With California's Great America closing, Bay Area theme parks become a thing of the past

Dustin Dorsey Image
Wednesday, June 29, 2022
Family fun fading from South Bay as Great America plans closure
After California's Great America announced plans to close after its sale, many are reminiscing its glory days of family fun dating back to the 70s.

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (KGO) -- California's Great America amusement park in Santa Clara will close its doors 11 years after the announcement Monday that the park was sold.

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It brings to mind other iconic family theme parks in the South Bay that are now just a memory for those who visited.

Thrill rides, water slides, memories made to last our lives.

Great America has been a staple in the South Bay for decades, now it's set to close its doors after being sold.

"It was heartbreaking," Former Great America performer Stephanie Dudschus said. "It's just kind of been an icon in this valley for generations."

Dudschus' family got to visit the park for the pre-opening day celebration in 1976 and she would go on to work as a performer at the park alongside our own Ryan Curry's dad.

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Curry and Dudschus shared the stage many times, this week the two took a moment to look back on those days.

"Working there eventually, just the memories, the friendships that we made, lasting friendships," Dudschus said. "I mean, how many years later? 40 years later we're still reaching out to each other."

Now just a memory, like the entire park will be in 11 years' time to all who visited.

Reminiscent of the other South Bay favorites like Santa's Village in the Santa Cruz Mountains and Frontier Village in San Jose.

I brought my dad out to show my sister where the amusement park he worked at as a kid once stood. It's now just a city park and neighborhood.

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The wild west-themed park was only open just under 20 years before the city decided to close it, but it's remembered fondly to this day, according to former Frontier Village Director of Merchandise, Games & Entertainment Allen Weitzel.

"Everybody wants to be remembered after they're gone and Frontier Village wanted to be remembered after it was gone and that's come true here with this park," Weitzel said.

Today, Weitzel and his friend Tim Stephens reminisced while looking at Stephens' collection of memorabilia.

Frontier Village was a family-friendly place where the community came together, much like Great America.

Stephens says the park will probably end up like Frontier Village one day, where people can only look back and remember the good times.

"That's the saddest part is that its places for people to go to have some good, clean fun and now they're gone," Stephens said.

Gone, but the memories will not be forgotten.

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