California’s Great America
San Jose / Santa Clara, CA
Cedar Fair Entertainment
Park News - (10/12/16) A full review of the Halloween Haunt action at California's Great America has been posted by KoasterKaosNews, which includes a review of the now closed FearVR experience.
(9/29/16) Cedar Fair has officially pulled the plug on their FearVR virtual haunt attraction concept they were testing at the Halloween Haunt events at Knott’s Berry Farm, Canada’s Wonderland and California’s Great America. For pretty much the same reasons that they changed the name from FearVR-5150 to just FearVR, various mental health groups applied pressure on the theme park chain over the attraction concept in general, even after their first complaints over the use of the code “5150” were addressed.
Unfortunately I wasn’t able to experience the attraction myself first hand, so I can’t accurately describe what the experience itself was all about. That said, the descriptions from the parks indicated that the theme was not one dealing with mental health issues at all, but rather inspired by some kind of demonic possession story, with the events unfolding inside a hospital location. Had the attraction been launched perhaps with an entirely different name relating more to demonic supernatural forces, or something more generic like “DoomVR” then I can’t shake the feeling that none of this would have happened.
(9/23/16) This is why we can't have anything nice anymore America. Besides all the garbage piling upon more human garbage, coddling people with safe spaces, race riots and political armageddon, now it seems some people have decided now was the time to take offense to the use of the term "5150" in the name of Cedar Fair's new VR haunt experience being tested as three Cedar Fair parks this season.
As a result it looks like the experience has changed the name from FearVR 5150 to simply calling it "FearVR", because somehow using the term 5150 was offensive to some people in California. Never mind that the test wasn't just being done in California, or that no one protested Van Halen's use of the name 5150 for an album years ago.
Whatever... the name has been changed, but the experience will remain the same apparently. Should be blame Cedar Fair for caving in? Maybe not... because changes are the name was really chanced at the behest of Samsung, as the attraction is part of a major sponsorship deal with Samsung for their VR headgear.
(8/25/16) Halloween Haunt will come to California's Great America on select nights from Sept. 23 to Oct. 30, 2016. New for 2016 the park is taking the scares to a new place with FEAR VR: 5150, described as a "groundbreaking and horrifying virtual reality experience. Strapped into a wheelchair and wearing Samsung Gear VR headgear, guests are at the mercy of the "maniacal hospital staff". FEAR VR: 5150 will require an extra fee to experience, and it not available as part of the Fright Lane or Fright Lane Plus programs.
The park will also offer five new Skeleton Key experiences this year: Hoarder House, Vanity, Dominated, Sorority Slaughter and Bone Crusher. The details about what goes on inside each are closely guarded secrets. Official details all about this year's Haunt can be found here.
(6/30/16) Koaster Kaos News reports that they spotted what looked like early construction on a new Halloween Haunt maze in the park. Check it out and see what you think.
(3/31/16) Cedar Fair and California's Great America made a huge announcement a few hours ago regarding the park's future. Not only did they announce their intention to buy the land under the park that will soon be put up for sale by the city, but they have also applied to make zoning changes for the property that will allow them to add more new tall rides to the park (over 200 ft) without jumping through as many hoops as before, or annoying complaints from neighboring office buildings.
Add onto this a new plan that would see a new entertainment complex built just outside the park's main gate that would incorporate the existing amphitheater, but would be open to the general public. In other words, it looks like they intend to build their own version of a Universal CityWalk project, which certainly would help keep the site alive and active all year round, though size-wise a better comparison may be to think of it being more like the Marketplace outside Knott's Berry Farm. Some great images of the new proposed use map for the property and other important notices can be found at GreatAmericanThrills.
Looking at the new map, a few interesting items stand out to me right away, such as #10 where they plan to build a "Major Attraction" such as a "Steel Roller Coaster" or "Water Coaster" on the site of the old Invertigo. There are several spots listed as #11, where they are planning new family attractions (kiddie coasters, climb & play structure or family flat rides), plans to build a Ropes Course and Dinosaur's Alive attraction in the Grizzly / Demon area of the park, further expansion of Planet Snoopy, a re-branding and expansion of the waterpark, as well as plans to build a new dedicated entrance to the waterpark from the new Entertainment District, and plans to "Re-market" the Vortex Roller Coaster (likely the rumored conversation from Stand-Up to a Floorless coaster).
Late 2016 - WinterFest - (2/17/16) While California's Great America is preparing to open for the 2016 season on March 25th the park is also working on a new event as well, WinterFest! Yep... WinterFest will kick off for a 5-week run starting November 25th on the weekends only and going daily from Dec. 19-23, and 26-30th.
"The park will be magically transformed into a winter wonderland during WinterFest where guests can skate in front of the iconic Carousel Columbia, admire magnificent displays of lights and décor, view spectacular live holiday shows, experience 18 rides and attractions, see Santa’s workshop and Mrs. Claus’ kitchen, and enjoy scrumptious holiday fare at numerous food locations. The winter scene will be dominated by one of the Bay Area’s tallest Christmas trees adorned with hundreds of twinkling lights accompanied by giant toy soldiers greeting guests." Admission to WinterFest will be free for 2016 Gold and Platinum pass holders.
2017 - Patriot / Vortex Floorless Conversion - (10/4/16) California Coaster Kings has posted an update on the transformation of Vortex into Patriot at California's Great America this week. Check it out.
After being rumored as being in the works for the past two years the park is finally going to pull the trigger and convert Vortex into a new Floorless coaster to be renamed as Patriot for the 2017 season. This will be the same layout as Vortex is now, just converted to use B&M Floorless trains which will provide a much more comfortable ride experience. The new trains will be blue and white and from the look of the concept artwork the coaster itself will be repainted to have some nice blue tracks as well.
For now you can get your “Last Stand” on Vortex now through September 5th, then Vortex will close down to being the transformation.
(9/17/15) According to the latest rumor, the proposed plan of converting Vortex into a Floorless coaster has been pushed back until at least 2017 at this point. That’s if it happens at all. It’s one thing to convert Mantis into Rogarou as a modern and much bigger Stand-Up coaster, but Vortex is old and very small by comparison and is hardly worth the effort or cost in my opinion.
(6/16/15) According to a news clip sent to me by a reader, Cedar Fair apparently confirmed to one media source their plans to convert Vortex at California’s Great America into a Floorless coaster.
Meanwhile it has also been reported at CaliforniaCoasterKings (near the bottom) that some repainting on Vortex has already begun, though in this case it is just a repainting of the grey supports with a nice new grey coat, though I wouldn’t be surprised if this leads to some new colors going onto the track itself as the summer progresses. Keep your eyes peeled for small patches of test paint on the coaster showing off new colors.
(6/15/15) The latest rumor going around claims that Vortex at California's Great America may get the Rougarou treatment, and be converted from a Stand-Up coaster into a B&M Floorless coaster design over over the off-season, reopening in Spring 2016 with new colors and a new name.