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California's Great America: Introducing a Foodie Revolution and a Brand-New Ride
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California’s Great America has good news for theme park foodies. Now, along with the over 40 rides and attractions, including the brand-new RailBlazer, the Santa Clara, Calif. park is offering 4 new dining options and a makeover of a signature restaurant.

The park originally opened in 1976, and covers over 100 acres, featuring rides like the renowned wooden roller coaster, Gold Striker. The park is owned by Cedar Fair Entertainment. This summer season the venue introduced a fresh-concept coaster, the RailBlazer. The first coaster of its kind on the West Coast, the ride uses a single rail track that requires riders to straddle the rail, for dynamic turns and rotations on an eight-passenger single file train. Great views and exciting thrills are the outcome as the ride elevates riders up to 106 feet, then plunges them down a 90-degree angle at 52 miles per hour. Plus: riders experience three inversions and a zero-gravity roll. The design theme of the ride is that of an off-road adventure; immersive imagery is designed to stimulate an extreme four-wheel-drive adventure. The adventure begins in the queue line with a rocky landscape, natural waterway and a trailhead sign marking the start of the journey.

General manager and park VP Paul Rehnborg says that the ride’s introduction marks the start of a “multi-year transformation of California’s Great American into a world-class destination…”

And between rides, are some tasty eats for guests. On the menu: Sierra Creek Lodge family restaurant, Orleans Candy Kitchen, French Quarter Funnel Cake & Churro, and a full-service Starbucks. Maggie Brown’s Smokehouse & Fried Chicken has an inside/outside makeover. Upgrading dining options at the park is just one more step toward over-all park growth, with new attractions planned to roll out over the next several years.

According to Rehnborg, the goal is to offer food and beverage services333 that matches the park’s ride experience. “We realize the importance of food to the overall guest experience, and these additions are only a part of what is planned in the coming years,” he says.

Along with new dining options, Great America focused on efficiency of food delivery, updating single-line eateries with a change in storefronts to allow dual lines for faster service.

But now to the food itself. Located in the Hometown Square area of the park, the new full-service Starbucks replaces the park’s original, smaller-scale Starbucks. With location-appropriate images of America’s early years as inside décor and a comfortable outdoor patio, the Starbucks offers a full menu of beverages and bakery items. Guests can enjoy coffees, teas, and favorites like Frappuccinos® and Macchiatos, as well as fresh sandwiches, fruit and protein snacks, and scones, bagels, cakes and cookies. Window seats encourage guests to relax and dine, offering a wide view of the midway.

In Orleans Place, the new venues on tap are the French Quarter Funnel Cake and Churro Factory and the Orleans Candy Kitchen. Both replace other venues and offer a fresh take on dessert. The French Quarter Funnel Cake & Churro Factory takes the park’s popular funnel cakes into new taste territory, offering mix and match flavoring such as classic strawberry and powdered sugar funnel cakes as well as blueberry, caramel, apple, cookies and cream, tropical coconut and pineapple. And the churros? Try the s’mores, key lime pie, cotton candy, apple pie, strawberry shortcake, cookies and cream, creamsicle, or the tropical – an appealing mix of coconut, pineapple, and rum flavor. Another innovative option: macha, made with white chocolate and Bavarian cream. An outdoor patio makes this a relaxing sweet stop.

In the same part of the park, Orleans Candy Kitchen is stepping in with specialty caramel apples that include personalized toppings that include caramel and house-made pralines all dipped to order, as well as fresh fudge and salt water taffy. Other sweet tooth cravings include chocolate covered Oreos and Jelly Belly flavors. A big draw to this new spot is the fudge making that takes place right in the front window, and the varied fudge flavors from strawberry to peanut butter.

Sierra Creek Lodge, which offers family dining, is positioned in the park’s Planet Snoopy section. What was once the Joe Cool Café now has the look of a rustic mountain lodge with wall murals of bears and deer. Kids enjoy the familiar flavors of chicken tenders, macaroni and cheese, and pizza; adults indulge with the panini bar, with veggies, lean meats, and choices of sauces. At the Coca-Cola Barrilitos station pairings of agua fresca flavors – juice and water blends – include mango and lime, strawberry hibiscus, and pear cucumber. Double serving lines mean faster service, too.

As to the dining makeover of Maggie Brown’s, guests experience additional ordering kiosks for shorter wait times, a larger outdoor patio, and an alluring giant rotisserie and smoker that allows guests to observe the making of dishes such as BBQ brisket, pulled pork, and ribs.

There’s more foodie fun in store at park events throughout the summer. On July 21, The Taste of Orleans festival serves up Cajun cuisine like shrimp po-boys, chicken gumbo, crawfish etouffee, and new this year –alligator bites served with spicy Creole dipping sauce. August 11th, the 21st Fiesta Hispana includes a delicious dose of Latin cuisine. The same August weekend, the Coaster Campout event takes place, allowing guests to campout near the roller coasters, and enjoy s’mores with Snoopy and a camper’s breakfast.

A regular season’s pass is priced this year at $71 allowing unlimited visits; the Gold Pass offers a 20% discount on food and merchandise plus admission to the park’s Halloween Haunt and Winterfest and free parking for $107. And the platinum pass grants holders access to all Cedar Fair Parks along with all the benefits of the Gold Pass for $220. Daily admission is as low as $41. Admission plus fast lane – which allows guests to get past the lines on 18 rides and attractions each day, is $88 online.
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