Six Flags Great America: Expectations vs Reality

It’s Sean’s first time to Six Flags Great America and my first time in about a decade – needless to say the well overdue! How will Sean, a well-traveled enthusiast who’s ridden nearly 700 unique coasters, react to this US regional park icon? How have their coasters held up since my last visit? Join us and find out!


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We spent two days at Six Flags and enjoyed numerous rides on their coasters – many of which are some of the strongest rides in their classes. We were curious to see how the rides (and the park itself) would live up to our expectations! You can click on each image and swipe to take a closer look!

Carousel Plaza

The entrance of Six Flags Great America received a MAJOR change in 2019, but we’ll save that for last. The area feels a lot cozier than California’s Great America’s version since they blew their Carousel Plaza right open into Hometown Square. We also couldn’t help but ask ourselves: “where are all of the palm trees??”

New Orleans Square

Making a left turn out of Carousel Plaza, New Orlean Square is as good a place to start as any! With a lot of the larger Six Flags parks, things sometimes look a little run down (or at least in need of some fresh paint), and Six Flags Great America is no exception. Nevertheless, parks like these have undeniable charm.

Superman: Ultimate Flight

Expectation: Of all the coasters in the park, Superman was of the least concern, though was a useful choice for our Diamond VIP single-use Flash Passes because single-train operations and slow dispatches made the queue easily an hour at any given time.

Reality: though better landscaped than its Six Flags Great Adventure twin, Six Flags Over Georgia’s Superman is definitely still the best of the three (and then still close to the bottom on our flyer lists). Luckily every other ride in the park was running multiple trains and had far shorter queues. Let’s continue!

The Dark Knight

Expectation: Wash, rinse, repeat of Six Flags Great Adventure’s Dark Knight coaster.

Reality: Better than we recall from our ride on SFGAd, and enjoyable enough to go for a second ride. The repurposing of Theatre Royale (which CGA still has) as overflow queue is a clever repurposing of the space. The scenes all appear to be in working order and the lack of trimming made for a truly wild mouse!

Mardi Gras

Added as a partial remodel of New Orleans Square in 2004, everything on this side of the park between Yankee Harbor and the railroad tracks now has a Mardi Gras theme. Joker makes for a clever, color-conscientious backdrop for the area despite technically being in Yankee Harbor. Mardi Gras Hangover, “The World’s Largest Larson Loop” was closed for maintenance (and the rapids ride is totally abandoned right now), so no rides in this area for us.

Yankee Harbor

This area has seen some of the most dramatic changes of any area in the park, but the original signature ride, Yankee Clipper, is still intact. It only operates on the busiest of days (so no rides for us this time), but we’re pleased that it’s still being maintained. It’s one of the last Arrow HydroFlumes and has custom boats that look like – you guessed it – little clipper ships.

The Joker

Expectation: Standard Six Flags 4D Free Spin fare.

Reality: Our ride on Joker was just about the best we’ve had on any Free Spin in the US, but still a far cry from the violent chaos of Nagashima Spa Land‘s Arashi.

Batman: The Ride

Expectation: The OG invert and Batman clone. I recalled it being one of the better ones – is that really the case?

Reality: Our two rides on the original Batman were the two most intense ride’s we’ve ever had on a Batman clone. It’s clear the way the ride’s plot dictated the layout – clearances here feel much narrower than they do on later models. The foliage and ponds in the 2nd half of the ride provide some excellent near-misses. We consider it the best of the Batman clones.

Vertical Velocity

Expectation: Steel Venom at Valleyfair, but with no holding brake (in fact, Valleyfair’s is the last of the intact holding brakes). Will it feel weak compared to our impressive rides on Cedar Point’s Wicked Twister?

Reality: Still a great ride despite the lack of the holding brake. Wicked Twister is more of a backseat ride for us, so for Vertical Velocity we enjoyed two front seat rides. The launch and forces still pack a punch twenty years later.

Yukon Territory

Once a much larger and more cohesive area, much of Yukon Territory was converted early on into Bugs Bunny National Park, which has since given way to the park’s go-kart track (which is an immense eyesore). Really neither Great America park can claim to have done their respective Yukon Territory areas justice in later years.

Logger’s Run

Still the only major ride to ever grace this area, Logger’s Run is really the last substantial vestige of the original Yukon Territory. We’re so pleased to see this ride in its original configuration along with Yankee Clipper; CGA’s received an odd layout change to accomidate Stealth, and later the waterpark. When we rode it in its final year of operation (2017), we weren’t impressed with its upkeep. Fortunately SFGAm’s is still a popular gem.

