Six Flags Great America 2014

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September 1, 2014
Gurnee IL

Arriving at the park around 9:30 AM we got in the line to the parking lot which opened around 9:50, then parked right near the entrance. We had printed our $15 off coupons to get in to the park and gotten our tickets so we headed over to the entrance, which opened promptly at 10:00 AM. Most rides were apparently going to open at 10:30, but just as we got back to get in line for Goliath, which started in the bridge near the entrance, the rain really started to pour. So that meant that rides were delayed.

We hoped that rain would let up just enough for us to at least get our credits as Goliath was going to be 700 for Jay, and I was going to hit 300 at some point, and radar backed our hopes up. Finally, the rain stopped and the coasters started testing. Then they let us in line for Goliath. It was close to 11:00 AM when we got on, so a total wait of less than 30 minutes not counting the rain delay. This would be my 3rd full RMC coaster, though my first with all topper track (note: I had ridden Georgia Cyclone which had some topper track, and I though it ran amazing with the topper track. I was excited.

GoliathWe rode in the front row. Goliath had a great first drop. Then it went up into the overbanked turn around that had pops of airtime in the entrance and exit of the element. Then there was the airtime hill with some major ejector air followed by the dive loop, which had some awesome and comfortable hang time. Then it goes into the zero G stall which, again, had amazing hang time. Next you hit the other turn around with airtime in the entrance and exit, then up with a shot of ejector airtime into the brake run. It was really amazing. It had a short ride time, but it packed a punch. It was not my new number one, but it was very good, like a mini Texas Giant.

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So we walked over to X-Flight next, which wasn’t letting people in the line. We waited a few minutes for it to open, and once we got into the station the ride went down for about 10 minutes, but we stayed in the queue. In fact, we were only going to wait about 5 more minutes but then it opened.

X-FlightThis was my 3rd wing coaster. It was much better than I anticipated, much like the ones at Dollywood and Cedar Point. I loved the twist and drop at the beginning. The zero G rolls are really great that far from the track. Plus this one had some decent theming. I really liked it. Quite an intense wing rider, but not too much in the positive G department for me to not like it. It was compact, and fit into the park nicely. Great job on this one.

Next we headed to Southwest Territory where Raging Bull dominates the skyline. Now, Raging Bull was the first coaster over 200’ I’d ever ridden, in it’s debut year in 1999 no less. I thought it was great, and I’d ranked it high based on that ever since. It had a great layout, but it also has a notorious trim brake. Would I still love it? It looked like it was slower than even normal while we navigated the extremely long queue…

Raging BullThe first drop and hammerhead turn was really great, but that stupid trim hit. Hard. And killed the airtime on the next hill. It was still a fun ride. You drop, then fly up into a hammerhead turn before hitting the trimmed airtime hill. This is one of the few hyper coasters with a twisted layout. Most of the rest of it is full of turns and low to the ground maneuvers. I liked the hills, the twisted layout and turns. And the ending is speedy and low to the ground. They should really adjust the trip to hit a little softer. It could be such a great ride, but it definitely dropped in my rankings.

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Southwest Territory was one of the nicest themed areas of any Six Flags I’d been to. Next we went to ride the wooden coaster that really turned me on to being an enthusiast. I knew I liked coasters before having ridden it, but this was the one I raved about long after, even if it wasn’t my #1.

ViperIt was still running as well as ever. I’m not sure why the defunct Psyclone formerly at Magic Mountain wasn’t just an exact clone of this, but it should have been. I loved it. It was smooth, fun, and has some nice airtime. Viper runs well and is well taken care of. I’m glad that this one didn’t have to drop on my list.

During my first visit to the park my friend Samantha and I went to ride the next coaster but the wait was longer than we wanted on a day where we had limited time in the park, so I didn’t get to ride it then. It was almost removed a few years after, but thankfully they removed another coaster instead, one that I’d ridden and one that wasn’t very good. Now it was time to finally ride the one that almost got away. Next up was Whizzer.

WhizzerI liked the open air station. Whizzer was a fun ride that definitely felt like a Schwarzkopf coaster from the 70s. It had some slightly aggressive airtime, fun laterals, and a nice setting. It’s actually hard to believe it was located in the middle of a huge park, as it’s very wooded, which is great. You spiral up the lift hill and then drop, with several other drops and turns throughout the course. I’m glad they kept Whizzer. It was worth it.

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Sky Trek Tower was where we headed to next to take some pictures of the park from up high. Then we had a bite to eat at the newer fresh focused restaurant that had recently opened. I forget the name, but it wass for fresh, healthier food choices, and the chicken wraps we had were very good. If I’m not mistaken, we rode the Dark Knight coaster next. This was the second of these I’d ridden as I’d been on the one at Great Adventure it’s opening year with all the effects working, and really liked it. This one, though, was actually kind of rough.

The Dark Knight CoasterThis was a standard wild mouse layout in a building. Honestly, I’m not sure if much of the effects were working though I know the ending one with the horn was, because as we rounded out at the top of the lift, I hit my knee and it hurt. Bad. I was holding onto it, and then as we snaked thru down to the drops near the bottom of the structure, my Oakleys flew off. I thought I’d lost them. I was very, very upset, because they’re my favorite pair of sun glasses. As the car stopped, I asked the people in the front row if by chance my glasses had slid up under their seats, and, much to my surprise and delight, the guy handed me my glasses. Whew. And I’ll never have to ride that again.

