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  1. #1

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    DifrntDrmr's (Northern) California Adventure

    DAY 1: California's Great America

    The day doesn't get off to a great start. After going through security, I am told that my Knott's Berry Farm Platinum Passes will not get me into this park. Knowing that I purposely purchased these passes for this vacation, I argue with the ticket taker until she finally gets her supervisor. Turns out that I first have to go to Guest Relations so that they can issue me a paper ticket. Apparently, the Paramount and Cedar Fair tickets are not yet fully integrated even though it has been almost two years since the merger.

    The ride portion of the park was pretty much empty and we walked on several rides including Flight Deck and the Rapids ride. Firefall was having maintanence issues, so we skipped it and headed for Boomerang Bay, the in-park water park.

    Despite the light crowds, all of the large lockers were already rented. My wife used her charm and was able to get two smaller lockers for the same price as a large locker. Actually, the price was better because we got two key deposits back at the end of the day.

    For some reason, there are no bathroom facilities in the changing rooms, which was slightly inconvenient for the little ones. They did, however, provide more privacy that most water park changing rooms.

    There aren't many slides in the water park and it was much more crowded than the ride portion of the park. We had originally planned to rent a cabana, but the park never returned our phone call. In retrospect, this turned out to be a good thing as we didn't spend a lot of time in this portion of the park.

    My biggest complaint was that there was a lot of concrete and not a lot of shade which was very painful for the feet. Even the stairs to the slides were extremely hot. This was enough to keep all but me and Becca from riding any of the slide - and we only went on one.

    We had pre-booked the Backyard BBQ and headed there next. The first problem was that we had problems finding a staff member who was sure where we should go. The first guessed it was at one section of the park, the second guessed it was in the opposite direction. The next two didn't know at all and didn't volunteer to find someone who did. The final person we asked guessed it was in the same area as the first person did, so we took the chance and actually ended up in the correct place. Unfortunately, we had already wasted a 1/2 hour of our all you can eat time.

    The food was definitely not BBQ. Both the hot dogs and the chicken appeared to be boiled with some BBQ sauce added to the chicken after cooking. The potato salad was decent and the garden salad prepackaged. The sodas were served in itty bitty cups. They didn't even bother to mark the ice cream, but we managed to find it anyway.

    As advertised, they stopped "serving" the food promptly at 4:30. What was unexpected was the fact that they expected us to immediately leave the area. The first time they came around, my wife simply told them that we weren't finished yet. They tried to tell her that the BBQ closed at 4:30 and she reminded them that the signs simply said that food would be served until 4:30. They relented, we finished and my wife brought the kids to the bathroom to clean up, leaving my son and me at the table. At about 4:50 they returned to tell me that the BBQ had been closed for 20 minutes and we had to leave. I calmly pointed out to them that the rest of my party was in the bathroom and that we would be leaving as soon as they were finished. Their response was that they didn't want to rush us, but we had to leave. I again reminded them that the signage did not say that the BBQ closed at 4:30 and told them that no matter what they were saying we did feel rushed since this was the second time that they had approached us. I then asked for their names and told them that I would be reporting the incident to customer relations.

    After dinner we continued around the park and found most of the rides to be walk on. There were no further incidents until one of our daughters ended up with a large splinter in one of the lines. The staff was friendly in directing us to First Aid. The first aid staff was very patient in dealing with our daughter, who because of her autism was not the easiest patient.

    We finished the night on Firefall, which had finally reopened. Unfortunately, the fire effects were not working, but it was still a fun ride.

    Overall, California's Great America was nicely landscaped and clean and the family gave it thumbs up. Definitely skip the Backyard BBQ and don't expect a great water park.

  2. #2

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    Re: DifrntDrmr's (Northern) California Adventure

    Did you end up reporting the BBQ people? That is just ridiculous.

    Will trade husband for Disneyland and DCA Pins!

  3. #3

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    Re: DifrntDrmr's (Northern) California Adventure

    Quote Originally Posted by DifrntDrmr View Post
    My biggest complaint was that there was a lot of concrete and not a lot of shade which was very painful for the feet. Even the stairs to the slides were extremely hot. This was enough to keep all but me and Becca from riding any of the slide - and we only went on one.
    This seems to be a common theme with Cedar Fair, as they have been busy chopping down trees at Knotts. The big fig at the railroad- gone. The trees at the entrance to Camp Snoopy - gone. Trees, weeping willows, in ghost town -gone.

