California's Great America Update - May 22nd, 2021
CGA Reopening Day
- South Bay Shores
We've been waiting a long time for this day: California's Great America is finally open to guests! It was so good to be back. It wasn't a perfect day as you'd expect from an opening day - lots of rides suffered downtime through the day and the park was crowded - but I didn't even care since it was so good to be beack in the park. After a year off, the park looks fantastic and the rides were running great as well. Let's take our usual trip around the park and see what's changed, starting with the rides!
A bunch has happened with the rides while we've been away so let's take a peek and see what's changed!
Love the new paint job, looks so much more natural
It appears that I was wrong that all of the trains would be painted gray. At least some of them are still slightly more colorful (but even that looks good now)
The sign out front got a repaint too
But maybe the biggest new update from PM is that the entrance to the ride no longer features the massive mouse graphic
For reference, this is what the entrance used to look like
I hadn't heard any of the scuttlebut so I wasn't surprised to see it down when I first noticed it. But after looking at it a little closer, it did surprise me in that the entire lift hill is ripped out and the base of the first drop has a hole in it (edit: I was told that this hole is normal on these types of rides. Makes sense the more I think about it, I guess I've never taken a hard look at one of these rides). But, I don't think there is any hidden meaning to this closure beyond a normal refurb though. First, the ride remains on the 2021 park map. The park map only released a couple of weeks ago so unless this was a last minute decision, if the ride was being retired, it wouldn't have been on the map at all. Second, the ride still has its web page. Any readers should know I'm not a big fan of the "web page as proxy for ride's life" concept but in this case, CGA just recently updated their site over the last week or two so if the ride was leaving, the page would've hypothetically been left out of the migration. And finally, and most damning in my eyes, is the fact that the ride is listed on the scheduled ride closures page (alongside Orbit and Berserker) and listed as opening in Early Summer. If it were going away permanently, I'd expect to see it not on this list. So yeah, this ride isn't going anywhere, it's just getting a refurb. But we'll continue to keep our eyes on it!
As you expected, the ride has a sign out front
An overview of the whole site
The trough remains drained
I assume that this is the pipe carrying water to the turnaround?
And the hole at the bottom of the drop
No real changes at Railblazer today, I just wanted to share some shots. It was running really fast which is great to see. It also suffered from a little bit of downtime when I walked by it in the late afternoon. But it was so good to get back on such an amazing ride!
I forgot just how much whip you get over the first drop from the back seat!
And to be totally honest with you, I never understood the complaints about sore shoulders from this ride. Maybe it's something you get when you marathon it?
I will say that over the long offseason, I had forgotten how lucky we are to get to have such an awesome coaster so close to us
And now that it's open again, I'm looking forward to making up for an entire season's worth of lost rides!
And let's round this off by sharing a picture I took of the picture computers at the exit to Railblazer. They were broken but it looks like CGA is still running Windows 7!
Don't have a ton of pictures for this section of the update since the coaster was closed every time I walked by it all day but the elements in Flight Deck's queue got a refurb. The only one visible from where they were holding the line was this rotating radar dish that I don't think spun at all last year. When this ride is open for me, I look forward to seeing what else is fixed again on this ride!
It spins again!
This coaster also suffered from some sporadic downtime. It was open in the morning but went down in the afternoon and I left the park before I made its way back up.
The paint is looking particularly fresh this year
Interestingly, Patriot's exit used to have a handful of shelves with merch near the photo counter but these were removed and replaced by arcade machines
Grizzly spent the entire time I was at the park closed
But it was cycling trains basically the entire time
It was funny watching the trains absolutely crawl around the first turn
Hopefully it'll be open soon!
Planet Snoopy Annex
As I mentioned in a previous update, the Planet Snoopy annex rides got a repaint
And they look great! Nice and vibrant!
Is this a new sign for Thunder Raceway? It looks much too vibrant to be old
Gold Striker was the one ride that I didn't see have any downtime. But as you can see, this also meant it had one of the longest lines in the park
Drop Tower also didn't open the entire time I was there but at my last pass, there were workers at the ride. Maybe they were doing some training/testing? (Edit - on the Sunday of opening weekend, Drop Tower was open. Talking to the ride op, I was told that staffing shortages forced the DT crew to work Tiki Twirl instead)
Tiki Twirl, on the other hand, was running and a much needed fairly high capacity ride
I'd never seen this cool carving on Eagle's Flight station. Thought it was kinda a cool old little detail that maybe not many notice!
Mass Effect was closed and will probably remain closed until COVID restrictions are dropped
I was hoping to get a look at the new colors for Orbit but found the ride closed and under a tarp. Looks like both it and Berserker will open later this Summer
Planet Snoopy Annex
Interestingly, a new path that was blocked off in the Planet Snoopy annex is now open, namely the path to the left of the Snoopy statue. You won't find any rides there, only a seating area currently used as a mask rest area and a structure used for meet and greets but it's interesting that it reopened this year after being closed for 2019!
