Just 45 minutes south of San Francisco and nestled between some of the biggest tech companies in Silicon Valley, is California’s Great America theme park, an entertainment hub for all ages. This season (May-October), visitors can enjoy a host of new live shows, including Charlie’ Brown’s Jungle Journey, Spin, and The Magic Hat.
In addition, the park offers the all-new FAST LANE pass so you can bypass the regular line on more than 15 of most popular rides and attractions. They also list the Fast Lane attractions and allow you to buy the pass online so you can plan ahead.
Visitors can also take advantage of the park’s new dining plan which includes park admission and one meal with a regular drink and a snack. The different dining locations are listed online.
You’ll find plenty of other exciting things to do as well – thrill seekers will enjoy rides like the Vortex, Firefall, and Demon. Families will enjoy Loggers Run, the Grizzly, and Carousel. Younger visitors will enjoy the Peanut gang and more at Planet Snoopy, and ride Classic Cars, Fender Bender 500, and Junior Jump at Kidsville.
Even better, cool off at the park’s Boomerang Bay, a surprising wonderland all on its own. Screamin’ waterslides, lazy rivers, heated lagoons, and a relaxing cabana village are just a few of the attractions. Families can raft down a 54-foot platform or the little ones can splish-splash their way through the Kookabura Cay fountains and water activities. Don’t forget to check out Down Under Thunder, which is the first of its kind in the West. A two-person tube takes you down a chute, and glides back up a vertical wall before speeding down. The best thing is that this waterpark is located inside Great America, so you get two for the price of one.
Great America also hosts special events such as the Halloween Haunt for older kids and adults, as well as Snoopy’s Costume Party for visitors 12 and younger. Fireworks light up the summer night skies every Saturday. Families can also enjoy summer concerts and community events.
Prices are currently a good deal at $32.99 each, especially if you want to take advantage of Boomerang Bay as well. You can also find discounted tickets through AAA, coupons in the mail, grocery stores, online deals or at hotels that offer park packages.
Nearest Airport: Mineta San Jose International Airport (approximately 20 minutes away)
Where to Stay: Luckily, the park is ideally situated in Santa Clara. It is accessible by public transportation and has many hotel and dining options nearby. Sometimes, after a long and entertaining day, many Bay Area families choose to stay at a nearby hotel. And there is plenty to choose from. The four-star Hyatt Regency is within walking distance of the park and offers complimentary breakfast for families, as well as park and hotel packages. The modern Avatar, a Joie de Vivre Hotel, is about a mile away and offers free shuttle service, plus complimentary wireless Internet access in every room – which might come in handy if you can’t wait to share your adventures and pictures online.
—By Rosaline Raj
Rosaline Raj is a freelance writer and founder of Creative Chaos Communications & Design. She writes about family, parenting, travel, as well as business and marketing.