The Castle of Toys was a toy store disguised as an 8-story Bavarian castle, complete with bright colors and storybook turrets. The Kiddie Kingdom was a small-scale amusement park designed for children under 12 years old. "Kiddie parks" were a new innovation during the baby-boom years of the 1950's, and remained popular into the 1970's. The Kiddie Kingdom had, among other things, an antique German carousel and a miniature train that circled the 5-acre grounds.
The park was in operation until 1984. At that time, the property was sold and the rides and attractions were auctioned off.The property was developed and is now the home of the Oakbrook Terrace Tower. The only thing remaining from the Dispensa empire is a street leading to the Oakbrook Terrace Tower, which the developers named "Castle Drive."
Old Chicago was a combination shopping mall and indoor amusement park that existed in the Chicago suburb of Bolingbrook, Illinois, from 1975 until 1980. It was billed as "The world's first indoor amusement park", and it was intended to draw visitors all year round, rain or shine. It opened to great fanfare and over 15,000 visitors on June 17, 1975, with an enormous building that housed major rides, such as a roller coaster and a Ferris wheel, as well as a turn-of-the-century themed shopping mall. However, only six months after opening, the complex ran into financial troubles due to construction cost overruns. The opening of a competing amusement park in the same general region (known today as Six Flags Great America) hurt attendance, and the lack of large anchor stores failed to draw enough local and repeat shoppers. Despite management changes, the center continued to lose money. By 1978, the mall began closing on Mondays and Tuesdays and in early 1980 the entire amusement park shut down and the rides were sold, only five years after opening. Efforts to find alternative uses for the huge building failed, and the structure was demolished in the spring of 1986.
Its address was 555 S. Bolingbrook Drive, Bolingbrook IL 60439.
Kiddieland started out as a small venture of Arthur Fritz in 1929 when he purchased six ponies and offered rides as an escape for parents reeling from the Great Depression. Miniature gasoline-powered cars were added a few years later after Fritz learned that they were being given away to children by a Chicago newspaper as a subscription promotion.
In 1940, the "German Carousel", two Miniature Steam Locomotives, the "Little Auto Ride", the "Roto Whip" and the "Ferris Wheel" were added. The two lasted until the park's closing. The park saw its first major expansion in the 1950s with the addition of the Little Dipper and the Carousel, of which both still exist today. Bumper cars were added in the 1960s as they replaced the original pony ride.
The park transferred ownership in 1977, as Arthur Fritz's grandchildren took over the park and its operation. The park continued its expansion and installed several major attractions, including a Log flume, a swinging pirate ship, a 40-foot (12 m) long water coaster, and numerous other attractions.A dispute developed between Shirley and Glenn Rynes, who own the land that Kiddieland occupies, and Ronald Rynes, Jr. and Cathy and Tom Norini, who own the amusement park itself. The landowners sued the park owners in 2004, claiming that the park had an improper insurance policy and that fireworks were prohibited in the lease. The case was thrown out in a Cook County court and later in an appeals court. The landowners declined to extend the lease on the land in early 2009. In late June 2010, it was announced that Kiddieland would be demolished, nine months after the park closed to the public. A Costco store now occupies the land.
Six Flags Great America is a Six Flags theme park in the Chicago metropolitan area, located in Gurnee, Illinois. It first opened in 1976 as Marriott's Great America. Six Flags purchased the park from the Marriott Corporation in 1984, making it the seventh park in the chain. As of 2012, the park has nine themed sections, a 16-acre (65,000 m2) water park, two specially themed children's areas, and various other forms of entertainment.
Marriott Corporation began construction on the park in 1974 and opened it on May 29, 1976, as "Marriott's Great America" (a sister park, with almost identical layout and attractions, opened in northern California in Santa Clara the same year). The park was an immediate success due in part to its Americana themes and grand opening during the American Bicentennial. It originally consisted of six themed areas: Carousel Plaza, the first section beyond the main gates; small-town-themed Hometown Square; The Great Midwest Livestock Exposition At County Fair with its |around the start of the 20th century rural-fair theme; Yankee Harbor, inspired by a 19th century New England port; Yukon Territory, resembling a Canadian/Alaskan logging camp; and the French Quarter-modeled Orleans Place. A seventh area, The Great Southwest, was planned but was not built until 1996, when it opened as Southwest Territory.
