Last Update: January 8, 2013
In 1983, Marriott was looking to sell off its Great America
park due to its disappointing earnings, and had agreed to sell the park to Caz Development company, but Marriott also gave a first option to the park to the city of Santa Clarita, which leased 55 acres of parking to the park. With both the city and Caz interested in owning the park, tensions between the parties as well as legal disputes threatened to destroy all deals. Finally though, in the middle of 1985, the city was able to purchase the park from Marriott for $93.5 million, and Caz Development was allowed to build a hotel and office on land nearby, satisfying all parties involved.
For its first season as the owner of the park, the city wanted to add something big for 1986 in the form of the wooden Grizzly
. Designed by Dinn & Summers, and built by the Kings Island Construction, Maintenance, and Engineering Department, the “new” wooden coaster was a double-out-&-back coaster designed based off of the Wildcat
at Cincinnati’s Coney Island
. Just four years prior, Kings Island CME had designed another Grizzly
coaster, also based on the Wildcat, however the one at Great America
was designed to be a “tamer and gentler” version than those two coasters. Oddly enough, just three years later in 1989, Great America
would be purchased by Kings Entertainment Company, under which Kings Island CME operated. The Grizzly
is one of only a small percentage of wooden coasters to feature trains made by Morgan Manufacturing.
The ride starts off with a slow, gliding turnaround which brings the train back towards the brake run as it straightens out and passes the transfer track, then turns left as it parallels the brake run for its climb up the lift hill. After climbing 91 feet up into the air, the train then crests the lift hill and plummets 88 feet down to earth, plunging at 55 mph just feet above the ground, twisting slightly to the right as it reaches the bottom of the hill. At this point, the track pulls skyward and levels out into a wide, flat turnaround that sends the train back towards the middle of the lift hill. From here, the train drops back down towards the ground again next to the park’s go-kart track before climbing up and over a long, extended hill which turns slightly to the left, lining the train back up parallel with the lift hill and directly alongside the final brake run.
Still banking to the left, the track then banks even more heavily as the train pulls up and traverses over a rising and falling fan-curve turnaround. After dropping back down, the train then crosses under itself and traverses another long, low, stretched-out hill that turns slightly to the right and lines the train back up with its initial “out” run. Another dip back down to the ground is followed by a sharp rise up into another right-hand turnaround, following along the inside of the first turnaround. For its finale, the track drops back down again and sends the train flying over a low bunny hill before banking and twisting to the left, twisting and rising as it levels back out into the final brake run.