Anyways. We headed next to ride my 300th coaster. Jay had been keeping tabs on me, so he told me that I was at 298, so what would be my 300th? Well, we were close to V2 and Little Dipper, so I decided that Little Dipper would be a good 300. That meant we were off to V2 first.

V2:Vertical VelocityI love impulse coasters, but the braking backwards at the end often makes me a little sick. Unfortunately the back brake on the spike was not on, but we did ride near the back, and these rides are freaky. I like them. And the final braking on this one didn’t bother me on the final brake run. So bonus.

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V2 was a 3 train wait and afterward we headed over to Little Dipper, which was probably one of the longer waits of the day at maybe a 4 train wait. They were only running one train. Oh, wait. It only runs 1 train. And yet it was still maybe a max of 15 minutes.

Little Dipper(300)My 300th coaster! It was actually just like Meteor two days before, except we only got one spin around track. But I really like what the park did with this. It looked great and they had a lot of history surrounding the ride in signs and what not. It looked fantastic. I’m glad Great America decided to save this one.

We made our way back to Goliath for another ride. The posted time was about an hour, and that’s really not bad since I’d heard lines had been over 3 hours that year. But we didn’t wait more than 20 minutes. I’ll thank Richard Bannister and another RRC poster for that, since they told us about the single rider line. In fact, at this point, there was a sign up. It worked kind of weird. In fact, in order to keep down on line cutting, when you get in the regular line, they give you a ticket that had to be redeemed to ride, and it had to be handed in in sequential order. It was a neat idea to cut down on line jumping. As for single riders, they give you a lanyard and send you up the Flash Pass entrance, and as we found out later, when the lanyards are gone, you have to get in the regular line. But not this go round.

So we rode Goliath again, both of us getting on the same train, me near the back. Much like Texas Giant, I feel Goliath is a better front seat ride. It’s still a killer ride no matter where you sit, and a lot of fun. I liked the restraints on this train as well, even with the shin guard, which I barely noticed. At this point there were only two more credits in the park I needed. I knew I needed one side of American Eagle, but couldn’t quite remember which side. They weren’t running both sides earlier, but later in the day they started to, so we headed there after another quick ride on X Flight.

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American Eagle (Red & Blue)The blue side had a lot of Blue Man Group ads, which were really great. I really need to see their show one day. Anywho, we rode the Red side first, which was what I’d rode the last time. It was running great on the outbound, but kind of slow on the way back. Still, Eagle is a classic and ran very well. We hopped over to get my credit on the Blue side next, which was a little more aggressive in a good way. The ride has a great first drop followed by several airtime filled hills, a large helix at the top of the far end turn around, and a helix to finish the ride.

I know I rode the Splash Battle, Buccaneer Bay, at some point, and I want to say it was after this. More parks need those kids of water rides, and this one was very well themed with stationary theming that was easy to keep up. I had fun. This was the 3rd I’d seen, but first I’d ridden. Did I mention I was wearing all white? Eh.

So we finally headed to Superman Ultimate Flight. This was the last one of these in the US I needed. The wait was about 30 minutes so I guess it was actually about the longest wait of the day. But the crew was doing the best they could.

Superman Ultimate FlightThese things are really intense, and I couldn’t ride after eating so we had to wait a bit. The first drop was cool, but that pretzel loop was just way too intense. I actually no longer enjoy those rides. I think Tatsu got it right. Otherwise, it’s a credit, and something that I’d ride if it had no line.

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Having ridden every coster in the park but Batman and Demon, I toyed with riding the log flume but kind of forgot to. We went back to Goliath, but they had no single rider lanyards and we didn’t want to wait instead walking to Batman The Ride.

Batman The RideThis was my second inverted coaster ever. It was still as intense as ever, and looked great with the newer paint job. I’m glad that, even though they’d condensed it, they kept most of the theming. That they were playing the soundtrack in the station was also a nice bonus (We heard Partyman playing, but no Batdance). Batman was now ubiquitous at Six Flags parks, and I’d ridden several others at that point.

The park was getting ready to close at this point. I’m pretty sure we rode Demon at some point and I know we rode the top level of the carousel too but Batman was our last coaster. Point of Fact, Batman was the last coaster of the day on my first and only other trip to the park 15 years prior. One thing I’d never ridden was a Condor, so we rushed over to that next. The lights were just turning on and it was a fun ride. Overall, the park was really nice. Much nicer than my first visit. It had a great lineup of rides, and a few strong winners. It was clean, and had a nice selection of non-coaster rides too. The food was good, and the staff as well. They could use a dark ride (convert that IMAX theater up front!), and I wish I’d have been able go to the water park and ride the train, but oh well. Otherwise, it was a great visit.

We headed back to the hotel, tired. The day cleared up early and it was beautiful and not too hot the entire day. The next morning it was time to head out. My flight was around 1 PM, but Jay’s was around 7 PM, so after we dropped off the car and I headed to my gate, he took a train to town. I’m glad I got to go back to Chicago after 15 years. It most definitely won’t be that long in between my next trip. Chicagoland is charming and there was still so much more for me to see and do. And that includes another trip to the Dells.

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