As a kid, a family trip to the amusement park was a must. Most of the time, it was the county fair, where we had to pay for each attraction which became more frequent that we would not do rides at the county fair due to costs. Instead, we considered visiting the more 'permanent' theme parks where we pay a flat fee to get in, and ride as much as we want. The 2 parks we visited were the Santa Cruz Boardwalk and what was at the time Paramount's Great America (Now California's Great America from Cedar Fair purchase, not relevant to this article).



As a kid, I was no dare devil though I loved watching the bigger rides go and even drew them a lot in my drawing pads. It was 1 visit to Great America when I was over that 48 inch mark and was pumped up to ride the Demon the week before visiting.


Still pumped up to ride as we got into the park, I take a ride on the 'shoot the chutes' ride next to Demon and waiting in line I look up at it's (what seemed at the time) massive structure.


At that point, I wimped out and got pulled over to the Berserker instead.


Berserker is one of GA's original rides that is somewhat like a powered coaster that goes in circles and over a hump inside of a barn-like building. I almost wimped out on this too.

As we walk back towards the front of the park, my mom looks at me pointing at the Vortex coaster (a stand up coaster).


I was actually going to ride this but I was an inch too short. I walked away from the green & black structure (paint job in the 90's, now purple and yellow) thinking to myself "Yes! I don't have to ride!" as deep down I was still scared.

We make our round back towards the rear of the park passing by the old Triple Wheel ride which made this high-pitch whirring noise that could be heard across the park. I sadly never rode this mainly because no one in the rest of our group liked the ride, claimed it was 'boring' as it was like a 15 minute ferris wheel ride. Of course, we ride the old cars that wrap around the wooden coaster Grizzly (Rated one of the worst wooden coasters in the world by the way).



Speaking of the Grizz, I got talked into riding it, which I did. My cousin was much more afraid than I was, and ended up peeing himself at some point during the ride. I got off thinking "Wow, that was shaky and rough!"

One of the rides I loved to watch was "The Edge." It was an old school freefall ride that got replaced with a newer generation freefall, Drop Zone...or now named Drop Tower! (Thank you Cedar Fair for replacing Paramount names with generic names!)



On the back side of the park, we decide to ride one of the flumes they had there...seemed like a fun idea. The decision was a tough one, we could ride the boats on a straight drop or ride the logs on a double drop.

We got in line for the Yankee Clipper (boats). We waited about 10 minutes before we were told that the ride broke down and won't be up for a while. Instead, we rode the Rapids ride, which was one of my favorites.

Another ride I was too afraid to ride was the Orlean's Orbit. (I now love this thing!) I was too afraid to be inverted, not to mention, no seat belts holding you, just some centrifugal force.



As I mentioned before, I was impressed with a lot of the bigger rides that I was afraid to ride. One that baffled me when I was younger was the Tidal Wave (Shuttle Loop coaster). I did not see the traditional lift hill, neither did I ever see the train ever get pulled up the back hill...it just took off out of the station.

Being the coaster nerd I am today, I can now tell you that it used a 40-ton weight hooked onto a cable and onto the train to launch the coaster. The weight was in that huge cylinder at the end of the ride's track.

The day comes towards the end when we head up for our traditional end of the day ride on the carousel when we see Top Gun's line stretching almost to the carousel.

Craziness if you ask me. Now, you can walk right onto the ride, and it is one of my favorite rides today.

One of the other parks we did was the Boardwalk. Stay tuned for part 2 - a visit at the Santa Cruz Boardwalk!