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Great America

Berkeley Parents Network > Reviews > Places to Go > Great America



Great America for 2-8 year olds?

May 2006

My family and a couple of others are considering buying VIP passes to Great America (which includes entrance Boomerang Bay and Bonfante Gardens) so we can meet up there. We went to Bonfante gardens last year and enjoyed it quite a bit, but we haven't been to Great America in over 10 years (pre children) and have never been to Boomerang Bay. I didn't find anything recent on Great American in the archives. I've heard rumors of rowdy teens but can't imagine they would intentionally bother families of young children. I think all of the kids would like the water park. So here are my questions.

Will 2 to 8 year olds find enough to do at Great America? Their website mentions kids areas, but no real details about the attractions.

Are Great America and Boomerang Bay child friendly (nutritious food, clean bathrooms, changing tables, safe environment, etc.)? Overall, were Great America and Boomerang Bay clean and well kept? Any other advice about specific attractions/restaurants to try or avoid?

Perhaps I am asking too much but since they are not close and would be a significant purchase for my family, we would like to make sure that we will be willing to make the drive several times this summer.

Thank you for your opinions! Alameda family


My kids are about your age and aren't too keen on Great America. Last time I we went we observed gangs and my kids felt really uncomfortable. My oldest daughter observed a theft and reported it to security guard standing right next to us. We told the guard and they did nothing. I had a hard time explaining that one to my kids. She now has the impression it's OK to steal, because the police at Great America won't do anything. As for how clean it is? If you have to go, go early. Dougg
My step son is 10 years old and we have gotten the ''wow'' card for three years now and consider it a pretty good investment. Boomerang Bay is a lot of fun and that is actually where we spend most of our days. Although my step-son seems to be part fish. :) We usually spend a few hours doing his favorite rides (depending on lines)and then spend most of the day at the water park. My step-son doesn't really like all the big roller coasters so we do more of the smaller rides (bumper cars, water rapids, log ride, mouse trap, Sponge Bob 3-d Movie). We always find enough to do to last a day and have always found the park to be clean. There are a lot of teenagers but we have never had a problem with ones that were rude to our kids. I think GA does a pretty good job keeping the park clean and family oriented. We have never had a problem. We have also found that going during the week (if you can) is a lot less crowded. :) Jennifer
There is enough for kids to do, but with age/height ranges, make sure you have enough adults to split up into groups based on the kids' heights. At all theme parks, Great America, Marine World, Santa Cruz, Disneyland, etc, there are rides for under 48'', under 48'' with taller chapperone, and over 48'' and over 54''. Food, bathrooms, etc I guess are just part of the experience -- pretty much all-around mediocre. Have fun --mom of a roller coaster rider

July 1999

My husband and I went to Great America with our four year old daughter for a company picnic. It was ther first time we had ever been there. I don't think I would choose to go there again. It's expensive. I didn't feel that there was too much for my daughter to do (although I have heard that they have recently renovated their children's area). The theme park impressed me as being oriented to the young adult/teenager set - roller coaster and thrill rides.

Great America is not much different than Disneyland or Marine World in the genre of amusement parks, I suppose. Although it seems to me that these other theme parks are more *family oriented* and make a greater effort to educate as well as entertain through animal shows and references to our natural, technological and cultural history (though at times this comes across as propaganda - eg. the idea that Marine World is protecting wildlife and endangered species while making these same animals perform stupid animal tricks)

What bothered me the most about Great America was that we were constantly bomdarded with the distasteful self promotion of the company owner (Universal or Warner Bros.?) Little shops everywhere selling clothes, stationary, toothbrushes, coffee mugs, baby bibs etc. with Tweety Bird, Tazmanian Devil or Blues Clues on it. The ways in which these entertainment theme parks prey on the youth culture by teaching them that fun and consumer consumption go hand in hand I find disturbing. Great America, I feel is particularily guilty of capitalizing on young peoples need to conform by encourgaging them to buy into the pop culture gangster/rap/hipster mentality.


Great America: we went there a couple of years ago when my son was six. They have a Nickelodeon area which is specifically for smaller children and has lots of fun things to do. A recommendation: have your kids wear swim suits and bring a change of clothing. There is a goo area where there is some sort of green goo they can play with, and then waterplay too.

Also, some of the other rides are suitable for smaller children, such as the bumper cars and Ferris Wheel.


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