It was the summer and time to plan a big coaster trip. I had made it to Cedar Point to ride my 100th coaster Top Thrill Dragster at Cedar Point. Now what shall I do after hitting 100? Work on 200 coasters, of course! I decided to cut a path through the Midwest and the Ozarks. It was time to go these parks:
7/12 & 7/13 Six Flags Great America
7/14 Michigan’s Adventure
7/15 Six Flags St. Louis
7/16 Silver Dollar City & Celebration City
7/17 Magic Springs
7/18 Worlds of Fun
That was the plan, anyway. Things have a tendency to change.
I was spending two days at Six Flags Great America, so I will spilt this trip report up…
July 12, 2003
I had finished Adventureland and was heading from the LaQuinta Inn in Moline, IL to Six Flags Great America in Gurnee, IL. I left around 7:00 am. Microsoft Streets and Trips had the route charted out to take me up I-294 and I-94 to Gurnee. It was pretty much smooth sailing until I approached Chicago. I went through a few tollbooths. I’ve never seen tollbooths for 15 cents and 30 cents before! How many cars have to pass through to break even? I suppose Chicago has a lot of traffic to compensate for the small toll. I-294 had an accident and that backed up traffic for a while. Finally, I got off the I-94 exit to Six Flags Great America. I could see the park from the Interstate.
As I headed to the park, traffic was backed up past the entrance and moved at a slow crawl. I crawled towards the parking booth and paid $10 to park. Ouch! Greed is definitely good to Six Flags! I was a little irritated by the long backup at the ticket booth, but I guess I had to expect a large crowd on a Saturday.
Then I headed to the entrance and it was backed up all the way to the ticket booth. The line was a slow crawl too. I just picked a line and crawled along with everyone else. I was beginning to get irritated now. The employees seem to let each person in one at a time so they can pass through the metal detectors. This is not a good setup. Why not place the metal detectors before the entrance, like Paramount’s Kings Island? Oh, I forgot…this is Six Flags.
After about 30 minutes, I finally made it to the front. I was so happy – it was like crossing the finish line of the New York Marathon! I gave the employee my Six Flags Worlds of Adventure season pass (I have a pass from that Ohio park, even though I live in Florida and haven’t stepped in the park this season and don’t plan to in the future…it’s a long story). The employee (I think her name was Amani) swiped my card once and the machine accepted the pass. I thought I was home free until she swiped it again. She stopped me and said that I couldn’t go through. Why? The machine said that I had already been in the park! I’ve never set foot into Six Flags Great America ever. The park just opened too. How could I have been in the park? I told her that I’ve never been in the park and I saw her swipe the pass twice. She didn’t believe me and told me I had to go to Guest Relations.
If I were the Hulk, I would have been so mad that I would have busted out of my clothes and started on a rampage. I could feel myself nearly losing control. I should have asked for a Supervisor, but I just walked away and went to Guest Relations. Guest Relations had no line (fortunately) and the nice employee gave me a Comp ticket. I headed straight to the head of Amani’s line, gave her my ticket, and I was able to get in! I guess I should have filed a complaint about her at Guest Relations, but I just wanted to let it go and get on with my day. But Amani, you give Six Flags employees a bad name!
My plan today was to hit as many coasters as I could by around 2:00 pm. I was going to meet up with some friends at around 4:00 pm. I wanted to do the park first, check into my hotel, and meet up with them. I didn’t want to get caught up in a long queue. The coasters with the shortest lines will be the ones that I head to! I was going to meet up with some friends tomorrow, so I’ve save the things with long lines for later. The only coaster that I couldn’t ride today would be Déjà Vu, since it was down.
I knew Superman: Ultimate Flight wouldn’t have a short line, but I headed that way anyway. The line was all the way past the Condor! It looked like an hour wait! I’ll save it for tomorrow. I headed to Vertical Velocity, which had a 5-minute wait. I’m riding this one! I sat beside someone who looked like he was dressed for the winter. It was 90 degrees in the middle of summer and he had a jeans jacket and sweater on? What’s up with that? Anyway, I rode in the fourth seat. I knew what to expect since I’ve been on Superman: Ultimate Escape at Six Flags Worlds of Adventure. Still, it was a great ride. I especially liked the forward spike and the way it twisted and turned. It wasn’t Cedar Point’s Wicked Twister, but it was still fun.
