Six Flags Great America Tips – Poorly Run, Still Fun

A client meeting north of Chicago ended early and I pulled into my hotel to see Six Flags Great America across the street. I dropped my briefcase in the room and within half an hour was on The Dark Knight.

I had 5 hours to closing and worked my way roughly from front to back as the back of the park cleared out nearer to closing. I had no time to mess around with anything but the serious roller coasters. Gauging line waits was tricky, the advertised times were not updated, staff were at the front of some lines but were of little help, and some were deceptively short because additional holding areas were closed off.

Six Flags Great America 03

Learn the ropes of the lines

Two rides broke while waiting, Yankee Clipper, which I mistook for another ride anyway, and X Flight. Most rides had broken seats or rows.

Line management is terrible but can be gamed depending on your comfort level. Staff make no effort to fill in seats. Frequently whole rows depart empty because kids want to depart at the same time as friends in several rows. No singles line. There is a for-pay FLASH Pass system that is enforced and works for those who buy in. I was not going to pay $55 for that.

The gaming I observed, and eventually partook in, is twofold:

  1. Upon completion of a ride, in the exiting commotion, grabbing a re-ride on empty seats. Since so many seats are empty I did this a few times without big qualms.
  2. Coming up from the exit to ride. This was practiced less and I was not going to do it until, last coaster of the night, the staff closed the entrance line to Raging Bull just as I was approaching. I felt scummy going up the exit but I admit to doing it. I grabbed an empty seat that help me rationalize.
I talked to a helpful security guard who advised that when everything else is crowded, the great, wooden, side-by-side two track American Eagle roller coaster is generally quiet and she was right. It is way in the back of the back and a very long walk from entrance to ride that discouraged the less motivated.
Six Flags Great America 02

Head for American Eagle at peak times

Many of the new metal coasters are as good or better from the back than the front with much less wait.
There is a big bottleneck around Southwest Territory, rides like Raging Bull and Viper, when the Hurricane Harbor waterpark closes, in this case at 6 pm.
I will separately go through the roller coaststers one by one.
This is the second Six Flags I have visited and I am struck by how little there do with all the great cartoon and comic brands they have. I have to give them credit, though, on the awesome thrill rides.

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13 Comments on "Six Flags Great America Tips – Poorly Run, Still Fun"

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Shannon
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I can see you on the disovery travel channel. Do you have a thing for cufflink?

Rapid Travel Chai
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@Shannon – I do like cufflinks, and it seems a fun way to occasionally have an alter ego at Points, Miles & Martinis.

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[…] I spent an evening racing to try each of Six Flags Great America’s roller coasters finding a few tips along the […]

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[…] nights, nice to collect the 10,000 point Faster Free Nights bonus, even better to find myself with Six Flags Great America as a neighbor. With the Business Double Gold Points Rate, Gold bonus, and the 10,000 bonus that stay netted […]

Marshall Jackson
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Good times! Great post.

Wendy
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Well if you ever get up to Sandusky, Ohio. Cedar Point has some amazing roller coasters. Currently there are 14 of them for Adults. Two of the oldest wooden coasters in the park are Blue Streak and Cedar Creek Mine ride. The newest is Gate Keeper. If you live near or plan to visit other Cedar Fair parks. I recommend buying a Platinum Season Pass. With that you will get into any Cedar Fair Park in the US and Canada free including free parking during the 2013 Season. A platinum pass is $192 dollars a year currently. If you go… Read more »
Rapid Travel Chai
Guest

@Wendy – I have heard the legend of Cedar Point and do absolutely want to make there. Thanks for all the excellent tips.

aadvantagegeek
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“Line management is terrible…Staff make no effort to fill in seats.” – future TSA agents, I’m sure. 😉

Grant
Guest

I’ve been to 2 six flags parks: Magic Mountain in Socal is my hometown park and then one outside DC/Baltimore was very lame.

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[…] more of Rapid Travel Chai’s business trip happy hour at Six Flags Great America with his take on all the […]

Craig
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Sorry, I meant Stephan

Craig
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Stephen,

Another surprise! I didn’t think you were a roller coaster kind of guy!

Rapid Travel Chai
Guest

@Craig – I have not been to amusement parks much the past years, I would like to get back to doing more. Generally on the road I like to take advantage of the best available, on it’s terms, in this case my neighbor was had roller coasters in his backyard and I came over like a kid seeing seeing a neighbor with a new swimming pool!