Attraction Review: Six Flags Great America

This was a gifted trip from Six Flags Great America.

Walking through the gates of Six Flags Great America last month it struck me that it had been a hot MINUTE since I'd last set foot on Six Flags property. My last park from the chain had been the wonderful Six Flags Over Georgia almost five years ago to the day back in 2014 during our last coaster road trip to the US and man, so much had changed since then. It was actually really exciting, kind of like a strange mix of nostalgia but also the unknown - it had been that long since I'd been in a Six Flags park I'd all but forgotten what to expect, and that was tantalising to me. Back in 2014, RMC were still very much the new kids on the block, Intamin & B&M still ruled the school when it came to the coaster kings and dark rides were still very few and far between when it came to Six Flags parks. 

Six Flags Great America was the last 'major' Six Flags park that I needed to visit and home to so many iconic coasters that I was dying to ride. The first B&M invert - the very coaster that INSPIRED Nemesis, Goliath - one of the earliest RMC coasters, Raging Bull - the second oldest B&M hyper coaster, and so many other in between. We arrived at a fairly quiet looking park with a pretty dark sky looming overhead, so cred whore mode kicked in and once we'd collected our passes and made our way into the park we strategically made a plan to hit our 'most wanted' coasters first before the heavens inevitably opened. So naturally first up we headed for Goliath, our first RMC of the trip!

Goliath is exactly the kind of RMC coaster I can imagine the UK getting should we ever be so lucky. It's short, yes, but that means nothing in terms of the speed and thrills the thing still packs in. The first drop is monumentally thrilling, a real gut punch of a first drop that's as intense as it is fun. You're dragged down the first drop and through the entire layout, only letting up for brief moments of hangtime and maybe a tiny bit on the first turn around. It doesn't have that mania of Steel Vengeance or some of the other newer RMCs, that much is true, but even in these early iterations the genius of the design is clear as day and what a treat it is to ride. A wonderful coaster for sure, even if not a life-changing one. 

As X-Flight was pretty much right there we piled into the queue for it next and quickly found ourselves in a deserted station boarding the front row of this 2012 B&M wing coaster. Note to anybody wanted to whore coasters in a Six Flags park - arrive for opening as most locals won't rock up until later and you'll pretty much have the park for yourself for at least an hour! I guess you could say X-Flight really made me appreciate The Swarm and how well it is maintained because considering these two coasters opened in the same year X-Flight is so much clunkier than its British counterpart. The layout on X-Flight is definitely more interesting than The Swarm, and I absolutely adored the near misses (especially the way some of them were hidden by larger theming pieces - that really caught me off guard) but The Swarm to me is the wing coaster perfected whereas X-Flight still feels like B&M not really knowing what to do with this new coaster type they've invented. A fun coaster? Absolutely - but a little too rough around the edges for me. 

It was starting to pitter patter now so we high-tailed it over to the other must-ride in the park for us and joined the queue for Raging Bull. Now, I'd heard a lot about Raging Bull and not good things at that, but given Apollo's Chariot at Busch Gardens Williamsburg is a couple of months older and I had a pretty good time riding it I decided to reserve my judgement. What a shame is Raging Bull. It's very hard to put a finger on why but try as it might this coaster never really does anything, which is quite the achievement given the height and power of a B&M hyper coaster! 

At this point we all took a step back to take in the fab theming of this Western area. You often hear enthusiasts banging on about how Six Flags parks have no theming and they're all about coasters-on-concrete - a criticism we found it hard to justify as we stood in this land completely surrounded by old Western buildings, giant wagon wheels, themed facades, themed music tracks and so on. Sometimes I think people like to moan just for the sake of it and don't really take the time to appreciate what they have. The theming isn't Disney level obviously but it's still really good and a damn sight better than you'd find in your average amusement park!