Each themed area had its own staff costumes, and the design of buildings, shops, and restaurants were also all unique to each theme. For example, the Klondike Cafe in Yukon Territory served beef dishes in large pans like those used for panning for gold.
From the beginning, the park made use of the Looney Tunes characters as costumed figures to interact with the park attendees, a tradition that continues since Time Warner took over maximum ownership of the park in the 1990s.
Originally the park included three roller coasters: Willard's Whizzer (named after Marriott executive J. Willard Marriott and now simply known as Whizzer), Turn of the Century (now re-themed and renamed Demon), and Gulf Coaster. Gulf Coaster lasted only one season due to its unpopularity and a small fire. The park's other signature attractions were the elaborate double-decker Columbia Carousel; Sky Whirl, a unique, 110-foot (34 m)-tall "triple Ferris wheel" custom-designed for Marriott and visible from the adjacent Tri-State Tollway as well as from miles away; and the two one-way gondola sky car rides, Delta Flyer and Eagle's Flight. Eagle's Flight was a very commercially successful ride and was considered a top 10 ride by Roller Coaster Weekly magazine.[verification needed]. Since the removal of Sky Whirl after the 2000 season, Six Flags Great America has continued to operate without a Ferris wheel.
An original 1976 Marriott's Great America ride, Orleans Orbit, still spins today at the park. While resembling a Ferris wheel, it delivers a far different ride experience. The entire wheel rests flat, just above ground level, to allow simultaneous loading and unloading of all passenger cabins. Once riders are locked in, the wheel begins to rotate. The spinning wheel picks up speed and is lifted on an arm to a nearly vertical position, sending riders upside-down as they go over the highest point. "Enterprise" is the common industry name for such a ride.
Originally installed in Orleans Place, the ride has since been relocated to Hometown Square, occupying the former home of the Bottoms Up ride. It made way for White Water Rampage, now known as Roaring Rapids. Orleans Orbit is now known simply as The Orbit.
Another original 1976 Marriott's Great America ride, Rue Le Dodge, is known as the world's largest operating bumper car floor. An exact copy of the ride under the same name opened at California's Great America in Santa Clara, California. In 2005, however, its bumper car floor became a one-way traffic ride (as most bumper car floors have started doing). To determine the flow of traffic, a concrete island was added to the center of the floor, removing floor space. This left Rue Le Dodge at present-day Six Flags Great America as the largest operating bumper car floor in the world. The floor currently sits at 51’9” X 124’9” or 6,455 sq ft (599.7 m2). Six Flags Great Adventure's Autobahn is the largest bumper car floor, but it has not operated since 2008.
1977 saw the installation of several new rides. The 330-foot (100 m)-tall Sky Trek Tower — one of the few rides to survive today under its original name — opened in Carousel Plaza. Sky Trek Tower was built as, and still remains, the tallest freestanding structure in Lake County, Illinois. Along with Sky Trek Tower, a few new spinning rides were added, such as Big Top, Davy Jones' Dinghies, and Hay Baler. Southern Cross, a third gondola sky car ride — round-trip and much taller than Delta Flyer/Eagle's Flight — also made its debut in 1977, with its station located where Gulf Coaster stood. The park's first kids section, dubbed Fort Fun, opened in Yukon Territory, which caused the Saskatchewan Scrambler to be relocated to Hometown Square and renamed Hometown Fun Machine.
Tidal Wave, Great America's first roller coasters added after the park opened in 1976, was added in 1978. It consisted of a single vertical loop and was located in Yankee Harbor, where Batman: The Ride now stands.
The Pictorium, an IMAX theatre, opened in 1979 and claimed to have the world's largest screen, at 64.5 x 88.25 feet (19.6 x 26.9 meters).
The Turn of the Century roller coaster closed and took on a new look in 1980. Two loops were added, along with three tunnels, and the "new" ride was re-themed and renamed Demon.
In the summer of 1980, the park broke ground for a massive new wooden roller coaster that would eventually come to be known as American Eagle. Today this twin-track racing roller coaster stands at 127 feet (38 m) tall and reaches speeds of 66 mph (105 km/h). The bottom of the first drop is built 20 feet (6.1 m) below ground level, bringing the height difference of the first drop to just over 147 feet (45 m). American Eagle debuted in 1981 as the tallest and fastest racing wooden roller coaster in the world, which it remains today.
The Picnic Grove was added in 1982, allowing for more company outings and corporate events to take place at the growing theme park.
