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The bomb

Share your memories of working at Marriott's GREAT AMERICA in Santa Clara

The bomb

Postby segerken » Thu Aug 04, 2005 7:15 pm

The first year Santa Clara was open I was a sweeper on the evening shift. Mostly in County Fair 2 section which ran from and included the games area to the Yukon Territory.

During the first year the park received a lot of bomb threats. At first the Santa Clara PD was responding to the bomb threats. Later on in the summer you didn’t see them very often. Maybe because they got tired of false reports and would let MGA Security to first see if there is anything suspicious.

Late one afternoon the Sky World stopped working with a full load of passengers in the cages on both arms that were up. When I went on my lunch the people were still trapped on the ride. As I was walking down the service road there were several police cars parked between the Sky World and the employee cafeteria. As I walked past the police car, there was a police officer climbing into one of the dumpsters. I thought that was interesting, but continued into the cafeteria. After my lunch period was almost over, I left the cafeteria and started walking back to the part of County Fair where I worked. The people were still stuck on the Sky World and there was a little kid shouting, “Let me off, I have to pee.”

As the evening continued, the rumors started to spread around the employees. At first the rumor was that a stick of dynamite was found and that the detonator was getting it’s power from the Sky World. If the Sky World were to be turned on, the timer would advance. The rumor started to grow, it went from one stick of dynamite, to two sticks, to 5 sticks, to as case, and then to 40 cases.

Security is not supposed to talk about what security things were going on in the park. So, when I asked one of my security friends, he wouldn’t tell me. I told him the rumors that were going around and he started to laugh and then did tell me what he knew. In the afternoon they had found a radio with wires wrapped around it sitting by one of the main power distribution points located between the Sky World and the employee cafeteria. The Santa Clara bomb squad came out and place the radio in the dumpster where they could safely look at it. In other words, if it was a bomb and it exploded the dumpster would contain the explosion. As it turned out, the radio with the wires around it turned out to just be a radio with wires wrapped around it and not a bomb. My security friend did not know why the people were stuck on the Sky World.

As it turned out the, it took over 5 hours to get the people off the Sky World. The next day I asked one of the Ride Ops supervisors about the Sky World incident. What happened was the hydraulic pump broke and they need a part that would take a day or so to get. With the hydraulic pump broken, they couldn’t lift the arm that was down up so that they could rotate the other arms around so that they could get the other people off. They didn’t want to use a latter because the cages are hung from the arms via couple of chains and they had no way to keep the cages from swinging. So to get the people off they had to get a temporary hydraulic pump attach it to the hydraulic system. I presume the actual hydraulic pump is up at the top of the center base where the hydraulic pistons are and they would have to run the temporary pump from the ground. That would require a lot plumbing. Anyway, they did eventually get the people down.

And no, I don’t know how these people were compensated for being trapped on the ride for so long.
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Postby Tanya » Thu Aug 04, 2005 9:14 pm

Great story! Seems that Santa Clara has had it's share of excitement. I remember someone waving a gun around in the main gate area. They had all of us lying on the floors of the buildings. It happened another time after I left for the night. Seemed there was knife fights as well. Of course this was all before they set up their security checks at the entrance. I bet security as some wonderful tales.
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Postby steven » Thu Aug 04, 2005 9:55 pm

Unfortunately, I also bet that security has plenty of not-so-wonderful tales. I'd like to hear some of the funny stories. Often, guests had the craziest questions. I had a friend who worked at the front gate who was surprised at how many people coming through the gate would ask her, "Where is the carousel?". Of course, it was right there in front of them.

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Postby Demondude102110 » Tue Aug 09, 2005 2:28 pm

Why would someone want to blow up an amusement park :?
Demon rules!
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Postby steven » Tue Aug 09, 2005 2:51 pm

Have you ever seen the movie "Rollercoaster"? I believe it came out the year before MGA opened. It's available now on DVD.

