Six Flags Great America, in the town of Gurnee, straddling the Illinois-Wisconsin border, has long been a favorite summer stop for Midwesterners. It has rides for all ages and types of thrillseekers— from tame to terrifying roller coaster rides. Come along for the ride, as Traveling Mom highlights some of the best thrills and rides Six Flags Great America, an hour north of Chicago and south of Milwaukee.
Kiddie rides, check! Entry level roller coaster rides, check! 15 roller coasters, including those with the latest technology, check! And of course, there’s the beloved record-breaking, heart-stopping American Eagle, once the world’s fastest wooden roller coaster. Today it remains the world’s fastest and tallest twin track roller coaster.
Roller Coaster Rides
The transition from kiddie ride to roller coaster can feel like a big milestone for amusement park-loving parents. That’s the stage we were at when we visited with a group of 8-10-year-old kids, just dipping their toes into the roller coaster experience.
Our first stop? Six Flags’ entry-level roller coaster ride- the Whizzer. We had about a 20-minute wait, quite tolerable for an amusement park. All the other rides, except for the League of Justice, had closer to five or 10-minute waits.
Justice League Battle for Metropolis
Opened in 2016, this is one of those 4D rides. You know what that means, right? It means besides donning 3D glasses, you’ll be feeling bursts of wind and water. There’s even a spot where you can feel the heat from a blast of fire that goes off. Sitting right between the park’s County Fair and Southwest Territory, it was perfect for my group of kids, since it wasn’t a roller coaster with scary drops.
It’s one of those rides where you sit in a car on a moving track while you shoot at targets. You shoot beams of light at 3D targets and try to score higher than your friends and family. Basically, it felt like a moving video game with some really cool technology.
This ride had our longest wait of the day, close to 45 minutes. While that can feel pretty mind-numbing with a group of excited and at times impatient kids, there were various diversions throughout the wait. As you’re moving through the line, there are robots and other live action technology to keep everyone entertained.
Drop Tower Virtual Reality Experience
The newest addition to Six Flags Great America is the virtual reality experience on the Drop Tower. They say it’s the first permanent drop tower virtual reality experience in America. This is the place to come if you’re aiming for an adrenaline rush. Via the VR technology, I’m told you take a high speed 100 story vertical ascent, so you feel like you’re floating high above a city. Riders then find themselves in the middle of a video game-type battle with a futuristic creature. At one point you take a shocking 100 story plunge between the skyscrapers. Sounds like a riveting rush of a ride, or a seriously scary one… one my crowd of eight and ten year-olds were not quite ready for.
Via the VR technology, I’m told you take a high speed 100 story vertical ascent, so you feel like you’re floating high above a city. Riders then find themselves in the middle of a video game-type battle with a futuristic creature. At one point you take a shocking 100 story plunge between the skyscrapers. Sounds like a riveting rush of a ride, or a seriously scary one… one my crowd of eight and ten year-olds were not quite ready for.
But for serious roller coaster riders, this seems like the Drop Tower on steroids. Six Flags says this is an experience that they’re only offering for a limited time. So who knows if it’ll be here next summer. If you’re excited about VR technology, this would be the summer to try it out.
Joker Roller Coaster Action
The other new attraction is in the Yankee Harbor section of the park. Right next to the Batman roller coaster ride is what else but Batman’s arch nemesis… the Joker. It’s what they call a free-fly roller coaster ride which means your legs are dangling as you’re being whipped around, upside down and every which way through this 12 story ride. Sounds as insane as Batman’s ridiculous rival. Again, my 8-10 year-olds were not quite ready for this.
Maybe the biggest surprise of our visit was how excited my daughter and her cousin, both eight, were to hop on the kiddie rides. We thought they’d outgrown them but they were literally running to get on the little carnival rides in the Camp Cartoon section of the County Fair area inspired by beloved cartoons that we all remember, like Spacely’s Sprocket Rocket, the Scooby Doo Mystery Van. Bedrock Boulder Roller is a tyke sized ferris wheel. There’s a caravan of kiddie rides here. It’s sweet that Six Flags has rides that all ages can enjoy!
Of course, there’s food and snack options all over the park. Plenty of opportunities to buy funnel cakes, dippin’ dots, and various treats.
We arrived first thing in the morning, so by mid-afternoon we needed to have lunch. Like many amusement parks, Six Flags does NOT let you bring your own food into the park. So we headed for the food court.
Similar to a mall food court, there were plenty of options. Unlike your neighborhood mall, the food at Six Flags is really expensive and the lines are REALLY long. The line for pizza was 30 minutes long, so we opted for a $14 plate of Chinese food.
Traveling Mom TIP: Given how long the wait was to buy food, it’s worth it to pack your lunch in a cooler and walk back to your car and tailgate. I’d recommend starting off your morning at rides near the park, making your way to the far side of the park, then taking the train back to the entrance and walking to your car for your meal. After you’ve relaxed by the car, walk to the entrance and grab the train back to the far end of the park.
Six Flags has a special annual dining pass providing lunch, dinner and a snack each time you visit for $100. If you live within easy driving range of Six Flags and plan to visit more than three times in a year, this might be something worth considering.
What is your favorite ride at Six Flags Great America? Please share with us below in the comments.