Six Flags Great America is located in Gurnee Illinois. It offers a great deal of rides, shows and attractions that the whole family can love. There are family rides, thrill rides, water rides. You name it, this place has got it.
For me, the thrill rides were it. Ride Batman the ride and feel like Batman himself, soaring over Gotham City. Or maybe you feel like trying the stand up coaster, Iron Wolf. It is the world's tallest, looping coaster for standing up.
If you you upside down coasters, try the Demon. The American Eagle and the Viper are fast wooden coasters. If you like true thrills, ride on the Vertical Velocity, where you will go from 0 to 70 in less than 4 seconds.
For family rides, try out Big Easy Balloons, the Scenic Railway, or my favorite, the Roaring Rapids, where you may just get soaked! I also enjoyed the Yankee Clipper, a nice water ride where you float until the end, where you plummet into a pool of water.
Well this will be my last official review of any experiences I have had in North America, until I visit Miami in a month's time. Now this next review focuses more on a specific attraction site, or theme park that I went to whilst visiting Chicago, now im writing about it because most people are think that the big theme parks are all in Florida, however my review will suggest other wise. My review is on my experience of visiting "Six Flags Great America" theme park in Chicago. Now most of you who have read my reviews have known that is spent some time in different American States, I went to Chicago twice, once at the start and once at the end, namely because I had family located there. So my last visit in Chicago, which lasted four days, included a visit to one of the most magnificent theme parks I have seen, yet never heard of before.
If you had told me before my visit, that there was a big theme park in Chicago, and that it attracted millions of people each year, I would have said you're probably getting confused with Florida, however my cousins were right. Even when I came back to England, I told most people of my time in this theme park, and was quite amazed to find out some people had never even heard of it, even though Six Flags theme parks are located in most US states, i.e. 21 theme parks.
History of Six Flags
Six Flags Inc, is said to be the largest chain of amusement parks in the world, it currently has 21 prime locations all over North America as well as many more in Spain, France and Germany, of which I have also been to the Germany one. The company started out in 1961, by opening its first theme park in Texas, over which was originally native America site. The theme park offered new exciting rides, as well as a friendly family friendly environment, which would help it compete with the likes of Universal Studios and Disney Land. Six Flags theme parks hosted 28.6 million guests in 2006, making it the second most popular theme park after Disney Land, and has an annual net income of over $300 ,million, employing over 2500 full time staff and 33,000 part time staff.
History of Six Flags Great America:
Six Flags Great America, Located in Gurnee, Illinois, first opened in 1976 first under the name of Marriott's Great America, however Six Flags bought the park out in 1984 renaming it and making it the seventh theme park in the chain. The park has had both its ups and downs, almost facing bankrupt in the early 90's and not being able to attract a large number of guests, they needed new direction, new ambition and a lot of new investment. The park has a total of 50 rides, of which include 12 major rollercoaster's, I visited them all and 3 huge waterslides again visiting them all. The Park has become a huge attraction for visitors who go to Chicago, and has also become a place of high employment, employing both part time and full time staff.
Now the ticket options are as normal, you have your annual pass, which I wouldn't recommend as we don't really live in America. You then have your daily pass, general admission is $54.99, and children admission is $29.99. Here is the catch, if you go and by the ticket on the day you will get ripped off, they overcharge you, however if you buy online and print off an E ticket and take it with you really do save a lot of money. Booking online would mean general admission would go down to $39.99 which is much cheaper if you think about it.
We were in a group and actually wanted to spend two days in the park, this would allow us to cover both all the rides and the water park, so we set up a special package, for two day tickets with a group of 8 people. If you do this type of booking you really get a big discount, and the theme park cater to meet your needs, however if your only staying for a day visit then just by the one day ticket. Further info on ticketing and how to book online can be found on; (http://www.sixflags.com/greatAmerica/tickets/index.aspx)
How to get there, parking etc:
Well like most theme parks you can get there several ways, public transport, or bring your own rental car into the complex. To get there by bus your better off looking at; www.pacebus.com or call 312-322-7000 as they have info on times of buses, and where to find the stops. If however you want to take the train service go to; www.metrarail.com or again call (312) 322-6777, from here you can find out how to get to the park.
lastly you can take the car and bring it in with you, however we did this and found it very time consuming and expensive, I think it cost us about $15 to leave the car there and for today's that's a lot. Not to mention you're always on the look out for vacant spaces, this can be time consuming
Six Flags Great America
542 N Route 21
Gurnee, IL 60031
Layout of the Park:
The park is laid out quite nicely, the park itself caters for people of all ages, and so if you're teenagers, a small child or an adult there is something for everyone. That's what's great about this place, it really is something for everyone, for instance I don't know if people have been to Disney Land, but when I go there I always feel its just for the youngsters, nothing for the adults, whereas Six flags has everything, and im not talking about one ride for the kids I means like loads. The rides can be broken down into 1) Thrill rides, 2) Family rides, 3) Kids rides and 4) Hurricane Harbour, the water park.
The park comes with detailed direction and so its very easy to find your way around from ride to ride, and the best bit is they have several family spot locations, so if your little one gets lost, not to worry as the security staff are always on hand to help. Don't forget to ask for a park map with entering, its free but you have to ask other wise they tend not to hand them out, but it's a useful peace of paper, as it can make your trip more easy and stressful.
This next section will give my opinion and experiences on the park itself, I will be splitting this up into two sections the first one will be the Great America section, which includes all the rides and the next section being Hurricane Harbour where the water park is located. I wont be discussing all the rides, as there's two many, however ill talk briefly about the main ones we went on, and yes we even went into the kids and family section, why not?
