Great America

Rae and I went to Great America in Santa Clara today for a short afternoon of fun in the sun. The amusement and theme park has gone through a number of owners since its inception. From 1979 to 1985, it was called Marriott’s Great America. From 1992 to the present day, it’s been under the ownership of Paramount Pictures. I don’t remember the last time that I went here, but I do recall that it was with my two cousins from San Francisco. We came back to the van very, very wet, courtesy of Loggers Run!

Great America felt a lot smaller than I thought it was. There are 10 roller coasters, the most in Northern California. We didn’t do any of the crazy stuff like the 224-foot Drop Zone Stunt Tower or the Stealth, but we had fun walking along the treacherous Scooby Doo Haunted River and soaring in the Flying Eagles and funiculars.

Rae and I tested our mettle on those dastardly games of skill (and chance), and we came back with a Spider-Man doll and a Stone Cold Steve Austin blow-up bat. Alas, Stone Cold must have sprung a leak after hitting one too many women as he became rather flaccid by the end of the day. We failed to win one of those giant plush dolls in that game where you have to throw a ring onto a bottle top. There must be a technique to doing that consistently. Alas, we just didn’t have the magic touch.

The park had some neat displays of movie props and models, including the golden head treasure from Raiders of the Lost Ark and the NCC-1701-A from the fifth and sixth Star Trek movies. That vessel was originally named the Yorktown, but it was renamed Enterprise when Kirk returned from the Probe Incident in The Voyage Home.

Rae and I also saw a magic show by Nicholas Knight and his pretty assistant, Kinga, along with Street Scene, a group of young men and women who use everyday objects to create music and dance rhythms. Street Scene is similar to Stomp, which originated in Brighton, United Kingdom, in 1991. The magic show was entertaining, though we believe we figured out how Mr. Knight was able to perform his disappearing acts. Kinga was able to pop in and out of those cages through the clever use of mirrors and a false bottom in the support stand on the stage.

Another ride worth mentioning here is the 7th Portal 3-D thrill ride, which is adapted from the online animated comic book from Stan Lee. It’s similar to Star Tours at Disneyland except you wear these 3-D glasses to make the animation pop out in front of you. The funniest character was this good guy who shot this energy beam out of his mouth. We couldn’t understand what his superpower was, but it couldn’t have been a deadly halitosis ray, could it?

The only drawback to the fun at Great America was how expensive the park has become. Normal adult admission price weighs in at $45! A can of Coke gets you eight dollars off the admission price, and the Safeway Club Card knocks twelve bucks off the ticket price. Throw in ten dollars for parking and at least ten more for food and games, and you’re looking at nearly sixty dollars per person! I guess it pays to get a WOW! Season Pass if you go multiple times to Great America throughout the summer.

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