As the saying goes, “progress is impossible without change.” Nowhere is that phrase more applicable than at California’s Great America! Our world-class collection of rides and attractions has transformed many times over the years. And as hard as it is, sometimes when you’re building the West Coast’s first single-rail roller coaster or a brand-new waterpark, you’ve got to make some tough calls to retire old favorites before you can usher in the next generation of attractions.
For all you Bay Area natives who grew up visiting Great America in the 1970s and 1980s, we know parting ways with some of the old-school rides below produced some bittersweet memories. How many of these classic rides do you remember?
1. Yankee Clipper and Logger’s Run
This famous pair sent riders on an aquatic adventure through a fiberglass flume. These two water rides were technically separate attractions, but their intertwined tracks and splashy grand finales wove right through each other! Yankee Clipper featured a large, straight plummet at the end of its course with a small bump that gave riders a pop of weightlessness while Logger’s Run had a beloved double-dip final drop. The area these rides sat on will be part of the new South Bay Shores waterpark, which opens next summer!
2. Triple Play
Located in the heart of Great America, Triple Play stood in Hometown Square—near where Patriot’s first loop stands today. Triple Play riders sat on one of the ride’s three circular arms. When the ride really got going, each arm spun faster and faster while rising up off the ground.
3. Tidal Wave
Forward and backward through a huge loop?! Tidal Wave definitely raised some eyebrows when it opened in 1977. This short but sweet ride launched guests out of the station—from 0 to 60 in about five seconds—and straight into a massive inversion. Riders then rocketed up a 137-foot-tall tower before gravity took over and sent riders experiencing the whole thing again in reverse!
Another popular ride for those with a strong stomach and an appetite for mild thrills, Lobster spun riders around while their ride vehicles bounced up and down. This ride was a favorite for families with kids working their way to bigger thrills.
5. Willard’s Whizzer
This well-known coaster stood at Great America from 1976 to 1988 and featured a unique spiral lift hill. Riders sat in bobsled-like vehicles, arranged single file, and snaked their way up the 70-foot-tall first drop by circling around and around. This mid-sized thrill was the first roller coaster ride for many Bay Area kids and featured shallow drops and nearly sideways banked turns.
6. Turn of the Century
One of Great America’s original, opening day attractions, Turn of the Century thrilled roller coaster lovers with two corkscrew inversions and two of the strongest “airtime” moments felt on any ride. After its first drop, the coaster jumped over two short bunny hops, giving riders the stomach-in-your-throat, lifting off your seat sensation that thrill seekers crave. The coaster was renamed Demon in 1980 when its two hills were replaced by two vertical loops, bringing the ride’s total head-over-heels count to four.
7. Cajun Carpet
Providing a sky-high thrill, this Great America classic sent riders rocking back and forth before rotating in a complete 360° without going upside down. Riders enjoyed side-to-side forces and tummy-tickling butterflies as they rounded the top of Cajun Carpet’s arc. The ride sat near where Orbit and Rip Roaring Rapids are today.
Do you have great memories of any of these retired rides? Take a trip down memory lane, and let us know in the comments below!