Friday, July 24, 2009

A Visit to Six Flags Great America

My sons won free tickets to Great America in Gurnee, Illinois, for a reading program at school, and yesterday was the day I took off work and we drove up there to spend the day.

I can remember when Great America opened. Back then, it was called Marriot's Great America, and at least a few of the rides that debuted with the park are still there today. The theme, obviously then and now, was that various areas are patterned after different regions of the country. The "lands" consist of Carousel Plaza, Orleans Place, Mardi Gras, Yukon Territory, Yankee Harbor, Hometown Square, Southwest Territory and County Fair. Some predictable attractions are in predictible areas; for example, the Logger's Run is in the Yukon Territory, and the Yankee Clipper flume ride is in Yankee Harbor. And of course, the very nice double decker Columbia Carousel is in Carousel Plaza. A railroad station and a live theater are located in Hometown Square, and various shops and restaurants are themed to the areas in which they are located.

There are a lot of coasters in this park. Here's a list:

  • THE DARK KNIGHT - indoor dark coaster


  • RAGIN' CAJUN - spinning family coaster




  • VIPER - wooden coaster


  • THE DEMON - two loops and two corkscrews

  • IRON WOLF - standup looping coaster

  • AMERICAN EAGLE - wooden coaster

  • The Whizzer is original to the park, when it was called Willard's Whizzer back in those days. There also used to be a huge, three-armed Ferris Wheel but that's been gone for years. The only other ride I can think of that is no longer there (I'm sure there are a lot of them) is the Tidal Wave, a high speed coaster where they shot you through a loop, then up, then you do the same thing backwards.

    They advertise that they have been voted the "cleanest park" in either North America or in the world. I have my doubts, but in years past it was NOT a clean park at all, and this year it looked pretty presentable. Much cleaner than in the past, and there were a lot more employees walking around picking up trash. Some of this is probably due to the fact that their attendance is down, but still.

    All in all, a pretty good day at the park.

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