    I just don't understand this, all concert/ no shade, philosophy/ *** marketing strategy.
    Quote Originally Posted by lazyboy97O View Post
    How is a state religion bad, but state medicine good?
    Quote Originally Posted by steamboatpete View Post
    Anyone who makes the decision to depend upon the government to take care of their basic needs has essentially doomed himself to a life of bitter disappointment.

  4. #4

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    Re: DifrntDrmr's (Northern) California Adventure

    Quote Originally Posted by BFJen View Post
    Did you end up reporting the BBQ people? That is just ridiculous.
    Just sent an e-mail today. I'll let you know how they reply.

  5. #5

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    Re: DifrntDrmr's (Northern) California Adventure

    Quote Originally Posted by Ranger Rick View Post
    This seems to be a common theme with Cedar Fair, as they have been busy chopping down trees at Knotts. The big fig at the railroad- gone. The trees at the entrance to Camp Snoopy - gone. Trees, weeping willows, in ghost town -gone.

    I just don't understand this, all concert/ no shade, philosophy/ *** marketing strategy.
    I believe that the water park was built by Paramont, so it isn't really Cedar Fair's fault. Trees wouldn't have helped as much as overhangs or a cooler surface for your feet.

  6. #6

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    Re: DifrntDrmr's (Northern) California Adventure

    DAY 2: San Francisco

    The little Drmrs have never been to San Francisco, so we took a day to explore the city. Excellent lunch at Bodin's on Pier 39 (more soup in the bread bowls than California Adventure and the chicken salad was great). Jessie wanted to do the Turbo Ride, so we tried that. Wouldn't recommend it. We took the cable car and found a record store with the largest inventory of used CDs I've ever seen. We took the trolley car back (which is a lot cheaper than the cable car) and had a decent dinner at Bubba Gumps.

  7. #7

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    Re: DifrntDrmr's (Northern) California Adventure

    Sourdough at Pier 39. Yummy. I had some of the best crab there too.

    Will trade husband for Disneyland and DCA Pins!

  8. #8

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    Re: DifrntDrmr's (Northern) California Adventure

    DAY 3: Six Flag's Discovery Kingdom

    This day got off to an even worse start than the one at Great America. We had coupons from the Six Flags Magic Mountain season pass that were good for bringing a friend to any other park than Magic Mountain. The coupon specifically said to bring the friend to the admission gate. Unfortunately, after waiting in that line we were told that we had to go to guest relations first. With only one window open this line moved at a snail's pace. They eventually opened a second window and we were on our way. Sort of.

    We then headed to the guest relations in the park to pick up the Flash Passes that we are supposed to get with our Extreme passes. Apparently, this is a benefit that you get at your home park.

    Our first ride was Tony Hawk's Big Spin. For some reason, they were only running three cars on this brand new ride and I didn't see any others that were out of service. Accordingly, the line moved pretty slowly. Fun ride though, but a little extreme on the spinny side for me. Much worse than the Primevel Whirl coaster at Animal Kingdom.

    The line for Roar also move very slowly as only one train exists. They were also enforcing their money-grubbing locker policy and wouldn't even allow a fanny pack. I really liked the coaster, although I would place it somewhere below Ghost Rider at Knott's.

    V2: Vertical Velocity was a walk on and an excellent coaster.

    Lunch was overpriced but of decent quality. For some reason, they wouldn't give us the season pass discount.

    Next we took in the dolphin show. The part that I saw was entertaining, but I had to leave in the middle as the heat had taken its toll on my wife. It was time for our second trip to first aid of the vacation. For some reason, First Aid wasn't centrally located but at a far end of the park and required climbing a fairly large hill to get to. Unlike Great America's pristine and professional looking station, this one was located in a trailer and reminded me of being at sleep away camp. Fortunately, the staff was courteous and gave my wife a place to lay down for a while.

    After riding Boomerang (with no wait) we took the kids to see the animal exhibits, which they really enjoyed. Then the downhill turn began. First, Jessie went to ride Voodoo, which looked pretty much looked the same as Firefall, but for some reason had a 55" height limit (even though the web site says 54"), which meant he couldn't ride. The we headed for Medusa, finally got to the front of the line where they measured him and said he didn't make the 54" height limit. He has ridden (and had often been measured on) Viper, Batman, The Riddler, Scream and Tatsu at Magic Mountain and they have 54" height limits. He was also measured at Great America and they said he was 54". Even the operators at V2 and Kong let him ride without questioning his height. But somehow for Medusa he shrank and wasn't able to ride. Didn't make for a great ending to the day.

