Trip Report: Six Flags Great America

Six Flags Great America: This is my first trip report to SGFA. Hopefully, its not too boring!

From Anthony Murphy
Posted June 19, 2007 at 10:00 PM
Well this is my first official “trip report” on this site so I will try it on one of the Six Flags parks, Six Flags Great America in Gurnee, Illinois which is situated about an hour from where I live. I took my young cousin, my two brothers, and my brother’s girlfriend. We entered the parking lot around 10:45. The parking is up to $15 dollars now and, for an extra $15, you can park in the first five rows of the parking lot, making to trek to the park shorter. It’s actually a better deal on the way back when your feet are tired and you just want to get home! Unlike Disney’s free trams or Universal’s close proximity parking or moving walkways, Six Flags requires you to walk to the park not matter where you are parked.
We entered the park around 11 and were able to pass by the very long ticket lines because as season pass holders, we each have five free tickets to give out by July 4th. Thus my cousin used one of mine and my brother used one of his free tickets on his girlfriend. If you do not have a season ticket, buy a regular ticket at Jewel or online! Another reason to bring my cousin is so she could get her new Season Pass. The great thing about Six Flags Season Tickets is that they will mail you a new pass with your old picture on it. My cousin is turning 10 this year so her 5 year old picture does not really look like her! So we quickly stopped at the Season Pass office and she got an “upgrade” on her ticket to make it a season ticket. Also, her pass got a parking pass on it (the only one who has this of all my brothers, cousins, and aunt and uncle. It was $111 for all of it! That is a bit much, but believe it or not, this is pretty much pays for itself in two or three visits. We also picked up our coupon books which give us a few special perks like riding in the parade or discounts.
We then entered the line of the Whizzer, as smaller, but thrilling old fashioned roller coaster. You sit bobsled style very similar to the Matterhorn at Disneyland. Thank goodness there were an odd number of people in our party because the back person really does not have anything to hang onto solid. This rollercoaster looks a little whimpy, but curves at very steep angles around trees and a small lake in the middle of the coaster, making it seem that you are going to hit a tree or fall into the water. We then hurried over to the Demon, a relatively mild inverted roller coaster. It’s great for individuals who want to try an inverted rollercoaster, but still are not sure. The only downside to this ride is that it tends to be a little rough. We next made our way to Southwest Territory and found a game where we could win superhero capes. Four of us played and won a Superman, Supergirl, Batman, and Wonder Woman Capes (yeah, we are all dorks!).
We then entered Southwest Territory and were a little taken aback by the lack of “show” (using a Disney Term). They closed down the Trailblazer which had a pretty sizable footprint, but have yet to put anything else in there, making its entrance and all the round it more like a “Ghost Town” in fact, the whole area felt like that which is sad because it used to be a booming area with music, characters, and other things making it one of the best themed area, but not anymore. We went on the Viper, which is a pretty thrilling Woodie with lots of out of your seat rises and falls. Very thrilling and one of the best and well maintained wooden roller coasters I have ever been on! It also marks the former boundary of SFGA until they added Hurricane Harbor behind it. While going up the lift hill, I was able to look down on this small water park and found that was pretty much empty! How can this be? It was well into the 80’s and there was not a cloud in the sky. Anyway, we went on the River Rocker Next and that was just as expected, a swinging ship (actually canoe). We then made a decision and chance fate and wait in the supposedly hour wait line for Raging Bull, a hyper coaster. We waited 25 minutes in line so that makes me wonder if the park attendants are even changing the wait times on the front of the ride. Raging Bull, Simply put, is one of the finest roller coasters I have ever ridden. It does not go upside down, but its first breathtaking drop at an angle of almost of 0 into the ground makes the wait well worth it! It also has very dramatic sweeping and turning in an extremely smooth ride that also allows you to admire the breathtaking view of the Chicago Skyline (it was a clear day, we could see it!).
We went to lunch at the County Market, which is literally an outdoor food court. We used to enjoy this area, but now it is full of all kinds of chain restaurants including Panda Express, Papa Johns, and Cold Stone Creamery Ice Cream. What is going on here? Our group was able to get meals that included a food item (I got a bacon cheeseburger), an order of waffle fries, and a Cole slaw. The drink was not included in this meal deal, but we did get a sports cup which was only $1 to refill. We are keeping the same cup the entire season. Anyway, the food was ok, nothing really special, but the waffle fries, in its Cajun seasoning, was surprisingly good and addictive.
After lunch we played a couple of games and were surprised to find that we each had a coupon for a small gift from one of the games. It ended up being a small stuffed lion. Much better than I thought they were going to give us! We also played a water shooter game in which everybody won a small prize for $3. My brother won the big prize, a stuffed fish, and we all got frogs.
Since we had my younger cousin with us, we caught the 2:30 Operation Spygirl show to the dismay of one of my brothers. It sits in the amphitheater that used to hold the Wild West Show. The stunts were OK, but for the most part, it was a stupid show. In fact, it seemed to have very eerie similarities to Kim Possible including the villain of the show having a very similar hairstyle to Ms. Possible’s main adversary. Much worse than Indy or Sinbad, but I guess what do you expect? Its Six Flags!
We headed over to one of the oldest roller coasters in the entire park, The American Eagle, which is a racing wooden roller coaster. Its entrance was moved so that Wiggle World could be built. Wiggle World includes some eight kiddies rides, some quite big and large, a water play area, and a large wiggles stage with a TON of seating. It looks like a great addition and a great place for kiddies to go as their older siblings take on American Eagle. Because of the new land, the entrance has shifted, placing it awkwardly near Daredevil Dive. I found out too late that only the red side was open, thus causing a large line. The problem was that there was no area to go back and exit the line thus we had to go through the entire line and decided to go on the ride after all that waiting. The American Eagle is not one of my favorite roller coasters because it is very bumpy, but the racing component made it a little more interesting. Without that, the ride was pretty much useless.
The last ride we went on of the day was Superman, Ultimate Flight. This roller coaster makes you experience the ride while lying down and flying like Superman. The ride had a surprisingly short line, especially for the early evening.
We had to leave early, but I will end this report with a few observations that I made. Now I am a big fan of Disney which, lets face it, really sets the bar high and Universal is the only one that seems to meet that criteria. Of course I knew that Six Flags wasn’t going to be like that, but it’s hard not to make the comparison. Six Flags, however, does give some great deals out. SFGA is also one of the more themed parks of all of them so the theming was pretty good still (except SW Territory). Also, it seems that SFGA might be in some money trouble or just the entire company itself and its having a hard time hiding it. Now there is a Johnny Rocket’s, Ben and Jerry’s, Cold Stone Creamery, Panda Express, and Papa John’s. Also, according to my brother, the Funnel Cake, which this park is known for was only sub par. The other annoying thing is they now play commercials, Geico in particular, over the music. Now their theme music is interlaced with commercials! The one “Sponsor” who seemed to keep it low key was The Home Depot which seemed to help with the roller coasters. They put up advertisements in the lines, but also gave fun facts about the history or construction of the roller coaster making it both interesting and effective.

