California's Great America Update - June 19th, 2021
My South Bay Shores review and Ride Closure Updates
After trying and striking out on getting a reservation to South Bay Shores, CGA's new water park, I finally managed to get one and on Saturday no less! (My guess is that around the time I booked the reservation, they were able to increase capacity and I got lucky of logging on at the right time) Since SBS opening is by far the biggest update since the park opened in May, we'll spend most of this update covering that! But it's not the only changes in the park, especially with the state of CA rolling back most restrictions last week. We'll cover that as well. Let's jump right in, starting with SBS!
The park from above
Let's start with the marquee slide complex in the park: Pacific Surge. I rode Feeding Frenzy and one of the Shark Reef Plunge slides. They were both a ton of fun with the Shark Reef Plunge slide I rode being one of the more intimidating slides I've ever ridden. There really isn't quite another feeling like standing in that capsule waiting for the floor to drop out from under you. I wasn't the only one that felt that way, two of the group of four ahead of me chickened out from riding the slide after going to stand in the capsule
The Middle Tower Complex finally had its old Australian signs taken off
Coastal Cruz whizzes down its slide
I like the colors throughout the area
Can't believe the Reef Racer slides used to be the park's best speed slides
Tide Pool was pretty crowded and looked to be well enjoyed by kids
Rushin' River was closed when I walked by
But it looks like fun
Always love a good water jet in the lazy river
Breakers Bay looked like a lot of fun
I liked the colors on these chairs outside of Breakers Bay
Interestingly, Otter Trotter now lies entirely within SBS
Whereas before, the water pad laid outside the gates of Boomerang Bay. Doesn't make a huge difference since the water park is free with admission anyways but just thought it was interesting
Besides the previously covered otters in Otter Trotter, these fish squirting water are my favorite part of the area
Pup's Pier was looking nice and vibrant this visit
Let's spend a quick couple of seconds covering the stores that you can find within SBS. In case you're only able to visit one, don't worry too much about which one, they all sell similar things: t shirts, bathing suits, sandals, towels, etc.
To begin with, on busy days, there will be a little minibus outside the entrance of the park selling some merchandise
In the shadow of the middle slide complex, you can find Clipper's Tidepool Treasures
Over by the Otter Trotter splash pad, there is Guppy Gear and Otteries, the largest of the stores in SBS
Finally, we have Surfside Supplies which isn't technically in SBS but does appear to have a door that can be opened to SBS
One of the coolest parts of SBS is that they even gave the Dippin Dots stand a repaint to fit the area instead of just using a standard white one
The marquee restaurant in the area is Pier 76 which is where I ate my lunch
We've seen these awesome murals before!
But not this one
Nor this little one!
Here's the menu. The entrees when I went were chicken tenders, shrimp, flatbread pizzas and chicken. But it was still fairly early in the day when I went, I'd bet there were more choices that I just wasn't there for
In the entrance rotunda, we are greeted by this sign
So many fantastic murals and art in the restaurant!
And the food was good! The shrimp were pretty big and filling. I only wish that they had cocktail sauce for me to dip my shrimp in instead of barbeque sauce
Shark Bites seemed like a much more standard theme park eatery although the fishing poles on the sign was a cool themeing element
The last of the restaurants in SBS in Sand Bar
Which sits right next to Breakers Bay
Unfortunately I didn't eat or drink anything here today although I plan on fixing that soon
I think that Pelican Punch is going to be the first one I try when I made my way over here!
The mural on the wall seems to suggest that it's the signature drink!
Although there are no set shows in SBS, there are plenty of street shows that happens throughout the day. Before we get into that, let's talk about the backstory of the area: SBS is a small, quirky seaside town that hosts an annual contest called the Pelican Plunge (which in reality seems to be some sort of kids jumping contest held every evening) which is today. As such, the residents are welcoming us tourists into their town.
That starts when you enter. On busy days, the mayor of SBS stands at the gates to the park and welcomes us. Eventually they wander throughout the park during the day interacting with guests
The other street show I saw was this drum show
This seems like some sort of setup for a faux cooking show
I'd assume there's a show here too
At intervals during the day, there are live radio anchors in the k-South Bay booth interacting with guests and talking in character about their town
This little car is parked near the Grassy Gardens area but I bet that it has a little character show throughout the area
And finally, in the Pier 76 plaza, there's a stage that hosts live music which is awesome for while you're eating!
South Bay Shores has so much more themeing than I expected! I won't try to caption every image in this gallery but hopefully you enjoy a deeper dive into all the detail that there is in the area!
