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Posts tagged “Marriott’s

Could Great America’s Consulate become the next great season pass perk?

Hidden in plain sight above Bourbon Street in Orleans Place, lies a little bit of Disney magic inside the confines California’s Great America:


The balcony of the Consulate as seen during the Taste of Orleans festival.

Known as “The Consulate” – it’s primary function is a meeting room, where some of the biggest decisions about the park have gone down.

Photo courtesy of The Coaster Guy - used with permission.

Some of the biggest deals in the park’s history have been signed at this table. Photo courtesy of The Coaster Guy – used with permission.

But that wasn’t always the intended purpose. In fact, it was originally built with the idea that the Marriott’s would use the space to stay during trips, a la the apartment above the firehouse at Disneyland. That is, until the Marriott’s realized they had nice hotels already near their properties with concierge service and a lack of crowds.

So while the Consulate is still used today for business – what if it’s wrought iron gates were opened to a select few park-goers as a VIP lounge? And what if you could upgrade your Platinum Pass to a “Consulate Pass?”

Photo courtesy of The Coaster Guy - used with permission.

Photo courtesy of The Coaster Guy – used with permission.

The idea isn’t that far fetched – several parks have hosted hospitality centers for bloggers and other influencers, where they could store items and get free refills and snacks, all away from the crowds. Why not give guests the opportunity to pay for that same, sweet access?

Plus, the pass could add a few other perks, maybe higher discounts for food and merchandise – or even a single fast lane per visit. It’s a Platinum, Platinum Pass.

Since upgrading to a Platinum Pass isn’t worth the cost for most Bay Area folks, with the exception of those who want to go to Knott’s (and I’ve covered that in a previous article) and considering an upgrade from a Gold Pass to a Platinum Pass doesn’t add any more value to a visit at CGA, maybe this benefit might be the incentive people need to pony up those extra bucks. And since we’re here in Silicon Valley, receiving that “premium” experience is not a hard sell.


The Consulate seems frozen in time. Photo courtesy of The Coaster Guy – used with permission

Should it be by invite only? Probably to start. Parks tend to (or should) know their heaviest users and could easily identify probable candidates from common knowledge – or just looking at pass usage data.

What do you think? Would you pay up to get access to the Consulate? How much would you be willing to shell out to step up to the second floor? Let me know in the comments below.

Again, special thanks to Kurt (The Coaster Guy) for permission to use his photos of the Consulate during ACE’s Coaster Con XXXVII!


Five Ways California’s Great America Can Make It’s 40th Anniversary Better

Photo by Steven Wilson

Can we talk?

California’s Great America is about to celebrate it’s 40th anniversary this year. And from the feeling I’m getting via their social media and press releases, it sure is starting to feel like the park is about to blow a major opportunity to celebrate it properly.

Yes, the park is getting a revamped 4D theater – but that’s all so far for their 40th season. A milestone season. A season many people didn’t think the park would ever get to the first place (if you know it’s history).

Maybe I’m nuts, but as a fan, here’s five things the park can easily do to make the 40th beyond just “good” – they’ll make it GREAT:


5.) Bring back the history museum:

One of the coolest parts of ACE’s Coaster Con for me two years ago was the opportunity to be involved in designing and curating the history museum at the park. It was hoped it would help the park do a better job of bragging about it’s history – and gave the park the excuse to dust off a WORKING model of their Flight Deck coaster.

Great America history museum

Photo © 2014, Kris Rowberry

Sadly, the very next day – it was closed to the public. All that work for less than 12 hours of total operation. If you’re going to celebrate your history – you better be prepared to be PROUD of it and COMMIT to it.


4.) Have roving, themed performers in the park:

Again, a highlight of Coaster Con a few years ago (for local park fans at least) was the apparent return of themed dancers and singers to Orleans Place. Even the general public stopped in awe. This piece of Marriott-era showmanship evoked Disney-like tones and really should be made permanent, rather than just used for one event and discarded.

Photo © 2014, Kris Rowberry

Photo © 2014, Kris Rowberry


3.) Bring back the Demon’s theming:

A sore spot with me for YEARS (Ha! It’s funny ’cause it’s an older Arrow coaster, get it?) I’ve got on at length about this before, so I’ll make it as clear as I can – the Demon MUST have it’s special effects brought back for the 40th anniversary. Bonus points if you re-create the “Turn of the Century” sign.

