Six Flags Great America, Gurnee, Illinois, USA
This was only my second visit to a Six Flags park, and for once in my life I really didn't know what to expect on my visit. My only other SF park was SFoG, and I was actually surprisingly impressed with that park and their ride collection. I had heard some good things about Great America, so I was excited to try it out for myself.
We made the 2 hour trip from South Bend and got to Gurnee shortly after the park had opened for the day. It looked like it could be a fairly busy day, and since 2 of the people in the group (my wife included) didn't want to make it a long day, we decided to get a Flash Pass for the 4 of us. 71 dollars later and I had our ride "Tamagotchi" in my hand. I was VERY impressed with the Flash Pass system. It was simple to use, and not having to wait in line for the major attractions was a great perk. We purchased the Regular Flash Pass, but it seemed like for the first few hours they were not updating wait times as every major ride had a 10 minute wait, when it was clear many lines were longer than that. I would love to see Cedar Fair implement a Lo-Q system.
During our 7 hours in the park we were able to get on all the coasters, except for the kids coaster. The only flat I was able to ride was the carousel. I would have liked to try a few more (Ricochet, Revolution, Condor, etc...), but like I said, my time was limited in the park.
I found the atmosphere of the park to be decent. The layout was a bit frustrating as there was no real way to cut through the middle of the park. A walk from the Mardi Gras area to the Southwest Territory was quite the hike. Several areas of the park felt "crowded", and it seemed it would be easy to miss some attractions (it took us 15 minutes to find American Eagle's entrance). There were many characters (including Mr. Six) out and it was nice to see all the interactions with the guests. The whole "cleanest theme park in the world" thing was a bit overdone. It almost felt like that was all they were advertising the park as. Food prices were high, as to be expected, however I ended up shelling out the 10 bucks for an oversized piece of Papa Johns pizza and 6 pieces of cheese bread. Quality was good, prices were not.
As for the coasters, I am sad to say that not one in the park really impressed me. I can honestly say this is the only major park I have ever been to where this has been the case. It's sad that this was the case, because I hit my 100th nerd credit on the Demon. Wish it could have been on a better coaster (oh well). Below I will give brief reviews of each coaster:
American Eagle: This ride has so much potential. I really, really wanted to like it, but the jackhammering/vibration on both sides was almost unbearable. I've never felt something like that on a coaster. It was like the track was covered with highway rumble strips. The airtime was great, and the layout was a lot of fun, but it was so incredibly rough that I was unable to truly enjoy it. I wish this ride would get some TLC. Also, a shorter walk to the station would be nice as well...
Batman: I rode the B:TR at SFoG, and this was obviously the same. Good ride, very intense, too short.
Dark Knight: Wow. What a letdown. I had read bad reviews of this ride, but I tried to have a positive attitude. Not only was the theming lame, but the ride goes too quick to even see it. Not to mention that the ride itself is completely un-fun and even painful at a few spots.
Demon: Your run of the mill arrow looper. The rock formations and tunnels were nice, but I have no desire to ride this coaster again
Iron Wolf: One word: Ouch! I had decent hopes for this after somewhat enjoying Georgia Scorcher, but this was horrible. First I made the mistake of riding in the backseat, and no matter how hard I tried, I could not avoid serious headbanging on nearly every turn. Then, to make matters worse, my friend riding with me was hit in the face by a pine branch near the end of the coaster. His eye and cheek were red, and when we mentioned it to the ride supervisors who were on the platform, they apologized and said it was the wind and they could do nothing about it. They said that they have already trimmed several branches, and that is why the ride was up and down all day...
Ragin' Cajun: This was actually more fun than I expected. It spun a lot! Unfortunately the cars are quite uncomfortable, and I got slammed around quite a bit as well. However, all things considered it was a pretty fun coaster.
Raging Bull: My expectations were not high for this after reading reviews, and I'm glad. It was an ok ride, but there was nothing to it. After the first drop it's almost like a scenic trip around the Southwest Territory. I felt little to no forces through the entire ride. It's a shame too, because without some of the trims, I think it could be decent.
Superman: Like B:TR, I have been on this coaster at SFoG, and this was the same. Fun ride, but really a one-trick pony with the pretzel loop.
V2: Impulse Coaster... decent, no holding brake. Not much more to be said.
Viper: I wish I could have gotten more than one ride on this coaster, as we only rode in the back. I thought it was fun, but it seemed that the front of the train would provide more airtime. Ran very well, and I was surprised how smooth of ride it was.
Whizzer: A fun little coaster with the unique spiral lift, but not much more to it. Definitely a classic.
All in all, the park was ok, but it's not somewhere I would pay to go to again unless they had a major new attraction to lure me. I also can't imagine this park on a Saturday or major holiday. I imagine it is packed beyond belief. As a final semi-related note, on the way out of the park we stopped in Libertyville (just south of Gurnee) at a place called Sushi Thai. It was an excellent Sushi/Thai fusion restaurant that I highly recommend. Everything was delicious, and the prices were pretty decent too.
