California's Great America in Santa Clara reopens to public

The weather couldn't have been better for the first weekend of Great America's re-opening. The Santa Clara theme park shut down in March 2020 due to the threat of the coronavirus.

Saturday morning, the gates opened for the first time in 14 months.

"We bought our season passes months ago," said Melinda Del Haro. She was first in line with her two kids.

Employees were just as excited to reopen.

"It's nice to be able to get out of the office and walk the park and get to see the life of come back to the park," said Jason Spinosa, the park's human resources director. He says the company is looking to hire 500-700 positions, from park operators to lifeguards, to EMT's.

The park is allowing up to 35% capacity. Masks and social distancing will be required all throughout the park, though it is set up with relief stations where people can briefly remove their masks.

Park staff say they used the 14 months off to upgrade the park. 

"We've added some sound effects, lighting and some smoke fog effects," said Mike Maney, facilities and operation manager.

In two weeks, the Great America's water park, South Bay Shores, will re-open. It's now 50% larger thanks to a $30 million expansion project. It was supposed to unveil in 2020, but instead will debut on June 5th.

"This has four drop slides," said Jason Soyster, director of marketing. "The floor literally drops from underneath you, sending you into a free fall."

To visit the park, you must make a reservation online. To do that, visit the park's website.