First Visit Date and Memories

General discussion about Marriott's GREAT AMERICA
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Mr. D.T.
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Post by Mr. D.T. » Thu Jan 26, 2006 4:28 pm

I can't remember much about my first visit to MGA because I was just a little toddler. Back when tickets were cheaper my parents used to take me there with my sisters. I do remember getting my first taste of cotton candy at the Sticky Fingers and my legendary excursion around the Bugs Bunny Land -- fighting the giant bean bags, climbing the man-made mountain of nets, and swooping down the slides. The flat rides I can recall riding are the Fiddler's Fling and probably the East River Crawler. I do know I rode that as a kid. Another ride I recall is driving the antique car down the Barney Oldfield Speedway and taking the donut-shaped elevator up the Sky Trek Tower.
"Park Base to Unit 100 and all base stations please be advised.....we have the 4 O'Clock 1085. A. 1.4; B. 23.5; C. 28.7; D. 5.1. The temperature is 77 degrees.

pattis
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Post by pattis » Mon Jan 30, 2006 9:05 am

that_guy,

Hi, i am not sure what rollercoaster it was that i saw. I would imagine it was probably turn of the century or whizzer. When the park first opened were those the only 2 coasters there (except for gulf coaster)? It was close to border of park from what i remember and have no idea if it was even finished, so this seems logical to me.

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Post by zongaboy626 » Sat Feb 04, 2006 7:38 pm

I remember i went in 1995 when drop zone opened in santa clara.I remember seeing centurfuge and riding my first roller coaster the grizzly. It was much smoother back then. and i rode the train and remember riding the train and passing under the demon while it was going through the corcscrew. Very very good memories. But i didnt go back until 2001 and i remember riding stealth and walking around the park at closing when they would play the old patriotic songs in the lines for rides. It is still my faverit theme park!

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that_guy
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Post by that_guy » Sat Feb 04, 2006 11:32 pm

I think you mean '96, since Drop Zone opened in '96

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Glorfindel7
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Post by Glorfindel7 » Wed Mar 01, 2006 9:40 pm

Hi, new here, great website, brings back LOTs of Memories.

My first visit to SFGAM was in 1976 on July 18 (my 6th birthday). On this day my family decided to visit the newly opened Mariott's Great America.

I was there with my family and cousins who lived in Des Plaines at the time. I remember that it only took about an hour to get there but I was so anxious to see it.

The main thing I remember about the day was that in Farmer's Market, my dad told a few band members dressed in derby's that it was my birthday. They all gathered around and put their derbys on top of my head and played me "Happy Birthday" on their trombones. (Those hats were HEAVY). For a brief moment I'm sure I was the center of attention.

I remember getting foot long hot dogs for lunch in Yukon Territory (I don't remember what the name of the restaurant was but I know it bordered the Loggers Run wait line and there were about 6 order/pickup windows.

I also remember riding the Willard's Whizzer (I was too small for TOTC) for the first time, thought it was the greatest ride at the park (I rode with one of my cousins in back and me in front of the car.)

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Mr. D.T.
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Post by Mr. D.T. » Thu Mar 02, 2006 9:04 am

Glorfindel7 wrote:I remember getting foot long hot dogs for lunch in Yukon Territory (I don't remember what the name of the restaurant was but I know it bordered the Loggers Run wait line and there were about 6 order/pickup windows.
Claim Jumper's Beef House
"Park Base to Unit 100 and all base stations please be advised.....we have the 4 O'Clock 1085. A. 1.4; B. 23.5; C. 28.7; D. 5.1. The temperature is 77 degrees.

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RLAiello
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Post by RLAiello » Fri Mar 03, 2006 12:26 am

Mr. D.T. wrote:
Glorfindel7 wrote:I remember getting foot long hot dogs for lunch in Yukon Territory (I don't remember what the name of the restaurant was but I know it bordered the Loggers Run wait line and there were about 6 order/pickup windows.
Claim Jumper's Beef House
It's Claim Jumper's now... but back then it was probably Yukon-Do-It!
Rick Aiello
SFGAm Employee 1988-1999

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Glorfindel7
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Post by Glorfindel7 » Sat Mar 04, 2006 12:23 am

RLAiello wrote:
Mr. D.T. wrote:
Glorfindel7 wrote:I remember getting foot long hot dogs for lunch in Yukon Territory (I don't remember what the name of the restaurant was but I know it bordered the Loggers Run wait line and there were about 6 order/pickup windows.
Claim Jumper's Beef House
It's Claim Jumper's now... but back then it was probably Yukon-Do-It!
Yep, THAT's the Name... Thanks :D

(Was a great play on the name Yukon....)