I agree spot on with pretty much all of your coaster reviews and the opinion that CF should invest in a LoQ system. The only three coasters in the park I rerode last year were Raging Bull, Viper, and Whizzer. Everything else was just bland or too extreme for me. I'm not expecting to return anytime in the near future unless they invest in some big attraction. Good TR!
Josh M said:
I would love to see Cedar Fair implement a Lo-Q system.
Amen, brutha! :)
Paying extra to get to the front of the line. The old tipping the doorman trick while people who have been waiting ahead of you, have to wait longer, because you happen to have the extra cash. Very sad.
Hey, i have an idea six flags, and suggestion for cedar fair. Why don't you give these passes away for free! the first 1,000 people through the gate get one complimentary. the rest are out of luck. Including those who are ok with paying for it.
But wait, if you get to the park early you get to park right by the entrance free! like you should be able to instead of paying $10.00 extra to park closer than everyone else.
What's next? you can't eat at this restaurant right now, because someone who paid for a meal pass gets to cut in front of you...oops some else, have to wait again...Do you want to eat today? maybe you should buy a meal pass if you do...otherwise you might not be able to eat here. $5.00 nevermind that the meal is already $15.00. If you got the cash, we'll seat your right now. let everyone else wait.
Oh, and in an answer to the question that I know will be coming. yes I have been to Great America many times. No, i have not used the flash pass, and never would, even if I was a zillionaire. Nor, would I pay extra to park closer to the gate. Because i see it as a way for the park to make money off from a service that should be provided to everyone free. Like it was before they found this new way to dig your wallets.
I understand, that there are certain time frames when you can cut in line, and only at certain attractions...but, paying extra for it, is something i would not be compfortable with. But, sometimes I get a smile out of it. because the other riders know who you are.
I was once waiting in line for Raging Bull, when a bunch of passers came up and skipped the line. people Booed them like crazy. It was very funny. People behind me, were wondering what was going on. And, when they heard, they were like...man that's so unfair!!
Same with the huge empty roped off vip parking area. people wondered why they were not being allowed to park there...(hint) It casts $25.00 to park there...what a rip off!!! But, hey, I'm not going to deny you a decnt parking spot if you want it...but, not ok with the cutting thing. Just like I am definately not ok with the line jumpers who do it for free.
Oh...and by the way. they do have a ride pass at cedar point. Not sure what it is called. But, it's there. I think it's free though, only so many issued a day. But, not totally sure on the details. Wouldn't use that either, mainly because it would waste precious time standing in line to get one.
Timber-Rider meet Lost Kause.
Lost Kause, this is Timber-Rider.
I suspect you guys have tons to talk about. :) ;)
I'm sorry you feel that way about Flash Pass. We actually had a discussion during our day at the park about some of your concerns. We did feel bad passing people in line, but the reality is that for 4 people, you are only spending 17.75 a person for the Flash Pass. Most people spend more than that in the park for food that day. We were on a budget, and because of that we only ate one meal in the park, and I was actually the only one to get the slice of pizza. The others just ate cheesebread. The rest of our money we put towards our Flash Pass, and we were very happy with our investment.
When it comes down to it, all parks offer extra items in their parks for a premium. It could be food, premium parking, souvenirs, upcharge attractions, etc... Not everyone is able to use these "premium" services, and thats ok. Do you think it's unfair to pay 20 dollars for a SkyCoaster? All I'm saying is you can choose to spend your money as you wish at a park. If you want to spend that money for a Mr. Six bobblehead, so be it, if you want to save your money, and just give what the park gives you for the cost of admission, then that is fine too, or you can do what we did and want to spend our money to make sure we were able to get all the rides in that we wanted to during our day. And for the record, we parked in 15 dollar parking. Some things are not worth shelling out some extra cash for.
Also Cedar Point has abandoned their "Freeway" system. It was a good example of how free "virtual queue" systems typically don't work well.
The "unfair" argument is not valid as the park's rules are what determines the concept of fair; if you don't like it, simply don't go there. I am somewhat against "paying to cut" as well unless it's severely limited like the Busch Gardens Quick Queue (One cut opportunity per major ride) as opposed to the Gold Flash Pass 'cut every 15 minutes program for as many rides as you want' program.
But something has to be done to offer a reward for those who give up the right to experience a ride right away in exchange for walking up to a ride station 2-5 hours later. No money is to be gained by the park while visitors are being locked up in the queue. Disney gets away with a free cutting program since they bury the cost of their program in the daily admission price where everyone pays for the program despite not everyone taking advantage of it (which is the visitors' own fault since they paid for it).
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