Even Longer Six Flags Great America Trip Report 6/12/17
The weekend before I went to Six Flags Great America, me, my mom, and my sisters Maia and Olevia visited my oldest sister Marisa and her husband Dev in Chicago. This was the first time I got to see their newest place, which was further north in a more suburban area. Saturday we did absolutely nothing, and Sunday we went to the Chicago Botanical Gardens, which we only did a small part of due to the 80°F heat being a little too much.
Monday was when I went to Six Flags Great America, and I went with four other people: Maia, Olevia, Marisa, and my cousin Eric. This was my second time ever going to the park: last time was on a crowded Friday last year with my mother, who does not like roller coasters and gets motion sick easily. The fact that she even rode some of the coasters with me, hell, took me there in the first place spontaneously, is a testament to her love for me. Eric had gone on many school field trips to SFGAm, but hadn’t been in a while, at most, he’d last been there since X-Flight opened, but before the opening of Goliath.
Before we got to the park, we had to go to Kinkos to print out our tickets, which Marisa was able to get for a few dollars less than the online price, since Six Flags sells discounted tickets to the law firm she works for. It seems bizarre at first that they'd sell tickets to a law firm, but maybe this is how they prevent lawsuits.
One thing to note about the entrance to Great America was that there was a maze of switchbacks at the security checkpoint, which I had previously thought only happened at La Ronde because of its reputation as a terrible dumpster fire just outside of Montreal. Because the park wasn't busy, they weren't much of a hassle though.
The first ride of the day was Dark Knight, because it had the lowest capacity of any of the coasters as far as I know. I noticed that the preshow room was just something you walked through instead of a proper preshow, maybe on busier days they actually keep people there but I wouldn't know. The line started just before the security camera where it puts Joker minion masks on you, which is a pretty cool effect, but I don't get why that's there since IIRC, you're supposed to be escaping the Joker while on the metro. I was surprised to learn there was an omnimover style station, but I guess it's not that expensive to add them. I got into the front row of my car with Marisa, and Olevia in the back left, and Eric and Maia sat in the front and back of another car, which was pretty strange, especially since they were sitting on the same side.
The straight ride experience, excluding theming, was fun. The hairpin turns are slightly disorienting, and there's decent floater on the drops.
The theming was kinda confusing. I had no idea what most of the walls next to the turns were supposed to be except for the bit with mannequins of Joker minions holding guns, and maybe there was a train that almost crashed into us. None of it seemed like stuff a subway train would do anyway. The best set piece was a bunch of broken pipes on both sides of one of the drops that sprayed water into our faces. The ending, where you sit on the brake run, seemed like the part where they ran out of budget; all it is are some cheap disco lights followed by Batman saying some stuff that you can't even hear. I might ride it next time I'm there just so I can try and pick up on more of the set pieces I missed. Despite not having been to Kennywood in a few years, I'd say Exterminator is the better Wild Mouse in a box because the premise is simple (you’re a giant rat escaping a factory building being cleared out by pest control), and the spinning was good on my ride from what I recall.
I wanted to ride Superman: Ultimate Flight next, but the ride was closed (I guess it wasn’t done testing for the day). So I figured why not go to the big new roller coaster for this year, The Joker FREE FLY COASTER? Unfortunately for us, the ride was closed, which I thought had to do with the part recall S&S issued, but /u/Guy_With_A_Stick told me that one of the block sections failed and required the ride be shut.
So instead went to V2: Vertical Velocity, and I made sure to go to the back row by recommendation of Guy With a Stick, but suddenly, the ride broke down. The train was stopped on the portion of the launch track outside the station, and I decided to wait it out. But just outside the station I saw Batman: The Ride dispatching trains, and I figured it was a better use of our time to ride the invert that was actually functioning at the moment. To my surprise, most of the theming still works. In the Gotham City Park section of the queue, you can hear children cheering in the most annoying manner possible, and the fountain in the center actually spews water. The grungy section behind the mock work walls also has speakers playing police chatter, and the cop car crashed into a hydrant is still there (i think the lights even work). Then there’s the station, which has four tvs showing security cam footage of the sewer section of the queue, and a couple more showing off dated CGI renderings of Batman things, including a POV of Batman: The Dark Knight at SFNE.
