Review: Six Flags Great America in Gurnee, Illinois by Sean Pollock

Going into my relationship with my girlfriend, I could tell that there were many differences in the ways we were brought up. Most notably of which was the issue of Disney Parks versus Six Flags. She was surprised that it had been about 11 years since my last trip to Disneyworld, and I was surprised that she had never been to a Six Flags park. We each did the right thing and helped the other experience an integral part of our childhood enjoyment.

However, it wasn’t just the difference of which theme parks we went to as kids that set us apart, but also the methodology of which we took the trip. Her family had a very leisurely way of doing Disney, which involved staying at one of the many resorts in Orlando and getting Park Hopper passes for the whole trip. My trips were taken over the course of one day, taking every precaution to minimize cost and jam pack as much activity into the time frame as humanly possible. This was the approach that I tried to implement in our recent adventure to Six Flags Great America in Gurnee, Illinois.

To start, I thought I would quickly list off some tips I have for a Six Flags daytrip. We had the fortune of planning our visit on a Monday in the hopes of beating any large crowds that often gather on weekends. We left at 7:00 am to make the 3 and a half hour drive to the park that opens at 10:30. We showed up early so as to secure a parking spot close to the entrance. We packed our own food and snacks to leave in the car. By doing this, we could exit, eat and reenter without spending money on food inside. Simple things like fresh fruits, peanut butter sandwiches and chips work perfectly. We carefully scoped out lines all over the park and picked the ones that would have a reasonable wait time. We picked the overcast parts of the day to wait in lines with less shade. All these actions helped to optimize our time, and I’m sure they will do the same for you.

That being said, it’s time to talk about the park itself. Without a doubt the biggest attraction there right now is Goliath. This new wooden roller coaster recently set 3 different records, including for longest and steepest drop. This was our first coaster of the day, and the line was stretching even out of the front gate of the ride. We were surprised at how quickly the line progressed, so much that we only waited about 20 minutes for what we thought would be a 45 minute wait. It was an insane experience that actually turned out to be her favorite of the day. This thriller is a must try for everybody this summer, but only if you have what it takes to conquer the giant.

We then went on to experience all the other roller coasters of the park, including the old mainstays such as American Eagle, Batman, Raging Bull (my personal favorite) and many others. Our focus this trip was trying out every roller coaster, and we definitely managed that in one day. Now trying to fit in all the other rides in that span is a bit of a tall order, so maybe we’ll save that for another time. If you were planning on trying out every ride in one day, it would probably be in your best interest to invest in a Flash Pass, especially if you go on a weekend. It really comes in handy in the afternoon when most lines are longer.

The park closes at 8 pm, but after an eventful day, we decided to beat the rush and left at 7:30. The tradition in my childhood is that the entire group would go to a nice restaurant for dinner before making the drive home. We were fortunate enough to discover Mama K’s Pizza and Grille a mere 3 minute drive from the parking lot and had a tasty and affordable meal in a family friendly environment with a great atmosphere. Thus was a perfect punctuation on a fun and thrill packed day.

To plan your Six Flags experience at any of the 18 locations, go to www.sixflags.com. Season passes and discounts are also available now for the 4th of July weekend. Also coming up in September and October is Fright Fest, where huge scares and deals on admission can be found every weekend. Go online and plan your trip today!

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