Roller Coaster Review: Gold Striker

Newest coaster at Great America reaches new heights

By Aaron Whitaker

Excited patrons entered Great America on Thursday, May 9, for an exclusive sneak peak at the park’s latest addition‒Gold Striker. As part of a promotional shoot for the coaster, Great America gave individuals from the Bay Area community an opportunity to ride Gold Striker before it opened to the public.

Gold Striker is located near the park entrance and towers at 108.2 ft, with a top speed of 53.7 mph, claiming the new record as the tallest and fastest wooden roller coaster in Northern California.  Through the past few years, Great America has struggled to stay in business and removed many of its popular attractions. At one point, the park even considered selling its property. Now with the new, jaw-dropping attraction, the park expects to see a boost in attendance.

At about 5:10pm, the gates of the new gold striker opened and eager guests scrambled to get on the coaster. The trains had a classic look, and used modern interior design to ensure comfort while riding.  The front of the train did not contain a barrier, but simply a bar frame, ensuring the front riders had nothing to barricade them from seeing the wrath of the track.

The train pulled out of the station before heading into a mini ravine, giving the ride a unique start. After getting pulled up the traditional chain lift hill, gravity took over as the ride sped downhill through a brief tunnel before reaching its maximum speed. The ride proceeded to travel through a jumble of hills and turns which were heart pumpers to say the least. After two and a half minutes, the ride pulled back into the station as riders clapped and tried to regain their regular heart pace.

Gold Striker failed to disappoint, and it is definitely a ride Great America desperately needed to include.  The speed of the coaster as it raced over hills and under sections of track, kept the riders wanting to come back for more. The one complaint I have about the ride is that there is no slow braking portion in the middle for riders to catch their breath.  The ride maintains a steady, swift speed throughout its entirety.  The length of the ride could have been longer, but considering the diminutive amount of space the designers had to work with, the ride exceeded my expectations. I encourage all coaster enthusiasts and visitors of Great America to take a ride on the all new Gold Striker, cause this pick-axe hits the rock hard!