  9. #9

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    Re: DifrntDrmr's (Northern) California Adventure

    DAY 4: The Jelly Belly Factor/Oakland A's Game

    Thanks to Sir Clinksalot's suggestion, we took the drive up to the Jelly Belly factory and their free tour. The kid's (ok the big kids too) loved it. Expect amusement park prices at the Cafe, but the quality of the food was great. My wife told me to make sure that I mentioned the turkey sandwich was excellent.

    Next up was the Oakland A's vs the Angels in the all you can eat section. My biggest complaint (other than the fact that the Angels lost BAD) was that we had a hard time finding how to get into the section. Unfortunately, the directs were e-mailed to us by Ticketmaster after we had already left town! The food was of usual sports arena quality and the drink sizes were ridiculously small, but at $35 was a great deal. And the seat location was where I usually like to sit - up high right behind home plate. It also happened to be fireworks night and this was probably the best show I've seen outside of a Disney park.

  10. #10

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    Re: DifrntDrmr's (Northern) California Adventure

    Quote Originally Posted by DifrntDrmr View Post
    DAY 2: San Francisco

    The little Drmrs have never been to San Francisco, so we took a day to explore the city. Excellent lunch at Bodin's on Pier 39 (more soup in the bread bowls than California Adventure and the chicken salad was great). Jessie wanted to do the Turbo Ride, so we tried that. Wouldn't recommend it. We took the cable car and found a record store with the largest inventory of used CDs I've ever seen. We took the trolley car back (which is a lot cheaper than the cable car) and had a decent dinner at Bubba Gumps.
    What was the name of the record store? Amoeba or Rasputin?

    Sounds like a fun trip. Glad you enjoyed your time in my neck of the woods, though I haven't been to DK since the name change.

    Good call on going to the Jelly Belly factory, sometimes I forget it's up there in Fairfield.

  11. #11

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    Re: DifrntDrmr's (Northern) California Adventure

    Wow, you kids covered some ground, and it sounds like you had great fun.

    It's interesting to see how unprofessionally some theme parks are run, though. Kinda makes us appreciate Disney all the more!

    Thanks for the TR!
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  12. #12

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    Re: DifrntDrmr's (Northern) California Adventure

    Quote Originally Posted by Brain Toad View Post
    What was the name of the record store? Amoeba or Rasputin?
    Rasputin's. There were five floors in the store with the fifth being all used CD's.

  13. #13

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    Re: DifrntDrmr's (Northern) California Adventure

    Quote Originally Posted by MickeyMaxx View Post
    Wow, you kids covered some ground, and it sounds like you had great fun.
    Typical for our vacations! Come back mentally rested but pysically exhausted!

    It was my wife's first trip as a Petersen and I don't think she knew what she was in for! It was also the furthest the triplets have ever been from home.

    Quote Originally Posted by MickeyMaxx View Post
    It's interesting to see how unprofessionally some theme parks are run, though. Kinda makes us appreciate Disney all the more!
    You can say that again. My Mom (who joined us on the vacation) and I were talking about that and I came to the conclusion that these other parks are like TV shows while going to Disney is like going to a good old fashioned movie theater.

  14. #14

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    Re: DifrntDrmr's (Northern) California Adventure

    Quote Originally Posted by DifrntDrmr View Post
    Rasputin's. There were five floors in the store with the fifth being all used CD's.
    Rasputin is my favorite record store, though I've yet to go to the one in SF, it sounds amazing with it's 5 floors of music. It'd be like heaven.

  15. #15

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    Re: DifrntDrmr's (Northern) California Adventure

    Great Trip Reports!

    We have a Platinum Passes at Great America and I'm also amazed that I have to get paper tickets from Guest Services when I go to Knott's.

    Too bad you didn't like Boomerang Bay. We like it a lot for what it is, a waterpark in a themepark. Its not as good as a standalone waterpark but we think it's pretty fun. If you happen to go again I think there's changing rooms next to the bathrooms, lockers and showers near the wave pool. We also always wear water shoes when we walk around/swim due to the hot concrete.

    I don't know how frustrated you were with not having the cabana rental people not return your call, but they frustrate me no end. They make you listen to a 3 minute long message in order to leave message. Then if you are lucky they might call you back. I mean seriously if you are paying for a daily addon that costs more than the cost of a daily park ticket, is it too much to ask to talk to an actual person? When we tried to get a cabana last week they waited until 11pm the night before we wanted the cabana to call me and tell me they couldn't reserve a cabana for me even though they had plenty available.

    I don't know how old your kids are but if they are under 10 you should consider going to Gilroy Gardens (formerly Bonfante Gardens) if you come up here again Much nicer than Great America. Lots of trees and plants and flowers. But its geared toward younger kids. Not really any thrill rides except for a couple of really mild coaster.

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