I walked past Iron Wolf and it was down. A long line was forming outside. My least favorite flavor of coasters are stand-ups, so I’d save it for tomorrow. The line for American Eagle looked short, so I headed in. Halfway through the queue, people started walking out. It was down too.
I headed to Raging Bull and the line looked short, but the wait was longer. Someone had hurled on the coaster and the ride ops were on cleanup duty. They came out with brooms, cleaning solution, and rubber gloves to clean up the lost breakfast. The coaster seemed to be a fast loader since they were running three trains. I waited 15 minutes for my Raging Bull ride. I rode near the front. It’s a hypercoaster and supposed to be fast, but Raging Bull seemed to be dragging in the front. It didn’t seem very fast. I got some good airtime, but nothing near the airtime on another B&M hypercoaster, Nitro. I’ll try a seat in the back later.
Next was Viper, which had a 15-minute wait on a two-train operation. I don’t know if this was a twister or out and back wooden coaster, but it sure was fun with a lot of good airtime. It was a little jittery, but not too rough to make it unenjoyable. This was a solid wooden coaster ride. The exit seemed pretty long. I think it’s the longest exit I’ve ever walked through. I kept on walking and walking and…walking and…more walking! Will this line ever end? After a 5-minute walk, it exited right into the gift shop. Cool, a line ride!
The Demon was the next coaster with a short line. The line seemed to be short, but a train was stuck in the lift and it took some time for the ride to get up and running again. I waited 15 minutes for a coaster on a two-train operation. As I waited, I could hear a part of the Demon theme song in the first tunnel. I couldn’t quite make out the words, but I kind of knew the song from Julie Stone’s Coastered! 2000 video. I couldn’t remember the words from that video, so I made up my own. I kept on singing, “The Demon is nutritious and delicious…it stays crunchy even in milk!” When it was my turn to ride, I rode near the front. The ride was pretty good until it hit the corkscrews. Then it was head banging time! My anti-head banging techniques could not overcome this painful experience. The Demon had a second tunnel that had a lot of flashy lights and “Star Trek’s” Red Alert sound effects.
The last coaster for today was the Whizzer. I wanted to ride it to figure out why people wanted to save it from removal. I waited about 35 minutes for the ride. In the queue were a hearing impaired couple. They signed to each other a lot. I wish I knew ASL so I could talk to them. I didn’t really care what they were saying though, as long as they didn’t give me the L.A. freeway hand sign! When it was my turn to ride, I sat near the middle. The Whizzer had a very unique lift hill that spiraled up. I’ve never seen a lift hill like this. The coaster had some great speed and some great turns. It may not be the tallest coaster or fastest coaster in the park, but it was a very fun and unique ride. Now I know why people wanted to save it. I don’t think Shockwave would have elicited such feelings in me. Shockwave looked like another headbanger to me.
It was around 1:30 and I didn’t see very many short lines anymore. In fact, the Vertical Velocity line stretched out about tenfold out the entrance! As I left the park and headed out to my car, there were a lot of people eating their picnic lunch in the parking lot. One family even had a fold-up picnic table! I guess this is the mini version of the tailgate party.
I headed to Wheeling to check into my hotel, the Candlewood Suites. I got it for $25 a night off Priceline. I was staying for two nights. The hotel was pretty nice. It’s like an Extended Stay America with a kitchen in every room. I think it was well worth the $25!
I met up with my friends later that afternoon and I was set to meet up with some other people tomorrow at Six Flags Great America, including a budding coaster enthusiast….
July 13, 2003
Today was my second day at Six Flags Great America. I was set to meet Marla and her 12-year-old daughter, Kara at the park at 9:30 in front of the entrance. Kara was excited this day. Her mom usually sits out on roller coasters and she has to ride alone. Now she has a riding partner! I arrived a little before 9:30 and Marla and Kara were already there. Marla was trying to get rid of her free kid’s ticket Six Flags coupon she got from a Danimals pack. After a few solicitations, someone finally took it. The lines to get in were long again, but it took about 15 minutes to enter. I made it a point to avoid Amani’s line. No one was going to scan my pass two times again! My Six Flags season pass worked this time. Someone knows how to swipe a pass once. We were going to try to ride all the roller coasters. Vertical Velocity and Déjà Vu (surprisingly) were still down.
