The Following post does not necessarily reflect the opinions of SFGAmWorld.com, its webmaster, staff or its readers. This posting is a fact finding study and several sources, including the authors own personal accounts have been used to discover the facts with-
Now ever since the whole fiasco with the addition of Chang ended, people on this site as well as others have clamored for Six Flags to add another major roller coaster, the general consensus being that SFGAm was “screwed” or Six Flags “neglects” SFGAm. This investigation, this post will not portray this “need” or lack of “need” in any of those circumstances, nor will it use the argument that “SFGAm has not gotten any thrill rides since 2003 when Superman was added.”
This investigation will be based on detailed personal accounts and factual information about the park that is already apparent. The goal of this investigation is to give people a better understanding about why a new coaster may or may not be needed, and to finally lay to rest some of the often ridiculous reasons why SFGAm “needs” a new roller coaster.
One hope is that after reading this piece you will see exactly how ridiculous some of the more common reasons for why SFGAm needs another coaster are, and what really could be the reasons why SFGAm should or should not add a new major roller coaster.
Putting to bed the ridiculous arguments of SFGAm’s “need” for another coaster:
“Ever since Superman, our park has not gotten any major thrill rides!” That’s 7 years without anything thrilling”
Since 2005 and even before then, Six Flags was fighting to stay in business and it took a major proxy fight led by Daniel Snyder, to “turn the battleship” that was Six Flags. Mark Shapiro came aboard as new CEO and changed the fundamental philosophy of cap spending at SF. Gone where the $25 million dollar roller coasters, and in there place where new family attractions that put more emphasis on lucrative family spending then teen thrill seekers. 2004 saw 3 “thrill” rides added to the park. King Chaos, Revolution and Ragin Cajun. 2006 saw the addition of “Tornado”.
Now try as hard as you want to think that those 4 attractions are not thrill rides, but all 4 of them require a height requirement of at least 54 inches to ride, MORE then the height requirement of Millennium Force (48 inches) at Cedar Point. Those 4 attractions are in fact Thrill Rides. So to use the argument that since 2003 SFGAm has not seen any thrill rides, is completely false, unless of course you don’t consider Millennium Force a thrill ride. The point is, that even thought you might not have a ride that is 310 feet tall that goes 93 mph, does not mean that we have not seen anything thrilling added to our park in 7 years.
Six Flags constantly “neglects” our park, other parks are always getting rides yet, we don’t get anything, and this isn’t fair!
Can anyone name the last major roller coaster that was added at Six Flags America? Or Great Escape? Answers: SFA last added a major coaster in 2001, Great Escape: Does not have a “major coaster”
The argument that SFGAm is “constantly” over looked is very much exaggerated, has no major competition in the market it serves; and also this park typically receives a new attraction on a yearly basis. SFGAm also preserved Little Dipper in 2010, which was a huge addition in its own right given the historical aspect of the addition. The bottom line is that Six Flags since the Shapiro administration took over, until today has never once “neglected” SFGAm, sure they might not have added huge major thrill coasters, but as we’ve seen above have added thrill rides and more importantly added a historic icon of Chicago amusement park history.
SFGAm also features one of the most diverse coaster line ups of any major theme park in the country. With 14 roller coasters, plenty of flat rides and a massive water park, SFGAm does not need to continually add major attractions to pack people into the park.
A piece on SFGAm’s “competition”
Drive Time to nearby parks: (From Gurnee, * = does not factor any time changes)
Cedar Point: 6 hours 10 minutes* at 335 miles
Kings Island: 6 hours 15 minutes* at 350 miles
Indiana Beach: 3 hours 10 minutes* at 150 miles
Wisconsin Dells: 3 hours at 170 miles
Mall of America: 6 hours 40 minutes at 385 miles
Michigan’s Adventure: 4 hours 20 minutes*at 235 miles
So for anyone to say that SFGAm has competition in the Chicago/Milwaukee market needs to look closely at the above table. There is NO major competitor with-in 170 miles of Gurnee and SFGAm, and even then you still have to make a 3 hour drive from SFGAm to get to the nearest “competitor.”
Also, it is ill-advised to consider Six Flags St. Louis as a competitor to Great America given the fact that money spent at Six Flags St. Louis could ultimately go towards a new attraction to be added at SFGAm, and vice versa.
With how this investigation is going you’re probably asking yourself, well, I thought there were two sides to this coaster argument. There definitely is, case in point:
Southwest Territory June 25th 2010 9:40 PM
It is the first 2010 installment of Coasters after Dark, and like most of the CAD events, the park is mobbed. But on this night, a string of odd occurrences and circumstances highlights that maybe; SFGAm really does “NEED” a new major roller coaster.
CAD events, basically means that the park is open an extra 2 hours, season pass holders can ride coasters, but the park is by all intents and purposes open for business. On this particular night, Viper and Raging Bull both suffer technical issues that cause a considerable down time of over 30 minutes prior to the end of Glow in the Dark parade and the start of CAD.
So to set the scene for you, you’ve got basically Southwest Territory closed (Bull and Viper both down) you’ve got Glow ending, and to make matters worse, Demon and American Eagle are both running at diminished capacity (Demon’s 3rd train was not yet available and American Eagle was running red side with one train) So you have all these people many of whom are pretty upset that Bull and Viper are down, heading into County Fair only to find that Eagle is running one train down, plus its CAD so its already a long line (the wait for Eagle on this night was approximately 90 minutes)
People could try to hit Whizzer, but Glow just ended and Whizzer is in Hometown Square right where the parade just let out, so there was a huge fiasco there, try Demon, nope that was also a 90 minute wait because it was down a train, and its CAD and Glow just finished.
