After months of internal testing and a week of passholder preview days, the highly anticipated RailBlazer rollercoaster opened to the public at California’s Great America on Thurs., Jun. 14, bringing the latest coaster technology to the Santa Clara theme park.
Built into a tight area of the between The Grizzly and Gold Striker and near the park’s Food Festival, RailBlazer is a prototype for its technology and design, and the first rollercoaster of its kind on the West Coast. Eight riders straddle a 15 inch track, which creates a lower center of gravity, amplifies the ride’s curves and dips and gives guests periods of weightlessness.
The coaster begins with a 106 foot climb, giving guests stunning views of the park and nearby Levi’s Stadium. After a quick turn riders plummet at a 90-degree angle, before twisting and turning at speeds of up to 52 miles per hour. The entire experience lasts less than a minute, but is leaving an impression on those who take to the trail.
Great America’s General Manager Raul Rehnborg was among the first riders during RailBlazer’s testing and is pleased with his park’s newest thrill.
“My heart was pounding when I was going up that lift and when I came into the station I was completely blown away,” he said. “I knew it was going to be an incredible, unique experience but it even surpassed my expectations. It’s a great ride. It’s already one of the best, if not the best, ride at Great America and guests are telling me the same.”
Likewise, Nicholas Laschkewitsch, the regional representative for the Northern California chapter of American Coaster Enthusiasts (ACE), has ridden hundreds of roller coasters and ranks RailBlazer high on his list of favorites, saying, “Because of this being a single rail rollercoaster, and the way it really has tight maneuvers and inversions, it really stands high on my list. It’s my favorite rollercoaster at Great America. It’s in my top 10 … I think the back is the best just because of how aggressive and how insane it feels in the back with all the really tight turns and maneuvers. It’s really great back there. “
Although some riders have complained about the comfort of the seatbelt strap harness and its unfriendliness to some taller and larger riders, the overall consensus has been positive. Even Santa Clara Mayor Lisa Gillmor hit the trail before participating in the ribbon cutting.
“I rode it this morning,” said Gillmor in her comments during the ribbon cutting, “and, believe me, wow, I’m still a little shaky, but this this is off the charts, unbelievably great.”
Gillmor, who attended with Vice Mayor Kathy Watanabe and Council Member Teresa O’Neill, said RailBlazer was “just part of the new and exciting plan that Cedar Fair as brought here to Santa Clara, and ultimately we’re hoping this park will be open 365 days a year.”
California’s Great America has yet to provide details of the next phase of its multi-level expansion and renovation plans, but improvements to the park continue to be made and some areas have been fenced off, meaning it’s only a matter of time before an announcement is made.