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Get Your Thrills at These Bay Area Amusement Parks

Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, Undertow

Undertow, Photo Courtesy Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk

 

Summer is prime amusement park season. In the Bay Area, thrill-seekers have plenty of options and lots of ground to cover. Where should you go first? Some new attractions might help you narrow down the choices.

California’s Great America

Gold Striker is the tallest and fastest wooden roller coaster in Northern California. Inspired by the Old West, Gold Striker is 108 feet at its highest point with a first drop of 103 feet. Riders speed along three-thousand plus feet of track at speeds just under 54 miles per hour. It has the nostalgic look of a wooden roller coaster but the smooth feel of a modern thrill ride. Ticket Prices at the Park: General Admission $62.99. Ages three and up, under 48 inches $42.99. Ticket prices may be less expensive if purchased online.

Gold Striker CA Great America

Gold Striker, Photo courtesy of California's Great America

When you park the car and head to the entrance, check out the progress of the future home of the 49ers going up right next door. You can’t miss it, whether you want to or not.

Six Flags Discovery Kingdom

If your idea of a thrill includes having your feet firmly plant on the ground, Cirque Dreams Splashtastic might be more your speed. Acrobats and dolphins share the stage in the latest offering at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom. Cirque Dreams Splashtastic joins a long list of wildlife shows and animal attractions that include everything from tigers to elephants to sea lions. Ticket Prices at the Park: General Admission $61.99. Kids Under 48" $42.99. Kids two and under are free. Ticket prices may be less expensive if purchased online.

Summer Animal Show, Courtesy of Happy Hollow Park & Zoo

Happy Hollow Park & Zoo

Take a trip down the West Coast without leaving San Jose and meet the fabulous and funky animals that call North, Central and South America home. You’ll see the likes of bald eagles and kinkajous in the Summer Animal Show. Don’t know what a kinkajou is? All the more reason you need to see the show. General Admission, ages 2 – 69, $12.95. Kids under two are free.

Gilroy Gardens Family Theme Park

California's only horticultural theme park is extending an invitation to local artists. Art in the Park lets artists in Gilroy Gardens to paint, draw, sculpt, or photograph. Finished pieces created there or just related to the Gardens is considered for exhibition space in Gilroy Garden’s Art in the Park Gallery. General Admission, ages 11-61, $49.99. Child Admission, ages 3-10, $39.99. Children two and under are free.

Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk

The Boardwalk has been going strong since 1907. Two rides are national historic landmarks and chocolate-covered bacon is a staple. But this summer, all the talk is about the Undertow. Northern California’s only spinning coaster is expected to open by the end of August.

Undertow has individual cars that hold four riders, with each pair facing opposite directions. The spinning experience changes with every ride, depending on the weight and position of the passengers that climb aboard. Individual Ride Tickets: $3-6. All Day Unlimited Ride Wristbands: $31.95

Dana can be found on Twitter @drebmann

This article was originally published in July 2013.