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retlawfan
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Post by retlawfan » Sun Mar 05, 2006 12:38 pm

^^^^^^^
I am assuming NOT, but...Any relation to the Claimjumper Restaurant chain?
Great America Security
Santa Clara
1989-1992

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RLAiello
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Post by RLAiello » Sun Mar 05, 2006 2:04 pm

Whoo boy... are ya sittin' down? Good. Grab a tea or coffee and let's go back in time.

It was 1976. The commercials for Marriott's Great America were everywhere. And I mean EVERYWHERE. You couldn't turn the TV on or change the channel without hearing "The rides are great! The shows are great! The fun is great! At Marriott's Great America!" over and over again.

My sister and I were completely capitvated by the sights, the sounds and the visions of rides, Bugs Bunny, and that enormous double-decker carousel presented in front of us. As the camera pulled away from the carousel at the end of the commercial (I remember it well, folks!), we ran and literally BEGGED our mom and dad to let us go!!! We didn't even know WHERE it was, we just wanted to GO! I was 5 and my sister was 3.

Our first visit to MGA was pretty simple. We rode kiddie rides, visited merchandise shops, met Bugs Bunny, saw the circus show (I remember this vividly), the Grand Music Hall show, and of course, the Bugs Bunny show in Theatre Royale; and rode the Barney Oldfield Speedway and the Traffique Jam. And of course, we rode the Carousel Columbia. We played games, visited merchandise shops, and ate lots of food. I distinctly remember eating at Maggie Brown's Boarding House, because we sat outside in the glass-enclosed seating area, where (at the time, since the trees were still just saplings) you could watch Willard's Whizzer go up, up, up the rotating hill and down again, over and over again. My parents were never big on roller coasters, so even Willard's Whizzer was out of the question (I think my sister was still to small at the time anyway), but I think... and I honestly can't even be certain... that I may have given the Gulf Coaster a try. But I doubt it. One other thing I vividly remember from this visit: we arrived very early that day and danced with Bugs, Daffy and Pepe LePew in front of the Carousel as the marching band played. My mom took pictures of this (that I seem to have misplaced-- I'll have to find them very soon!)... my sister and I both dancing with the characters in their marching band outfits.

A few years later, we made a return visit to MGA. We did a lot of the same things, but took advantage of some of the newer attractions, such as Sky Tower, Pictorium and the wonderful new FORT FUN! But this visit was extremely memorable for me, because while riding the train from Hometown to County Fair, I was stung on my leg by a bee. I must have passed out or something, because the next thing I knew, I was being transported in some strange vehicle (the First Aid Cushman, which I still remember from when I worked there many years later!) to the First Aid center. I remember being in a dark little room on a cot where they treated my sting and gave me some medicine and a big band aid for my leg. Later on that day, my sister and I had our picture taken with Sylvester in one of the Barney Oldfield cars and you can see me in the picture (which again is SOMEWHERE around here) holding on to my bandaged leg.

So those are my memories... hope you enjoyed them. And whenever I find those blasted pix, I'll post them :)
Rick Aiello
SFGAm Employee 1988-1999

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thadpk
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Post by thadpk » Sun Mar 05, 2006 10:08 pm

The first visit was back in 1988. I remember the 1st rollercaoster I ever rode in my life was that day, and it was the Whizzer... I recall not being too impressed by it, but when I went on Shockwave, which was all the rage, it more than made up for my dissapointment... I LOVED that coaster, even though it took forever to ride it... Other favorites were the Demon and American Eagle... I also remember going on Splashwater falls, and the ride operator let us ride it 4 times in a row... It was awesome! I went back several times throughout the years, the last time being in 2003, and you can't even imagine how shocked and saddened I was when I saw that Shockwave was laying in piles behind the park.... Somebody should create a history park, where instead of destroying the rides, they put all the old rides together and create a virtual museum that will let the rides carry on... I know thats probably not practical, but hey, can you blame me for dreaming?
I miss the glory days.... Come back to me...

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JW65
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Post by JW65 » Mon Mar 06, 2006 8:16 pm

:D :D Hey Everybody! It has been fun reading all of your memories. Keep em' coming. These are great! There is something about that first memory of being at the park. For me, it is pretty vivid. :D :D

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Post by Magic Hate Ball » Wed Aug 02, 2006 4:53 pm

I first visited on my 15th birthday in 1995. A week before and I would have never even dreamed of going (nightmares, maybe), because a week before I was a complete ridephobe. My friend Steve dragged me to a carnival and made me go on the Round-Up, then on the Kamikaze, then on the Skydiver.

