Changing of the Seasons
Boardwalk Unveils New Summer Lineup
By Erik Chalhoub
Summertime is going to look a little different at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk this year.
The new Evenings on the Colonnade, announced by the park in late April, will feature live music on Thursday evenings from June 16 through Aug. 11.
Gone (at least for now) is Free Friday Night Bands on the Beach with its big-name acts that drew crowds so large that the sand disappeared from the beach. Instead, Bay Area bands will perform Thursday evenings from 8:30-10pm, with local favorites such as Extra Large and Pacific Roots, among others.
Movies will also return to the beach every Friday night from June 17 to Aug. 12, but there notably won’t be any familiar vampires in this lineup. “The Lost Boys,” an iconic part of the Boardwalk’s movie series, won’t be shown this year due to licensing restrictions, according to the park.
However, don’t throw out those garlic wreaths yet: the film will make its return at the Boardwalk during a yet-to-be-announced Halloween event on Oct. 29.
This year’s lineup includes “The Goonies,” “Iron Man” and “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” as well as a number of new flicks including “Ghostbusters: Afterlife” and “Sing 2,” screening on the Main Beach in front of the Boardwalk Colonnade at 9pm.
“We are thrilled to bring free and fun family entertainment back to the Boardwalk,” said Boardwalk spokesperson Kris Reyes. “Our guests come for the rides and can stay for the entertainment. Guests enjoying these fun bands and great movies can also play in the Casino Arcade, Neptune’s Kingdom, shop, and enjoy their favorite Boardwalk tasty treats.”
The announcement comes with some disappointing news for the bargain hunters. The long-standing Coca-Cola Nights, where guests can get a discount on ride wristbands by bringing a Coca-Cola-branded drink, and Retro Nights, where rides were only $1.50 each, will not return this year.
The summer lineup can be found at beachboardwalk.com/evenings-on-the-colonnade.
This next bit of news is horrifying, and not in a good way.
California’s Great America confirmed recently that its Halloween Haunt, a terrifying tradition at the park since 2008, is officially retired.
It’s not entirely unexpected. In my conversations with past employees of the park, I’ve learned that Great America has struggled heavily with staffing in recent years.
And it’s shown. Mazes that once had a monster around every corner and under every table were barren the last time I attended Haunt in 2019 (which was the last time the event was held in full operation before being canceled in 2020 because of the pandemic and running in limited fashion in 2021).
I can’t blame people for not wanting to sign up as a monster. Guests at these types of Halloween events are notoriously rowdy, and not always gentle with the scare actors, to put it mildly. Coupled with lingering Covid-19 concerns in tight indoor spaces, and the writing was on the wall.
But Great America will still be spooky for Halloween in 2022.
“Tricks and Treats” will make its debut this year, a family-friendly approach to the more mature-focused Haunt. The park will be transformed into a variety of themed areas from Sept. 23 through Oct. 30, each with their own activities, treats to sample and live entertainment.
Family coaster opens
Northern California’s first new roller coaster in three years has finally opened.
Sidewinder Safari, a spinning wild mouse-type coaster, opened over Memorial Day weekend at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in Vallejo. The ride takes cars of four people through hairpin turns and steep drops through 1,378 feet of track at a maximum height of 43 feet.
It’s also the first coaster to feature live rattlesnakes and other scaly reptiles in its queue. Behind glass, of course.
Sidewinder Safari fills Discovery Kingdom’s desperate need for a mid-level family coaster, as younger thrill-seekers visiting the park didn’t have much of an option between the kiddy rides and the extreme attractions.
The ride was first announced in 2019 with a 2020 opening date. But when the pandemic forced Discovery Kingdom to close for 2020, Sidewinder Safari resurfaced again in 2021 as a new-for-2022 attraction.
Save the Dates
Father’s Day Camp Night
On June 18, Gilroy Gardens is inviting families to camp overnight at the horticultural themed park, with activities taking place at the campgrounds. The next morning, campers can explore the gardens throughout the day.
Carnivale at Orleans Place
California’s Great America’s annual New Orleans-inspired festival returns July 20-Aug. 7, featuring a parade, Cajun cuisine, live entertainment, fireworks and more.
National Carousel Day
To celebrate the Loof Carousel’s 111st anniversary, the first 100 riders on the iconic Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk attraction will receive a brass souvenir ring on July 25.