The 13 Best Rides at Six Flags Great America

Six Flags Great America’s coaster skyline
Six Flags Great America’s coaster skyline.

Arthur Levine

Like all parks in the Six Flags chain, Great America, located outside of Chicago, Illinois, is mostly about the thrills. And by thrills, we mean the kind that are delivered by its arsenal of roller coasters. There are towering coasters—and the legions of screams they elicit—from one end of the park to the other. But not all thrill machines are created equal.

If you will be heading to Six Flags Great America, you’ll want to know which rides merit your screams. To help you plan your day, we’ve pulled together a list of the park’s 13 best rides. And by best rides, we mean best coasters (with one exception). Sure, there are plenty of other things to do, including spinning rides, the nicely appointed Hurricane Harbor water park, shows, rides for little kids, and water rides. But the coasters are the marquee attractions.

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Arthur Levine

When it opened in 2014, Six Flags billed Goliath as the world’s tallest, fastest, and steepest wooden roller coaster. It’s all true—except Goliath is unlike most wooden coasters (such as Great America’s own Viper and American Eagle). It uses a modified steel “Topper” track that completely covers the stacks of wood along its track. The innovative track allows the coaster to include inversions and deliver a largely smooth ride (two things not generally associated with woodies).

Goliath is so good, we added it to oiur list of North America’s top 10 best wooden coasters.

Ride rating: 4 out of 5 stars

  • Type of coaster: Modified wooden with inversions
  • Height: 165 feet
  • First drop: 180 feet
  • Top speed: 72 mph
    Goliath is one of the top 10 fastest wooden roller coasters.
  • Maximum vertical angle: 85 degrees
  • Track length: 3,100 feet
  • Minimum height requirement: 48 inches
  • Ride manufacturer: Rocky Mountain Construction
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X Flight

X-Flight at Six Flags
Six Flags

Coming in just a bit behind Goliath is this wonderful wing coaster, in which the seats are placed on either side of the track or the “wings” of the train. There are a few similar rides now, but when X Flight debuted at Six Flags Great America in 2012, it was the first of its kind in the U.S.

The ride is quite smooth. While it provides virtually no negative-G-force airtime, X Flight pours on the positive Gs. In fact, the positive Gs crushed our over-the-shoulder restraint so much, they ratcheted them down another notch mid-ride and made the rest of the ride quite snug.

Wing coasters are gimmicky, but X Flight is heck of a lot of fun. Like most wing rides, the layout includes a “keyhole,” a narrow opening placed along the course through with the extra-wide trains pass. Made to look like a tall, thin air traffic control tower, the trains race toward it as if hellbent on a collision. At the last possible moment, the train rotates 90 degrees and barely squeezes through the slit in the tower. It’s a hoot.

Ride rating: 4 out of 5 stars

  • Type of coaster: Wing
  • Height: 120 feet
  • Top speed: 55 mph
  • Track length: 3000 feet
  • Minimum height requirement: 54 inches
  • Ride manufacturer: Bolliger & Mabillard
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Justice League: Battle for Metropolis

Six Flags

The only non-coaster ride on the list, Justice League: Battle for Metropolis is a sophisticated 4D dark ride that is on par with some of the best Disney and Universal rides. Like Universal's Spider-Man ride, it features roving motion base vehicles that move in sync with projected action. Unlike Universal's ride, it also includes blasters and interactive game play. There are multiple Justice League rides at Six Flags parks.

Ride rating: 4 out of 5 stars

  • Type of attraction: Dark ride
  • Minimum height requirement: 42 inches with adult
  • Ride manufacturer: Sally Rides
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Maxx Force

Maxx Force coaster Six Flags Great America
Six Flags

Opened in 2019, the wild thrill machine broke three records. It delivers the fastest launch of any coaster in North America. Maxx Force doesn’t register the fastest speed (although it is blindingly fast), but it reaches its top speed in record time. Using a compressed air launch, it goes from 0 to 78 mph in less than two seconds. Yowza!

For one of its elements, it sends passengers upside down while hurtling along at 60 mph. That makes it the fastest inversion on any coaster anywhere. And at 175 feet, Maxx Force delivers the tallest double-inversion of any coaster.

