight Deck (formerly Top Gun) on June 12. Six days later the ride remained closed, even though all reports appear to conclude that the ride itself did not malfunction. However, a park worker was struck in the head by a returning train while retrieving a dropped phone. A rider on the train was also injured, reportedly losing part of a finger tip. I will add any information that may become available in the comments below.
In happier coaster news, a statement made by a Cedar Fair executive in a Cleveland business publication indicates that Vortex will be converted from a stand up coaster to a floorless. Stand ups were kind of a gimmick whose time has passed. While Riddler’s Revenge at Magic Mountain is a masterpiece of design, most are not. Vortex has a rather small footprint that meant tighter turns that are desirable with the stand up design, so a conversion would almost certainly be an improvement.
In related news, there are increasing rumors that Roar at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom will get the kind of track conversion being received by woodies like Twisted Colossus, so by this time next year there may be something more exciting to report than a few new kiddie rides. But for now we’ll just finish walking around Great America until the next Day by the Bay.