Latest News and Events
Welcome to California's Great America's newsroom. Find the latest press releases and details on upcoming events. Working members of the media are welcome to contact the park with inquiries.
Halloween Haunt Returns to California's Great America September 27 - November 2
September 9, 2019
Halloween Haunt at California’s Great America, the Bay Area’s premier Halloween event, will begin terrifying guests on Sept. 27.
California’s Great America Makes Waves with Completely Transformed Waterpark, “South Bay Shores”
August 8, 2019
Northern California’s premier amusement park is getting bigger and better in summer 2020, when California’s Great America debuts the new South Bay Shores waterpark.
California’s Great America, American Cancer Society Host 30th Annual Courageous Kids Event
May 6, 2019
California’s Great America, in partnership with the American Cancer Society, will host the 30th annual Courageous Kids at the amusement park on Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 12 from 11 a.m.–3 p.m.
WinterFest at California's Great America Opens November 23
November 19, 2018
The Bay Area’s favorite holiday tradition, WinterFest at California’s Great America, opens for the 2018 holiday season this Friday, Nov. 23 and will welcome guests on select nights through Dec. 31.
California’s Great America Names New Vice President and General Manager
August 6, 2018
Today, California’s Great America announced that Manuel “Manny” Gonzalez, an executive with global experience in the entertainment and hospitality industries, has joined the park as Vice President and General Manager.
The California's Great America Public Relations Department welcomes inquiries and visits from credentialed members of the news media for the production of high quality news features and programs about California's Great America.
2401 Agnew Road
Santa Clara, CA 95054
Working media only: PR@cagreatamerica.com
Office: (408) 986-5847 (news media calls only)
For advertising inquiries, please contact Cramer-Krasselt at 312-616-9600.
Are you a credentialed member of the media interested in visiting California's Great America? Submit a Media Pass request online to get started.
Media Pass Policy
California's Great America will issue up to four complimentary tickets to the full-time news media personnel listed below who want to visit the park for a leisure visit on public operating days during the 2019 season between March 23 and Labor Day, September 2. Please be advised that complimentary media passes may not be available during Halloween Haunt.
These passes are limited to four per person for one visit during the season. Only news department employees are eligible for these passes; promotions and advertising personnel are encouraged to call their promotions contact at the park for inquiries about tickets.
The news department employee must be part of the party visiting the park. We are aware that some newspapers, Internet media, radio stations and television stations prefer their personnel not accept complimentary passes to events and attractions. We respect this policy and will gladly refuse passes to your personnel if you do indicate.
Please see the list of qualifying positions below. The public relations department will review all requests for complimentary tickets.
Publisher, Reporters, Editors, Photographers, Webmasters
Owner, Program Director, General Manager, News Reporters, News Director, On-Air Personnel, Assistant News Director, Producers.
Owner, News Reporters, General Manager, Producers (non-advertising), News Director, On-Air Personnel, Assistant News Director, Field Producers, Program Director, Videographers, Assignment Editors, Production (non-advertising)
Media Pass Policy
All requests for media tickets must be made online through the park’s official Internet website at www.cagreatamerica.com/media-center/media-pass-request. No phone calls. All requests must be submitted a minimum of 48 hours in advance of the day you plan to visit. Approved requests will receive a confirmation letter, which must be presented at Guest Services along with a photo ID to receive your tickets. No exceptions.
California’s Great America has a rich history spanning more than forty years. Learn more about the park’s storied timeline below.
Marriott’s Great America celebrates the nation’s bicentennial and opens gates to its first guests.
Tidal Wave (1977-2002) takes Great America by storm, opening as the world’s tallest roller coaster. Passengers on this shuttle loop coaster, later renamed Greased Lightnin’, are catapulted from zero to 55 mph in just five seconds.
California’s first IMAX movie theater, the IMAX Pictorium Theater, opens at Great America with the premiere of Man Belongs to the Earth.
Great America unveils the 200-foot Skytower (later renamed Star Tower)--still the tallest observation tower in Northern California.
Demon opens, casting its spell on Great America’s thrill seekers. This diabolical steel roller coaster has two 360-degree loops and a twisting double corkscrew.
The Edge (1983-1995), a $2.5 million free-fall ride, drops off at Great America. Riders on this attraction plummet 60 feet in 2.5 seconds.
The City of Santa Clara Redevelopment Agency purchases Great America from the Marriott Corporation. Kings Entertainment Company (KECO) is recruited to manage the park. The resulting five-year contract includes an option for KECO to buy the park business and assets.