By this point we'd managed to ride our 'must-do' coasters in the park, so we took the pace down a notch and spent the rest of our day meandering around the park and totting up the creds! But first it was time to try out a new-for-me attraction - Justice League: Battle for Metropolis. Considering how many of these there are this is probably the clearest indicator of just how long its been since I've been in a Six Flags park! I'm told that these attractions do differ slightly from park to park, but my god why the hell are people not yelling about this attraction from the rooftops? It's absolutely bloody amazing! I think there's a tendency with dark rides to completely shun anything that's not Disney/Universal standard unless it's something so bad that it has charm, and so things like this get lost. But I'm not exaggerating when I say this ride is excellent - it truly, truly is. The incredible fast-paced action, the live action sets and effects, the smoothness of the vehicles and how they transition from scene to scene. My only gripe is that the screen could have been a touch brighter, but that's a nitpick, I bloody adored this ride and am shocked more people don't rave about it.

We spent the next few hours mopping up the remaining coasters - honourable mentions to American Eagle and its ridiculously long queueline walk to the station, classic Arrow looping coaster Demon and its INCREDIBLE cheesy 80s soundtrack and Dark Knight - a coaster that I personally feel is a bit of a gem when all of the theming and effects come together and a great way of making something extra of what is essentially a Wild Mouse type coaster. Sadly at Six Flags Great America this wasn't the case which is a real shame as I really loved the one at Six Flags Great Adventure!

At this point, it POURED down, and when I saw pour I mean it POURED. Oh, and the heavens decided to open as our train dispatched on Joker. I'll be honest, when these S&S Free Spin coasters first came on the scene I was very quick to disregard them but this thing HAULS ASS. Even in the ridiculous downpour. It essentially packs all the mania of an S&S 4D coaster into one neat, compact little package and oh my god, what a ton of fun. If you like ridiculous forces and not knowing which way is up when you're on a coaster then you'll absolutely love Joker - I never thought I'd be saying this when I first saw this coaster design but I can't wait to get back on another one of these. Brilliant coaster.

We also managed to jump onto Batman The Ride as the rain dried up and were lucky enough to walk straight on! The weather may have been pretty grim but the great thing about that is that it really helped to keep the crowds away, so the moments we weren't huddling under an umbrella to shelter from the weather we were walking straight onto the coasters for as many re-rides as we liked! Personally I'm not a huge fan of the old school B&M inverts which are super intense, and at this point I've done so many Batman layout clones that I've lost count, but there was definitely something ignited in the coaster geek side of me as we wandered through the queueline of this coaster, knowing this was the thing that inspired John Wardley all those years ago to create the legend that is Nemesis. I love experiencing moments like that as a coaster enthusiast and it really makes you stop to appreciate some of the more iconic moments of coaster history and how it all comes together!

Despite the rain letting up at this point the park did make the decision to close the kiddie creds so sadly we missed out on +2 there due to the wet track and the coasters not being able to operate safely, which is fair enough and no huge loss! We managed to catch Maxx Force testing, which probably seems like an insignificant point at this moment in time as the thing is open now but we were certainly excited to watch it launching overhead! This testing did mean that we missed Whizzer, an ACE coaster classic Schwarzkopf Jumbo Jet coaster from the 70s which was a shame however not something we were particularly devastated by.

With the rain on the clear and an hour of park operation left there was only one thing for it - whoring session on Goliath! We saw the day out in a soggy but empty RMC coaster station trying out as many different seats on the thing that we could muster to help gain as well rounded an opinion of the coaster as possible. Between the slickness of the track post rainstorm and the time spent running to warm things up Goliath was now running like greased lightning and the speed and forces it was now delivering were next level. Bloody brilliant coaster - not my favourite RMC as I say but definitely a solid 9/10 coaster by all accounts and easily the standout coaster for me from this park.

It was a shame that the weather wasn't really here for us on our trip to Six Flags Great America as I do think poor weather makes it very hard to get a true gauge of your opinion on a park, but despite the storms we had an absolutely incredible day at the park. Goliath is definitely the stand out coaster for me but this park was absolutely packed full of pleasant surprises from the awesome Justice League: Battle For Metropolis dark ride to the ass-kicking Joker to the delightfully kitsch and old school Demon Arrow looper. It's a great regional park with some brilliant attractions and I'm definitely sure I'll be back at this park in the future to try out Maxx Force. Thanks so much again to Six Flags Great America for inviting us out to visit the park, we had a blast and adored getting to try some fantastic new coasters.

Talk later xoxo,