The actual ride experience was great. While I was in the second to back row instead of the back row this time, it didn’t feel much different from that ride, still delivering a relentless, positive G-laden experience. On another note, this was the first time I noticed B:TR was running without the wheel assembly covers most inverts have, which it apparently hasn’t run with for years.
I decided to try V2 again, but Maia thought the ride was still closed, because the ride hadn’t dispatched at the time. Thankfully, the ops managed to dispatch before I could be persuaded that it wasn’t going to be open. Once again, I queued up for the back row, and noticed that the op in the control booth was having way too much fun. Compared to Cedar Point, where the ops don't really say anything outside of “Launching in 3, 2, 1,” the op was doing routines to catch riders off guard. Well, really there was one. On the train before me I heard:
“I’m gonna tell you guys a story that really helps with the ride,” she said. “Really calms the nerves.” The flow of her routine is broken by her asking the ops to get into position and her giving the all clear. “So once upon a time there was this ride called V2, and the riders went,” followed by the first launch. When the train pulled back into the station, she said “And they all lived happily ever after.” When Maia and I boarded the back row, the op started with, “You guys wanna hear a funny joke?” and proceeded to never follow up on that. She just gave a generic spiel for the launch.
While V2 may not have a functioning holding brake, I’d still consider it better than Wicked Twister for the weird hangtime/airtime thing that happens on the back spike. Like, I definitely felt like I was out of my seat, but I didn’t feel like I was pressed up against the restraint. The launches didn’t compare to Wicked Twister’s full power launches, though.
I told everyone I wanted to go straight to Goliath, but we saw Little Dipper and decided to ride. Initially, Marisa wanted to ride in the front row, but I told her that u/Noxegon never rides front row on a kiddie coaster because children really like the front row, so we sat a little further back. There wasn’t anything remarkable about the forces, as it was designed for kids, although Marisa kept acting like she was terrified to mess with me.
While I wanted to go straight to Goliath after that, and maybe get Spacely’s Sprocket Rockets on the way, we didn’t have water on us, and Olevia was feeling dehydrated, so we had to find a stand selling water somewhere in Yukon Territory. Most of the stands were still closed though, so we went into the Mooseburger Lodge, which we then quickly left upon realising it was more of a sitdown place. Thankfully, the beer cart in the outdoor seating area was open, and we got some water there. While I wish Marisa didn’t force me to drink water right that moment, it was probably for the best.
We finally queued up for Goliath, which I felt the line could’ve gone a little quicker as the grouper at the Flash Pass/single rider merge point was leaving a lot of space on the stairs, but we still got on. One of the things that I didn’t notice at my last visit was that Goliath’s station is so small that there can't really be large queues for each rows, so seating is assigned. While I wish I had been able to get back row, since I got front last time, I still went for the back-most row of three assigned; row eight. I could’ve gone in row six for the meme, but I wanted the best airtime possible, especially on that drop. And boy was I not disappointed.
While even in the front Goliath’s drop was more intense than Millennium Force’s, it was much crazier this time around. The first overbank is pretty cool, with some head choppers with the supports, but what I remembered as a very weak pop of airtime on the one airtime hill was now a strong ejector moment. I don’t remember much of the dive loop that followed; it was probably cool, but to me it doesn’t stand out as much as the massive zero-g stall right after. One would expect the stall to have crazy hangtime, but it doesn’t, rather it just feels like you’re upside down yet rightside up at the same time. The turn afterwards is my least favorite part; the way it’s shaped makes it seem like you might get airtime on the two bumps, but there’s none. The rise into brakes gave some strong floater. Everyone in my party agreed it was the best ride at the park.
In the gift shop I noticed a cool Goliath shirt. Well, it was basically my Maverick shirt, but the triangles were orange, and a silhouette side view of Goliath’s lift hill replaced the one of Maverick’s drop. I also saw a member of Ohio Valley Coasters wearing a Top Thrill Dragster shirt with a similar design on one of their Instagram posts, so I assume that there’s one company who makes this design for any coaster. I still think the Maverick shirt is the best on out of those because the colors mixed better with the dark blue.
