California’s Great America, Santa Clara
California’s Great America is hosting its amazing Winterfest again this year.
This amusement park in Santa Clara turns into a stunning winter wonderland every Christmas season. Read on to learn all the tips you need to know to visit Great America with kids successfully.
Brilliant lights, photos with Santa, tasting goodies in Mrs. Santa’s kitchen, reindeers, rides and SNOW! You get to enjoy all these and more at the Winterfest. The whole park is transformed into an other-worldly wonder that you should experience as a family.
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Our visit last year
Last year we newly moved to the Bay Area and were searching for things to do with kids that involved snow in it.
Short of going to Mount Hamilton for snow, we did not find many options close to our home in Santa Clara. That is when I fortunately stumbled across the Winterfest and got our tickets for it immediately.
We really enjoyed the Winterfest and I was glad I found it. As we went to the park a little later than planned, we missed doing certain things that my 2-year-old would have enjoyed doing.
We simply did not have the time to do some rides as we wasted a bit of time not knowing where to go and what to do.
So, I put together a neat list of tips you should know before taking your kids to this year’s Winterfest at Great America. Enjoy!
Tips to visit Winterfest at California’s Great America with kids successfully
There are different types of tickets but the best deal we found was the ‘All inclusive ticket’. It included a single meal deal, a souvenir mug and also parking along with admission.
Whatever you do, buy the tickets online if possible as you get discounted rates that you don’t get at the gate. Purchase parking tickets online too.
Also, if you plan to visit this park more than once, you should go for the Gold Pass as it saves a lot of money. This pass gives free parking along with admission throughout the year to Great America including all its special events.
There is a queue at the entrance where security personnel checks your bags and admits you in. At the gate, they give you a map too. Use it to find your way.
There were many events happening around the park and you can find the timings and places on the map.
Musicals, dances, toy soldiers, dramas and puppet shows were going on.
Many kids enjoyed playing in the snow that was drizzling in one area before heading to Candyland at regular intervals.
There are many stalls to get food from. We were happy that vegetarian and vegan options were also included.
Anyway, my kid would not eat much outside food and I carried Kind snack bars for her from home.
As the Winterfest is very popular, you should plan to visit the park early before it is too crowded.
If possible, enjoy the event before December 20. That is when many people would enter their holiday break and the park gets really crowded.
My husband and kid waited with me for almost an hour in queue to ride the Flightdeck, a very popular roller coaster. Only I could take the ride as kids are not allowed on it.
What we realized later was that we could have enjoyed many other rides and events that were kid-friendly instead of wasting so much time on that roller coaster.
Now you know how to plan your rides 🙂
Rides for kids
As soon as you enter the park, you can spot the giant double-decker carousel, Carousel Columbia. It is by the best ride that everyone can enjoy. My little one really loved it so much that we waited in the queue twice to go for this ride again.
There are many rides for adults throughout the park. I loved riding the Celebration Swings.
But what you need to know is that you should head straight to Planet Snoopy if you are visiting with kids.
Enjoy the walk past the candy lane while you go to Planet Snoopy. It is full of gorgeous biscuit-houses and cake-figurines.
Planet Snoopy is full of fun rides for kids below 5.
My 2-year-old child especially loved the Woodstock express roller coaster. Space buggies are also very popular and enjoyed by kids below 5.
Be prepared to wait in queues for the rides when it is crowded.
There are height restrictions on most of the rides. But almost all rides in Planet Snoopy can be done by small children and on some rides a parent can accompany them.
At a glance
Below is all the information you would need to visit Great America’s Winterfest.
- It is open on select days from November 24 to December 30.
- Usual park timings are 5 PM to 10 PM except on December 17th when it is open from 6:30 PM to 11 PM.
- There are 25 rides to enjoy.
- Water rides are not open.
- Closed for Christmas eve and Christmas day.
For more information, check out their website at Great America’s Winterfest.
Wish you a super fun-filled Christmas and a wonderful New Year 🙂