Superman wasn’t going to have a shorter line, BTR and V2 definitely where not going to have short lines as again its CAD, but remember Southwest Territory was basically just Giant Drop, which was going close because it wasn’t a coaster and CAD was now just minutes away from starting.
I remember this vividly because it was the first CAD event where all the lines had at least a 90 minute wait, and there was nothing, really to do except walk around the park from packed queue to packed queue. If you got into the line, that’d be your last ride of the night or close enough too it, so basically you where stuck.
Now consider what if, there was a Scream type floorless in the front of the park (where Chang was supposed to go lets say) There would be another high capacity option for people that either saw GLOW or were coming from Southwest Territory (where Bull and Viper where down) to at least get into a line that would move people through the queue as effectively as Raging Bull would have.
And this is the reason why SFGAm NEEDS to add another major coaster. The reason being is the park is pretty much at capacity as it stands right now coaster wise, recent additions of TDK, Dipper and Ragin’ Cajun have boosted the parks coaster count, but have also made the parks coaster’ capacity go down considerably as well. Couple that with the fact that V2 has a very bad capacity and if Bull, Eagle or Viper or worse yet all 3 have tech issues, you are going to deal with a lot of very angry people.
June 25th was basically the worst case scenario, a perfect storm if you will, where all these factors combined over the park to make what already was going to be a busy night, an unbearable night to say the least.
Capacity issues, is one reason why SFGAm “NEEDS” another major coaster. The CAD scenario probably would have still been pretty bad, but the addition of a Scream! Floorless or another major high capacity ride could have made a significant difference on that night. The addition of Scream to the park for example would have given the park a ride that has a projected hourly output of 1440 people which easily makes that second to only Raging Bull as the best outputting ride in the park. That would have made a world of difference on the CAD night.
But also on any day that is busy in the park. July 5th 2010, was an exceptionally busy day in the park, Hurricane Harbor reached capacity at 12 noon, and at one point Batman and V2 had waits of 2 hours, Raging Bull for example had both queue house in us and still had people going out of the entrance of the queue into the midway.
The fact is that SFGAm has added coasters that have really no business in a park with the amount of people that attend it.
Ragin Cajun is significantly limited on the amount of hourly throughput of people, V2 has its issues given the fact that it has one train, and it takes often times 4 minutes per dispatch of that ride, add in Little Dipper, Dark Knight and you have a recipe for long and in some cases extremely long lines even on moderate days at the park.
Another major Coaster helps significantly, especially if that ride is a Floorless, it can run 3 trains, it’s a reliable B&M ride, and most importantly it can draw people away from the smaller capacity rides and make the lines a lot less shorter for everyone.
Since 2001 there is only one coaster Superman, which really should have been placed in SFGAm, when you’re talking specifically on the lines of capacity,
Déjà vu, V2, Cajun, Dipper, and TDK all have or had major capacity issues where lines are long and even if you have an effective crew, there is still issues.
The reason to add another major coaster at SFGAm isn’t because of something ridiculous like not having a coaster with the most (insert whatever here) or because SFMM has something we don’t, it is really simple, SFGAm needs another coaster because the rides we have already are at or near capacity even on the moderate days, and on evenings when the water park isn’t open or closes early you’ve got major issues.
Where do you put the next big coaster then? Well the area where Chang was supposed to go is the most obvious answer, the next calls for either removing one or both of the flume rides in Yankee Harbor, if SFGAm is going to add anything major, it will have to be at the expense of something, and the flume rides at least in my opinion are the best and most viable option. The area where SplashWater Falls once stood also is an option, but then you have the issues of the size of the coaster there as well.
The best investment for SFGAm to make if it where to add a coaster would certainly have to be a B&M floorless or another very high capacity coaster. Anything else would certainly help the capacity issues, but pretty much only B&M can “fix” them.
I also understand that I have maintained the position that Six Flags cannot afford another B&M coaster, I stand by that, I think that a package of high end flats could also help in the capacity department at the park as well, most notably a large scale Ferris Wheel. I also believe that the capacity problems in the dry park are a direct result of a failed attempted all that way back as far as 1998 to construct the water park on the other side of the tollway.
For those of you know up to date with this story, Six Flags had a major and massive plan to add an entertainment village, with a hotel, conference center, corporate headquarters and water park to the land it owned directly across the tollway from the park. Had this venture taken place as it was planned, I can guarantee you that Six Flags Great America would be the premier destination park for the Six Flags chain.
Or look at it another way, imagine how many “dry rides” could be added in the space that is now Hurricane Harbor.
But, the fact remains that even right now, Six Flags Great America is an amazing theme park 14 coasters (check out Great Escape like I mentioned above) and a world class water park. We are truly blessed with a (mostly) well run theme with a lot of great attractions and truly something for everyone.
Thank you for reading and I look forward to discussing this topic with you.
If you have an idea for another Galvan Investigates topic, please do not hesitate to message me about you idea, if it is good enough to launch and investigation on I will certainly credit you for the idea. Thank you for reading.
Discuss this in the forums: http://sfgamworld.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=10935