California’s Great America Reveals Long Term Plan
Cedar Fair CEO Matt Ouimet was at California’s Great America yesterday to make some announcements about the future of the park, and for fans of the park the news was positive. No, there weren’t any specific big ride announcements, but he did reveal a “Master Plan” for the park land and announced a rezoning application that the park is working on with the city of Santa Clara. He also assured people the park wouldn’t be going anywhere (at least not until their lease is up in 2074).
The biggest item for coaster fans is likely the rezoning effort, which would allow the park to construct taller rides. Currently California’s Great America is subject to a 35-foot height restriction and needs exceptions from the city for anything taller. The juicy part? Great American Thrills dug through the notice of the environmental impact report from the city of Santa Clara and found the table below that reveals the new proposal would allow for as many as 8 rides over 200 feet tall, six more than the park currently has, as well as lots of new smaller rides.
The park is still partly limited in height by the nearby San Jose Airport, but clearly Cedar Fair hopes for a lot of expansion of the ride portfolio over the coming 20 years (specified in the EIR notice). Along with table above, KLIV radio also posted a picture of a map from the talk by Ouimet that shows some potential areas of expansion. Highlights include a new major attraction going in the location where Invertigo used to stand (#10), an expansion to the water park (#16), and potentially something happening with the old IMAX theater (#14, the lower one).
“We are prepared to invest in a collection of new rides, attractions and shows,” Ouimet said during the press conference. There aren’t specific details in the plan, but it offers flexibility for the park and gives a hint at what is being considered. Ouimet also said it’s likely one new attraction per year for the next ten years could be developed.
The other big potential addition discussed is an “entertainment district” outside the front gates of the park that could have restaurants, retail, and entertainment open to the public. This would be something similar to the market area outside of Knott’s Berry Farm, or something like Downtown Disney.
“You’ll see some fun restaurants and a little retail, but probably more entertainment retail,” Ouimet said. This addition could help keep guests at the park later in the day (the way getting fried chicken outside Knott’s for dinner does), and could help the park bring in money during events at neighboring Levi’s Stadium, home of the San Francisco 49ers.
Maybe the most important thing Ouimet said though, was the assurance that the park wasn’t going anywhere. The land the park is on is owned by the city, and they have been selling off parcels, potentially including the one California’s Great America sits on. The current lease runs until 2074, and if the land is sold Cedar Fair has the right to match the offer and buy the property. But, even if Cedar Fair doesn’t buy the land, the park will still be safe.
“Our long-term plans do not change if someone else buys the land,” he said. “Any change of use other than an amusement park and related entertainment district would require Cedar Fair’s approval and the city’s approval.”
So, rest easy CGA fans, it looks like our park is safe, and it’s about to get some big investment over the next decade. Now the question is what new attraction do we want to see first?
The city is expected to review the master plan later this year. If you want to read more check out the article from the Silicon Valley Business Journal. And if you really like reading government documents, the full “Notice of Preparation for the Great America Theme Park Master Plan Project” can be read here.