In just over two months, Six Flags Great America’s new “Goliath” wooden coaster will be welcoming riders. I had the chance to visit the construction site and witness the significant vertical construction in progress.
This view from a backstage parking lot shows most of the construction completed as of mid-March 2014. This view will look drastically different once the coaster’s 165-foot lift hill and inverted drop begin to take shape.
Goliath will be the world’s fastest wooden coaster with the tallest and steepest drop, dropping riders 180 feet into a tunnel at speeds of 72 miles per hour. The Rocky Mountain Construction (makers of Outlaw Run) coaster will also turn riders upside down twice.
The existing infrastructure — the station of the former Iron Wolf standup coaster — will be lengthened and renovated to accommodate Goliath’s trains.
The building will look brand new when the coaster opens.
But until then, the former station serves as a temporary billboard advertising the new coaster.
The coaster’s electrical system is already in place underneath the station.
These beams will soon connect sections of Goliath track to the support structure.
A concession stand in front Iron Wolf’s queue was razed earlier in the day of my visit. Goliath will undoubtedly bring more guests to this once-quiet area of the park, creating a need for an enlarged midway.
The track connectors are in place for the coaster’s inclined brake run, as seen above the crane in the picture above.
Last month, the park released new renderings which showed a modified lift support structure.
The lift hill will be completed last due to its location within the layout. During my visit, the most noticeable element under construction was the overbanked top hat, which follows the 180-foot drop.
The tunnel is, as I imagined, much larger in person. Riders will plunge into the tunnel twice — once following the 180 feet first drop and again after the inverted zero-g stall element. Seen above the tunnel is the last hop into the brake run, as well as the negative-g float hill.
After exiting the tunnel (for the first time), riders will navigate through the top hat element.
Directly underneath the tophat element is the overbanked twist and shout element. The park shared this clearer view of the element earlier in the week on Facebook.
The towering top hat element isn’t even Goliath’s tallest point, but it is already changing the park’s skyline.
In a few weeks, this view of the station will be shrouded by a mass of wooden beams and track.
Although temporarily occupied by a mammoth crane, the park’s train layout is unaffected by Goliath’s footprint, aside from a lost track spur used for holding extra cars.
Construction crews are working through a harsher-than-normal winter to stay on the aggressive construction schedule. Luckily, inclement weather days were built into the schedule to allow for the delays.
The iconic Rocky Mountain Construction red track is easy to spot among the complex wooden structure.
For any lingering “is it wood or is it steel” uncertainty, I present this picture of the coaster’s track.
Goliath is tentatively scheduled to open on May 24, 2014. Remember that you can watch the coaster rise from home by following the Goliath webcam.
Many thanks to Brandon at Six Flags Great America for taking time to give us this behind-the-scenes look at Goliath. We look forward to riding the coaster in May.