Of course, you gotta have a photo op area
The Middle Slide Tower Complex was the big surprise of the day for me. We already knew that it had those awesome posters in the queue but I didn't expect the car out front or any of the other themeing in the queue! What follows is a quick gallery of all those themeing elements in and around the queue for the Middle Slide Tower Complex.
As I've mentioned in prior updates, the murals in the park are amazing and they're really ubiquitous throughout the park. Take a peek at some of my favorites!
The k-South Bay booth also has this awesome car parked out front
It's such a cliche for a radio station to park a promo car out front and I love that the park mimic'd them!
The mayor's house is also represented in the park. They're a busy person!
I wonder if there's some sort of street show here or if it's just a piece of themeing?
The Grassy Gardens area was as green and lush as promised
My only wish was that it was a little more obvious that guests were allowed to step on the grass since I saw little to no people on it most of the day
Finally, let's end this section of the update with a couple of random pieces of themeing that I enjoyed seeing around the park!
So yeah, that's the first part of our update! My final thoughts about SBS? I was blown away! I had really high hopes after my tour in April but the actual park exceeded my expectations. The new slides were awesome and the rest of the existing slides looked great. The restaurants are great additions and the fact that there's so much streetmosphere is amazing. With such a detailed backstory and all the detail in the park you can see that this really was designed with a ton of care. This is the best themed water park in the region by far and is either the best or one of the best themed areas Cedar Fair has put together. I hope the reception to the park is good and Cedar Fair continues to transform CGA in this vein!
The meat of the rest of our update really is around rides, both reopening ones and updates on the ones that remain closed.
Like I mentioned in a previous update, I suspected that a handful of rides like Mass Effect and Star Tower would reopen when the state lifted COVID restrictions. With the restrictions being lifted earlier in the week, I'm glad to say that the rides are reopened!
Mass Effect is the same experience it was in 2019 with one exception: instead of running continuously, the ride only operates every 30 minutes on the half hour
It's worth noting that when I went to ride the ride, the line did fill up ahead of the start so if you want to ride this ride make sure you get in at least a little early
Star Tower was also open
Other than a new recording, it's pretty identical to 2019 which is fine with me since it's still a fun way to get out of the heat!
Is that what I think it is?
Yep, Grizzly is back welcoming guests!
I went for a ride on it, it seemed to be running a little smoother than 2019 but otherwise it was a similar experience
But it's always good to see more coasters opening up!
The Planet Snoopy Construction Zone play area also reopened after restrictions lifted
Let's start with ride that's the least close to reopening: Orbit!
There isn't a ton of progress since May with the ride still sitting under a tarp. I assume the ride vehicles are being worked on in a building somewhere
Berserker is also missing its cars
But it seems to be more put together and closer to reopening than Orbit
But the most put together and ready ride is Whitewater Falls
The lift is completely rebuilt
And it looks pretty much ready to go
Hopefully it reopens soon since we could use a water ride in the hot couple of weeks we've had
The biggest other news of the month is definitely the fact that mask restrictions were modified as the state dropped its restrictions. As such, vaccinated guests are no longer required to wear masks anywhere in the park even indoors. Masks were still worn by about 40% of guests in the park.
Orleans Candy Kitchen featured this rainbow fudge as the flavor of the month (presumably for pride month). I wonder what flavor it is!
Space Beagle is back!
This and Peanuts Block Party seem like the only shows that will run this year
The All American Corners area looks the same as it did last week. Maybe it's just waiting for Orbit to reopen to be finished?
All the restaurants in the park are open except for Game Time...
... and South Bay Cantina. Hopefully this one especially opens soon!
Spent some time thinking about Haunt this year. Without any substantial regressions for COVID or staffing I'd assume that we have at least some sort of Halloween event this year. I hope that means we'll get the Samurai house that got announced last year. Regardless, I'll keep my eye out for activity as we get closer to September and October
Looking forward to the next event at the park!
Just a couple of other pictures I wanted to share today!
I never noticed how interesting the area is around Rip Roaring Rapids
This little hummingbird was hanging around the Planet Snoopy Annex. It's amazing watching their wings beat as fast as they do
Flight Deck was running really well today!
So there you go! I really enjoyed my time at SBS and in the dry park and think CGA has a real winner on their hands with SBS. It was also really nice to start to get back to normal with rides reopening and the mask restrictions being dropped. My next update should come in mid July with the opening of the Taste of Orleans event so I'll talk to you all then!