  • Type of coaster: Compressed air launch steel 
  • Height: 175 feet
  • Top speed: 78 mph
  • Ride manufacturer: S&S Sansei
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Vertical Velocity

Vertical Velocity at Six Flags
Six Flags

There are similar rides at other parks, including Cedar Point. They are all mighty beasts. Unlike more traditional coasters, Vertical Velocity foregoes a lift hill and uses magnetic motors to launch and propel it. As a shuttle coaster, it races forwards and backwards on a disconnected track.

The 28-passenger train screams forward out of the station up one tower of the U-shaped track. Vertical Velocity hangs for a few moments, releases backwards through the station (creating a wicked burst of wind for guests near the front of the line), and gets a second dose of magnetically induced booster power to propel it even higher up the second tower, which includes a spiral. When riders stop at the top of the second tower, they face 90 degrees down and experience a nice pop of airtime while they hang suspended. The cycle repeats a couple more times before slowing and stopping.

It’s another gimmicky ride, but it offers intense bursts of adrenaline-pumping thrills. Vertical Velocity is not for the faint-hearted.

Note that because it is a shuttle coaster and uses one train (and is in high demand as one of the park’s featured rides), Vertical Velocity often has long lines. If you are facing long lines at the ride and at the park in general, you may want to consider purchasing the premium line management add-on.

Ride rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

  • Type of coaster: Impulse
  • Height: 185 feet
  • Top speed: 70 mph
  • Track length: 630 feet
  • Minimum height requirement: 54 inches
  • Ride manufacturer: Intamin AG
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Superman: Ultimate Flight

Superman- Ultimate Flight at Six Flags
Six Flags

Another gimmicky, but fun ride, the seats on Superman: Ultimate Flight tilt forward 90 degrees so that passengers are facing the ground before they leave the station. This positions riders in “flying” mode. As the trains maneuver through loops and other inversions, they can stretch their arms out superhero-style to fly through the air.

Ride rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

  • Type of coaster: Flying
  • Height: 106 feet
  • Top speed: 51 mph
  • Track length: 2,798 feet
  • Minimum height requirement: 54 inches
  • Ride manufacturer: Bolliger & Mabillard
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Batman: The Ride

Batman- The Ride at Six Flags
Six Flags

There are a bunch of identical coasters at other parks, most of which are also called Batman: The Ride. But the first one debuted at Six Flags Great America in 1992. It is also the world's first inverted coaster in which the trains hang beneath the track.

It’s not particularly tall or fast compared to other behemoths. But, with its tight inversions, including a signature teardrop-shaped loop, Batman imparts bone-crunching positive G-forces.

Ride rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

  • Type of coaster: Inverted
  • Height: 100 feet
  • Top speed: 50 mph
  • Track length: 2,700 feet
  • Minimum height requirement: 54 inches
  • Ride manufacturer: Bolliger & Mabillard
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Raging Bull

Raging Bull at Six Flags
Six Flags

Oh how we wanted to love Raging Bull. Manufactured by Bolliger & Mabillard, the Swiss makers of incredible hypercoasters such as Nitro and Apollo's Chariot (which we consider to be among the top 10 best steel roller coasters in North America), we had high hopes. Oh how disappointed we were.

After clicking up the long lift hill, Raging Bull delivered a wonderful 208-foot first drop. Raging into the first hill following the drop, a trim brake (the bane of coaster fans) sucked all the life out of the ride. Instead of soaring up for an expected huge pop of airtime, there was…nothing. What is the sense of having a hypercoaster, which is designed for speed and airtime, and neutering it? The trim brakes slowed it down and prevented any negative-G moments. That’s, um, bull.

The rest of the ride, while smooth, was also lacking any airtime. To be fair, our first ride was in the back of the train. When we re-rode it in the second row, there were some minor out-of-seat moments, but nothing like the major-league, gravity-defying, mind-blowing airtime that coasters such as Apollo's Chariot provide. Hey, Six Flags and B&M: Do what needs to be done to remove the trim brakes and restore Raging Bull to its intended glory.

