Six Flags Great America

How old were you when you visited an amusement park for the first time? How old were your children the first time you took them to an amusement park? I am contemplating taking my toddler daughter to a major amusement park near our home, but fear she may be a little too young to take advantage of everything the park has to offer.

Six Flags Great America is located in Gurnee, Illinois. Right on the Wisconsin-Illinois border. My husband and I used to make the trip annually (in our pre-baby days). I have a problem with my equilibrium so I could never go on any of the roller coasters with him, but I would stand in line to keep him company then duck under the railing when it was time for him to board the ride. Six Flags Great America is great for teens and adults who love roller coasters or other thrill rides. The park is home to Superman-Ultimate Flight, where riders are hoisted into a flying position and sent on loops and turns. My husband’s favorite roller coasters are Raging Bull, considered the world’s first hyper-twister coaster, Vertical Velocity, a suspended spiraling coaster and Batman the Ride, where riders are suspended on a track above their heads. Roller coasters aside, the one ride he never misses is the Giant Drop. The mere sight of it makes me nauseous, but he loves it. The ride climbs 200 feet into the air then drops passengers into a high-speed free fall.

Summer is of course the busiest time of year for Six Flags Great America, so if you go be prepared to wait in long lines. We try to go mid-week when the crowds are smaller, but even then, the wait time for some of the roller coasters can be more 90 minutes. The park has signs posted that tell you how long your wait will be, the obligatory: “Your wait is 45 minutes from this point.” We try to go when it’s not 90 degrees with a humidity level of 70 percent. Standing in line under those conditions can be deadly.

Since I don’t go on any of the thrill rides, my favorite part of the park is the game area. We always go home with a few stuffed prizes. (I like to win them for my husband.) The food is decent, your average amusement park fare, hot dogs, turkey legs, pizza, hamburgers, lemonade, etc. And, there’s nothing like ending your day with a warm funnel cake doused in powdered sugar.

Most of the rides have a height requirement of 54 inches, which means younger children spend much of the day in Camp Cartoon Network or Bugs Bunny Park, which is designed just for them. The children’s area houses a Foam Factory, a Looney Tooter train and a Merry-Go-Round. All features I know my daughter would love… but she may love them even more next year.

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Michele Cheplic

About Michele Cheplic

Michele Cheplic was born and raised in Hilo, Hawaii, but now lives in Wisconsin. Michele graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in Journalism. She spent the next ten years as a television anchor and reporter at various stations throughout the country (from the CBS affiliate in Honolulu to the NBC affiliate in Green Bay). She has won numerous honors including an Emmy Award and multiple Edward R. Murrow awards honoring outstanding achievements in broadcast journalism. In addition, she has received awards from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association for her reports on air travel and the Wisconsin Education Association Council for her stories on education. Michele has since left television to concentrate on being a mom and freelance writer.