Top 10 Attractions at California Great America's Winterfest

California Great America's Winterfest

Christmas is just two days away! Want to get into the holiday spirit? Head on over the California's Great America! I recently wrote an article on Red Tricycle about how theme parks are really amping up the holiday cheer with some really fun holiday offerings, and Great America is one of the theme parks on my list. They have really gone all out and transformed the park into a winter wonderland.

I kid you not when I say the park is almost unrecognizable. They have closed not just attractions, but entire sections of the park, and the areas that remain have been decorated to the nines. Some attractions are open (Flight Deck, Gold Striker, Delirium, the carousel, the swings, all of the rides at Planet Snoopy), but the real can't miss attractions are the ones created especially for Winterfest. To begin with, it's fun to just walk around and enjoy the sights and sounds. But the holiday shows are so delightful, you simply must make time to see them. And save some time to enter a shop or two and check out the holiday merchandise! There are literally dozens of things to see and do. Don't have all night? Here are my top ten things to do at Winterfest:

California Great America's Winterfest

10) Snowflake Lake

For the first time ever, Great America has an ice rink! It's set just in front of the giant double-decker carousel, and the trees surrounding the rink have been swathed in white lights, so you'll truly feel like you're in a winter wonderland. Get there early to reserve your skating time and shoes.

California Great America's Winterfest

9) Artisan Alley

Need a last-minute holiday present? Wander through Artisan Alley, which features local artists and crafters selling unique wares. It's fun to wander from booth to booth and check out their beautiful displays. From jewelry to soaps to ornaments to scarves, each booth offers something for everyone.

California Great America's Winterfest

8) Cool Yule Christmas show

What's a holiday celebration without a big holiday production? The Cool  Yule Christmas features performers belting out classic holiday tunes, backed up by energetic dancers dressed in holiday outfits. The gigantic tree looks amazing in the background and snowfall at the end of the show caps off the show very nicely. This show always draws a big crowd, but there's plenty of room for everyone in the audience. The show plays every hour starting at 6PM, so you literally can't miss it.

California Great America's Winterfest

7) Street performers

You won't be able to walk far without encountering some kind of live performance. You can hear Jingle Jazz, an a capella group, at Celebration Plaza. The Mistletones, a 40's style singing group, performs in Coca-Cola Plaza. The Jolly Holly Trolly roams the park on a San Francisco cable car, spreading good cheer with their song and dance routine. Various local groups perform in front of the Great America Theater. In addition, costumed characters roam the park greeting visitors, cracking jokes, and making folks smile.

California Great America's Winterfest

6) Holiday shops 

All the souvenir shops have been given a Winterfest theme. All have been given holiday makeovers: North Pole Mercantile, Peanuts Holiday Gifts, Frosty Furnishings, Peanuts Holiday Gifts, Snoopy's Stockings Stuffers, and more. Even the storefront signs have changed! Inside, you'll find winter-themed merchandise such as sweaters, holiday ornaments, and decor.

5) Holiday treats

You'll have a difficult time finding the usual theme park food (burgers and fries) at Winterfest. The food court has been blocked off and the usual cafes have been transformed into holiday-themed eateries such as Prancer's Pizza, Toy Town Treats, and Sally's Festive Funnel Cakes. Holiday treats such as peppermint ice cream, pumpkin pie, a turkey dinner, and hot chocolate are available. In addition, Winterfest treat kiosks have been scattered throughout the park, serving hot chocolate, churros, and other treats. Instead of the bottomless soda cup, they have a bottomless mug of hot cocoa: for $10.99, you get a souvenir mug, free refills on the first day, and $1 refills on future visits. It's perfect for walking around the park on cold winter nights!

California Great America's Winterfest

4) Orleans Place

Pretty much the entire park has been strewn with holiday lights, but at Orleans Place (near the Flight Deck roller coaster), the lights blink to holiday music! Snowflakes and other designs are projected onto the floor, making for a great impromptu disco stage. The light show happens about every 15 minutes, and it's a joy to walk through while it happens.

California Great America's Winterfest

3) Candy Cane Lane

Walking through the park during Winterfest is so much fun, because of all the holiday decorations they have put in. I'm so impressed by how completely they have transformed the entire park! Nowhere is this more evident than Candy Cane Lane. One entire section of the park has been decorated with candy structures. Temporary walls have been set up to block the regular attractions and to guide visitors through the area; these walls have been decorated with candy trees, lollipops, and more. There are several gingerbread structures, including a two-foot castle. There's even a treat stand with chairs and tables that look like peppermint candy!

California Great America's Winterfest

2) Photo opps

Keep your camera close by, because photo opps abound. There are so many decorative items around the park, from brightly lit trees to polar bear sculptures to a giant blow-up Santa. Costumed characters like elves, toy soldiers, and Nutcracker princes are more than happy to pose with you. In addition, there are photo stations and cardboard cutouts that make fun backgrounds.

California Great America's Winterfest

1) It's Christmas, Snoopy

My favorite thing about Winterfest at California's Great America? The Snoopy ice show!  It's Christmas, Snoopy features great ice skating routines interspersed with clips from the classic cartoon, A Charlie Brown Christmas and live cameos from the The Peanuts Gang. The skaters are really talented, and the costumes are beautiful. Snoopy joins the skaters for quite a few numbers and his personality really shines through on the ice. The costumes and sets are beautiful, and everyone loves the holiday tunes. This show is just as impressive as any holiday ice show, and worth the price of admission all by itself.

There is so much more to see and do at Winterfest, so check out California Great America's Winterfest website, and plan your visit ASAP! They are open through New Year's Eve, so there's still time to enjoy this one-of-a-kind winter celebration.

California Great America's Winterfest

Disclosure: I received press tickets to Winterfest for me and my family. The views and opinions expressed here are my own.

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