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Insider Tips for How to See All 7 Million Lights

Danny Messinger

As communications manager, 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!

This is my absolute favorite time of the year at California’s Great America. During WinterFest, the park is completely transformed into a winter wonderland. Everything that I love about the park during the normal season is amplified by special shows, delicious food and insanely beautiful decorations.

If you’re looking for things to do this holiday season in the South Bay, look no further—and just follow the lights! This WinterFest, Great America has over seven million lights on display throughout the park, making for one of the most impressive Christmas light displays in the Bay Area.

It’s completely possible to see all 7 million lights in just one night. Here are some insider tips for how to see the most lights possible in one night:

1. Start with the Tree Lighting Ceremony

Every night of WinterFest, we kick things off with a spectacular Tree Lighting Ceremony. Our tree is one of the tallest in the area: 65 feet! Even better, it’s completely covered in beautiful soft white lights that sparkle and dance to music during the show at 5:30 p.m. every evening. You’ll see tens of thousands of lights by catching this show.


2. Take a Ride on the North Pole

Right next to the Tree Lighting Ceremony is Star Tower, which is renamed North Pole just for WinterFest. This observation tower ride provides an overhead view of Great America from the highest vantage point within WinterFest. Standing 200 feet tall, this ride slowly glides up the tower and stops at the top for breathtaking views. From this magnificent vantage point, you can view all ten of WinterFest’s themed areas.


3. Stroll Through Arctic Alley

Once back on solid ground, take a wandering walk toward Arctic Alley. This themed area is one of the most magnificent areas in the park and is home to a really cool photo op! During the regular season in this part of the park, guests can stroll through a lush wisteria tunnel. And during WinterFest, when the wisteria drops its leaves and fragrant blooms, we add hundreds of animated icicle lights to the tunnel, making for one of the most jaw-dropping light displays at Great America.


4. Hop on the Aerial Gondola Ride

New for 2019: one of Great America’s most popular family rides is open for WinterFest! Delta Flyer and Eagle’s Flight, more commonly known as the sky ride or the gondola ride, takes riders from one end of the park to the other at a peaceful pace. This leisurely ride soars over Great America, offering an overhead view of millions of sparkling holiday lights.


5. Get Here Early—It’s Dark By 5 p.m.!

December is the month of short days and long nights, so plan to get to WinterFest early to take advantage of the dark skies and myriad lights! By the time the event opens every evening, it’s already dark enough to have fantastic conditions for light peeping.


WinterFest Discount Tickets

For the best deals on tickets, buy online through our website. Remember that if you want unlimited visits to Great America for all next year and for the remainder of 2019, a 2020 Gold Season Pass will pay for itself after only two visits!

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Danny Messinger

As communications manager, 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!

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