There was a huge line for the Skydiver, and I remember we were the first people to get on before the ride started at one point, so all the way up the wheel my friend was rocking the car back and forth. When we were facing straight up he spun the car around all the way, and something clicked. When we got to the top he was wobbling the steering wheel, and I distinctly remember that he'd turn the car on its side, then onto the other side. Finally I grabbed the wheel and spun it hard to the left and we rolled over and over about six times. I shouted, "AWESOME!" and we spent the rest of the time at the carnival flipping that stupid car over and over and over (along with one ride on the regular ferris wheel with cotton candy).

The first thing I remember about the park was the carousel. My parents had dropped Steve and I off with a bunch of twenties and instructions to meet them again at 8. The first thing I remember about the park was the carousel, and the sense of freedom I had; a whole day at a theme park with my boyfriend on my birthday.

Seeing as Top Gun was still fairly new, the crowds were flocking towards it. Steve and I made a beeline, nearly running, and waited about ten minutes. Top Gun managed to be my very first roller coaster that wasn't packed with kids under 6 years old. We got a front seat, in the middle. I remember an obese lady sitting next to me and I wondered if she would fall out. I did a lot of screaming on Top Gun.

The day carried on in a similar vein with me slightly nervously getting on to wilder and wilder rides and screaming my ass off on each one. The big ride for me was The Edge. All my friends had told me how scary it was, and so you can imagine how terrified I felt as we zoomed up to the top. The car edged forward...clicked...FWOOSH. I dragged poor Steve on that stupid thing a good twelve times (the line was short).

I also remember the Sky Whirl and how awesome it was. It was just awesome.

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Post by krawz5 » Sat Aug 19, 2006 10:12 am

Gurnee-about 1977. I don't think we went the first year but definately the 2nd year they were open. I was 6 and remember tickets being $7.95. I remember going on smaller rides like Triple Play and The Fun Machine with my mom. I also remember going to the "kiddie section" and I can't remember the name. I'm sure someone here can remember. It was an area for small kids to run and play.

When I was 8, I was paired up with my brother who was 12. THOSE are the days I really remember. I went on EVERY coaster they had. I remember going on The Tidal Wave and barely being tall enough. The attendants were impressed with me that I was so little and going on this coaster. The made an announcement on their speaker that "There's an 8 year little girl riding the coaster!!" I felt like a star.

I remember not having any choice about going on the big coasters. My brother wanted to go so I had to. But I LOVED them ALL!!

Another memory from The Tidal Wave: Around the same time, me and brother got in line. There were 2 older woman literally DRAGGING this boy on the ride. They were pulling him. He was screaming "NO!! I DON'T WANNA GO ON THERE!!" He was about 12. His face was bright red and he fought the WHOLE way up. The mom said, "This is your punishment for lying to your dad!!!!" They were taking him on The Tidal Wave as a punishment!!!!!!!!!! Well, we were on the platform waiting and we see the boy get on . He's still crying. The ride takes off and on the way back we see him SMILING!!!!!! He got off the coaster smiling and laughing!!!! What a memory.

I just remember running around the park with my brother and feeling SO FREE. It was such a big place and we had no parents watching over us. We had a specific spot in the games area where we would meet up. My mom would bring a book and sit there all day. She was a PRO at Skee Ball. So, she'd either read or be playing Skee Ball. One year, she won enough tickets for me to pick out THE BIGGEST stuffed animal. Walking through the crowd with that HUGE stuffed animal felt soooooo cool!!! We had to take it to the car and drop it off, much like everyone else that one a big prize. My mom ruled at Skee Ball. God rest her Skee-balling soul.

I have many more memories but those are my earliest!!

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LS202
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Post by LS202 » Wed Aug 23, 2006 10:24 am

I think my first trip was in 1977 to the Santa Clara park a year after the park had opened. I begged and begged my mom the year before to go since everyone else in my class had gone and I wanted to see it for myself. I was 8 at the time and thought I had entered the gates of heaven when I first arrived.

I remember starting off at the carousel and working our way around the park via Hometown square and so on. We would ride all of the rides in Hometown Square and check out the shops and of course the theater show ( all I remember of this is that when you walked in the theater the blast of cold air was refreshing). We worked our way around the park, riding every ride we could get on and catching all the shows. We would end up near Orleans Place and have dinner there.

We were there all day and loaded up on souviners with the Bugs Bunny t-shirt being my favorite. (Does anyone remember the front of bugs on the front and the back of bugs on the back?) Anyway I couldn't wait to tell my friends that I had in fact made it to the holy grail of Marriotts.

Oh we lived in Sunnyvale at the time and whenever we went on the overpass at Mathilda Avenue, my sister and I would look out and see Great America in the distance and squeel since it was our favorite place. We only got to go once a year after that but it was worth it. I guess thats why when I was 16 I got a job there so I could go as much as I wanted to. Unfortunately that was the time that Marriotts was bowing out and Kings took over. Oh well :?
Laura Carousel Souviners 85-86

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