This post is sponsored by California’s Great America. All opinions are my own.
If you haven’t noticed yet, we love a theme park. When we knew we’d be in the South Bay Area for the 4th of July we made it a point to take the boys on their first visit to California’s Great America in Santa Clara. Both Tyler and I have visited the park before when we were kids but have virtually no recollection of it.
We surprised the boys with the trip after our family Fourth of July celebration. Harrison and Sullivan are basically theme park pros now so when we pulled up to Great America, they were stoked.
Below are five big takeaways from this particular trip. I hope they are helpful if you are planning a trip to California’s Great America yourself!
1. Theme Parks Make Me So Happy
Maybe it’s the Enneagram 7 in me, but I just freaking love a theme park––the sights, the sounds, the feeling I get when I walk through the gates. I think it goes back to my childhood when vacations were few and far between so theme parks were extremely rare. I totally get that feeling of nostalgia and excitement when I get to take my own family to one. Plus, you know how ride operators say, “welcome back!” when a ride ends like we had been sent on some far off adventure? I love that.
2. Opportunities to Practice Both Patience and Bravery
We were gifted Fast Lane passes for our trip and it was so great because it gave Tyler and I the opportunity to ride a few of the big rollercoasters! We’d go one at a time and jump in line then come down and wait with the kids while the other person rode. There was a particular moment I’ll never forget when we were waiting for Tyler to ride and Sullivan was getting impatient. Harrison looks at him and says, “I know, it’s hard being patient, but mom and dad are patient when we ride our rides.” You know those fleeting moments when you think you’re doing something right? That was one of them.
Harrison had a big day of being brave at Great America! There were a few rides––Kite Eating Tree, Sally’s Swing Set, and the Woodstock Express––that he would have avoided like the plague even six months ago. While nervous, he made the decision himself to try each one and came off of them smiling so big. He’s been my cautious kid and it’s inspiring to see him putting himself outside of his comfort zone.
3. Going With The Flow Is Definitely The Way To Go
I really admire those theme park goers who plot out exactly what route they’ll take, how many times they’ll ride each ride, and where exactly they will eat every meal. I am not that person. And I’m coming to terms with it! The main reason I can’t be that person–kids. We had an incident not long after we arrived where both kids ended up in tears because they lost one of the carnival games (pro tip: save all carnival games until the very end!). They recovered after we got ice cream. Being The Planner just isn’t our family’s style and we’ve had to learn to go with the flow–it’s truly how we have the most fun!
We also had a really sweet, random moment when we ran in to Snoopy walking toward his photo op spot, he took Harrison by the hand and the boys got to walk with him to take a photo. It was all very adorable.
4. The Wisdom of Peanuts is Timeless
This was one of my favorite parts about Great America, I loved Peanuts growing up. Harrison is super in to comics and had to stop to read every comic strip art we came across.
The Peanuts characters were out throughout the park, too. It was fun to see the whole gang and get photos with a few of their faves.
5. The Gram-able Spots Are Top Notch
You know a blogger loves a great photo opp. 😉 Great America is filled with them. Starting at the entry with the Great America logo with the world’s tallest carousel, Carousel Columbia, as the backdrop with palm trees framing each side. To the sweeping views of the whole park while riding the Delta Flyer. And don’t forget all of the beautiful landscaping, including an American flag flower bed that Harrison thought was the coolest thing ever.
Our Only Regret
We didn’t come prepared to take advantage of the amazing water park on the grounds, Boomerang Bay, and we really wish we would have. Admission is included in the ticket price for the theme park. It looked so fun and will definitely be on our to do list for our next visit!
Overall, we had so much fun! California’s Great America is truly a fun place for all ages and families. We can’t wait to go back!