Marisa decided we should get something to eat after that, and we were initially all set on Johnny Rockets. At first, she didn’t realize that it was a Johnny Rocket’s because she could only see the section of the stand that “Burgers” and thought it was a generic Six Flags eatery, but I told her I knew there was a Johnny Rockets in that location, and I proved her wrong. “Never doubt Frank,” Maia said. Unfortunately, there was no air conditioning, so we instead went to the Mooseburger Lounge. The burgers were nothing special, probably could’ve benefitted from a little more heat, though.
Because Dark Knight and Little Dipper were my 48th and my 49th, I decided to immediately head to American Eagle, since it was probably the best coaster that I hadn’t ridden my last visit. For those that haven’t been to the park, be prepared to take a trek, you’ll have climb a set of stairs that stands on the platform where their ugly, industrial looking skycoaster resides, cross a bridge over a maintenance road, walk down stairs to the surprisingly ornate station building, and then split off to your preferred side. Only the Red side was operating on my visit, and I learned that American Eagle’s trains have the weird wings on the sides like Le Monstre. I sat in the front of the third or fourth car, however I had a fun time despite not sitting in the best seat possible. The airtime was pretty good, and the shuffling in the helixes was weird, but nothing painful.
Next we went to X-Flight. Even though Eric said he remembered the ride, he didn’t ride it for some reason. Olevia sat out on this one. Marisa complained about the lack of shade in certain areas of the queue, which, yes, it did suck, but I’ll take the sprawling queue through the infield of the ride where you can get some great shots of the compact layout over Gatekeeper’s maze of mostly unshaded switchbacks, provided I had to wait the same amount of time, which thankfully wasn’t much. Maia thought that it was possible that the queue was unshaded in some areas because the train was close enough to provide a breeze. That being said, the crew on X-Flight was probably the second-worst crew there, first being V2’s. One of the ops forgot to give a thumbs up for the dispatch, and then later, open the airgates for us.
Compared to last time, X-Flight felt more forceful, with two of the helixes providing pretty good Gs. It also helped that I was sitting on the left wing, because it made the wing over drop very cool. Marisa told me she couldn’t handle the twisty inversions on X-Flight and Batman, which I don’t really get, but there has to be a reason.
Our next ride was Demon. Because the ride doesn’t get much of a queue, it’s kind of a trek too, but not to the same extent as American Eagle or Viper. I could faintly hear the 22 minute soundtrack composed for the ride playing in the station. I forgot to put my phone in my back pocket, but thankfully, my phone survived the course. The drop gives ejector, and the loops are quite forceful. The tunnel following them has a really cool light effect. The ride turned into hot garbage following the drop out of the midcourse. The transition into the corkscrews was taken so fast my neck slammed into the OTSR and the resulting corkscrews and helix just felt uncomfortable. I have a feeling Mariott enclosed that transition with a rock just to hide how horrible that transition is. While it was just horrendous, I don’t think I can rank it lower than Corkscrew at CP, because that whole ride was entirely flaccid and awkward, instead of having a good first half and a horrendous second half. At the very least, Marisa thought it was trash, although everyone else probably felt the same way.
Because the ride was new for 2016 when I was there last, the queue for Justice League 4D: Battle For Metropolis was so long and not covered by the Gold Flash Pass that I skipped out on it. This time, the queue was only slightly outside the entrance to the building, and the part just outside was thankfully in the shade. The queue wasn’t as well themed as I thought it would be. You first have a room that’s mostly empty, save for a few banners and a TV playing the video explaining the ride’s premise, and then you go into another room that explains some of the things you’re going to shoot on a billboard (pay attention to this; because this isn't like your classic Sally dark ride, there’s no visible targets on the things you need to shoot). Then there’s the loading station you see the Cyborg animatronic. Strange that the ops have to hand you your 3D glasses instead of grabbing them at a specific point in the queue like Spiderman at Universal Islands of Adventure.
I would write a long detailed synopsis of the ride experience, but then again, those of you who haven’t ridden it might want to not be spoiled. I will say though, the practical sections are really good, and the screens, while a little blurry, have a good sense of depth. Be prepared to be a little dizzy after the ride, I had to take a moment to reorient myself with my surroundings.
