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First Timer's Guide to Six Flags Great America
Visiting Six Flags for the first time? We've got you covered!

Raging Bull and Skull Island

(Last Updated March 27, 2018)

Six Flags Great America and Hurricane Harbor is an experience to remember. As a first-timer to the renowned amusement park, it can be overwhelming.

Six Flags Great America is renowned for its 16 thrilling roller coasters, great dining treasures, charming live entertainment, undying tribute to Looney Toons and DC Comics and so much more.

American Eagle

This vibrant Lake County park is a grand experience for those of all ages. Splash, scream and soar your way into summer with an exhilarating experience at Six Flags Great America.

Here are a few tips for your first visit to Six Flags Great America and Hurricane Harbor located in Gurnee, IL.

13 Tips and Tidbits

X-Flight

  1. Purchase a FLASH Pass: There’s so much to take in at Six Flags Great America, so you’re going to want to pay attention to time. A FLASH Pass, available to purchase here, is a device that reserves a spot in line. You’ll get an alert when it’s your turn so you can skip the line. Continue here for a list of the rides that are FLASH Pass Friendly.
  2. Protect your cell phone: Obviously you’re not going to take your phone into Hurricane Harbor, but you can get significantly wet on some of Great America’s water rides. Use a zip top bag to protect your phone and remove the chance of damaging one of your most expensive belongings.
  3. Take a picture of your parking lot group and number: Speaking of phones, most devices have camera capabilities. The benefit of this is to remember where you parked in their humongous lot.
  4. Purchase tickets online or bring a Coke can to the front entrance: Many times it’s cheaper to buy a ticket to the amusement park online. Additonally, Six Flags Great America usually partners with Coca-Cola. If you bring the empty promotional can with you to the park, you can save up to $15. Jewel-Osco Grocery Stores also sell discounted tickets.
  5. Designate a meeting spot: The park is pretty big. So if you are in a group and you get split up (or your phone happens to die on you), pick a time and landmark for a rendezvous spot so you can recharge and reassemble.
  6. Sunscreen: Nobody wants to turn into a tomato because you’re out in the sun all day.
  7. Consider making it a weekend trip: There are plenty of hotels surrounding the Gurnee theme park. Some of the hotels have partnered up with Great America and provide savings and perks for the entire experience. With this type of option, you don’t have to rush around Great America all in one day. You can find some of the travel packages if you click here.
  8. Water, water, and more water: Stay hydrated.
  9. Speaking of water: Or any other drinks, purchase a souvenir cup at the beginning of the day and receive free refills on water and pop. If you buy the yellow souvenir cup, you will receive free refills for the entire Great America season. There is also a red-colored souvenir cup that allows attendees to buy the cup and receive refills on that day you visit. If you return with the red cup, holders will pay 99 cents per refill.
  10. Wear comfy shoes: It isn’t ideal to wear heels or sandals. Go the tennis shoe route so you don't lose your shoes and stay comfortable.
  11. ‘To the left, to the left’: When the gates open at Great America, the crowds tend to migrate to the right side of the park. Try going left and exploring the Gurnee amusement park backward.
  12. The early bird gets the worm: The parking lot opens an hour before the park does. Be sure to arrive early. Also, the front gate opens a half hour early. When the Great America fully opens for the day, don’t run when you get into the park; walk! Nobody likes to get trampled.
  13. Download the Six Flags Great America App: By obtaining this mobile app, you can make the most of your visit. Continue here to download the app. 
    Tweety Bird, Sylvester the Cat and Bugs Bunny

Getting There & Parking

Six Flags Great America is located on I-94 at Route 132 (Grand Avenue) in Gurnee, IL.

There is an alternate entrance for Great America guests available on Washington Street. It is typically little or no wait to access the park via this convenient alternative!

Washington Street alternative entrance. Photo credit: Theme Park Review

FROM CHICAGO

Take I-94 or I-294 West. Exit on Grand Avenue (Rt. 132) east in Gurnee, Illinois. Six Flags is located immediately on the right.

Approximate driving time: 45 minutes.

FROM MILWAUKEE

Take I-94 East. Exit on Grand Avenue (Rt. 132) east in Gurnee, Illinois. Six Flags is located immediately on the right.

Approximate driving time: 45 minutes.

FROM WESTERN ILLINOIS AND IOWA

Take I-88 East to I-294 North in Illinois. Take I-294 North until it becomes I-94 West. Continue on I-94 West and exit on Grand Avenue (Rt. 132) east in Gurnee, Illinois. Six Flags is located on the right side of the street.

Approximate driving time: 3 hours.

FROM INDIANA AND MICHIGAN

Take Tri-State Hwy. 80/94 West. Continue into Illinois and take I-294 West. Stay on I-294 West until it becomes I-94 West. Continue on I-94 West and exit on Grand Avenue (Rt. 132) east in Gurnee, Illinois. Six Flags is located on the right side of the street.

Approximate driving time: 1 hour, 35 minutes.

OR Take the Skyway (I-90 West) through Chicago to the Dan Ryan Expressway. (I-90/94 West). Continue on I-90/94 West; it will become the Kennedy Expressway. 90/94 West near downtown Chicago. When 90/94 splits, stay on I-94 West and exit on Grand Avenue (Rt. 132) east in Gurnee, Illinois. Six Flags Great America is located on the right.

