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the first moment of GA

General discussion about Marriott's GREAT AMERICA

the first moment of GA

Postby missedthemarriotera » Mon Oct 13, 2008 6:18 pm

what was your feeling when you first got thru the gate for the first time and took your first steps in great america? and, what was the first roller coaster you ever went on there? my first coaster there was whizzer. i thought all the roller coasters were people driving really fast cars (i was like 6 years old) thanks!!!
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Postby Demonlover13 » Mon Oct 13, 2008 8:21 pm

most people probably don't remember their first time there. I vaguely remember my mom tried to get me on the whizzer and I didn't want to so she went alone. I must've been around 5.
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Postby missedthemarriotera » Mon Oct 13, 2008 8:56 pm

your probably right... lol, i guess its easy for me to remember because im 12... oh well
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Postby dpxtreme » Mon Oct 13, 2008 9:40 pm

The very first time I stepped into CGA, when it was PGA, was back in 1997. I was 7 years old, and I remember it was 1997 because Xtreme Skyflyer was built that year, and Invertigo was not built until the following year. I don't remember what is was like to step through the gate, I just remember I wasn't tall enough to ride Top Gun or Vortex and I was really scared to ride the Demon, which was my first big coaster, followed by Tidal Wave. Once Invertigo was built, I still wasn't tall enough, and I remember it was in 2002 was my first time riding Top Gun, Vortex, Stealth, and Invertigo.
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Postby missedthemarriotera » Mon Oct 13, 2008 9:57 pm

thanks for sharing!!!
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Postby MGA1 » Mon Oct 13, 2008 10:00 pm

My first visit to MGA in Gurnee was in 1976. I was 15 and went with my family. In previous years, we had visited SF-St. Louis, Walt Disney World, and the now-demolished Old Chicago theme park in Bolingbrook, IL so I was familiar with a few theme parks. The things I remember from my first visit to Great America were:
1) a huge traffic jam on I-94. The traffic in the right lane was backed up from Belvedere Road all the way to the park lot toll booths at Great America. The ticket booth lines were really long too...more than 30 minutes in line just to purchase tickets....and all the ticket booths were open.
2) I remember being awed by the front gate area. Everything was brand spanking new, very classy, spotlessly clean with tons of flowers and huge flower baskets hanging all over. I remember how huge the Columbia looked & thought the reflecting pond was a giant swimming pool...but it's only 18" deep.
3) I remember seeing a lot of shows especially the broadway show at the Grand Music Hall. The show had 18 performers on stage and a live 20-member orchestra with a conductor in a huge theatre. Theatre Royale had a kid's Bugs Bunny Show, Wilderness Theatre had an animal show with trained dolphins, a sea lion, a chimpanzee, and birds, and there were live circus performers in County Fair that were part of an internship program for Barnum & Bailey. The circus area became the queue line for the American Eagle in later years.
3) There seemed to be so many employees working in food kiosks and merchandise shops and every employee was so incredibly outgoing and friendly....I remember my mother saying Great America employees really made the Disney employees seem lazy. I guess I had the same impression because I decided on my first visit that I would definitely want to work at Great America once I turned 16....and my family lived in Oak Lawn, IL...55 miles south of the park!

The first coaster I rode was Willard's Whizzer which was a lot of fun & it didn't have seat belts during the first year so it was a little scary. However, I really liked the Turn Of The Century coaster better. The T.O.C. didn't have any theming (like the Demon) but it had two super steep hills (replaced with 2 loops when it became the Demon) and you got some really incredible air time on those two hills...especially if you were sitting in the last car of the train.
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Postby missedthemarriotera » Mon Oct 13, 2008 10:09 pm

wow... you have a really good memory. was the two hills better than the two loops?
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Postby djames42 » Tue Oct 14, 2008 2:34 pm

missedthemarriotera wrote:wow... you have a really good memory. was the two hills better than the two loops?

