California’s Great America’s future is threatened.

See also:

Now available!

My illustrated history books on the California and Illinois parks are on Amazon. Click on either book cover image below to get yours today!

Six Flags Great America

California’s Great America

GREATAMERICAparks.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.


Marriott’s Great America history

In 1976, the Marriott Corporation opened two Marriott’s GREAT AMERICA parks. The two parks represented the state of the art in theme park design and attractions at that time. First to open was Marriott’s GREAT AMERICA in Santa Clara, California. Shortly after the Santa Clara park began operations, Marriott’s GREAT AMERICA in Gurnee, Illinois celebrated its grand opening. A third park in the Washington, DC metropolitan area was also to have opened in 1976. Local opposition, however, at two proposed sites prevented the third park from becoming a reality.

Simultaneously building two major theme parks and opening them just over two months apart was an unprecedented achievement in the theme park industry.  The Marriott’s Great America parks were designed and constructed with great dedication to authentic theming that was reflected in the rides, entertainment, food, merchandise, and more.  The goal was to provide a top-quality theme park experience for families to enjoy together.

press information

View a selection of Marriott’s Great America press releases:

photo albums:


Marriott’s Great America rides

Amusement rides were the key ingredient for fun at Marriott’s GREAT AMERICA. In the rides section of GREATAMERICAparks.com our focus for now is on all the rides from the Marriott years.

Continue reading “Rides”


Shows at Marriott’s GREAT AMERICA parks

Marriott’s GREAT AMERICA put a lot of emphasis on shows and performers. There were lavish musical shows, parades, marching bands, street performers, and even a circus. Here we will take a look back at the variety of shows and performers featured at Marriott’s GREAT AMERICA.

Visit the Circus Fantastic photo album.

Visit the Grand Music Hall photo album.

Visit the GREAT AMERICA band photo album.

Visit the Merry Mardi Gras Parade photo album.

Visit the Theatre Royale photo album.


Mayor Lisa M. Gillmor’s Statement on the Sale of California’s Great America

In the photo above, Santa Clara Mayor Gary G. Gillmor and Mrs. Gillmor are with J.W. “Bill” Marriott Jr. and a member of the park’s Continental Militia during the opening ceremony of Marriott’s Great America on March 20, 1976. Now in June of 2022 his daughter, Santa Clara Mayor Lisa M. Gillmor, issued the following …

Cedar Fair sold the land at California’s Great America and plans to close the park.

Terrible news for the Santa Clara park. Not this again! Stay tuned. UPDATE: See statement from Santa Clara Mayor Lisa M. Gillmor. Text from Cedar Fair press release today: CEDAR FAIR CAPITALIZES ON OPPORTUNITY TO SELL ITS LAND AT CALIFORNIA’S GREAT AMERICA AMUSEMENT PARK June 27, 2022 Cedar Fair will continue operating Great America under …

Marriott’s Great America in Gurnee, Illinois Opened Forty-Five Years Ago Today

The day kicked off with an opening ceremony that took place on a platform set up at the front of the Columbia Carousel’s reflecting pool. Speakers and special guests included J.W. “Bill” Marriott Jr., the park’s designer Randall Duell, and Mel Blanc. Marching bands from nearby high schools lined the sides of the reflecting pool while hundreds of balloons took to the sky above the Columbia.