Marc Ricketts continues his visit to California’s Great America. You can read part one [HERE]. ~~Rick

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California’s Great America
by Marc Ricketts

Water and boats are a necessary component of every park.

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Behind that splash above is a glimpse of Boomerang Bay, the small water park located where Stealth once stood. There isn’t much besides 3 raft slides, a couple of body slides, a wave pool, lazy river and children’s play area. Great America insists upon marketing this area in a blatantly deceptive way by touting two parks for one ticket. But this isn’t a separate gate like Hurricane Harbor; it is simply an area inside the park. It would be like hearing an ad that says “Your ticket grants you admission to Disneyland and Toontown”. Anyway, it was closed on a May weekday.

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This water feature has been around for a while.

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It is no linger “green slime” because this area is no longer full of Nick Toons or Rugrats because it is now, not just a camp, but Planet Snoopy.

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In back is the Green Slime Mine Train; no, it’s Runaway Reptar; I mean, what is it now?

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Oh yes, a new color and name and ready to roll. It is a pretty good introductory coaster for a kid, though.

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And a little orange paint and those Wild Thornberries’ coconuts become pumpkins.

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Make way for Snoopy, Sponge Bob. And as can you see, the gondolas here still provide that bird’s eye view of the park.

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There is live entertainment scattered throughout ranging from that which is aimed directly at the children to a high energy shown performed by veterans of America’s Got Talent. A baseball focused show called Team Charlie Brown inhabits the spot that hosted dolphin shows in the early years. On a fairly busy Saturday there was a very small turnout for the musical with songs like “Centerfield” recorded with some Peanuts lyrics as the team gathers for the start of their season. It was established that more than 50 people are required to do The Wave.

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In Kidzville, The Great Zindini performs The Magic Hat. There is a lot more “has anybody seen my hat” shtick than actual magic with the obligatory opportunities for the youngest to get involved. Older kids can get involved in the On The Mic! Karaoke show at the 50s Gazebo.

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Over in the Great America Theater, in blissful air conditioned comfort, a talented cast skates, jumps, twirls and spins through Aerial Ice Extreme. This season’s debut performance featured a large, enthusiastic crowd that regularly cheered during a non-stop exhibition of athletic ability under colorful lights to a pounding soundtrack. It was sort of like combining a rave, ice dancing and Cirque de Solei with a side trip involving an “intruder” on the stage. I confess to preferring skaters that carry sticks and hit people, but full props on this show, possibly the most successful production they’ve ever presented.

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The summer will also include Friday night movies in June (all Disney or Pixar titles) along with fireworks every Friday and Saturday in July and August. And opening June 14 is On Broadway, a revue of show tunes to be presented in the Showtime Theater.

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And it ends like it starts, with a roller coaster. Flight Deck began its life as Top Gun during the Paramount era. After building several Batman inverted coasters, B&M started doing custom designs beginning with this one. It is a very good ride with a great initial drop and effective use of an adjacent lake. With the former movie tie-in, there was some attention to detail in the aircraft carrier themed queue, and the black paint was covered with red this year.

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So there it is. A decent enough park with some good rides, but a place taking baby steps towards being something a little more. It will be interesting to see if they keep moving in that direction. They no longer bother people about glasses that are strapped on tight, so there’s reason to be hopeful.

HEY! WHILE YOU’RE IN THE AREA.

If you’re looking for a more substantial water park experience, there is a larger collection of slides and water activities in San Jose’s Lake Cunningham Regional Park. Raging Waters has a full complement of liquid fun when a few small slides won’t do, and is open daily through mid-August continuing on weekends into early September.

Remember, part one of Marc’s excellent article can be viewed [HERE].