I was fairly young when the T.O.C. was transformed, but I do recall preferring the drops. I loved the sensation of weightlessness, particularly of feeling as though I was going to be jettisoned out of my seat coming over the second drop.
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Postby PGA ROCKS » Wed Oct 15, 2008 8:18 pm

My first time visiting Great America was in the early to mid 90's, when Paramount owned the park. I don't remember the first visit, but I have fond memories of going on rides such as Triple Play, Sky Whirl, and the Carousel, since I wasn't tall enough for much else.

I've been going for so long because my parents worked there during the Marriott era, and the met at the park. So, even long after it is gone, GA will be near and dear to my heart.
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Postby missedthemarriotera » Thu Oct 16, 2008 5:54 pm

awww, how sweet *claps hands*
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Postby TripplePlay93 » Fri Oct 17, 2008 8:45 pm

I don't remember my first time, but I know it was before 2000 since I have ridden the sky whirl and I almost think I remember the "whirl" of it.
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RE: the first moment of GA

Postby rossrich66 » Sun Oct 26, 2008 9:57 am

To "missedthemarriottera"...

In answer to whether or not the two drops on the TOC were better than the Demon's two loops, in my POV, the answer is a definitive 'YES'!

Check out a post I made over a year ago about my first visit and the "Turn of the Century".

Enjoy! ... highlight=
I survived the Tidal Wave on opening day in 1977!
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first impression of GA

Postby debbie lead » Tue Nov 04, 2008 2:28 pm

The first time I remember Great America it was called, Marriott's Great America! It opened my sophomore year (1976). I was thinking of applying for a job that summer, but there were over 5000 people applying!!?! So, I waited for the next year! --But, what I remember when I first saw the park from the outside was the Skywhirl!! A triple-armed ferris wheel!! WOW! And as you entered the park, of course, the double-decker Merry-Go-Round!! The BEST thing though was the PRICE!! $7.95!! Adult price!! Boy things have sure changed!.
Anyway, I eventually started working there, Jan. 1977 (weekends-doing clean up!!?), but I got a paycheck every week!! Course, the rate of pay was $1.05/hr, training wage, and $1.15/hr after something like 100hrs training?!?--I worked for the next four years (seasonal), and had some of the best experiences, work-wise and otherwise, of my life! And, believe it or not, I'm STILL in contact with some of the people I worked with THEN!
aka "Broadway Bill"-- that's enough! Debbie lead
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Postby Angry_Gumball » Tue Nov 04, 2008 3:04 pm

My first moments of entering GA...The carousel and pond probably stood out the most, as I thought it was a ginormous swimming pool, and only wanting to ride the top level on the carousel as it was up higher. The whole space seemed really wide open as opposed to now, maybe because of the surrounding trees. I think the Whizzer was probably gone by then. The only other 2 things I remember being there was Grizzly's logo (claws ripping apart track) printed on park maps as the ride was still newish, the dolphin show (in which I thought were sharks jumping out to eat the fish reward), Rip Roarin' Rapids, and maybe my sister doing some dance-related stuff in the amphitheater as she used to do a ton of dancing as a kid.
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Postby CoasterComet » Thu Nov 06, 2008 4:06 pm

I remember driving along the I-94 beside the park, with my mom and 2 aunts. I was 7, it was 1980. I waited forever to see the Demon commercial on tv! I knew I wouldn't ride the coasters, but I was totally infatuated with them!

I saw the Tidal wave go up the spike and I was freaking out. The first ride we rode were the bumper cars, then the southern cross sky ride. I was afraid of heights and started crying on that sky ride. I remember duking down in the cabin and my mom and aunts trying to counsel me. Passing over the Tidal wave was quite a site! Would die to be able to do that again.

Don't remember too much more about the day - except riding the train and my mom telling me to watch for this coaster about to go nearly all the way sideways along the ground - the Whizzer of course. There were nearly NO trees - compared to today of course. I think the Whizzer was kinda a light blue/gray color.

I didn't ride the coasters that day, but watched them like a hawk all day, especially the Demon with it's BRIGHT yellow train, orange and red. All with fire painted along the side - and seeing the 'smoke' rise out of the rocks around the lift.

The next year I rode the Whizzer (now painted the dark green), then 82 was the Demon, 83 the Tidal wave - didn't do the Eagle until 1985 - it had such a reputation!!
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