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Californias Great America

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Californias Great America is a 100-acre (40 ha) amusement park located in Santa Clara, California. Owned and operated by Cedar Fair, it originally opened as Marriotts Great America in 1976 as one of two parks built and operated by the Marriott Corporation. The park has appeared in 1994 films Beverly Hills Cop III and Getting Even with Dad and features over 40 rides and attractions. One of its most notable attractions, Gold Striker, has been featured as a top-ranked wooden roller coaster in Amusement Todays annual Golden Ticket Awards publication. Marriotts Great America, built by hotel and restaurant operator Marriott Corporation, opened to the public on May 20, 1976. Less than two weeks later on May 29, the company opened a second Marriotts Great America – later known as Six Flags Great America – north of Chicago in Gurnee, Illinois. A third park was initially planned for the Baltimore–Washington Metropolitan Area, but the idea was later abandoned after several failed attempts to sway local opposition. The park, though profitable, was still an earnings disappointment for Marriott, leading the company in 1983 to explore options to sell. An interested party, Caz Development Co., appraised the land value at US$800,000 to $1 million per acre. Marriott also involved the city of Santa Clara in negotiations, which was already leasing 55 acres (22 ha) of parking space for the amusement park. Fearing development of the land by Caz Development would aggravate already congested roadways, the city council approved a $101 million purchasing agreement on January 31, 1984, by a 4–3 vote that also had to be approved by city residents. The citywide vote passed, approving the sale by a margin of 3 to 1. Caz Development then sued the city and Marriott in the Superior Court of Santa Clara County to block the transaction. The court nullified the sale, forcing the city to attempt to salvage the deal through negotiations with the other parties. Unable to broker a timely agreement, the city council voted 6–1 to scuttle the sale on February 5, 1985, though the city was still interested in owning the park. After Marriott refunded a $20 million down payment back to the city, negotiations were restarted. All parties were able to agree on a compromise, which was signed in marathon sessions taking place in early June 1985. The city acquired the park for $93.5 million from Marriott, which retained 20 acres (8.1 ha) from the sale for development. Caz Development settled and was allowed to build a hotel and office near the park, which the city renamed Great America.

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