I did this in Southwest Territory, the best themed section of an already decently themed park. The massive church building in the center of the area looks great, and the surroundings are nice. I considered doing River Rocker, their swinging ship ride, and Ricochet, their Huss Swing Around (especially for the meme), but I was getting exhausted from all the heat, and I deserved a break. Originally, I was supposed to ride Giant Drop with Eric, but he wanted some time in the shade, and Maia didn’t like her time on Power Tower and Drop Tower: Scream Zone because the wind got knocked out of her out right after the drop on both occasions, and Olevia and Marisa were too scared.
Before I talk about the ride experience, I will note that the theming for Giant Drop is surprisingly good. The queue is made to look like this artificial canyon, and it even starts in the dark. There’s also some derelict mining equipment sectioned off in the queue. There’s a sign just outside that implies that the ride is just some giant mining elevator.
Anyway, Giant Drop is probably the best drop tower I’ve ever done. It’s cool how the cars get progressively faster as they reach the top, and the drop is intense. I was out of my seat for much longer than i had anticipated. I wish I had gone for one of the cars facing into the park, since there really isn’t much to Gurnee outside of SFGAm. I hope Larson/ARM towers are just as good, if not, better.
The day before I went, a member of the r/rollercoasters discord told me that he went to SFGAm and Raging Bull’s notorious trim brake was off and that he got the best airtime on it. Sadly, the trims were on, and I could tell by the gentle woosh coming from the brake as the train passed over it. That didn’t stop me from having fun. Even with the trim there’s airtime. You have the crazy ejector first drop, the trimmed hill gives small bit, then there’s the pop of the midcourse (which is probably the strongest moment of airtime in the ride besides the drop), the airtime hill after, and then there’s two other ones that are hard to pinpoint. I rode this two times; once near the back, and once in the back by myself with 3 very scared kids, who asked the ops to push their lap bars a notch tighter.
Even though I was much more energetic than the rest of my party, the heat was getting to me, and I just wanted to ride two things before leaving; Viper and Superman: Ultimate Flight. I had heard the back row was an amazing experience from Guy With a Stick and /u/pinwheelguy, so I went to that row. While there was very good floater airtime, the crazy laterals that I had remembered from my last visit were absent, and the overall experience just felt kinda uncomfortable. When I said that I was disappointed in the discord server, Guy With A Stick, pinwheel, and Airboss were all shocked.
Because it was so dead in the park, and operations were generally better than last year, there was barely a line for Whizzer and so I queued up with Maia. Last time I was there, all three trains were in service and constantly stacking, however this year, one was on the transfer, but the ops were dispatching a train as soon as the other hit the very end of the brake run it seemed. At first I thought I was going to have to sit in the same seat as her, much like I did with my mom last year, but thankfully, I got my own seat and man was it spacious. The ride was just as I had remembered it; a smooth and somewhat forceful family coaster. Oddly, the roughest part of the ride was the station.
Finally we got to Superman, and while walking there, I was concerned because it didn’t seem like it was running, and it wasn’t. Some technical issue prevented people from boarding, however test trains were being sent out, so I was hopeful that we would get on. Eventually the ride was opened, however certain seats weren't available. Compared to last time, the pretzel loop didn't feel quite as intense, but I had a little more fun with the turns. Maybe if I sat more towards the back, I would feel the force of that pretzel loop. Hopefully I get to do a larger scale B&M flyer like Manta or Tatsu.
After our ride, we met up with Olevia, who sat that ride out, checked out the gift shop at the front of the park, found nothing cool, and left. Just outside the gates, we basked in the cool mist coming from the waterpark, and then drove back to Marisa’s place.
Compared to my last visit, I rode every coaster at Six Flags Great America except for Spacely’s Sprocket Rockets, which, while it would've boosted my count to 53, wasn't a big loss. I wish I rode more of the flats, especially Fiddler’s Fling so I could see how a Schwarzkopf Calypso compared to a Mack Calypso, but I don't think anyone would’ve been interested.