In 2004, presidential candidate John Edwards spoke of there being “two Americas”, and nowhere is this more evident than in Santa Clara, California. Here, in the heart of Silicon Valley, the privileged few enjoy the luxuries of Great America, while the rest of the unwashed masses are resigned to live in regular America.
Some of the perks afforded to the one-percenters in Great America include roller coasters, corn dogs, cotton candy, and refillable souvenir cups. Ordinary Americans are able to commute to work by car or public transit, while in Great America, these lucky denizens can choose from modes of transit as fantastical as Xtreme Skyflyer, Loggers Run, Rip Roaring Rapids, or Berserker.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. also spoke of this growing gap between Great America and regular America. “There are literally two Americas. One America is beautiful for situation. And in a sense this America is overflowing with the milk of prosperity and the honey of opportunity.” said Dr. King about the fun-and-sun-filled expanses of Santa Clara’s Great America. “Tragically and unfortunately, there is another America. This other America has a daily ugliness about it that constantly transforms the buoyancy of hope into the fatigue of despair.” Dr. King’s remarkable prophecy presages the founding of the theme park by 14 years, but his words ring truer now than ever.
The statistics about this inequality are staggering. The top 1% of those in the Great America eat 40% of the world’s Laffy Taffy, and ride 90% more roller coasters per day than those in regular America. Included in Great America is a water park, Boomerang Bay, free of charge, while those who can least afford it are paying up to $49.99 for admission to Raging Waters.
Still, despite the vast differences between life in Great America and life in regular America, some one-percenters are less than apologetic. “We enjoyed all the rides. Go and try. They are the best.” says Cathy Y. on Yelp. “Price for pictures of rides is so reasonable. Food is waaaaaaaay expensive. We really love all the rides.”
If only the rest of us could be so lucky.