Looking down towards the meet and greet structure
The seating area
Another overview of the area
All American Corners
All American Corners was another area that was teased to get a refresh along with the Orbit repaint.
This game stand replaces a henna stand from last year. I sat here for 20 minutes being entertained by watching people try their luck
The other rumored point of improvement was the gazebo area
But the gazebo was totally gone which makes me think that the refresh of the area is just a little late. I look forward to seeing it though!
Interestingly Orleans Place lost its entry arch. I assume this is just another case of a refurb
Finally, there's brand new pavement from just before Food Festival all the way over to Orleans Place
South Bay Shores
A good bit has changed since I took a tour in April and now! Let's take a look at some of the finishing touches that have gone in since then.
Let's start with the entrance. I absolutely love it, it looks so good. My only question is, what is the Pelican Plunge Festival?
And the sign for SBS near Delirium looks great too
The signage for Pup's Pier went up and looks fantastic
The updated scrimming for the middle slide complex went up. Kinda funny is that the old Didgeridoo Falls signage is still up
The Otter Trotter otters look as cute as expected!
Overall I'm extremely pleased with the final graphics installed into SBS and look forward to visiting the park when it opens in early June!
South Bay Cantina
The most interesting new restaurant/store added this offseason was without a doubt South Bay Cantina. Taking the place of the old Outback Shack, this eatery (that I mistakenly referred to as South Bay Burrito in a previous update) serves burritos which look fantastic. It was closed on opening day but when it opens, I'll definitely be there to check it out!
The sign matches the color scheme of the main SBS sign
And the name of the restaurant is also painted on this little roof
The back seating area looks somewhat similar to the old Outback Shack area but minus the Coke stand
And much cleaner of course
One more view of the area
And finally, lets take a look at the menu. That Asada burrito looks amazing!
Surfside Supplies/Guppy Gear
Grouping these two together since they're not new stores per se but instead just rename/refreshes with the SBS conversion.
New signage and new paint look great!
Although the old name (Seaside Supplies) would've been fine, glad to see the park putting in the effort to retheme the store to something even more fitting!
Guppy Gear is undoubtedly a more fitting name than the old one (Mathilda's)
The former Crescent City Clothing Co got converted into Voodoo Charm. It sells a mix of clothing and other gifts.
The new entrance to the store. I like the name and think it's a little more flavorful than the previous name
As you can see, the old name still lives on inside the store
Overall, the store was cool and had some unique, surprisingly interesting clothes. Make sure to check it out!
Maggie Brown's Famous Fried Chicken
Maggie's got a rename over the offseason to Maggie Brown's Famous Fried Chicken. Expect a fairly similar menu to the delicious fare we're used to
But the way the line works is different. Gone are the ordering computers at the front of the store
As are the cashiers at the front. Instead, the cups are self serve and the cashiers check you out at the back of the line where the big pot of BBQ sauces used to be
The Panda location was freshly overhauled too. What used to be an open air counter is now an enclosed counter
Like all the park restaurants today, it had a huge line but it should be a much more comfortable wait once you get inside
Let's take a look around the park at some of the new merch I spotted that I liked. This merch is new to the best of my knowledge but some might end up just being "new to me" instead of actually new.
Love this shirt that the park first showed off during the preview night last year
This one was also teased at that preview night
There was actually a decent range of SBS merch with more to come in the gift shops in/near SBS
This display in the front of Inside CGA had some interesting more rustic merch
And I really liked this more low key park shirt
Over at the Gold Striker store, I don't remember this shirt variety being offered
And I don't think I've seen this phrase on anything, much less a t-shirt from a park
I really liked these cute little squishable candy in the Orleans Candy Kitchen
As you'd expect, reservations to CGA are now required and mine was actually checked
A cool opening day touch: this group of drummers walking around the park entertaining guests
There were plenty of costumed characters around the park taking socially distanced photos with guests
As long as we continue to see vaccination numbers rise and case numbers fall, I don't see a reason why we can't have some sort of Halloween event this year!
I don't think I'd ever been into Orleans Candy Kitchen far enough to see this cool sign!
Looks like the next event the park is putting on is Taste of Orleans in July! Looking forward to it!
Mask Break Areas
As you'd expect from a theme park with required masks, there were plenty of mask break areas scattered around the park. This one was near the entrance to the Madam Marie haunted house between Railblazer and Food Festival
This one was near Grizzly
This one was in the newly opened Planet Snoopy annex path
And this one was a former smoking area near Flight Deck
There you have it, another update from CGA (and the first one since preview day of last year)! It was so good to get back and I look forward to continuing to pop by the park for a ride here or there like I used to. Expect another longer update from me in June when SBS finally opens!