No new rides were added in 1982; however, several were removed. In 1983, The Edge, an Intamin first-generation freefall ride, was added to much fanfare. However, after an accident in 1984 that resulted in the hospitalization of three teenage riders, the ride was shut down while safety mechanisms were installed. The Edge never regained popularity, however, and was removed in 1986, eventually ending up at Geauga Lake in Aurora, Ohio. Bottoms Up and Traffique Jam were removed at the end of the 1983 season.
Marriott's final ride added to the park was White Water Rampage, an Intamin-built rapids ride. This ride took over the spot occupied by several rides, including Davy Jones' Dinghies, Le Bump (a children's bumper car ride), Traffique Jam, and the original Orleans Orbit (although it would re-open the next season in the Hometown Square area simply as The Orbit). Later renamed Roaring Rapids, it remains the park's most popular water ride.
Southern Cross was removed in 1983.
Marriott sold the park to Six Flags, then owned by Bally Manufacturing, in 1984. Thus the Bally's Six Flags Great America era began. It started darkly when a software failure caused a car on the drop ride The Edge to be stalled at the top of the lift shaft before moving forward into its drop position. The car was stuck in this position for a short period of time before it dropped back down the lift shaft, causing injuries to all three occupants. Despite many attempts to reopen The Edge with installation of anti-rollback devices by Intamin, the ride was never able to escape the stigma of its 1984 accident. The ride was removed in 1986 and sold to Rocky Point Amusement Park before reaching its final location at Geauga Lake as Mr. Hyde's Nasty Fall. The ride was dismantled and scrapped in 2005.
In 1985, Six Flags added Z Force, a one-of-a-kind Intamin space diver roller coaster, followed by Splash Water Falls in 1986 in the County Fair area.
Power Dive was added in 1987 to take over the spot where The Edge had stood. Power Dive was an Intamin Looping Starship ride; it swung back and forth before eventually rotating a complete 360 degrees a few times. Z Force was relocated to Six Flags Over Georgia as part of Six Flags' (now discontinued) Ride Rotation Program. At the end of 1991, the ride went to Six Flags Magic Mountain, where it operated as Flashback before being demolished in 2007.
Wesray era (1987–1991)Many programs and quick acquisitions attempted in the mid 1980s were a failure, and Bally looked to sell the company. In 1987, the company was purchased by Wesray Capital Corporation and a group of Six Flags managers. Several acquisitions were re-sold or closed while a focus was returned to attractions. This ushered in an era of new major attractions at the park and a transformation of focus from the park's themes to its roller coasters.
Most of the original themed staff costumes began to be retired at this point in favor of more modern unisex garments more akin to uniforms — basic short sleeve shirts with slacks or walking shorts during the warmer months. Some of the costumes survived longer than others, with the Yankee Harbor striped crew shirts and clamdigger pants being retired last. Also the restaurants became more aligned and offered basic fast food cuisine and lost the dishes that were unique to individual themed areas. While a few specialty restaurants survived, almost all were abandoned in favor of cheaper, mass-produced food items. Similarly, merchandise throughout the park became homogenized at this point as well.
1988 saw the first of the new coasters with the addition of the massive roller coaster Shock Wave (sometimes also written as Shockwave or ShockWave), an Arrow Dynamics mega-looper, opening in the Orleans Place section of the park on June 3, 1988. Shock Wave was the world's tallest roller coaster at the time it opened and featured seven inversions — the most on any coaster at that time. Shock Wave stood on the site now occupied by Superman: Ultimate Flight. White Water Rampage was renamed Roaring Rapids.
Rolling Thunder, an Intamin Bobsled roller coaster, was added for 1989 after having been relocated from Six Flags Great Adventure, where it operated as, Sarajevo Bobsled from 1984 to 1988. It was built between Demon and Whizzer. Rolling Thunder was taken down prior to construction of Southwest Territory. The ride was stored in the back parking lot (between American Eagle and Washington Street) from 1996 to 1997 before being relocated to The Great Escape in New York, where it continues to operate as Alpine Bobsled.
Iron Wolf which is now Apocalypse in Washington D.C, a stand-up coaster, opened April 28, 1990, and was Bolliger & Mabillard's first-ever roller coaster. The company has since become one of those most prolific roller coaster manufacturers, later creating three other coasters for Great America: (Batman: The Ride, Raging Bull, and Superman: Ultimate Flight). Iron Wolf was a compact steel stand-up roller coaster that took over Z-Force's spot in County Fair.
