Great America continues to get a facelift and it’s all part of the multi-year expansion and renovation plans approved through the City of Santa Clara.
Gone are the days of the summer sun beating down on black asphalt throughout the Midway. The park has begun replacing the sun soaking pathways with a much cooler stone pavement, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg of what’s in store.
From the time the master plan and rezone was approved by City Council in 2016, Great America has “really been thinking about the three years that follow, starting in 2018, 2019 and 2020,” said Great America’s Director of Marketing and Sales Jason Soyster, “and thinking about the park almost in thirds where we would be doing the kind of Midway enhancements, bathroom enhancements and general park décor enhancements, above and beyond whatever the new ride might be and tackling a third of the park at a time, which is why we aren’t able to do the entire Midway in a single offseason. I don’t know that we could, but the upgrades and improvements … will continue throughout the next couple of years.”
Five of the park’s bathrooms are in the process of being remodeled and major improvements will continue through the season. Some of the park’s dining options have already been upgraded for 2018 and, as Great America delves into its master plan, additional improvements will be made.
There will be plenty of dust throughout the park this season as new entertainment and adventure is planned, much of which will not be completed this year. Areas that will be blocked off in 2018 include Snoopy’s Splash Dance, Logger’s Run, H.M.B. Endeavor, all of which have been removed to pave the way for new attractions.
“As part of the master plan, we now have, for the first time, the ability to build attractions of scale … We are preparing that space for the future because we have the plan of what we will be adding to the park beyond 2018,” said Soyster.
One big improvement that will be ready by the end of spring is the park’s newest single rail, steel coaster, RailBlazer. Announced August 2017, RailBlazer contains three inversions and a maximum speed of 52 miles per hour.
One of the more revolutionary aspects of the coaster is its safety mechanism. Riders will no longer be strapped down with oversized padded shoulder harnesses and chest-height rider grips. Instead, seatbelt material shoulder straps lock into a padded lap bar. Guests desiring handlebars will now grip onto a metal, U-shaped bar at their waist as they straddle the rail in a car modeled after an off-road vehicle and twist and turn throughout 1,800 feet of track.
Another part of the expansion that’s currently underway is a complete facelift of The Consulate—the apartment originally designed for the Marriott family when the park opened. Located above the new Orleans Candy Kitchen, The Consulate, which will be available as an inside-the-park rental spot and utilized for VIP events, will be getting an elevator to become ADA compliant and be a prime location for viewing Great America’s fireworks show. Inside, The Consulate will be designed to include a meeting space and bar with flatscreen televisions.
The Pavilion, another one of Great America’s rental spaces, is receiving upgrades this year. Shaded outdoor seating with televisions for viewing games during the park’s Red Zone Rally events on San Francisco 49ers’ home game days is being added, as are interior restrooms. New construction is also underway for outdoor, catered events with a capacity of up to 500 guests. The project completion is scheduled for May 1 and Great America is already booking events for 2018.