First Timer's Guide to Six Flags Great America
Visiting Six Flags for the first time? We have you covered!
(Last Updated May 12, 2023)
Six Flags Great America and Hurricane Harbor Chicago is an experience to remember. It can be overwhelming as a first-time visitor to the renowned amusement park.
Six Flags Great America is renowned for its 17 thrilling roller coasters, great dining treasures, charming live entertainment, undying tribute to DC Comics & Looney Toons and so much more.
This vibrant Lake County amusement 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 this wonderous amusement park in Gurnee.
13 Tips and Tidbits
- Purchase THE 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. THE FLASH PASS, available to purchase here, is a device that reserves a spot in line. You will get an alert when it is your turn so you can skip the line. Continue here for a list of the rides that are THE FLASH PASS Friendly.
- Protect your cell phone: Obviously you’re not going to take your phone into Hurricane Harbor Chicago, but you can get significantly wet on some of Six Flag's 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.
- 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.
- Purchase tickets online: Many times, it’s cheaper to buy a ticket ahead of time to the amusement park online.
- Designate a meeting spot: The park is pretty big. So if you are in a group and you get split up (or the phone happens to die), designate a time and landmark for a rendezvous spot so you can recharge and reassemble.
- Sunscreen: Nobody wants to turn into a tomato because you spent all day outside, under the sun, without UV protection.
- 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 a hotel if you click here.
- Water, water, more water: Stay hydrated!
- 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.
- Wear comfortable shoes: Do not wear heels or sandals. Go the tennis shoe route so you don't lose your shoes and stay comfortable.
- Stay to the left: When the gates open at Great America, crowds tend to migrate to the right side of the park. Stay left and explore the Gurnee amusement park backwards.
- 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 Great America fully opens for the day, don’t run when you get into the park; walk! Nobody likes to get trampled.
- 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.
Getting There & Parking
Six Flags Great America is located on I-94 at Route 132 (Grand Avenue) in Gurnee, IL.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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) 364-7223.
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 $35 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.
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 17 to get the full Six Flags Great America experience. Here a list of coasters the Gurnee amusement park and a couple of fun facts to match:
- Mardi Gras Hangover: The world's largest loop coaster standing at 100 feet tall.
- Maxx Force: Six Flags Great America's newest attraction, launching 0 - 78 miles per hour in 2 seconds!
- The JOKER Free Fly Coaster: A 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 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.
- THE FLASH: Vertical Velocity: An inverted, launched shuttle-style coaster.
- 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: Also built in 1976, the Demon is one of the first roller coasters to feature double corkscrews.
- 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.
JUSTICE LEAGUE: Battle for Metropolis
Six Flags Great America is known for an array of dinner/lunch options, snacks, savory dishes and sweets. As a first-timer, you must try at least one of these treats that the Gurnee amusement park is famous for.
Try a sweet funnel cake, stop by the Cold Stone for ice cream, get some Dippin' Dots from County Fair, or enjoy a snow cone and jumbo pretzel from various stalls throughout the park!