Still the roller coasters here are top notch and more people from this site should take a small vacation to Chicago and take a day trip to Six Flags Great America. Obviously, their roller coasters are what bring the people, but what is so great about this park with more than 10 roller coasters is that it offers many different types of roller coasters including wooden, steel, inverted, and hyper, laying down, and standing up roller coasters. There is a roller coaster here for everybody! I could guarantee you will be impressed by this Six Flags Park!

From Anthony Murphy
Posted June 20, 2007 at 8:23 AM
Sorry for not double spacing!

From Brian Emery
Posted June 20, 2007 at 8:25 AM

Thanks for posting.. I love reading TR while I am working….

From Ken Moss
Posted October 18, 2010 at 6:20 PM
We visited Six Flags north of Chicago on October 9, 2010 (Saturday) and spent almost the entire day standing in line to get on three rides. We arrived about 10:30 am after driving three hours to arrive from Iowa.

Our first ride was the batman ride which took us a little over an hour to get on. I would rate this ride as very average and not worth standing in line for an hour.

At noon, we headed over to Raging Bull. This time we were in line for 2 hours and 15 minutes. We spent quite a bit of time sitting on the concrete because there were periods where the line didn't move for close to half an hour. This is a great ride but again, not worth standing in line for over two hours.

After catching a bite to eat in the food court, we headed over to the superman ride at about 3 PM. Another wait for 2 hours and 15 minutes. This ride again is pretty good but not worth over 2 hours of standing around.

I was so tired of standing in line all day to get on to three rides that I headed over to the Grand Music Hall for the show that started at 6:30 PM. I needed to wait in line about 40 minutes before the doors opened but that is understandable. This show was excellent and I would highly recommend it. After standing in lines all day, this was a definite morale booster.

Overall, this was my first visit to this park and is definetely my last. I would not go back if someone paid me.

One of the big problems is that a lot of people that had the fast passes were able to go around us which left us standing in one place for long periods of time.

Anyway, to spend almost $40 to go on three rides and to see one show and to take all day to do it is really a loser of a day.

From Anthony Murphy
Posted October 18, 2010 at 9:52 PM
This is a very old thread, but SFGA had a VERY crowed weekend when you went there. Even so, you should expect big lines when you go to a theme park, especially on Columbus Day Weekend. It was also Fright Fest.

You also picked the most popular rides to go on! Maybe you should have gotten the flashpass.

I will write a Fright Fest trip report on Thursday!

From Nick Markham
Posted October 19, 2010 at 5:28 AM
^Wow this is old! It's Anthony's first trip report! This should be marked a piece of TPI history! ;D

From Mike Gallagher
Posted October 19, 2010 at 8:22 AM
I wasn't around TPI when this was posted, but..interestingly was posted while I was on my first LONG, solo, multi-park trip, which fittingly, ended at Great America in Gurnee.
I think I was there about a week after your day, Anthony. I wasn't really thrilled with the park, although I liked Viper, Eagle, and the double carousel. The heat and and some uncomfortable female company kept me from really enjoying myself. Dunno if I'll ever get back, but I WOULD like to give the park a second chance.

From Anthony Murphy
Posted October 19, 2010 at 9:00 AM
Glad this is getting "legs" after all these years!

SFGA is an interesting park because it can be great and terrible at the same time. I fear that it has higher expectations than most SF parks. The issue is that if they put their mind to it, they could be one of the best parks in the country (including Disney and Universal). They seem to make the guest want more.

Taking out the price complaint, it seems that SFGA, for the most part, does not share most of the problems the other SF parks have. SFGA is clean, well maintained rides, and some decient theming to go with it.

But talking about prices, most people are getting into the parks for under $40. Now that is less than half to get into Disney or Universal. Because of this, it should be expected that they are going to charge for mostly everything else.

Once again, I will be writing a bit of a report on Thursday about my experience at Fright Fest.

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