Snow and Holiday Magic at Great America

Great America’s WinterFest Excites Guests
By Robert Haugh

Offering an amazing Winter treat for the entire family, California’s Great America opened what many are calling the best Holiday attraction in the Bay Area on Nov. 25.

Featuring ice skating, snow, millions of lights, holiday characters, live shows, festive Holiday food and artisan crafts, WinterFest has opened to rave reviews. The event features many amazing visuals, a plethora of dazzling light displays, larger-than-life characters and a fun time for the entire family.

Some of the activities include ice skating in front of the iconic Carousel Columbia, gazing at magnificent displays of lights and décor, enjoying 20 rides and attractions, entering Santa’s workshop and Mrs. Claus’ kitchen and enjoying scrumptious holiday fare at numerous dining locations.

Some of the highlights include one of the Bay Area’s tallest Christmas trees adorned with thousands of twinkling lights accompanied by giant toy soldiers greeting guests, a giant Gingerbread house, 20-foot-tall candy canes in Candy Cane Lane, experience snow falling in Hometown Square, visiting Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree in Planet Snoopy, and taking photos with toy soldiers and oversized toys in Toy Land.

The new event features more than seven million LED lights, so many lights that that it will be visible from the International Space Station, more than 250 miles away.

“WinterFest will be one of Northern California’s most spectacular winter events, delivering a unique experience where friends and families can create memories and traditions during the holiday season,” Great America’s Vice President and General Manager Raul Rehnborg said.

Live shows include a nightly tree lighting (Olympic figure skater and Santa Clara University student Polina Edmunds flipped the switch on opening night), carolers throughout the park, “It’s Christmas, Snoopy!” ice show and more. Holiday crafters can design unique creations and guests will interact with countless holiday characters, including Jack Frost, Candy Cane and the Sugar Plum Fairy.

Children will relish decorating cookies with Mrs. Claus, taking a picture with Santa, writing holiday letters to family members and petting reindeer. Food specialties will include eggnog funnel cakes, peppermint churros, a turkey dinner sandwich, all-you-can-drink hot chocolate and many more traditional holiday favorites.

Among the 20 rides and attractions entertaining guests will be Gold Striker and Flight Deck for thrill seekers and the iconic Carousel Columbia, Flying Eagles and Planet Snoopy for younger guests.

Single day tickets are available online for as low as $24.99 and admission to WinterFest is included with a 2016 or 2017 Gold or Platinum Pass. The five-week WinterFest celebration will be open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, with daily operations December 19 to 23 and 26 to 30 from 5 to 10 p.m.

From December 17 to 23, from 5 to 7 p.m., guests can enjoy a Pavilion Holiday Buffet for $16.49 (plus tax) that includes roast turkey with festive dressing, baked ham, mashed potatoes, steamed vegetables, vegetarian baked pasta, tossed salad, dessert squares, Christmas cookies and fountain drinks.

Some attractions require additional fees.

Visit for more information.

Giving Back
California’s Great America has partnered with the Boys & Girls Clubs of America for its inaugural WinterFest. According to a press release, “Great America is committed to improving the community it lives in and assisting Bay Area youth.”

On December 19, the park will reward 400 deserving Boys & Girls Club members with an evening of WinterFest fun.

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