A Bittersweet Visit to CGA

On my first (and likely last) visit to California's Great America, I tried to ride as much as possible and soak in the atmosphere.


This report is part 3 of 3 about my June 2023 solo coaster trip. Check out part 1 at Lagoon and part 2 at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom! I was at California's Great America on Saturday from 10AM-10PM, and Sunday from 10AM-8PM. My coaster ride totals were 32 on Gold Striker, 21 on RailBlazer, 6 on Flight Deck, 2 on Grizzly, 2 on Patriot, 1 on Psycho Mouse, 1 on Demon, and 1 on Woodstock Express. It wasn't very busy for a summer weekend with temperatures in the high 60s and low 70s. I had an amazing time at this park doing 65 total rides in 2 days. Operations were lightning fast, especially at Gold Striker and RailBlazer. I spent my time at CGA as if it's being demolished tomorrow, because there's no way I'll be back if it truly closes in the next decade. Coaster-wise, CGA is one of the weakest Cedar Fair parks I've been to, only ahead of Michigan's Adventure. Because I had such a great time here, I also currently rank it above my visit to Canada's Wonderland in 2012. The canceled B&M hyper would've been a wonderful fit for CGA, as their current top 3 coasters are all very intense and whippy. Like most Cedar Fair parks, California's Great America is clean, charming, and easy to navigate. I will be very bummed if/when this park permanently closes.


My favorite roller coaster at CGA is RailBlazer. I like it and Wonder Woman GLC equally, so they share a spot in my top 50 rankings. I much prefer the traditional loading method used here (parking the train in the station for 30-60 seconds) and am pretty sure the dispatch times are actually faster than the continuous loading on Wonder Woman at SFFT. I got to ride RailBlazer 9 times in an hour when the crowds disappeared on Saturday night. I rode it in every seat, with my favorite still being the front. The RMC Raptor prototypes offer such an adrenaline rush, but I can't rank them any higher because I don't like the violent twisted airtime hill after the dive loop. The restraits don't bother me as much anymore. I also found RailBlazer to be smoother and more reliable than WW, only breaking down once during my visit.

Gold Striker has changed my opinion of GCI. I wasn't a huge fan of any of their coasters (Wildcat, White Lightning, Mystic Timbers, Texas Stingray, Lightning Racer, or Apocalypse) until riding Gold Striker! Its layout is more reminiscent of a Gravity Group woodie. The twisty turny minecart journey starts with a decent pre-lift section, then a mysterious curved drop in a tunnel. The whole ride is jittery, but not horribly rough. There are at least a dozen airtime moments, in expected places and some unexpected (like turns and overbanks). However, the focus of Gold Striker is intensity that is achieved through its speed and pacing. I was taken aback by this relentless woodie. Its layout is way better than Mystic Timbers, though they have similar stats. Gold Striker is currently my third-favorite wooden coaster. Again, operations were stellar; the crew was really hustling! The longest I waited was 35 minutes, but usually I was on in under 15 minutes. I rode in almost every seat and preferred the back for the drop.

My first B&M of the trip, Flight Deck, is short but very intense. It's one of the weaker inverts, only besting Nemesis Inferno of those I've ridden. I got a little ear banging from each seat I tried. Flight Deck was always a walk-on during my visit. I appreciated the theming in the queue and the mountain views from the station. This coaster's finale over the water was strong, as opposed to coasters like Hulk or GateKeeper that end with a whimper. Overall, Flight Deck is a valuable piece of CGA's ride lineup, but a bit forgettable when compared to other B&M inverts.

Repeating myself, Patriot is another fun coaster at CGA, but forgettable in comparison with larger B&M floorless coasters. Patriot was surprisingly my favorite floorless coaster of the trip...because I'm still bitter about missing Medusa at SFDK! Joke(r)s aside, this coaster has a basic layout with two inversions and a few sharp turns. I got some ear/head banging, but thought Patriot has held up well for its age and history of being converted from a standup. This coaster didn't have much of a line. Operations were some of the slowest at CGA, but it didn't really matter.

Grizzly reminds me of a slightly faster version of Hurler at Carowinds. It is bumpy and dull. There's no airtime, and nothing noteworthy about this woodie. Gold Striker makes it irrelevant.

After having a rough back row ride on Demon at SFGAm, I rode CGA's Demon in the second-to-front row. Unfortunately, the experience wasn't that much better. I still found this coaster to be pretty bumpy, especially when traveling through the corkscrews. The Demons are decently themed, but still rank as my least favorite Arrow loopers. I find it strange that many coaster enthusiasts like them significantly more than me.

No comment on Psycho Mouse or Woodstock Express.

Other Rides

I rode Drop Tower, Delta Flyer, and Carousel Columbia at CGA. Delta Flyer, the cable car ride, provided a welcomed change of pace from thrill rides. It also gave nice views of Levi's Stadium, the nearby mountains, and the rest of CGA. Although my upper deck ride on Carousel Columbia did not seem special in the moment, I later found out that this is the tallest carousel in the world! I'm very glad that I rode it on the trip since its days are dupposedly numbered.

Food & Merchandise

I ate lunch at Subway and dinner at Maggie Brown's on Saturday. My rotisserie half chicken meal from Maggie Brown's was one of the best things I ate on this trip! It included mac and cheese and a cornbread muffin. On Sunday, I had a turkey sandwich from Sierra Creek Lodge and Auntie Anne's pretzel nuggets. Overall, the food quality at CGA was a notch above Lagoon and SFDK. I purchased a t-shirt featuring the park's skyline and three best coasters at the Inside CGA shop.


For once, I overpaid for admission to CGA. I bought the gold pass on sale in January for $106 total. Subtracting out the savings I got from being a passholder, a two-day ticket would've been a better value by about $20. Whoops! My meals ranged from $13-$19 after my 10% discount, and my t-shirt cost $23. I spent $2418 on the whole trip (airfare, admission to 3 parks, 7 nights at hotels, rideshare, dining, souvenirs, etc).


These photos were taken by me. Please credit this website if used.