Approximate driving time: 1 hour, 20 minutes.

Six Flags Great American Parking Lot

FROM PEORIA/BLOOMINGTON

Take I-55 North to I-294 West. Take I-294 West until it becomes I-94 West. Continue on I-94 West and exit on Grand Avenue (Rt. 132) east in Gurnee, Illinois. Six Flags is located on the right side of the street.

Approximate driving time: 3 hours.

TRAVEL TIPS

The entrances to Six Flags Great America can get very busy in the peak summer months of July and August, especially right at park opening times (10 a.m.-11 a.m.). Try to arrive earlier in the morning to avoid back-ups.

PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION

Pace Suburban Bus provides direct service from Schaumburg and from Rosemont to Six Flags Great America on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from June to Labor Day, and every Friday and Saturday in October. The schedule may vary depending on park hours. For fare and schedule information, please call (847) 228-2416.

Parking

Unless you’re taking public transportation or you’re getting dropped off, you must park in the lot. If you try to cut corners and park in the area, Gurnee’s finest will find your vehicle and you’ll either take home a hefty fine or have your car towed.

When you finally complete your trek, and you’re visiting on one Six Flags Great America day trip,  it will be $25 to park your car. You will be stopped by a booth in which you will pay for before you enter. If you need a break from the park's all day festivities, you may leave your car and take the Pace Bus.

If your first time is going to be one of many for the season, it may be wise to purchase a season parking pass for $80.

Coasting U.S.A

 The Joker

OK, now onto the cool stuff. The first thing you see as you drive up I-94 are the large steel and wood structures high up in the air. Prepare yourself for an adrenaline-charged joyride as you embark on rides lifted as high as 165 feet.

You must check out all 16 to get the full Great America experience. Here a list of coasters the Gurnee amusement park and a couple of fun facts to match:

 Goliath

  • Mardi Gras Hangover (NEW for 2018): Great America's newest ride slated to be the world's largest loop coaster standing at 100 feet tall. 
  • The Joker (NEW for 2017): A brand new maniacal free-fly ride rises to 12 stories high on a 90-degree lift. It is on a traditional steel track and utilizes magnetic technology. The cars house up to eight people in a face-to-face format. Five cars run at a time. Did we fail to mention each car flips in circles up to six times on its own throughout the ride?
  • Goliath: The world’s tallest, steepest and fastest wooden roller coaster.
  • Raging Bull: The world’s first hyper-twister coaster and the tallest ride at the Gurnee amusement park. Continue here to experience the coaster.
  • BATMAN: The Ride: The world’s first inverted, outside looping rollercoaster.
  • SUPERMAN: Ultimate Flight: Riders lay flat on their stomach as if you were in a flying position like the man of steel.
  • Whizzer: One of the park’s oldest coasters and is one of the last ‘speed racer’ coaster models ever built created in 1976.
  • Viper: The first roller coaster to be built directly by Six Flags.
  • Vertical Velocity: An inverted, launched shuttle-style coaster.
  • Spacely’s Sprocket Rocket: This is a Jetsons-themed kiddie coaster.
  • The Dark Knight: Also Batman themed, this coaster is an indoor ride.
  • American Eagle: One of the most famous coasters in the park, this wooden ride at one point held the longest drop and fastest speed for a wooden coaster.
  • Demon or the Rage of the Gargoyles Virtual Reality Coaster: Also built in 1976, the Demon is one of the first roller coasters to feature double corkscrews. Riders have the ability to experience the coaster in virtual reality using Samsung’s Galaxy phone connected to a wireless headset. Use your eyes to defeat the furious gargoyles (or your VR self will be decapitated). 
  • X-Flight: Take flight with one of the smoothest coasters you’ll ever soar on. The experience is as if you’re riding on the wing of an airplane.
  • Little Dipper: A former Kiddieland Amusement Park Ride (originally located in Melrose Park, IL). The ride itself is older than all of the rides at the Gurnee amusement park looking 67 years young.


Top-Notch Rides (Coaster-Free)

These rides are not coasters by any means, however a few of them carry some of the same thrills. 

Columbia Carousel

Columbia Carousel

 Dare Devil Dive

Dare Devil Dive

 Giant Drop

Giant Drop

JUSTICE LEAGUE: Battle for Metropolis. Photo credit: Chicago Tribune

JUSTICE LEAGUE: Battle for Metropolis

Delectable Treats

Six Flags Great America is known for an array of dinner/lunch options, snacks, healthy dishes and sweets. As a first-timer, you must try at least one of these treats that the Gurnee amusement park is famous for.

Bugs Bunny ready to chow down on a funnel cake

  • Funnel Cakes
  • Cold Stone Ice Cream
  • County Fair Dippin’ Dots
  • Snow Cone
  • Jumbo Pretzel

***Stay tuned for our Six Flags Great America ticket, food, family fun and Fright Fest guides.***

 

 





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No matter which route you take, all roads lead to fun in Lake County, Illinois, which is located halfway between Chicago and Milwaukee. Lake County is home to 170 lakes and rivers, 30,000 acres of lush forest preserves, miles of hiking and biking trails, Six Flags Great America, Naval Station Great Lakes, Ravinia Festival and sandy beaches along Lake Michigan's shoreline. Family adventure is around every turn and awaits you in Lake County.
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