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Postby Demondude102110 » Tue Aug 09, 2005 2:53 pm

Cool! I'll have to rent that movie :)
Demon rules!
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Sky Whirl

Postby DFXDetector » Thu Oct 27, 2005 2:30 am

Just thought I'd through in a little correction on the name of what in 1981 I repeated more times than I could count...and of course part of the speil which I still remember by heart :) By the way Sky Whirl had more problems on most days than any other ride had in weeks. Usually it did have to do with the hydraulics...However, the ride came complete with its own back up system...Usually, maintainance could have the guests down in a half hour or so, dependant upon their prompt arrival and experience with Sky Whirl's ongoing temperment... :) By the way, I was the ride opperator during that year but we bounced back and forth between there and "The Industrial Revolution". Kind of a co-op i guess ya call it! Just for trivia sake Sky Whirl was also known as the barf buckets...nothing a little pixie dust and an out of order sign couldn't resolve...Anyway, Ya'll sure brought back some memories...The employees night was always great, once a week they opened 1 ride and we could ride until our heart was content, think my favorite was the demon although after about 7 or 8 continuous runs my stomach said otherwise... Hey, when your young nothing like a good sickness to make ya feel like ya accomplished something...Anyway, it was great seeing the sight I'll try and stop in now and again to say hi... Have a good 1 and a "de a de a de a dats all folks" 2 u all!
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Postby ewilson » Sat Oct 29, 2005 10:16 pm

I remember we had a bomb threat in the Show Ops building. It may have been in 1980. They had us evacuate to outside the building. Park securtiy came in and said they had found it in a closet. In the process of determining if it was a real bomb they accidently knocked it off the shelf and it crashed to the floor spilling costume repair supplies all over the floor.

Another thing that happend with securtiy I though was funny was when we were in Theatre Royale. Behind the theatre there was a sharp corner that had a STOP sign in both directions because it was a blind corner. There were two security vehicles going in opposite directions, each full of security gaurds. Being security they were obviously above the law and stop signs mean nothing. Sure enough we heard a loud crash as both vehicles didn't stop and collided head on. Luckily neither was going too fast (due to the sharp corner), and no one was hurt. We ran out and had a very good laugh though, looking at the two wrecked vehicles with many security standing around pointing fingers at each other.
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Sky Whirl

Postby Station1 » Wed Nov 29, 2006 10:46 pm

Sorry to restart an old topic...I have to ask...first I have to say I liked Sky Whirl...I remember when I went to MGA in the 70's & 80's as a guest I lwe loved trying to determine after the arm lifted when it would start spinning. (This was before they slowed the starting rotation down, or did something to the motors)

Anyway, why did they change the name in Santa Clara from Sky Whirl to Triple Wheel? I cannot seem to remember the reason. Guests probably could care less, but I remember it was a bad buzz around employees. I think they changed it when Paramount took over...I remember having to correct myself on the radio at time when it would go down..."Signal 3, Sky...uhhhh, errrr, Triple Wheel...units responding?" Ooops! Sometimes I did it on purpose to protest!

Maybe this was about the time it was used in Beverly Hills Cop 3.
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88-89 Rides - New Orleans (" " RR Rapids)
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Postby that_guy » Thu Nov 30, 2006 5:37 pm

I always wondered what BHC3 did to the rides reputation... It was so unique that it was obivously PGA even with the "Spider" name
The rides are GREAT, the shows are GREAT, the fun is GREAT, at Marriott's Great America! REMEMBER Marriott's GREAT AMERICA, REMEMBER Marriott's GREAT AMERICA!
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Re: Sky Whirl

Postby RLAiello » Fri Dec 01, 2006 12:38 am

Station1 wrote:Anyway, why did they change the name in Santa Clara from Sky Whirl to Triple Wheel? I cannot seem to remember the reason. Guests probably could care less, but I remember it was a bad buzz around employees. I think they changed it when Paramount took over...


I know when I visited in 1990 it was called Triple Wheel, and that was before the Paramount ownership. I was perplexed by this as well...
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Postby Station1 » Wed Dec 06, 2006 8:01 pm

Now that I think about I think you are right RLAiello. I wonder if it had anything to do with Six Flags having the same ride (it's not like the Demon). Triple Wheel was sort of a lame name and not a name I could see Kings thinking would be better.
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