A premier family destination, California's Great America has been entertaining the public for over 40 years.
Located in Santa Clara, about one hour south of San Francisco, California's Great America hosts dozens of rides and attractions as well as shows and special events throughout the year. With so many attractions to see and experience, you want to come prepared to get the best deals and avoid long lines. Use these Great America tips to have a guaranteed great trip!
1) Before You Arrive
Preparing before you arrive at the theme park is key. Consider the weather, how you want to eat that day, and how you want to spend the day at the park. Some general helpful tips include:
- Bring sunscreen! California's heat is no joke.
- Bring outerwear for cooler weather. You can keep it in a locker until you wish to wear it.
- Download the California's Great America app on your phone
- Prioritize preferred rides and attractions
2) What Does Admission Include?
Your admission ticket to California's Great America includes all rides, live shows, and attractions. Additionally, your ticket also includes admission to Boomerang Bay waterpark. However, this does not include pay-per-play games or attractions, or special events hosted in the park.
Guests can also purchase season passes of varying tiers, and even have the option of paying the fee in installments. You can gain perks like free parking, unlimited visits, and exclusive discounts.
3) Beat the Lines by Arriving Early and Prepared
No one likes to wait in a long line of people, especially with eager little ones. We advise arriving when the park opens with purchased tickets to better avoid the lines.
You can save time by paying for parking online before you arrive, especially since the price is the same as at the gate. Daily parking costs $25 per vehicle ($20 online), and $30 for preferred parking ($25 online).
5) California's Great America App
Download the California's Great America app before you arrive to purchase tickets, monitor wait times, as well as look at show schedules and restaurant menus. It’s also great to try to plan out which rides you plan to visit first to avoid meandering and long lines. Moreover, the app is free.
You can acquire a stroller, wheelchair, or electronically-controlled chair to meet your needs. Please note that you should arrive early since they are rented on a first-come, first-served basis.
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Furthermore, families can access the Family Care Center located in Planet Snoopy to use bottle warming services, use private nursing areas, and other special services.
7) Rides to Hit First
Most people wander around the front of the park and work their way towards the back. In order to avoid longer lines, start with the rides in the back of the park and work your way up front. Head to the new single rail coster, RailBlazer, or classics like Gold Striker and Patriot, before the crowds gather. Of course, aside from thrill rides, there are plenty of family-friendly rides little ones will love as well like the Barney Oldfield Speedway and the Carousel Columbia.
Additionally, water rides tend to have longer lines in the afternoon due to the heat, so visit Boomerang Bay early for less wait times on rides like Tasmanian Typhoon or Ripsnort Ridge. Get soaked in the morning and dry off in the afternoon.
8) Best Times to Visit
To beat the weekend crowds, visit mid-week. Saturdays are typically the busiest, so if you do go on a weekend, Sundays are better. Furthermore, if you arrive after dinner time around 5 pm, ride lines typically thin out.
Unsure of which months to visit? Weekdays during the summer and April, May, June, and September tend to be less packed. Note that the water park is closed during the winter months.
9) Eat During Off-Times
You're welcome to eat outside of the park, or eat at any of the eateries within the park. However, lines and wait times can be long, so try to eat earlier around 11:30 am or after 2 pm. Also, consider purchase a dining plan or single day meal deal. Note that you can't bring your own food unless you have special dietary needs.
10) California's Great America Discounts
Everyone loves a good deal, so take advantage when you can:
- Book a Money-Saving California's Great America - Aquarium of the Bay Package.
- Reserve tickets with Tripster to save $21
- AAA members receive a discount, so show your card at the ticket booth.
- Active and retired military personnel and veterans can receive military discount tickets.
11) General Great America Tips
- Stay hydrated. Once again, the heat is no joke. To save, bring a bottle of water that you can refill throughout the day.
- Receive a schedule and map at the entrance to help determine which attractions you care to see throughout the day and the park’s layout.
- The park is a smoke-free facility, but there are designated smoking areas.
- Choose a meeting place in case your party becomes separated. Additionally, if you become separated from your child, head to the Family Care Center in Planet Snoopy.
Have Fun and Let Loose at California's Great America
With our Great America tips in mind, you’re ready to have a great trip at California's Great America! Which thrill rides will you stop by first?