Un-Built Rides and Attractions

All about the rides at Marriott's GREAT AMERICA and post-Marriott rides, too
Santa Cruisin
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Un-Built Rides and Attractions

Post by Santa Cruisin » Mon Jul 25, 2005 7:40 pm

During the Marriott era, where there any rides and attractions that were planned but never realized at either park?

In other words attractions specifically designed and planned by Marriott.

I always thought the Santa Clara park received the short end of the stick with most of the land for future development sold off.

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Post by WhizzerSFGAm » Mon Jul 25, 2005 8:11 pm

I'll start with the one most everyone knows about, The Great Southwest themed area that was supposed to be built in 1979 at the Gurnee park. They even had signs advertising it at the far station of the Southern Cross sky ride. Not sure why it was cancelled though.
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Post by JW65 » Mon Jul 25, 2005 8:17 pm

Always wondered why Santa Clara didn't have an American Eagle roller coaster. Marriott owned both parks when the Eagle was built in Gurnee. Not enough room for it in Santa Clara? Or, for that matter, why didn't Gurnee get a Grizzly?

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Post by WhizzerSFGAm » Mon Jul 25, 2005 8:49 pm

For some reason, Marriott seemed to like the Gurnee park better. We got a lot of stuff the Santa Clara park never got. We had Traffique Jam, Cajun Cliffhanger, The Southern Cross, American Eagle, Hay Baler, and Davie Jones Dinghies.
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Post by Santa Cruisin » Mon Jul 25, 2005 8:51 pm

The Grizzly opened post-Marriott and was influenced by the Grizzly in Kings Dominion which was owned by the same company that managed the Santa Clara park.

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Post by steven » Mon Jul 25, 2005 10:44 pm

This book suggests that all three parks were to have a southwest-themed area: http://www.cr.nps.gov/history/online_bo ... adhi7a.htm. Although I don't know why the Gurnee southwest section was delayed, there is some evidence that suggests that plans had called for a southwest-themed section in Santa Clara as well. I've seen a facilities map of the Santa Clara park in which the facilities are numbered according to which themed section they are in. Facilities in Carousel Plaza were numbered in the 100s. In Orleans Place, they were numbered in the 200s. Yankee Harbor had the 300s. The 400s were in Yukon Territory. County Fair had the 500s and Hometown Square had the 700s. This suggests that the 600s were reserved for the southwest section that was never built. What do you think? ;-)

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A circus

Post by ewilson » Mon Jul 25, 2005 11:38 pm

In the first year of the Santa Clara park there was a circus "Circus Fantastic" in the very back across from the games area (now the Gizzly) In '82 they were bringing the circus back and integrating it with the character show (as "It's Magic", a non character show, was playing in TR that season). The circus equipment was already being installed. I had a camera located in a high overlooking position that would take a picture every day, in hopes I could make a montage sequence of the building of a circus show when all put together. They were about 2 weeks into the install when it was cancelled.

I really need to spend a day scanning all the photos I have so they are ready to include in messages like this.

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Southwest

Post by dth1971 » Tue Jul 26, 2005 6:34 am

I think Six Flags Great America in Gurnee didn't get a Southern theme area until Southwest Territory was built in the late 1990's.

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Post by twixmix0303 » Mon Aug 15, 2005 11:44 pm

Exactly. Marriott had planned for a Southwest theme since they began planning the park in the early 1970s. It was to be built in 1979. They never announced exactly why it wasn't built. It wasn't until about 10 years after Six Flags took over that they decided it was time for an expansion and built Southwest Territory. It was obviously decided upon in at least 1994, as Viper was built in 1995, and its Southwest theme was obviously not coincidential.

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Post by redfishpaw » Tue Aug 16, 2005 9:27 am

During the 8 years while I was employed the park, they was yearly talk about possibly building a southwest area. Also, there was talk about building another wooden roller coaster, something similar to the cyclone at coney island. While both ideas seemed far fetched at the time, both became a reality.

