Six Flags Great America is my home park, and I’ve ridden their roller coasters more than any others on the planet. My opinions on them constantly change each year, so it’s fitting that I update this “Worst to Best” list as a part of the Listmas series. Let me know your rankings down in the comments!
Also, I won’t be including the two kiddie coasters on this list, since they can’t really compete with the larger coasters at the park. Sorry Little Dipper and Sprocket Rocket fans.
13. American Eagle
Almost all of the fun has been sucked out of this classic wooden coaster. First off, it can’t duel anymore due to structural issues. Also, it’s incredibly rough. Sometimes rough wooden coasters can be fun, but not American Eagle. The giant helix is still terrifying (in a good way) and makes you feel like you’re going to fly off the track, but even that is kneecapped by unbearable roughness. I know we already have Goliath, but can we please get RMC to re-track this thing?
Demon is an Arrow Custom Looping coaster that opened in 1976. It’s not exactly a bad ride, but it does suffer from being a bit dated. It features two loops and two corkscrews, as well as some pretty cool rocks that are shaped like the head of a demon. Sadly, the layout is pretty boring compared to the other coasters at Great America. It also has quite a bit of head banging during the corkscrews if you don’t brace yourself.
11. Dark Knight
Dark Knight can either be looked at as one of the most uninteresting coasters at Great America or one of the most interesting Wild Mouse coasters on the planet. This is because it’s one of the few indoor Wild Mouse coasters. It has a decently themed queue with lots of batman theming. This theming kind of continues on the ride, but it is mostly pitch black and hard to see. At the end of the day, Dark Knight is still a by-the-numbers Wild Mouse in a box, which makes it just okay.
10. Superman: Ultimate Flight
Ranking Superman so low is probably my first unpopular opinion on this list. This B&M Flyer might not sound that terrible at all, but there’s quite a few reasons why I think this is one of Great America’s weakest offerings. For one, it always has a long line due to its poor capacity. The layout is also pretty boring, with the only interesting parts being the pretzel loop and the inline twist. Even the pretzel loop isn’t very enjoyable due to its overbearing intensity that can cause chest pain. I know there’s plenty of people who enjoy Superman, but it just doesn’t do much for me.
9. Vertical Velocity (V2)
I would’ve ranked this much higher years ago, but sadly is just not as good as it used to be. V2 is still a pretty fun launch coaster with decent hang time, but it has received a rattle over the years. I can’t get a ride without head. banging no matter what seat I ride in. Also, after riding Steel Venom at Valleyfair, I can’t help but wish that V2 had a holding brake. There has been a rumor going around for a while that Great America might remove V2 at some point. Since they added another launch coaster, Maxx Force, in 2019, I wonder if that will become reality sooner than later.
The Whizzer is the only true “family” coaster (that’s not a wild mouse) at Great America. It is also one of only two Schwarzkopf Speed Racer coasters in existence, which makes it an extremely rare credit. The layout is mostly just a bunch of straight track and banked turns, but it still does pick up quite a bit of speed and offers some good fun. It might not be the most mind-blowing coaster at Great America, but it is still a must-do because of how unique it is.
Joker is another clone at Great America (a 4D Freespin clone, to be exact), but it’s still a very enjoyable ride. Sure, the randomness of the flips and spins do make some rides better than others, but the overall product is still very fun. Perhaps the best part of the ride is actually how smooth it is. Although the ride was designed by S&S, the track was actually produced by RMC which makes it a glossy smooth coaster. I definitely recommend facing forward instead of backwards, as I tend to have more enjoyable and less disorienting rides there.
6. Batman: The Ride
This might just be a classic inverted Batman clone, but it still offers arguably the most intense ride in the park. It tears through its five inversions and many banked turns with such speed and forcefulness, which really makes for an exciting ride. I’ve even greyed out a couple times in the back row before. The layout isn’t that interesting, but for the first B&M invert ever its pretty understandable why it doesn’t feature more unique elements. If you want an intense ride then I highly recommend Batman.
There was a time where I considered X-Flight a top two roller coaster in the park, so it breaks my heart that it’s dropped to number five. The layout and inversions of this ride are still stellar, but the extremely uncomfortable vest restraints make it difficult to enjoy anything. The coaster has also developed quite the rattle, which gets worse the further back you sit. It’s wishful thinking, but I hope Great America decides to re-track X-Flight at some point.
Viper is a classic wooden coaster that, unlike American Eagle, seems to be getting better every day. There are a couple circumstances you need to follow in order to get an outstanding ride, but they’re pretty easy to understand. First, you need to ride in the back to receive as much airtime as possible. It will be a bit rougher there, but not any rougher than your normal classic wooden coaster. Secondly, you need to ride it later in the day once the ride has already warmed up. By then it will be absolutely hauling around the track. You can still get decent rides without these conditions, but I’d say the best is towards the back in the afternoon/at night. Viper never really has much of a line, so it’s always pretty achievable. Also, the park turned Viper backwards in 2017 which made the ride 10 times better than it already was. Hopefully they do it again in the future so that more enthusiasts can experience it in its best form.
3. Raging Bull
I’ve given Raging Bull a bad wrap for the past few years, saying that it’s a mediocre ride despite being the tallest and longest coaster in the park. However, I’d say it’s riding better in 2021 than it has any other year. It’s not the most airtime filled coaster, but you can still get some pretty great pops of it on certain hills. I would actually recommend riding in the front row because, although it has slightly less airtime, you don’t feel the effect of the trim breaks nearly as much as you do in the back. There’s also this “freeing” feeling of being left out in the open with nothing but a small lap bar restraint keeping you in that I just can’t get enough of.
For the first time ever, Goliath isn’t my number one at this park. It’s still a fantastic roller coaster with some incredible elements and inversions, but the more I ride it the less impressed I am by it. The zero-G stall is still my favorite inversion on any roller coaster, but besides that I’m not blown away by anything. That said, you’re still getting a wonderful first drop, one (1) great airtime moment and some relatively intense over-bank turns. It also has one of the coolest night rides ever. Since Goliath is at the very back of the park, you get an awesome view of the other roller coasters and their beautiful lights. It really is a stunning sight.
1. Maxx Force
Maxx Force is the newest roller coaster at Great America, and it’s also my new favorite. I placed this ride at number two when it opened in 2019, but riding it in 2021 made me realize that it has one of the strongest layouts on any roller coaster, despite it being so short. This machine packs a forceful launch (the fastest acceleration in North America) and five inversions into a 23 second ride time. Yeah, you read that correctly. 23 seconds. Keep in mind that Top Thrill Dragster, the second tallest roller coaster in the world, is 30 seconds long and only features a launch and large top hat. I’m not saying Maxx Force is better than Top Thrill Dragster (it’s probably not), but the fact that they packed this thing with so many elements in such a short duration is a force to be reckoned with. There’s absolutely no filler, and each second of the ride counts. It’s really hard to pick a favorite part, but I’d probably have to go with flying through a heartline roll at 60 mph, which just so happens to be the fastest inversion in the world.