Six Flags Great America Update 2017
I visited Six Flags Great America (multiple times) over this past Memorial Day Weekend. My priority of course was riding the new-for-2017 Joker roller coaster (read my review here), but I wanted to see what else was new at my home-away-from-home park.
One of the first changes I noticed was the new (to me) system of entering the park. Rather than picking one of many lines leading to metal detectors and bag checks, guests were corralled into two lines and “herded” into corral-like switchbacks leading to the gates.
— Coaster101.com (@Coaster101) May 29, 2017
This way, you go to the first-available security checkpoint rather than picking a line and hoping you aren’t behind a bag hoarder.
While from the ground, this new system looks like mass chaos, from above it looks more like organized mass chaos. I much prefer it to the “every man for himself” way of the past.
This could have been a temporary setup for the holiday weekend. But considering that Six Flags Great America maintains sizable crowds throughout the summer season (and Fright Fest), I hope the park will consider keeping it around.
Unsurprisingly, my first stop of the day was Joker (you can read my review here). Thanks to the single-rider line, I was able to ride twice in less than five minutes, bypassing the 90-minute line that had already formed.
During Joker’s construction, the park moved and preserved one of the few remaining 1976 “bridges” that connect sections of the park — in this case, the Yankee Harbor and the Mardi Gras areas.
Joker isn’t the only change in the Yankee Harbor area of the park. Angelo’s Pizza and Pasta has been rebranded as Capone’s Kitchen, which serves the same pizza, pasta, salad, etc. It’s a nice rebrand that seems to better fit the Yankee Harbor theme.
The space formerly occupied by the Orbit flat ride in Hometown Square will soon be home to the Lobster, which is being relocated from the Yankee Harbor area (to make room for Joker).
In Yankee Harbor, it was known as East River Crawler (seen above being reassembled following maintenance in 2013). The flat ride is assuming its original Lobster name from 1976 and will sport its traditional dark color scheme.
Pieces of the ride are already onsite. I have much respect for Six Flags Great America keeping and showing some TLC to these original rides rather than scrapping them for something new (with much less character).
Thanks Joker for the short Goliath wait! pic.twitter.com/Wkpo8aFvys
— Coaster101.com (@Coaster101) May 27, 2017
The novelty of Joker resulted in a ridiculously short line at Goliath (for the first hour or so). It was a welcome change from the rope-drop dash that was commonplace in prior seasons.
Goliath is still a spectacular coaster. It may not be my favorite Rocky Mountain Construction coaster (hi, Lightning Rod), but it’s still a standout.
Batman’s running an empty train most likely means…someone barfed.
Batman and Joker’s rivalry is stronger than ever (even though Joker is nowhere near as amazing as Batman: The Ride).
Rumors have been swirling for months that this may be Vertical Velocity’s (V2) last season at Six Flags Great America.
The rumor states that the coaster will be relocated to — you guessed it — Six Flags America, home of two former Great America coasters (Iron Wolf and Ragin’ Cajun).
I really enjoy V2. It’s the park’s only launched coaster and is an all-around fun ride. I hope it sticks around.
American Eagle (or at least parts of it) received a fresh coat of paint over the off-season. It looks very nice — hopefully the park will finish the job.
High winds kept Sky Trek Tower (and Joker) from operating throughout the weekend.
Thankfully, the tower opened long enough one afternoon for me to take a quick ride.
I love seeing parks from above, and Six Flags Great America is no exception.
Several of the park’s coasters could use a fresh coat of paint…including Raging Bull.
Batman and Joker, on the other hand, look spectacular. I was skeptical at first, but I really like Joker’s color scheme.
X-Flight is still running well — it’s still one of my favorites at the park.
Exhibit B: pic.twitter.com/1y6uYVDO6d
— Coaster101.com (@Coaster101) May 28, 2017
One thing Six Flags may consider implementing is in-queue animal exhibits. Guests (myself included) were mesmerized by two squirrels that had made Viper’s queue their home.
— Coaster101.com (@Coaster101) May 28, 2017
They were cuter and definitely more entertaining than any queue TV programming.
It was unfortunate that Joker was closed for a good chunk of the weekend. Hopefully Six Flags is able to work with S&S to figure out how to remedy the situation.
Overall, it was a fun weekend at the park. The crowds fluctuated from manageable to okay-I’m-ready-to-go crowded. Surprisingly, the busiest day was the Tuesday following Memorial Day when school groups descended upon a seemingly short-staffed park.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to check out the new Drop of Doom (Giant Drop) VR. It’s at the top of my list for the next visit.
Have you visited Six Flags Great America this season? Share your thoughts about the park’s 2017 season (so far) in the comments section below.