Superman: Ultimate Flight:
The first attraction we went on was the superman ultimate flight ride, which is not for children and is considered to be one of the fastest and scariest rides in the theme park. Like most people we found ourselves waiting for about 15/ 20 minutes on a Thursday, which wasn't too bad considering it was a holiday season. During the whole waiting time, you really get a feel for how big this ride is, hearing the people already on board screaming their lungs off, and listening to people in the queue saying I don't want to go on anymore, I suppose its all part of the excitement. So how does this ride work, well most people that have been to Alton Towers would have heard of the ride that makes you feel as if your flying like superman, this is exactly the same concept, expect its faster, lasts longer and is well much more scary. The ride has so many twists and turns, you actually at one point think your going to crash on the floor as it reaches so low, the butterflies in your stomach are an awful feeling, but bearable. What's really good about this ride is I suppose it gives you a chance to be your childhood hero, whilst at the same time viewing the whole park in a flying mode, this was a brilliant ride and would recommend to anyone.
A quick note, this isn't for kids, there's a high restriction and you shouldn't take your chances as they will kick you out of the queue, so be careful.
* 78 foot tall pretzel loop
* In-line twist
Raging Bull Roller Coaster:
This was the next ride that we found ourselves going on, however the waiting time was a bit longer on this one, about 30 minutes, this is one of the popular rides in the theme park, so if you get there early I would advise going on this one first, as the day drags along the waiting time increases.
The rollercoaster is actually the biggest and fastest ride located in the theme park, so it's not for the faint hearted, it's located in the South West territory. It's the first hyper twister ride, it has sharp bends, big drops and some seriously jaw dropping moments, I remember when we were on the ride climbing to the top before our drop, the jaws music was playing in the background and it was terrifying, you get to see all the park for about 6 seconds whilst at the top, and sitting in the front seat It was amazing, I cant really describe the experience of this ride, all that I can say is if there's one rollercoaster you have to go on before you die, its this one.
Yogi's Yahoo River:
This was the first kids ride we went on and as our 6 your old cousin came with us, we had to make her enjoy this trip too, it was actually a calm attraction compared to the big rollercoaster's, it gave my cousin the chance to have some fun, whilst allowing us to take in some breath before our next mammoth ride.
It's like a sail ride, where kids can float around on and have some fun, accompanied by the cheesy kid's music, obviously not a ride for me, but if my cousin enjoyed it then that all that matters.
Without going into too much detail the other kid's rides that I would recommend would be;
-Looney Tunes Lodge
-Waddaview National Park Charter Service
-Dorothy's Rosy Tea Cups
Well the rest of the day was divided up between kids rides and fast and furious adult rides, ive gone into some detail of the typed of rides we went on I suppose if you want more info about the type of rides available you should visit; http://www.sixflags.com/greatAmerica/rides/AllRides.aspx, as it shows which rides are suitable for whom. The whole park took us to the end of our first day, the next day was focused more on finishing off the reaming few rides and attending all the water slides.
I loved this addition to the theme park, there were water rides for everyone, I would recommend brining a water suit for obvious reasons, there are adequate changing faculties for both the male and females, which are cleaned on a 3 hour router basis, meaning its ok to get changed into, they also provide lockers to store your belonging, it's a fee of about $4 but its returned to you once finished. The rides I suppose cater for everyone, from say 6 years onwards, there are some calm ones and some really exciting ones, you can rent a flotation device, prices varies but don't bring your own into the park as they will be confiscated.
The Tornado was the first ride we went on, the waiting time was about 15 minutes, which again was not bad at all. The ride is as follows, a raft which carries four people is dropped from a height of 75 feet into a water pool located at the bottom, now of course this raft will turn and twist into different areas, people can shimmy the raft from side to side. We went into two groups, with four in each one, however if there are not enough of you they will put you in with other people, which isn't that bad. The ride was actually quite scary, not because of the speed, but because I always got the constant feeling that our raft would capsize, nevertheless a brilliant ride.
Duration: 17 seconds or so
Speed: Max 30mph
Elevation: 75 feet
Hammerhead and Barracuda:
The last ride I will talk about is the Hammerhead and Barracuda ride, which was one hell of a drop in terms of high, its like the typical ride with open and closed tubes, and at one point you move from slope to slope, so your end position will differ from you starting one, this was the best water ride hands down, it was fast, extreme and not for the faint hearted.
Food and Beverages:
Like most theme parks there is a vast amount of options in terms of what you can eat, pizza, hot dogs, burgers, ice cream you name it. I personally found some of the food places expensive, the small food vendors were actually more expensive than the restaurants so I would actually encourage people to go into restaurants and eat there, its more clam, relaxing and you can take a breather. There are a few tricks you can pick up that could save you some money, first buying drinks from the vending machine are much cheaper than the restaurant, yet they still allow you to being them inside and drink it, how nice of them. Children do in some places, get meal discounts, which again is price effective. So keep an eye out for bargains food wise, I remember we found one were you buy one and get one free, so between 8 of us we split the bill for four people, and so on. You are also allowed to bring your own food into the park, with several picnic locations and family areas, located around the park, however leave any rubbish behind you can get fined.
Other useful info:
Park is monitored by tons of CCTV camera's so don't do anything stupid
Plenty of clean toilets located around the park
Cash machines inside the park, if you run out of money
It's a great place to go if you're in the area, it's a great day out for everyone and for me it was a highlight to my whole holiday. It's not too expensive, and the atmosphere is like no other, better than your average Alton Towers.
Anyway, thanks for taking the time to read this very long review, but hopefully its been somewhat helpful, if your thinking of going here and need more info don't be shy to ask.