Demon Great America night

Photo © 2003, Kris Rowberry

Speaking of nostalgia…


2.) Retro merchandise in the gift shops:

Nothing is hotter right now than nostalgia – and theme parks tend to accumulate a ton of it in their lifetimes. Great America is no exception. If you’re looking for a perfect example of how to pull this off, take a gander at Busch Gardens Williamsburg, who’s most popular shirt this year – was for a ride that’s been gone for three seasons now (The Big Bad Wolf).

Busch Gardens retro shirts

Photo © 2015, Kris Rowberry

Admit it, you don’t just want a Sky Whirl, the Edge or Tidal Wave t-shirt now…

…you NEED one.


1.) Nix the fountains up front and bring back the swans:

Quick backstory: The fountains were added in 2001, to celebrate the park’s 25th anniversary. I think it’s time to revert the front pool to what it was originally intended as – a reflecting pool.

And what better way to class up the joint, than to bring back the elegant, trumpeter swans!

Photo by Steven Wilson

Photo credit: Steven Wilson collection,

And yes, California’s Great America, I’m available for consulting – perhaps compensation via funnel cake is in order. Either way, you have my info…don’t keep me waiting.

What do you think? Are there any other things the park can do to help truly celebrate it’s 40th season? Leave me a comment below, or chat with me on your favorite social networks!

California’s Great America Needs to Demonize “the Demon” during Halloween Haunt

It seems like a match made in heaven…err, HELL perhaps.

Since California’s Great America began their annual Halloween Haunt, it has missed out on what would be the EASIEST haunted attraction – ever. That’s right, I’m talking about the Demon.


Photo Credit: Kris Rowberry. All Rights Reserved, 2015.

If you were ever looking for an excuse to bring back some of the older theme of this classic Arrow Development ride, wouldn’t Haunt be the perfect opportunity?

Let’s start with the queue line. By now, every park fan has probably heard of the infamous “Demon Song” – a nearly twenty-six minute loop of a custom theme song for ride, coupled with skits between. And there’s no need to look for it, CGA – here it is…in it’s entirety:

This “demon-itization” could also include sprucing up all the accent lighting around the ornate rock work. And you know what, why not throw in some zombies on the other side of the fence just to make things interesting?

Now, let’s get to some of the most contentious, yet easiest to accomplish items, if you use a little creativity.


1.) Fog in the Tunnels:

Photo Credit: Kris Rowberry. All Rights Reserved, 2003.

We can all see the light sockets are still there from the 1980 season (check out how amazing it was, too):

…and while they’ve just been DYING to be reused (couldn’t resist), why not do a much cheaper alternative for now by just throwing some white (or red strobes) inside the tunnel, with two of those Haunt fog machines at the entrance to it? The train will naturally draw in the fog into the tunnel and the effect will be both disorienting and amazing at the same time.


2.) The Bloodfall:

Photo Credit: Kris Rowberry. All Rights Reserved, 2004.

Photo Credit: Kris Rowberry. All Rights Reserved, 2004.

This one is arguably more complicated. We’re guessing the pump may have gone out a few years ago and it isn’t too easy to get out to be replaced. But – that doesn’t mean you can’t fill the pond below with that eerie red liquid for effect or throw some more strobes and fog out there…

.2.) The Demon Himself:

Sadly, last weekend when I stayed until closing, the head wasn’t even lit up. Not even the eyes. Too bad, because when he is – it’s awesome:

Photo Credit: Kris Rowberry. All Rights Reserved, 2004.

People give the Paramount-era at this park a bad rap – most of the lighting and water effects WORKED during this time (sans the big tunnel).

Need we remind everyone the 40th park anniversary is coming up in 2016 next year. With nostalgia a BIG seller these days, what better way to throw it back, then to finally see a return of our terrifying Demon…

What do YOU think? Tell us in the comments section below or on our social media links!

Newest Lost Parks Episode Debuts – Frontier Village in San Jose

These are the days I look forward to the most. After several months of blood, sweat and tears, we are finally ready to pull back the curtain on our latest “Lost Parks of Northern California” – presenting San Jose’s beloved Frontier Village.

Be sure to LIKE and SHARE the video with all your friends, family and favorite television networks and personalities – let’s make this the biggest Lost Parks episode EVER, TOGETHER!