Country Fair

The largest area of the park, Country fair covers a lot of ground (only some of which actually invokes ideas of a country fair). There’s an abundance of rides and coasters here, including some of the park’s most unique attractions.

Goliath

Expectations: We had high hopes for this one. We prefer Lightning Rod at Dollywood and Outlaw Run at Silver Dollar City over all of RMC’s other rides, and we were curious if Goliath would continue that trend.

Reality: Sure enough, our three rides on this tantalizing Topper Track coaster were amazing. The ride is an ideal length for us, with some great elements not found on many other RMCs currently. It’s now 3rd on our RMC rankings.

American Eagle

Expectation: The ride is beautiful and looks to be running well. Will it offer a satisfying ride? My rides in 2012 were pleasant if memory serves, but nothing earth-shattering.

Reality: The Red side of American Eagle is all that ran for us on our visit, but we were pleasantly surprised. Even with gratuitous trimming of the ride, there’s nice moments of air and laterals, and overall the ride tracks well.

X-Flight

Expectation: Sean was really looking forward to this after developing a major affinity for B&M Wing Coasters on our last China trip. I rode X-Flight shortly after it opened and remember a “good, not great” impression.

Reality: We truly do so love B&M Wing Coasters. It was running better than I had recalled, with swifter pacing and stronger forces. Sean was pleased, and would favorably compare it to Wings of Glory at HB World in Suzhou.

Demon

Sadly, Demon has been closed for weeks now. We weren’t expecting it to be open, but we enjoyed paying our respects nonetheless. It’s a truly beloved ride both here and at California’s Great America.

Southwest Territory

Southwest Territory definitely feels like the most cohesive area of the park, and it’s clear that its twenty years younger than the rest of the park. We love seeing the echoes of Time Warner era Six Flags here – an unwavering commitment to storytelling environments and themed attractions.

Raging Bull

Expectations: I didn’t recall being particularly impressed with Raging Bull. The most memorable characteristic for me was the mood-killing trim on the 2nd hill. Sean’s expectations were largely molded by my underselling of the ride.

Reality: Our modest expectations were shattered. Raging Bull was running much better than my 2012 rides, although the trim on the 2nd hill is still on. There was plenty of airtime, but more importantly the ride’s laterals are a welcome change of pace from standard hyper coaster antics. The highlight for us is actually the figure-8 at the end.

Viper

Expectations: Because of its similarities to his childhood favorite Bandit at Movie Park Germany, Sean was eager to take on Great America’s Viper. I remember thinking the ride was enjoyable but tame.

Reality: Viper runs extremely well and feels like a best-case-scenario kind of wood coaster. What it lacks in intensity it makes up for in rideability – we rode a total of 8 times thanks to short queues and same-seat rerides.

Hometown Square

The last area of the park on our clockwise tour of Six Flags Great America is full of charm and two classic Schwarzkopfs.

Whizzer

Expectations: Since Whizzer was my personal favorite on my last visit, I may have oversold it to Sean. Regardless, I feel I just couldn’t love this ride more if I tried.

Reality: Despite a favorable comparison to Six Flags Magic Mountain’s Revolution, Sean expected a little more from Whizzer. He imagined it being longer and faster. While I agree with him that I feel the ride is more lackadaisical than I remember, again I must admit the satisfaction I get from this darling old thing is immeasurable.

Maxx Force

Expectations: Extremely eager to ride, I was anxious leading up to our visit about Maxx Force’s operational inconsistency. Sean was more focused on other rides, but for me this was the biggest must-ride for the trip.

Reality: Maxx Force was everything we wanted it to be. It has a satisfying pneumatic launch, dizzying inversions, varied pacing, and a satisfactory sequence of elements. We prefer Maxx Force over many of its comparable rides, such as Top Thrill Dragster, Xcelerator, and even Fuji-Q’s Do-Dodonpa (which still holds the record for fastest rate of acceleration on a coaster).

We had a marvelous time at Six Flags Great America – a part that exceeded our overall expectations handily. It’s not as polished as the average Cedar Fair park, but we’d be lying if we said we’d had any trips to Cedar Point that were as satisfying and easy as this. We can’t wait to visit Six Flags Great America again, and we can’t wait to see what the park does next.


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