Catching up with Six Flags' Maxx Force

August 13, 2019, 5:07 PM · One of two record-breaking coasters from S&S to debut this year (the other being Kennywood's Steel Curtain), Maxx Force opened to the public at Six Flags Great America in Gurnee, Illinois on July 4. It stands in the space previously occupied by an IMAX theater, the Pictorium, and sets a new record for 1) fastest launch in North America, 2) fastest inversion, and 3) tallest double inversion.

Although it doesn’t launch as quickly as S&S’s Do-Dodonpa in Japan — at 0 to 78 mph in 1.8 seconds — it’s faster than Kingda Ka (0 to 128 mph in 3.5 seconds) or Top Thrill Dragster (0 to 120 mph in 4 seconds). Unlike KK and Dragster, which use a hydraulic launch, Maxx Force uses a compressed air launch.

Maxx Force main photo Maxx Force main_zpsglwsltng.jpg

This coaster operates with two trains containing four cars seating two across for a total capacity of 16 riders. And the trains look very sleek. The restraint consists of a lap bar with a seat belt as a secondary restraint. Once loaded and dispatched, the train moves forward onto the launch track, where it’s held for some seconds, and then boom! This thing takes off like a rocket. The launch is accompanied by a sonic boom which resonates throughout the nearby areas of the park.

Maxx Force train 2 photo Maxx Force train 2_zpscbpstbx8.jpg

Once at the top (175 feet in the air), the train takes the riders through two inversions (the aforementioned tallest double inversion), including a zero-g roll and what resembles a corkscrew but feels more like a barrel roll. It then dives down and turns right into a section of track which includes inversion number three, a corkscrew, and rises to complete inversions number four and five before diving down and returning to the station. I must admit that despite studying the track while waiting to ride, I had some difficulty in identifying the inversions. There was nothing straightforward about them.

Maxx Force 3rd inversion photo Maxx Force 3rd inversion_zpsbqvay2qm.jpg

Maxx Force at top photo Maxx Force at top_zps6f0emdf3.jpg

Maxx Force back view photo Maxx Force back view_zpsxqy36epl.jpg

Maxx Force is very aptly named, as the force of the launch was enough to take my breath away. I would go as far as to say that it’s the most exciting launch I’ve ever experienced on a coaster, a real adrenaline rush. Getting rolled over twice right after the launch was a blast, as was going through a total of five inversions in 23 seconds. It’s a dynamic, thrilling ride and I was sorry to have it end so quickly although I don’t know what could be added to enhance the overall experience. I should add that it’s exceptionally smooth, the restraint is super comfortable and ride operations were stellar. I rode it three times, twice during the day and once at night; the night ride was the most spectacular although all three were exhilarating. Maxx Force is a good addition to a park which already had a very interesting collection of coasters.

Let’s go for a ride. Video courtesy of Six Flags Great America.

Replies (5)

August 13, 2019 at 11:33 PM

I'm still annoyed I missed this by about two weeks on my trip this summer, especially since I've been hearing that it's the best coaster at the park. I'm hoping to make it back sooner rather than later to check this one out, possibly as soon as this winter (if it's running for Holiday in the Park, that is). Fortunately this is one of the easier non-local regional parks for me to get to since I've got friends who live in the area. Great review!

August 14, 2019 at 8:26 AM

It was fun, but not in my top 3 for this park. Xlerator at Knotts still Feels more intense to me, as does Full Throttle at Magic Mtn.

August 14, 2019 at 8:55 AM

I haven't ridden Maxx Force, but have ridden a past S&S pneumatic launching coaster, Hypersonic XLC. You simply can't compare the intensity of a pneumatic launch to a LSM launch, though hydraulic launch coasters are pretty close.

I assume the restraints here are the same used on Steel Curtain, and I can vouch for their comfort, which is an important factor when executing inversions rapidly and at high speeds.

Unfortunately, we don't expect to get to Chicago any time soon, so our hope is that a similar coaster will be installed closer to the East Coast. I do still worry about the longevity of this new generation of S&S coasters. Steel Curtain already experienced an extended downtime period during the peak of the summer (it's reportedly back up now), and the reliability of the pneumatic launching system has always been an issue, which led Kings Dominion to remove Hypersonic. I'm also always worried about a coaster that can only carry 16 people per cycle with just 2 trains. Six Flags may have sufficient staff to keep the line moving this summer, but as attractions age, Six Flags often shifts resources away from the older rides, causing them to decrease throughput. Coasters with larger trains can still run efficiently with a smaller crew, but 16-person trains operated by a skeleton crew of 3 will result in long, slow lines.

Glad you made it up to SFGA Bobbie. I know you haven't had the greatest luck visiting parks this summer, so it's great to see you finally have a better than expected trip!

August 14, 2019 at 11:32 AM

One thing worth mentioning is that because the ride is new and immensely popular, the park is doing a good job of keeping the queue moving. While capacity is low, the ride is so short that wait times tend to be less than anticipated. I was fortunate enough to arrive at exactly the right time on a Friday afternoon and managed to get on in 35 minutes. (Maxx Force did experience some downtime that night.) The next morning the park was much more crowded and the posted wait time was 75 minutes but I got on in 55, which isn't bad for a new attraction. As to hydraulic vs. pneumatic launches, one thing which struck me is that while on a hydraulically launched coaster I could feel - and hear - when it was about to launch. That was not the case with this pneumatic launch. @Russell Meyer - Thanks, Russell. No, I haven't had the greatest luck visiting parks this summer so this trip was a welcome departure from what has become the norm. Even the weather was wonderful.

August 14, 2019 at 11:26 AM

There had been complaints about this not being ready for the park opening in May but it has been doing better and led to a pickup in attendance. Chicago news was carrying stories about it and is a great addition to the park. Me, I still love the classic Batman ride (still the first of its kind) but might check this one out too next time I go to Great America.

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