NCL Free At Sea

Gold Striker Roller Coaster At California’s Great America

By on 10/22/2013

Gold Striker Roller Coaster

I finally found myself up in the Bay Area over a weekend for work functions and took advantage of the situation by visiting California’s Great America (CGA). I hadn’t been to this park since I was in high school, over 25 years ago! Not only was I way past due for a visit, but I was also very anxious to check out their latest ride, the Gold Striker roller coaster. It definitely lived up to the hype and I won’t wait so long to come back next time.

The Gold Striker roller coaster is brand new for 2013, making its public debut on 1 June 2013. Built by Great Coaster International, this coaster was originally planned to be built back in 2009, but the project was cancelled and put on hold. In early 2012, CGA filed for a building permit and construction on a new roller coaster started shortly thereafter. In July 2012, right as the coaster began vertical construction, CGA announced that the name of the coaster would be Gold Striker, themed after the famous California Gold Rush.

The Gold Striker roller coaster sits near the front of the park, in the section they call Celebration Plaza. The entrance to the ride is right under the Gold Striker sign:

Gold Striker Roller Coaster

All of the queue switchbacks are contained within the coaster structure, keeping the view of the coaster from the outside much more aesthetically pleasing:

Gold Striker Roller Coaster

Just like all great coasters, you even get to go through a tunnel as part of the queue:

Gold Striker Roller Coaster

The loading platform is elevated, so you must climb a flight of stairs once you reach the station. There is an elevator for those who may need a little assistance:

Gold Striker Roller Coaster

The landscaping around the ride, both inside and outside, was quite nice and theme appropriate. This is the station as seem from the midway:

Gold Striker Roller Coaster

The Gold Striker roller coaster uses two very comfortable Millennium Flyer trains, each with 12 cars, allowing for 24 riders per dispatch. The station is an open air design and there are storage lockers on the exit side to store your gear while you’re riding:

Gold Striker Roller Coaster

At 108′ tall, Gold Striker is the tallest wooden roller coaster in Northern California:

Gold Striker Roller Coaster

The initial drop is 103′ down, through a tunnel, and reaches speeds up to 54 MPH, making it the fastest wooden roller coaster in Northern California. It also incorporates a fairly sharp turn to the right, adding to the excitement of the drop:

Gold Striker Roller Coaster

You may have noticed the tunnel on the first drop and the wood fence on one side in the above photos. There are for noise abatement. The company that owns the two office buildings next to CGA, just behind Gold Striker, complained about the noise that this coaster creates. Despite the fact that these office buildings were built long after CGA was built, CGA is trying to be a good neighbor and do what they can to lessen the noise. Here is another fence on one side of the track, reflecting the noise back towards the park:

Gold Striker Roller Coaster

If you look between the rails, just behind the train in this next photo, you will see some white panels. These are chunks of styrofoam that have been applied to the underside of the track that absorbs quite a bit of the sound as the train passes over it:

Gold Striker Roller Coaster

As the train moves closer to the front of the park, as seen in this next shot, the styrofoam isn’t needed. Notice it’s behind the train but not in front of it:

Gold Striker Roller Coaster

The noise abatement measures don’t necessarily detract from the ride. In my opinion, it  enhances the on-ride experience by magnifying the sounds, such as the train and the screams. Gold Striker also officially has the world’s longest initial drop tunnel on a wooden coaster. Like you’ll find with any good ride, you also exit through the gift shop:

Gold Striker Roller Coaster

The giant blue column sticking up from inside Gold Striker is CGA’s observation tower,  Star Tower. The air conditioned capsule has a row of outward facing seats. The capsule rotates as it rises, proving awesome views of the park and Gold Striker:

Gold Striker Roller Coaster

You must pass underneath Gold Striker’s first drop to reach the entrance to Star Tower. You’ll also notice more of that styrofoam placed under the track:

Gold Striker Roller Coaster

As seen from the Star Tower, the Gold Striker roller coaster is not your grandfather’s ho-hum out-and-back coaster. It’s fast, twisty, and full of awesomeness. It’s 3,197′ long and the entire ride lasts for approximately 2:30 minutes. Other than the lift hill and station platform, I don’t recall any straight stretches of track. From the minute you drop, like the train below is about to do, you’re constantly moving and turning at very high speeds:

Gold Striker Roller Coaster

Here are people collecting their belongings and exiting the station:

Gold Striker Roller Coaster

You exit down a flight of stairs and they funnel you out through the gift shop:

Gold Striker Roller Coaster

There is an on-ride photography system. You can see it in a photo above, where the people are climbing the stairs into the station. It was such a fun ride, I had to buy one:

Gold Striker Roller Coaster

As with most Great Coaster International creations, the Gold Striker roller coaster is an extremely fun ride. It’s fast, it’s twisty, and it’s family friendly. It definitely lived up to its hype and might even be the best wooden coaster on the West coast. I highly recommend it and can’t wait to return to CGA to ride it some more.


  1. Nathan

    10/23/2013 at 6:50 am

    Gold Striker opened a day after I went.

  2. mitchell

    10/23/2013 at 9:11 am

    on the second day it was open I was there, and the line was just about an hour. Are you going to get other coasters to.

  3. Kevin

    10/23/2013 at 8:54 pm

    Coaster Guy, what is your favorite woody? And out of Roar, Apocalypse, and Gold Striker, how would you rank each one?

  4. Eric

    10/24/2013 at 12:34 am

    I got to wondering…is California the only state with three GCII coasters?

  5. dylan

    10/24/2013 at 1:16 am

    This is off topic but I’m Not sure if you noticed or not but they added the front piece to the full throttle trains from the animated promo-video.

    Promo video train –

    Trains now with the front piece attached –

    • Brenden

      10/30/2013 at 8:13 pm

      I agree it looks nice. FT has made many cosmetic changes since openning

  6. Roger

    10/24/2013 at 9:12 pm

    Great Report!

  7. XYZ

    10/26/2013 at 10:13 pm

    Gold Striker does not have those sound walls just so Great America can be a good neighbor, it’s because Prudential (those pesky office tower owners) forced them to put them in.

    • The Coaster Guy

      10/26/2013 at 10:26 pm

      I know. I just didn’t want to delve into that whole controversy as part of this overview. That story could be an entire article all on its own.

      • Nathan

        10/27/2013 at 12:22 pm

        Its so stupid. The park was there before the office buildings. It’s their fault for putting their building next to a theme park.

        • XYZ

          10/31/2013 at 6:51 am

          Nathan: Blame Santa Clara for giving the office buildings so much power.

      • XYZ

        10/31/2013 at 6:51 am

        Ah, yes, that’s understandable.

  8. Scott C

    10/28/2013 at 9:34 am

    One more reason to look forward to Coaster Con!!
    Great review Kurt!

  9. Pingback: Gold Striker Lift Hill Walk At CA Great America - The Coaster Guy - The Coaster Guy

  10. Pingback: CoasterCon 2014 Day 1 At California's Great America - The Coaster guy - The Coaster Guy

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