Six Flags Great America, Gurnee, Illinois, USA
This was my 2nd visit to Six Flags Great America (I went there the year that Goliath opened) and most enjoyable visit to a park since Alton Towers in April. It was also the 1st time in recent memory that I didn’t feel the need to buy FlashPass or Fast Lane at an out-of-area park. Wait times were mostly minimal to moderate. And the weather was delightful, a welcome break from the oppressive heat we’ve been having in Philly.
Evidently I arrived at a very good time – about 1:30 pm – because it took only 35 minutes to get on Maxx Force. And this coaster proved to be better than anticipated. The speed and force of the launch was impressive, as was going through 5 inversions in 23 seconds. Enough to take your breath away. And exquisitely smooth. It’s over all too quickly but I don’t know what could be added to extend the ride length without detracting from the overall experience. The sonic boom which accompanies each launch can be heard from some distance.
Next up was Whizzer, which I hadn’t ridden on my previous visit. What an unusual, interesting and fun coaster. The configuration reminded me of Jet Star II at Lagoon. After the ride I took another look at Maxx Force but the queue had grown considerably in length so I moved on to Viper, which ranks among my favorite woodies. This is everything that a traditional, solid woodie should be. It’s supposedly a mirror image of the Coney Island Cyclone but fortunately doesn’t have the Cyclone’s violent, jarring turns. From Viper I went to Raging Bull, probably my least favorite of the B&M hypers I’ve ridden and I really don’t know why, as the layout is actually quite good. It just doesn’t excite me. In any case I was pleased to see that the restraint is still only a lap bar. All the B&M hypers at Cedar Fair parks I’ve visited have had seat belts added but Six Flags has held out.
I went into JB Barbecue Sports Bar for a soda and discovered that they sell black bean burgers. Problem of what to eat later, as a vegetarian, solved. When I told the guy at the cash register that I was coming back for one of those at dinnertime he gave me a free soda. What a nice thing to do!
After a short break I rode X-Flight, my 2nd favorite coaster in the park (Maxx Force is now my 1st). On my previous visit the ride ops were attired in flight suits, which was very cool, but this is no longer the case. And the voiceover in the loading station sounded like a combination of rap and the Cookie Monster. That detracted from the overall experience but the ride itself is as solid as ever. The keyhole element is the best I’ve ever experienced on a wing rider.
Time for Goliath. This coaster had a longer wait time than the others so I used the single rider line, which expedited things to some extent although there were about a dozen people ahead of me and we all had to wait for a group of 3 to show up to fill the 4th seat. There is no choice of seat for any rider; you sit where the ride ops tell you to sit. As far as I am aware, it’s the only coaster in the park for which this is the case. As to the ride itself, it was superb but oh, my neck! Something about the inversions and lack of neck and head support gave me such a neck ache that I had no inclination to reride.
Vertical Velocity had not been operating on my previous visit so I rode it to get the credit. It was OK. I’m not a huge fan of impulse coasters although I do like Wicked Twister. I considered riding the original Batman but there was enough of a wait that I decided against it. Anyway, I’d ridden it before. I’d rather spend my time riding coasters unique to this park than spend it riding those which are identical or nearly identical to those at my home park (Great Adventure), i.e., Batman, Superman and The Joker although I probably should have ridden Joker because this does tend to differ from park to park. For instance, the version at Six Flags Fiesta Texas (called Batman) is a lot wilder than the installation at Great Adventure. And while Demon is unique to this park I decided to skip it because I didn’t like it the first time around. So I grabbed another ride on X-Flight and headed to American Eagle. I really enjoyed this ride and had forgotten about the exceptionally good helix.
It was then back to Viper before dinner at JB. The black bean burgers there are better than those at Great Adventure and served with waffle fries. With that and a hefty glass of Fat Tire I couldn’t have been happier.
The last ride of the night was on Maxx Force and what a ride it was. (I did have to wait about an hour because it was down when I got there and those already in the queue had priority.) Riding it at night while slightly intoxicated was a great way to end the day. In the gift shop I ran into two guys, one of whom noticed my Smiler T-shirt and struck up a conversation. I wear the Smiler shirt to parks a lot because it’s a great conversation starter. (In fact a ride op on X-Flight had commented on my shirt earlier in the day.) He asked me about Rita at Alton Towers and I said that it was OK, a decent Intamin launch coaster but nothing to write home about and that a better coaster was Thi3teen. He said “That’s the one with the drop track.” Yes! He obviously knew his coasters, and even pointed out that the X-Flight tee I was thinking of buying was inaccurate because it displayed B&M hyper trains on a wing coaster. Good observation, as was his suggestion that a ride like Saw (Thorpe Park) was unlikely to be installed at a park here. I love it when I run into someone at a park who can engage in this type of conversation.
Because my flight back home was at night, I went back to the park for several hours on Saturday. What a difference between Friday afternoon and Saturday morning! I didn’t get there for rope drop and as a result, a zillion people were ahead of me in the queue for Maxx Force. The posted wait time was 75 minutes but my actual wait was 55 minutes. Due to the shortness of the ride, the queue tends to move fairly quickly. I wanted to ride Whizzer again but the queue for that one was so long - and not moving quickly - that I had to skip it. Instead I went to Viper, which had no wait to get into the loading station and a 5-train wait once inside the station. After that I decided that I would have to ride whatever seemed likely to have the shortest wait so I did Raging Bull (10-minute wait) and X-Flight (15 minutes to get into station and 3-train wait in station). That was all I had time for.
One thing which impressed me about this park is the efficiency of ride operations. Another is the relatively liberal policy – relative to some other Six Flags parks - regarding riders’ personal items. Riders can bring backpacks and all sorts of paraphernalia into the loading stations and place them in bins. This is in sharp contrast to Great Adventure, where no-one with a backpack would be able to get near the loading station of El Toro. Hell, no! S/he would have to pay to put it in a locker.
Although Saturday’s visit was a short one and ride times were longer than the previous day, that was fine with me, as I did what I wanted to do on Friday and this was just icing on the cake.
Glad you enjoyed. I really like this park a lot. I agree that Viper is a fantastic wood coaster. I do disagree with your feelings on Raging Bull. I find it to be quite fun and the most interesting of the B&M hypers since it is a twister and it has some really good drops.
One trick I've learned here is to get there at opening and go right for Goliath. I usually get at least 5 re-rides in on it.
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