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Why Gurnee was favored

Post by coasterboy » Sat Aug 27, 2005 6:50 pm

Gurnee recieved more rides than Santa Clara for one reason. Attendance.
Even though Santa Clara had a longer season (by almost 2 months!) it never came close to generating the attendance that Gurnee did.

Marriotts simply put in attractions where it needed growth. It was clear that the people of the San Francisco Bay Area did not embrace the park to the extent that was expected.

Reportedly, this is why Marriotts gave up on fighting for zoning for the 3rd park in Virginia. They were scared off by the lower than projected revenues in California, and the Manassas park would have had stiff competition from Kings Dominion and Bush Gardens "The Old Country".

The 3rd park was to follow the two original parks by one year. Who knows if it would have been successful?
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Post by steven » Sat Aug 27, 2005 8:09 pm

I've been told -- unofficially and unconfirmed -- that the reason why the Southwest Territory didn't "rise in '79" (as advertised on the sign at the south end of Southern Cross") in Gurnee was because the money for that was funneled to Santa Clara to keep the park afloat. In the Gurnee ride operations office there was a board on the wall on which they posted the hourly attendance numbers for both Gurnee and Santa Clara. The numbers for Gurnee were always way above those for Santa Clara.

I wonder why Santa Clara did not do nearly as well as expected? One explanation was that there were too many other recreation options readily available in the region. Another explanation was that when people in the area thought of going to a theme park, that meant going to Disneyland even though that required travel to southern California. Any other explanations?

Steven

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Post by Tanya » Sat Aug 27, 2005 8:14 pm

My family's personal opinion was that they liked Frontier Village much more, so my parents and grandparents took us there all the time. I only remember actually going to Great America once with my family before I started working there in '82. Plus, we did go to Disneyland and/or Knott's Berry Farm every year.

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Post by akorbel » Sun Aug 28, 2005 2:40 am

I think Steven's right about the reason for the low attendance. There are way too many attractions drawing away business, like Tanya mentioned there was Frontier Village but also Marine World Africa USA (30 minutes north) and the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk (30 minutes away on the coast). Not to mention San Francisco (Fisherman's Wharf is like a theme park, even more so back then!), Lake Tahoe, Napa Valley, etc.

But even if the attendance had been higher, Marriott probably wouldnt' have invested as much in Santa Clara because they could see early on that that selling the land the park sits on would make the most economic sense. Today the Park is surrounded by Marriott business parks and the land Marriott did actually sell off--land that was presumably for expanding the park--meant that there was no room to build a Southwest Territory or American Eagle in Santa Clara anyway.

Side note: I've always wondered what the politics involved in selling Great America to the city of Santa Clara were. If the city really wanted to keep the park I'm sure they could have figured out how to tax the land sale in such a way they could make Marriott sell it to them at a price they could afford ;) As it is, Marriott sold it to them for $88.5 million for 200 acres--I'm not sure what land went for in 1984 but today in Silicon Valley a house on less than a quarter acre can easily go for $800k. I remember reading that the city actually still owns the land and Paramount has a long-term lease on it...? Sorry, this is getting off topic so I'll wrap it up here :)

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Post by coasterboy » Sun Aug 28, 2005 12:38 pm

Hmmm.
I worked at the park in 1985, during the transfer to the City, and one of the issues was the fact that Marriott didn't actually own the land that the park sat on. It was set up under a 100 year lease.
That was part of the problem - when Marriott initially tried to sell the park, they took a down payment for the park and the land that they didn't own.

That was the reason that the City stepped in and bought the park, and hired KECO to run it until all the legalities could be settled.

Incidently, around that time, Marriott was looking at buying Six Flags. They figured they either needed to ge a huge player in the industry, or not play at all. The return of most parks (except Disney) is around 10%, which was far lower than the other businesses that Marriott had, so they decided to get out of it altogether.

I know that they tried to sell SC for a while, because a lot of the unused show equipment from SC was sent to Gurnee to protect it. During this time it was assumed that Gurnee was still to be a Marriott park. People inside the parks were shocked when the sale of Gurnee happened first, and without warning.
Mark

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