We first headed to Superman: Ultimate Flight. The wait was already 30 minutes. Marla wasn’t sure if she would ride, but eventually she did. We got into the back row and we flew. This coaster is a really good flying coaster, much better than X-Flight. It’s smooth and gives a good sensation of flight. The pretzel loop was amazing! It was the most intense part of the ride! Kara and I liked it. Marla looked a little green. I thought that she was going to hurl!
Kara and I went on the Condor next door while Marla sat out (she doesn’t do spinning flats). I rarely ride flats myself at the parks unless I’m with other people. I’m too busy riding the coasters! I had ridden the Condor at Morey’s Piers and like that ride, this Condor gave a good view of the park.
After the Condor, we decided to buy Fast Lane tickets. I usually don’t buy them (Six Flags has enough of my money, thank you), but Marla was going to sit out on most of the coasters. I thought it would be a good investment. Marla wouldn’t be waiting for us too long. It was $15 a ticket that was good for 4 coasters. It seemed a little pricey, but we didn’t want Marla to be waiting.
We headed over to the Viper, which had a 10-minute wait. It was a good ride. Marla rode this one and she looked green afterwards. I guess that was the end of her riding. Then Kara and I headed to Raging Bull while her mom sat beside the teacup ride. The line for Raging Bull looked like it was 20 minutes. Maybe we shouldn’t have, but we used our Fast Lane tickets to get in. We cut our wait time to 5 minutes. This time, we rode Raging Bull in the back. It was a lot better ride in the back. It was so fast and so smooth! The first drop gave some amazing airtime. There was some great airtime throughout the ride too. This was Kara’s first hypercoaster and she loved it.
Next up was American Eagle. Only the backwards train was running. Kara and I rode it while Marla sat out. They opened the forwards racer while we were in line. We waited about 20 minutes and chose a back (front?) seat. The American Eagle was a pretty good racer with some nice airtime, but the helix was a bit rough! Like the backwards racer at Paramount’s Kings Island, the coaster seemed more intense because you couldn’t see where you were going. We didn’t have time to do the forwards racer since the line got long.
Marla chatted with another parent as she waited for us and the other parent said that she waited an hour for Superman: Ultimate Flight. Now can you see Robb Alvey asking people outside of Superman: Ultimate Flight on how long they waited? He did it on X. It would be good to do for Top Thrill Dragster too!
We were getting hungry, so we headed for something to eat. We ate at the burger place by the American Eagle. I find the phrase “good Six Flags food” an oxymoron and this was no exception. The burger was very overcooked. Like my school food days of the past, I just held my nose and ate away. Kara was busy eating the onions that fell out of my burger. She must have seagull genes.
With Marla sitting out on a lot of the rides, it was time to find something that she could ride. We rode the Sky Tower by the Space Shuttle America ride. Now throughout the park, I noticed that every sign had said no gum chewing or eating on the ride. That’s understandable since a young girl tragically choked to death on a piece of taffy while riding Raging Bull. Now on the Sky Tower, can you really choke on a piece of gum while going on a slow moving ride? I guess it’s better to be safe than sorry. The Sky Tower gave a nice view of the park.
We then headed to the Space Shuttle America ride. This was a simulator ride. Kara and I rode the motion seats while Marla rode in the motionless seats. It was an OK simulator. I’ve been on better. We waited about 15 minutes for this ride.
It was time to ride the coasters again. It was time for Iron Wolf. Like I said previously, stand-up coasters are not my favorite flavor of coasters, but it was a credit anyway. It was Kara’s first stand-up coaster. The line looked like 30 minutes, but our Fast Lane passes gave us a wait of a few minutes. We rode near the back and it was head-banging time for me. I think this was the first time I’ve ever had head banging on a B&M. I’m not sure if Kara liked it, but she did mention something about King Kobra. Too bad that ride doesn’t exist anymore.
