My First Visit and the "Turn of the Century"

General discussion about Marriott's GREAT AMERICA
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rossrich66
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My First Visit and the "Turn of the Century"

Post by rossrich66 » Fri Apr 13, 2007 1:34 pm

It was Spring Break 1976 and I was nine years old. Great America had just opened and I was dying to go. Well on a whim, my Mom and my stepdad took my sister and I to "check it out". I remember getting off the 101 and there it was...the park spinning and whirring at full tilt! The biggest landmarks were right there...The Sky Whirl, the Willard's Whizzer and of course the Turn of the Century. I had never seen anything like it.

We got there late in the day and the park was at capacity. We went on the Willard's Whizzer first and I remember my sister and I screaming our heads off. The only "big" rollercoaster either one of us had ever been on prior to that was the Matterhorn at Disneyland. Its funny to think back at how scared we were on that first Willard's Whizzer ride. But wait....

We then headed over to the Turn of the Century. This thing looked so HUGE. I remember waiting in line 3 hours to go on it. (can you imagine 3 hours?! It was all the rage at the time!) It broke down during our wait and I remember my Mom spotting the Hilltopper which was located just beneath the lift hill. She held our place in line while my sister and I took a spin. ( I know, I know...holding our place in line...not good...but we were clearly unseasoned park goers!) We finally made it up to the loading platform and my Mom said "back car" is the best. Now to this day, I don't know how she knew about the "back car"...she grew up in Hawaii and they don't have rollercoasters there! Anyway, I was so scared as we climbed the lift hill. It was so high up! And both my sister and I screamed as the car was whipped over the small drop before the turnaround, it took us off guard. The first drop in the back car was unreal! This ride scared the crap out of me and I remember just being out of my seat the whole time (grasping the shoulder harness for dear life!) from the first drop and over the camel back hills! I didn't like it and I was terrified! Seriously! The turnaround before the corkscrews came next and again I was so scared to go upside down! We went through them...and it wasn't that bad, nothing like the drops that came before. Well we got off that thing and as terrified as we were, it sank in and WE REALLY LIKED IT! (It would take me at least a few more rides on that monster in later visits before I conquered my fear of it.) The Turn of Century had a short life. And as classic as its successor is today (Demon), I truly believe that if TOC were still around today, it would be considered a "gem" by most enthusiasts. Its design was unique and Arrow never built another coaster like it.

In any event, we managed to squeeze in rides on the Yankee Clipper, Logger's Run and the Lobster that day. So not bad, we hit all of Great America's "E" ticket attractions and two flats on that day.

Now many years, many visits, countless parks and hundreds of coasters later, I still look back at that first visit to Marriott's with so much more than just a fond memory.....
I survived the Tidal Wave on opening day in 1977!

greatamericagirl
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awsome

Post by greatamericagirl » Tue Jul 10, 2007 1:27 pm

Dude, I too was at the park when it first opened but I was too little to ride on these type of rides. Amazing how the park has changed since then. DO you still go? My husband and I went 2 years ago and had horrible deja vu. It was ultra weird to remember every nook and cranny and say, "remember when that was blue?"

rossrich66
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Post by rossrich66 » Thu Jul 12, 2007 8:18 pm

I haven't been to the park in several years. The last time I was there, both Stealth and Greezed Lightening were still operating. Don't think I'll be visiting in awhile as I've since relocated to So Cal. And I don't think I'd make a special trip until a new coaster is built. Although, that now seems that won't happen at least until 2009. And who knows, it may be longer now that Cedar Fair is looking to sell.
I survived the Tidal Wave on opening day in 1977!

Matt Hart
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Post by Matt Hart » Wed Jul 18, 2007 6:21 pm

I can't remember if I was there that first year or not. I know we went in the 70's, and I remember the Turn of the Century. We went pretty often in the late 70's through the mid-80's. Family trips, school outings, trips with friends. Lot's of good times. My then girlfriend, now wife, went there quite a few times.

The last time I went the Tidal Wave was still the Tidal Wave. Probably 96 or 97. I hadn't realized it had been that long until I thought about it.

We still live close enough to make a day trip, so maybe this summer. I'll be a bit sad to see some of my favorites gone, like Willard's Whizzer, the Lobster and the Tidal Wave, but it should still bring back some fond memories. Just seeing the carousel in front should do that.

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