Layout of the original themed areas

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Yankee Clipper
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Layout of the original themed areas

Post by GreatAmerica4ever »

Here is a question for the former Marriott employees can answer, or we can find somewhere through the park design and plans....

Is there any actual reason of the layout of the original themed areas?

I understand that Carousel Plaza is the entrance/exit for the park, but why was it designed that you then either start in Orleans Place or Hometown Square?

It is kind of interesting that Yankee Harbor was desinged right next to Orleans Place as a historical point of our history. County Fair and Hometown Square seems a little close in a history timeline.

Does anyone know? Thanks!
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Willard's Whizzer
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Post by MGA1 »

I never heard an official explanation for why the certain themed areas were selected or how they were arranged within the park design while I worked at the parks. However, I can speculate as to what the decision process would have considered.

The Great America parks were initially planned and designed to open in 1976, during America's Bicentennial celebration. For those too young to remember 1976, it was a big patriotic celebration for the U.S. Much of the same type of hoopla and excitement that transpired during the Millennial celebration in 2000. So that helps explain the park name "Great America" and overall patriotic/historical Americana theme.

The individual themed areas represented different geographical areas of the country, all based in the past. While I can't say why Marriott chose those specific 5 themed areas, I can say something for how the park was designed.

Carousel Plaza & most of Orleans Place are located at the front of the park, separated from the rest of the park by a large lanscaped berm where the train runs along (until Paramount destroyed the berm in Santa Clara). Hometown square is also near the front of the park. Both of these themed areas near the front of the park were designed with a LOT of merchandise shops, restaurant & food kiosks, and only few small footprint rides. This is a very typical entrance area in most theme park designs
....Disney's Mainstreet at the park entrance, Kings Island/Dominion's International Blvd. Lots of shops and few rides toward the front of the park.

As you move further back from the entrance area, you'll see more of the big footprint rides that take up a lot of space. Orleans Place, Hometown Square, Yankee Harbor, and Yukon Territory all originally had very highly detailed theming and architectural elements (many have been stripped away over the years). The original "Great Midwest County Fair and Livestock Exposition" (aka County Fair) was the largest of the themed areas and contained the most rides & games...but it always appeared to be less ornately themed than the other areas of the park. Oh, and there never was a Livestock Exposition in County Fair...despite the original plans for a petting zoo for that area of the park.
"...and enjoy the rest of your day here at Marriott's GRRRREAT America"
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