California’s Great America claims to be home to the most rides and most water rides in Northern California and is the only theme park in California to offer a complete water park inside once you pay park admission. That free water park thing always seems to be a double-edged sword to me; are we going to spend all day in our swim suits or riding rides? Or be soaking wet in our street clothes like regular folks after a log flume ride (us above in about ten minutes)?
The 100-acre theme park is located on in Santa Clara about 45 minutes south of Oakland and is open March 25th through October.
I was lucky to visit last year as a guest of a company party. While we liked it enough to go back over and over, I found a lot of trouble in 2014 trying to plan a visit during elementary-school-closed but preschool-open days.
My middle son especially liked the Gold Striker roller coaster, below.
The sooner you go, the sooner you can get your money's worth from a season pass. Just saying. Check the calendar before you schedule your trip to verify open days.
Oakland mom, Brandi Jeter from Mama Knows It All wrote about her best day at Great America. Brandi shares, “Even though there are a ton of new attractions, there’s still a really sweet, quaint feel about the park. Everything is modern and clean, though, it’s just the aura of the park (and the kindness of all of the staff!) that put me in a different era. Ayva loved that the Peanuts gang are the official California Great America mascots, and couldn’t get enough of Charlie Brown and his friends. Usually tentative around characters, she ran right up to Linus like they were old friends.” Read Brandi's whole story and check out her excellent photos and advice about kid-friendly park features.
Shari Wargo Stamps from SavvyEveryDay offers this tips for visiting Great America for families with special needs:
If anyone in your family has different abilities, Great America has special services available to ensure that they have a safe, fun experience at the park. Simply read their Guest Assistance Guide, or guide on how to enjoy the amusement park from the Autism Society. Service dogs are also welcome! More info can be found here.
Read Shari's entire review of Great America including her memories as a teenager in the park and where she liked to hang out during her most recent visit.
- Regular admission ticket is ~ $65. But online prices are all over the map: bring a friend and save; buy in bulk and save; get a season pass and… yep, save! You can probably get a great deal with a little advanced planning.
- 4701 Great America Pkwy, Santa Clara, CA 95054
- Call (408) 988-1776
Note: If you grew up in the midwest, you may easily mistake California's Great America (this place in Santa Clara) with Six Flags Great America (outside Chicago) or Six Flags Discovery Kingdom (pretty close, in Vallejo) like I did … sorry about that, they're all different places.
[Photo credit: heather flett right before getting drenched on log flume; the rest of the photos are from CA Great America]