Great America opens a $2 million giant wooden roller coaster, The Grizzly. This classic “woodie” is one of the largest ever constructed in Northern California.
The 10,000-seat Redwood Amphitheater makes its debut at Great America. The Miami Sound Machine was the first show. The venue continues to host concerts featuring top-name touring acts and local artists.
Great America opens Smurf Woods and unveils the newly renovated Fort Fun. Smurf Woods features a pint-sized steel coaster, The Blue Streak (now called Woodstock Express).
Great America also completes The Revolution (1987-2017), later known as HMB Endeavor. This 360-degree swinging pirate ship sets spirits sailing with its over-the-top pendulum swing.
Rip Roaring Rapids makes a splash at Great America. One of the park’s most popular attractions, this $4.5 million rapid adventure features six-person vessels that roar through the turbulent white waters of a man-made river rafting course.
Great America takes off with Skyhawk (1989-2000). Riders on this state-of-the-art aviation attraction pilot their own flight capsules, making them dip, soar and do 360-degree barrel rolls.
Kings Entertainment Company (KECO) exercises its option to buy Great America’s business assets (buildings, rides and equipment) from the City of Santa Clara. The park enters into a 50-year land lease with the city’s redevelopment agency.
Whitewater Falls splashes down at Great America. This exhilarating water adventure features 20-person vessels that plummet over a 50-foot waterfall.
The only stand-up roller coaster in Northern California, Vortex (1991-2016), opens at Great America. This $5.5 million steel scream machine rushes standing passengers along 1,950 feet of looping, twisting track at speeds of up to 45 mph.
Great America invests $1.5 million in its IMAX Pictorium Theater. These technical improvements give the park the capability of screening 3-D IMAX films.
Great America, along with three other U.S. parks formerly owned and/or managed by Kings Entertainment Company, is acquired by Paramount Communications. This sets a new direction for a melding of movies and television with theme park attractions. Great America becomes known as Paramount’s Great America.
The park’s first movie-themed attraction, Top Gun (known today as Flight Deck), a 102-foot tall suspended roller coaster complete with inversions and banked turns, delivers an adventure similar to the aerial acrobatics featured in the hit movie.
The Paramount Action FX Theater makes its debut at the park. This unique simulator experience allows riders to feel as if they are actually part of the movie. The first film featured is Days of Thunder, named after the hit 1990 Paramount film.
Nickelodeon, the leading cable network for kids, brings its trademark brand of hands-on entertainment to Great America with the opening of Nickelodeon SPLAT CITY.
The park celebrates its 20th anniversary season with the unveiling of Drop Zone Stunt Tower (known today as Drop Tower) -- at 224 feet, one of the tallest and most intense free-fall rides in the world.
Xtreme SkyFlyer opens. This 173-foot tall free-fall attraction hoists up to six daredevil thrill-seekers 153 feet above the ground. Flyers pull their own ripcords, sending them soaring through the air at speeds of up to 60 mph.
Great America makes a commitment to providing venues and services for corporate events with the opening of the Paramount Pavilion (known today as the Great America Pavilion). Accommodating groups from 300 to 5,000 in a variety of configurations, the 12,000-square-foot Pavilion offers floor-to-ceiling retractable sides and is ideal for both meetings and meals.
Great America introduces Invertigo (1998-2011), the first-ever suspended, inverted boomerang coaster in North America. Riders, seated in a unique face-to-face arrangement, speed through a “boomerang,” a 180 degree turn with double inverted sidewinders, and a 72-foot high vertical loop both forward and backward.
KidZville, a 2.5-acre “big, busy town built just for kids” opens with 18 rides and attractions that parents and kids can enjoy together.
The park launches Stealth (2000-2003), the world’s first flying coaster. Guests slip the bonds of Earth and soar through 2,766 feet of curves, twists and turns at up to 50 mph, all in a prone position. Riders fly with no floors, walls or ceilings, through surprising and breathtaking twists and turns.
Great America adds more than 15 new thrills and adventures, including new rides, new shows and new events for its 25th anniversary season. Additions include Psycho Mouse (the park’s tenth coaster), Celebration Swings and 7th Portal, a new 3-D ride adventure from the legendary Stan Lee, co-creator of Spider-Man and the X-Men.
Delirium opens, sending groups of 32 riders spinning deliriously at the end of a giant metal arm that swings up to 65 feet high in a 180-degree arc. Flying Eagles also debuts, providing a modern twist on one of the greatest classic amusement park rides.
The expansion of Nickelodeon Splat City into Nickelodeon Central adds 10 new kids rides and attractions to Great America.