Ride rating: 3 out of 5 stars

  • Type of coaster: Hypercoaster
  • Height: 202 feet
  • Top speed: 73 mph
  • Track length: 5057 feet
  • Minimum height requirement: 54 inches
  • Ride manufacturer: Bolliger & Mabillard
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The Joker Free Fly Coaster

The Joker Free Fly Coaster at Six Flags
Six Flags

The Joker is a "4D Free-Fly" coaster. Its seats sit on either side of the track (like the “wing” coaster, X Flight) and randomly spin forwards and backwards (in the “fourth dimension”) as the train runs along a zig-zagging ribbon of track. The ride is similar to other coasters at other Six Flags parks, all of which offer especially disorienting ride experiences.

Ride rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

  • Type of coaster: Wing and Free-Fly
  • Height: 120 feet
  • Top speed: 38 mph
  • Track length: 1,019 feet
  • Minimum height requirement: 48 inches
  • Ride manufacturer: S&S Sansei Technologies
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Tsunami Surge

Tsunami Surge water coaster Six Flags Great America

Six Flags

Located at the adjacent Hurricane Harbor Water Park (which requires a separate admission for ticket holders, but is included for season pass holders and Six Flags members), Tsunami Surge will take the record for the world’s tallest water coaster when it debuts in 2021. Three passengers at a time pile into rafts and get blasted uphill by powerful water jets three times during the course of the ride. The water coaster also delivers five drops, five hairpin turns, and groovy “AquaLucent” visual effects that riders experience in the enclosed tube sections.

  • Type of ride: Uphill water coaster
  • Height: 86 feet (tallest in the world at its debut)
  • Top speed: 28 mph
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Whizzer coaster at Six Flags
Six Flags

This rare coaster uses an electric spiral lift to power the train up to the top of the track. The fairly tame ride has a gentle first drop. It features plenty of banked helices, but no inversions. The old-school coaster is among the original rides that debuted on the park’s opening day in 1976. It’s plenty of fun and great for younger kids.

Ride rating: 3 out of 5 stars

  • Type of coaster: Steel
  • Height: 70 feet
  • Top speed: 42 mph
  • Track length: 3100 feet
  • Minimum height requirement: 36 inches with adult or 42 inches alone
  • Ride manufacturer: Schwarzkopf
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Little Dipper

Little Dipper at Six Flags
Six Flags

Originally opened in 1950 at Illinois’ (now defunct) Kiddieland, Six Flags Great America rescued and moved Little Dipper to its park in 2010. The delightful little ride is considered a kiddie coaster, but this is no impersonal, off-the-shelf dragon coaster. It is a custom-designed ride with a figure-eight layout that reeks of nostalgia. The 50s-style lettering of the ride’s logo and the white lattice structure transports passengers back to post-WWII America. It’s a great gateway coaster for young children.

Ride rating: 3 out of 5 stars

  • Type of coaster: Wooden
  • Height: 30 feet
  • Track length: 700 feet
  • Minimum height requirement: 36 inches with adult or 42 inches alone
  • Ride manufacturer: Philadelphia Toboggan Coasters, Inc.
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Viper coaster at Six Flags
Six Flags

Viper is another Great America coaster for which we had great expectations before we visited the park. It has a good reputation, and some coaster fans consider it among the best woodies. At one time, it may have been an exemplary ride, but sadly, not when we gave it a go.

It was excessively rough (although not painfully rough like another Great America coaster that has not aged well, American Eagle) and offered little in the way of airtime. Modeled after Coney Island’s legendary Cyclone, Viper has all of that ride’s gritty brutality with none of its charm.

It would seem to be an ideal candidate for an Iron Horse makeover by Rocky Mountain Construction, the company that built the park’s Goliath. In addition to designing and building coasters from the ground up, RMC restores tired, old wooden coasters by adding an innovative steel track, or “hybrid coasters.”

Ride rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars

  • Type of coaster: Wooden Cyclone
  • Height: 100 feet
  • Top speed: 48 mph
  • Track length: 3458 feet
  • Minimum height requirement: 48 inches
  • Ride manufacturer: Six Flags Theme Parks, Inc.