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Great America's Live Shows Are High Tech

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Combining Theater and Amusement Park

Danny Messinger

As area manager of digital marketing, I get to tell the incredible stories of our park to the world—and take our biggest fans Between the Lines. I’ve been an incurable amusement park fanatic since I was a kid and have worked at two other parks (shout-out to Cedar Point and Valleyfair!). Now, I can’t wait to share my passion with our readers! Find me @DannyMessinger on Twitter.

One of the coolest things about California’s Great America is seeing how the live entertainment team mixes up the show lineup each year. In 2017, you’ll find our super-talented cast members flipping through the air in an incredible cirque-style stunt show, with others singing and dancing in a live Latin spectacular.

Despite huge variety in the shows themselves, they all share a common trait: some pretty awesome technology to wow our audiences. Being in the heart of Silicon Valley, it’s only natural to work tech (and tricks) into our shows whenever possible.

I caught up with our director of entertainment at the park, Sean, to learn a little more about what this summer’s shows offer—and what went into each show’s big feature. In his role, Sean helps design the sets and looks for Great America’s shows and makes each show’s “wow factor” as huge as possible.

How do we Flood the Stage?

Toward the end of Vertical Impact, our high-energy acrobatic stunt show, the stage goes dark for a few moments as the stage is unexpectedly transformed. When the lights come back up, the cast is suddenly dancing in a pool of water—as if the stage had been flooded in mere seconds. How does the Vertical Impact team pull off such a feat?

Sean explained that it’s actually pretty simple. Part of the stage is built on tracks, with a shallow pool of water hidden underneath. When the lights go down, assistants move the floor back along the track to reveal the hidden water underneath. Cue splash dance!

“It takes maybe 10 seconds to get it switched over,” says Sean, “but then it takes about 10-15 minutes to dry the stage and trampolines off after the show.”

Lighting up the Night

It’s hard to miss our other big, new live entertainment feature this summer: a giant video wall behind the Hot Rhythm Nights stage. It’s the perfect way to keep our Latin music and dance party going well past sundown.

“Hot Rhythm Nights has the first video wall we’ve ever put outside,” says Sean, “and it’s the first live band we’ve had in a show in quite some time.”

Sean says his team gets their inspiration for new features, like the massive video wall, from concerts and performances by big-name artists like Beyoncé and Britney Spears. When they see something they want to bring to the park, the team huddles up to brainstorm how they can implement the same ideas at Great America.

“We ultimately want to combine theater with amusement park,” Sean adds. “We’re always pushing the limits of technology.”

Don’t Miss the Last Shows!

If you haven’t had a chance to see this summer’s shows at California’s Great America, you better make plans—and quick! Hot Rhythm Nights and Vertical Impact run through September 4.

Don’t let the curtain fall on our 2017 summer shows without catching a performance; check our online calendar and plan your next visit.

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Danny Messinger

As area manager of digital marketing, I get to tell the incredible stories of our park to the world—and take our biggest fans Between the Lines. I’ve been an incurable amusement park fanatic since I was a kid and have worked at two other parks (shout-out to Cedar Point and Valleyfair!). Now, I can’t wait to share my passion with our readers! Find me @DannyMessinger on Twitter.

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