Crocodile Dundee’s Boomerang Bay, a three-acre Australian themed waterpark, opens inside Great America. Guests enjoy 11 new water slides, a giant water-powered playhouse and a kiddie splash area. The addition of Crocodile Dundee’s Boomerang Bay makes Great America the only theme park in California to offer a waterpark inside—free with park admission.
Great America offers an expanded aquatic experience, tripling the footprint of Boomerang Bay waterpark. New additions include a 150,000-gallon heated swimming lagoon, the area’s longest lazy river, two body water slides, changing facilities and exclusive poolside cabanas.
SURVIVOR The Ride (now known as Tiki Twirl), the world’s first reality thrill ride, debuts at Great America. The ride, based on the hit CBS series, is an interactive rocking and spinning ride that sends guests swirling along a wave-like track past ancient tribal relics and fiery torches to heights of five stories.
In June of 2006, Cedar Fair, L.P. completes its acquisition of Paramount Parks from CBS Corporation. Cedar Fair’s combined operations now include 12 amusement parks, five outdoor waterparks, one indoor waterpark and six hotels. The four other Paramount parks purchased consist of Canada’s Wonderland near Toronto, Canada; Kings Island near Cincinnati, Ohio; Kings Dominion near Richmond, Virginia; and Carowinds near Charlotte, North Carolina.
Great Barrier Reef, the park’s 355,000-gallon wave pool, debuts at Boomerang Bay waterpark, inside Great America.
Great America is again transformed with a new name: California’s Great America.
The new FireFall (2008-2016) ride brings head-over-heels thrills together with pyrotechnic and aquatic effects. Riders are flipped upside down more than a half-dozen times over 60 feet in the air while flames and splashes erupt from all directions.
Great America takes on a sinister side throughout the month of October with the addition of Halloween Haunt. This in-your-face Halloween-themed event features walk-through haunted attractions, themed scare zones, live stage shows and themed rides.
Great America pushes the thrill envelope once again with the addition of “All Wheels Extreme,” an all-new, high-flying sports stunt show in the park’s Redwood Amphitheater.
A new top dog arrives to town as Great America welcomes Snoopy and the rest of the characters from the long-running comic strip PEANUTS to Planet Snoopy, the newly themed kids’ area inside Great America.
Gold rush meets adrenaline rush as Great America debuts Gold Striker, the tallest and fastest wooden roller coaster in Northern California. This massive coaster features the longest enclosed initial descent of any roller coaster and has been named one of the world’s top ten best wooden coasters every year since its launch.
Families find more out-of-this-world fun at Planet Snoopy with the addition of three new rides parents can enjoy with their kids. GR8SK8 offers a ride atop Snoopy’s giant skateboard, PEANUTS 500 lets racers zoom around a racetrack and Snoopy’s Space Buggies lifts mini-astronauts into the air for a lunar landing.
The park begins the celebration of its 40th anniversary season with the introduction of Mass Effect: New Earth, a 4D simulator ride that sends guests through space to a distant planet to face off against adversaries from EA’s critically acclaimed Mass Effect videogame series.
The Bay Area celebrates the holiday season with a new tradition: WinterFest. The park is magically transformed into a winter wonderland where guests can ice skate in front of Carousel Columbia, decorate cookies with Mrs. Claus and admire magnificent displays of holiday lights and décor.
The park’s first floorless roller coaster, Patriot, emerges from the retired Vortex roller coaster as a state-of-the-art update to a classic ride. The ride takes guests to a 91-foot height before plummeting into a 360-degree loop at 45 miles per hour—all while the track whizzes by just inches below their dangling feet.
RailBlazer, the West Coast’s first single rail roller coaster, debuts at Great America, featuring a unique design that requires riders to straddle the rail, creating a low center of gravity that amplifies the ride’s 100-foot vertical drop and three inversions.
Cedar Fair Entertainment Company completes the purchase of land upon which California’s Great America is located for approximately $150 million. Cedar Fair purchased the land, totaling 112 acres, from the City of Santa Clara, which has leased the land since the founding of the park in 1976.
The global COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic results in a year-long closure of California’s Great America and delays the opening of South Bay Shores waterpark until 2021.
South Bay Shores waterpark makes a huge splash, adding seven new water attractions, two new restaurants and a Northern California refresh to Great America’s popular waterpark. Headlining the new waterpark, Pacific Surge features six water slides, four of which send riders down a trap-door vertical drop into a series of turns and dips before a splashdown finale.