new rides boardwalk santa cruz 2020
September 2019

New Rides, Boardwalk Campout

New-for-2020 attractions unveiled

Always Amused: September 2019

By Eric Chalhoub

For theme park nerds such as myself, Christmas comes in August, and this past month was no exception.

Erik Chalhoub

The last month of summer is home to National Roller Coaster Day on Aug. 16. But even better, most theme parks announce their new attractions for the following season. On a seemingly daily basis, news breaks of some major record-breaking coaster announcement, new technologies for familiar attractions and more.

Our California parks were busy last month

California’s Great America, two years after it retired two rides and removed a handful of other attractions, finally announced what it had been working toward: South Bay Shores, a complete makeover of its Boomerang Bay water park.

The expanded water park, increasing its acreage from 10.5 to 15 acres, will feature seven new water attractions, including four drop slides, two tube slides and a new lagoon area. Opening in summer 2020, guests will also enjoy new and upgraded food and merchandise locations, upgraded cabanas and a sandy beach play area — all themed to reflect the Northern California coast and South Bay regions.

The announcement marks the first investment in the water park in 13 years.

“South Bay Shores represents the newest phase of a multi-year revitalization of California’s Great America, building on our nearly 50-year heritage of giving Bay Area residents even more reasons to call the park their favorite destination for fun,” said Manny Gonzalez, vice president and general manager of California’s Great America, in a press release.

new rides boardwalk santa cruz 2020

“Along with the water park, recent investments such as the innovative RailBlazer roller coaster, new dining venues, and general park improvements are showing guests and the community that the park’s transformation is fully underway here in the South Bay.”

Knott’s Berry Farm will celebrate 100 years in 2020 with A Knott’s Family Reunion,” a summer-long event paying tribute to the park’s history. According to the park, guests will experience a “once-in-a-lifetime celebration featuring festive park décor, themed food items, unique entertainment, exclusive merchandise and special surprises along the way.” 

More details are expected to be announced in the near future.

The two Six Flags theme parks in California, Discovery Kingdom and Magic Mountain, announced their new attractions on Aug. 29, past our deadline. Magic Mountain, it should be noted, had the awkward distinction of announcing their new 2020 attraction while their new-for-2019 roller coaster, West Coast Racers, is still under construction, with no end in sight.

Further south, LEGOLAND California Resort in Carlsbad announced that LEGO Movie World will be coming to the park next spring.

The two-acre park will feature three new rides and more attractions.

After months of vague details, SeaWorld San Diego announced in August that it broke ground on its new “dive” roller coaster.

The coaster, set to open in summer 2020, reaches a height of 153 feet before diving into a vertical drop, reaching speeds of more than 60 mph.

While not a new-for-2020 attraction, Gilroy Gardens detailed its possible future expansion last month.

The 350-acre hillside behind the horticulture-themed park could be home to an “adventure park,” including bike trails, zip lines and other recreational activities.

The proposal includes various hiking and biking trails throughout the mountainside at various skill levels. A chair lift, located at the base of Gilroy Gardens, would take guests up to the summit, where they could experience four zip lines down the mountain, including a dueling pair of lines. A restaurant is also proposed for the summit, with a smaller café planned for the base of the mountain.

The timeline of the project is unknown.

Giant Dipper contest winner announced

Congratulations to Megan Frandeen of Aptos, who was the grand prize winner of the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk’s Giant Dipper 95th Anniversary Contest.

From May 17 to Aug. 16, the coaster’s biggest fans were invited to enter their best Giant Dipper photographs, drawings, paintings and other creative things that expressed a love for the ride, such as a haiku, song and more.

Using a piece of driftwood found on a Santa Cruz beach, Frandeen burned an image of the Giant Dipper onto the wood, using paint highlights for the red tracks and other details.

Frandeen will receive an Apple 15-inch MacBook Pro Laptop Computer, Bose Soundlink II Bluetooth Speaker, Mophie PowerStation Portable Charger, and an invitation for a behind-the-scenes tour of the Boardwalk.

Speaking of the Boardwalk, while its annual summer activities may be over, there are still plenty of events lined up for September.

The Boardwalk Fall Campout, benefiting the American Cancer Society, returns Sept. 20-21. Families can camp overnight at the Boardwalk and take part in a variety of exclusive events, such as a movie on the beach, dinner and breakfast, free games in the Casino Arcade and more.

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The park’s newest food festival, Boardwalk Bites & Brews, returns Sept. 28 after a successful debut in 2018. The festival pairs Boardwalk staple foods with local craft beers.

For more events, visit

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