Next was Batman: The Ride, which had about a 30-45 minute wait, but we had a 10 minute wait with our Fast Lane passes. Here was another first for Kara – her first inverted coaster. We headed to the back again (Kara learns fast about good coaster seats) and she loved it. As for me, I’ve been on a few Batman: The Rides already (or as I call them, Batman: The Clone) and I kind of know what to expect. I would prefer riding Montu or Dueling Dragons myself, but it was another credit for me. We even spotted the Hidden Mickeys in the queue!
After Batman: The Ride, Kara rode the Swings across from the coaster. I have trouble fitting into the tiny seats of the swings, so I sat out on this one. While the ride was going, a girl had suddenly lost her shoe and it fell from the sky. Another person picked it up and returned it to the owner.
Kara and I rode the Whizzer, which was a 5-minute wait with our Fast Lane passes. The regular line was out the entrance. Kara liked this ride and it gave me another chance to ride a classic coaster.
Kara and I then rode Fiddler’s Fling. Sometimes flats can be too intense for me. I’ll ride a 400-foot roller coaster, but I try to avoid some flats that look too sickening. Fiddler’s Fling didn’t look too bad, but it was a turbulent ride! It felt like someone had broken a window on an airplane and we were all being sucked out. I wish I had some duct tape to strap me in! Kara then rode the Scrambler on her own. I’ve been on too many Scramblers already from county fairs and such. I was busy filming the Whizzer as she rode.
The next coaster was the Demon. We had used up all 4 rides on the Fast Lane ticket, so it was time to stand in the regular line. The wait was about 20 minutes. I kept on singing in my head, “The Demon is nutritious and delicious…it stays crunchy even in milk!” all thoughout the queue. The ride was good until the corkscrews came again. Then it was head bang city! Even Kara suffered some head banging!
Kara wanted to ride a wet ride, so we headed to Shipwreck Falls. Kara, Marla, and I all rode this one. I kept on calling this ride Perilous Plunge and I almost typed in its name as such! (I have to tell myself, “You haven’t been to Knott’s Berry Farm! You haven’t been to Knott’s Berry Farm!”) The wait was about 30 minutes. The strange thing about this ride is that the initial splashdown doesn’t get you wet. When you pass under the bridge, a sheet of water drains from the bridge and right onto you! It was about 80 degrees and we all shivered after getting soaked!
Kara wanted to get dry, so she got in line for the Giant Ore Drop with me. Marla sat beside the teacups ride again. The wait was about 30 minutes. The ride seemed too short for such a long of a wait. I think I like S&S spaceshot rides than these cable drop rides. S&S spaceshots seem to give a lot more airtime.
Our final coaster was the Viper. We waited 20 minutes for the back seat. It was a pretty good backseat ride with good airtime again.
It was now time for Marla and Kara to leave, so we said our goodbyes outside the Whizzer. I headed to ride the train. I wanted to get my final credit, the forwards racer of the American Eagle. I waited about 10 minutes for it. The forwards racer didn’t seem as intense as the backwards racer, but the helix seemed less rougher on this racer than the other.
It looks like Kara had a good time now she had a riding partner. It was a good day for her: her first flying coaster (and first B&M), first hypercoaster, first inverted coaster, and first stand-up coaster. She’ll be an ACE member soon…
I was done by 8:00 pm, so I headed back to my hotel. I did some dinner and ate some dinner. I rested up for my long drive to Michigan’s Adventure.
You should have just called the water ride Perilous Plunge instead of Shipwreak Falls (thats SFWoA's I think). Its Splash Waterfalls :).
Also where did you see 15 to 30 cent tolls?! I wish I could run into those on the way to the park...instead I get two 40's and a 50 lol.
Good day....I said Good day!
You never got your ride on RB in the back, huh? Boy did you miss the best drop of your life!
"Before you insult anyone, walk a mile in their shoes. That way, when you do insult them, you'll be a mile away and have there shoes.
Arena football has arrived in the Windy City. Go "Chicago Rush"
Also where did you see 15 to 30 cent tolls?! I wish I could run into those on the way to the park...instead I get two 40's and a 50 lol.
I was heading onto I-94 from I-80 (I think) from Moline. So I think I hit the 15 and 30 cent tolls at the south ends of I-94.
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