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· born again cyclist
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nice pics, but this thread is about six flags great AMERICA in gurnee, IL, not six flags great ADVENTURE in new jersey ;)

now, as for great america, i'll give my opnions on the vaious roller coasters in chronologicl order:

whizzer (1976): oh how i love the whizzer. this was the 1st roller coaster i ever rode (well other than the little dipper at kiddieland out in melrose park) and to this day i still consider the whizzer to be a fine thrill machine. it's by no means the tallest or fastest or scariest or whatever, but it's a gem of a ride, and one of the last of its kind. it's a perfect "starter coaster" for the wee ones, and the way the dense foliage has enveloped the ride over the years makes night rides a special treat. gotta love the whizzer!

the demon (built as "turn of the century" in 1976, rebuilt and rebranded as "the demon" in 1980): nothing spectacular here, but this was the 1st roller coaster that ever spun me upside down, and when i was 8, the demon was one intimidating mother (anyone still remember that demon song they used to play when the ride 1st opened?). it may not be much by today's standards, but for the psychological torture this ride created for me back in the day, it'll always have a soft spot in my heart. and that first drop, despite its modest stature, is still quite a doozy if taken in the last car of the train.

american eagle (1981): a fun first 1/3, with the big drop and sustained speeds out to the helix turn around, but after that the ride kinda fizzles. it's simply over-braked. i remember the helix and bunny hill run back home being much faster and more exciting oh so many years ago when the ride was new. still, it has sentimental appeal as it was the biggest roller coaster of its day back in the early 80's.

iron wolf (1990): a great ride that hasn't aged well in my opinion. it was glass smooth when it first opened, but it's now quite jerky in spots (i've heard it's had foundation problems over the years which may contribute to the roughness), but not enough to ruin the entire ride for me. it's an insanely comapct little twister, where the elements seem to come non-stop (a feature of B&M coasters perfected on batman) and all twists turns and dives taken at full speed without brakes.

batman: the ride (1992): WOW, WOW, WOW. when this bad boy 1st opened it was "THE" coaster. it was so revolutionary and so perfectly engineered and so damn intense. the only fair criticism is that it's just too damn short, but that's simply an outgrowth of the break-neck speed with which it tears through its course. batman is the textbook definition of a smaller stature coaster that packs maximum thrills into compact layout. it's just a joy to ride coasters this well designed.

viper (1995): viper is loads of fun, and unlike its bigger wooden brother (the eagle), this baby is what wood coasters should be all about. sure, it's a cyclone clone, but but that double dip half-way through gives it just enough of a distinct ride to set it apart from all the others. viper definitively proves that bigger does not equal better.

raging bull (1999): another ride that i have a lot of praise for. easily the best 1st drop in the park, with the whip-lash like action that you get yanked over the edge with and then the 200 foot plummet into the tunnel at the bottom, it's just exhilirating. the rest of the ride with the big swooping hills, turns and drops, provides pure coaster fun. this ride kinda reminds of a whizzer on steroids. smooth, fun, interesting layout, a pure joy to ride, it's just taller, faster, more intense, etc.

vertical velocity (2001): a wonderful ride, and it helped make up for the loss of the tidal wave which was removed after 1991 to make way for batman. i love any kind of shuttle coaster that launches you straight out of the station. extreme accelration is fun. and that little stunt where the brakes catch you on the back spike for that second always catches me a little off-guard. speed is good, and this ride has plenty of it.

deja vu (2001): i think the only word that properly sums this one up is "chaos". getting hoisted up that vertical spikewhen you're face down and you fall into the shoulder harness is one of those rare moments where i get legitimately scared on a roller coaster. and the rest of that insanity machine is just nuts. it's certainly ain't the smoothest ride around, but it sure is fun, at least for a little while. i once rode it back to back to back to back without getting off (i was there on a special promotion day and there were no que lines for anything), and i was kinda loopy for the rest of the afternoon.

superman - ultimate flight (2003): fun. not as intense as i had hoped, but i guess the very nature of the riding position is going to limit up and down g forces to a degree. it seemed to kinda chug along the course as opposed to tearing it up like batman does. either way, this ride is a tremendous improvement over shockwave, which formerly occupied the site.

ragin cajun (2004): i have yet to ride this one.
 

· born again cyclist
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3,908 Posts
^ i can forgive deja vu some of its roughness through the loops because of those vertical drops (both backwards and forwards) that are shit-your-pants scary. it is a brutal ride, but its so friggin intense at the same time, and i kinda relish those super intense rides (in moderation of course).
 

· born again cyclist
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^ next time you're up there, waste your time and take a spin on the whizzer, it's a zippy little ride that's just pure fun. not super-thrilling, not shit-your-pants scary, not mind-blowingly insane, just good old fun racing through the forest with fun ground-hugging, highbanked turns and helixes.

sometimes its the expectations that ruin a ride. if you ride the whizzer expecting this super-thrilling experience, it will be a let-down, but if you just ride it expecting a zippy, fun ride through the trees, then it will fully deliver.

don't ever count out the whizzer, it's the sleeper hit of the whole park, IMHO.
 

· born again cyclist
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ColDayMan said:
^and arguably the most classic.
i'd go along with that argument. the whizzer is the only roller coaster still in its original configuration that is left from the park's original opening in 1976. the turn of the century is still around in the form of the demon, but the major alterations made for the transformation before the 1980 season fundementally altered the ride, removing the air-time inducing speed hills and replacing that section of track with two vertical loops and the light tunnel.

i remember before superman was built, great america initially announced that they were going to remove the whizzer and place the new superman ride on that site. thank god management came to their senses and decided to remove shockwave instead. shockwave wasn't a terrible ride, but it wasn't a great ride either, and the park already had a superior arrow multi-looper in the demon. i know many will disagree with that statement, but i honestly believe that the demon gives a better ride than shockwave ever did, despite it's smaller height, shorter length, slower speed and fewer elements. my main beef with shockwave is that it just didn't "ride" right. the thing just seemed like an engineering mistake. arrow seemed to get lazier as their multi-loopers got larger (although i've heard that viper out at SFMM provides a FAR superior ride despite incorporating a lot of the same elements as shockwave, just with a modified layout.)

well, i'm just glad that the mighty whizzer was saved from the wrecking ball. ideally it would have been nice to keep both shockwave and the whizzer around, but since one of 'em had to go, i'm glad it wasn't the whizzer.
 

· born again cyclist
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3,908 Posts
^ yeah, in 1976 marriot built two "great america" theme parks (one in IL and one in CA) that were, for all practical purposes, identical. over the years, marriot got out of the theme park business and the great america in CA was eventually bought by the paramount parks chain of theme parks and the great america in IL was eventually bought by six flags. today there are striking differences in many of the rides between the two parks, especially in regards to the individual roller coasters, but a lot of the same basic layouts and themes are still there in both parks.
 
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