When I was teenager, my father bought my brother and I season passes to Great America. Most of my friends had a season pass. My dad would drop off a carload of teens at the Santa Teresa Light Rail Station. We’d spend an hour riding public transportation and then spend all day in the park. I always had to make sure that I had a quarter so I could call him when arrived back at the station after a long day of riding roller coasters and flirting with boys.
My (almost) eight year old son desperately wants a season pass to Great America. Actually, he’d probably just be happy with a day trip there. He’s a total adrenaline junkie; riding Space Mountain at Disneyland when he was just four years old. The boy loves a good thrill ride. The problem isn’t ever a ride being too scary for my son. The problem is always whether my average-in-height child will be tall enough to ride the rides. Great America’s height limit for most of its thrill rides still exceeds the height of my adventurous child.
It seems like just yesterday my son was throwing a tantrum on the carousel at Happy Hollow. He was terrified of the horse moving up and down. He screamed bloody murder the whole time. He was just 15 months then. A few months later, we bought a family membership to Happy Hollow. By the time he was two years old, all he wanted to do was ride the carousel. During our weekday trips, Happy Hollow was so quiet that the operator would let him stay on the ride for 30 minutes or more. By then, my stomach couldn’t take it much longer. I was practically threw a party on the day Darius was finally tall enough to ride alone.
This year, with another year of disappointment that he’s not tall enough for Great America, I wanted to find some place that we could visit frequently with roller coasters. My son has long outgrown Happy Hollow. We continue to have a membership to the Monterey Bay Aquarium; however, my son would rather swim with the fishes than look at them. Then on an impromptu trip to the beach two weeks ago, I found a place that was perfect for everyone in our family.
This year, we’ll be spending lots of family weekend time at The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. My oldest son is tall enough to ride every ride. My youngest is short enough to ride every ride for free. Add building sand castles and playing at the beach. It’s like the Holy Trifecta of Season Passes. Santa Cruz is less than an hour drive from our house — less if we leave early to miss the noon beach traffic.
I do look forward to the day when my son is tall enough for the giant thrill rides at Great America. But I’m thrilled that we found a place where he can get plenty of thrills until then.