The Condor took to the skies in 1991 in Orleans Place next to Shock Wave, the IMAX screen in the Pictorium was upgraded to allow 650 people to view 3D movies, and fans said goodbye to Tidal Wave at the end of the season. Tidal Wave last operated as Greezed Lightnin' at Kentucky Kingdom in Louisville, Kentucky, before Six Flags decided in February 2010 to close the park.
Warner Brothers era (1992–1997)The major attractions did not come without their cost, and by 1991 Six Flags was close to bankruptcy. Warner Brothers, a major influence at Great America since the beginning with the featuring of Looney Tunes characters, and a minority owner in the company, purchased an additional share of the company for a controlling interest of 50 percent. The entrance of the entertainment and communications conglomerate gave the company not only a much-needed influx of new capital, but a chance for increased usage of the Warner cartoon characters as well. With the purchase came additional prominence of Time-Warner properties.
The first of these occurred in 1992 when the historic Batman: The Ride was built, a first-of-its-kind B&M inverted roller coaster to replace Tidal Wave. Batman was unlike any other roller coaster at the time; its outside-looping trains rode below the track and took riders upside-down five times. It was a very tightly squeezed ride but was so popular that lines stretched past East River Crawler (formerly The Lobster, the new name in accordance with a re-theming of the area around Batman), through the bridge to Yankee Harbor, and all the way back to the bridge near Power Dive (across from Shock Wave). On June 20, 2005, Batman was awarded landmark status by the American Coaster Enthusiasts (ACE) at their annual convention, Coaster Con XXVIII. To add to the Batman theme, the park's swing ride, Whirligig, was renamed Gotham City Swinger. However, this lasted only for the 1992 season, with the original name returning in 1993.
The Batman Stunt Show opened in 1993 in a brand-new amphitheater located past Demon; the amphitheater currently houses the Starburst Summer Concert series.
Space Shuttle America, a motion simulator ride, was built in 1994 near Sky Trek Tower. "Shuttle" re-created the inter-planetary escapade provided via "Space Shuttle America". Since its introduction, Space Shuttle America has been home to four different films: "Space Shuttle America", "Escape from Dino Island 2 - 3:D", "Stargate - SG:3000", and "Superstition" during the yearly Fright Fest Event. The original Space Shuttle America film returned for the 2006 season. As of December 17, 2009, the Space Shuttle America building and Space Shuttle themed facade have been removed.
In 1995, Viper, a wooden roller coaster with a layout based on a mirror image of the Coney Island Cyclone, was built next to Rolling Thunder, which was removed later that year. Although significantly smaller in stature than American Eagle, this twister-style coaster features many more instances of negative gravity, or "airtime", during the ride.
In September 1995, Rolling Thunder was removed to make way for the new themed area "Southwest Territory", which opened in 1996. The new western-themed area was originally proposed in 1976 but took nearly twenty years to resurface. Ironically the sky ride "Southern Cross", which was specifically designed to transport guests to this area, had long since been removed by the time this section of the park was developed. Three new rides (River Rocker, Chubasco, and TrailBlazer) were added, while Big Top was moved in from County Fair and renamed Ricochet, opening in 1996. Rolling Thunder was removed from its location next to Viper for the construction of this area and currently operates at Great Escape in New York as Alpine Bobsled. Viper's entrance was moved from Hometown Square to Southwest Territory. Also in this year, the Batman Stunt Show was replaced with a stunt show following the Southwest theme.
Giant Drop, an Intamin second-generation drop tower, and Dare Devil Dive, a skycoaster, were added in 1997. Giant Drop was placed on the southwest side of Southwest Territory, and Dare Devil Dive was added in Big Top's former location in County Fair. In August 1997, a hitch bar connecting the third and fourth cars on the blue side of the American Eagle roller coaster separated as the ride was braking, causing the rear two cars to bump into the front three cars. Several people were sent to local area hospitals. The ride re-opened in time for Fright Fest.
Premier Parks era (1998–2005)Time-Warner sold its stake in Six Flags in 1995, and in 1998 Premier Parks had its IPO and became the parent company of Six Flags. Premier Parks opted to follow the trend set by Bally's and began acquiring more properties.
1998 saw many family-friendly additions. Yukon Territory welcomed Camp Cartoon Network, with five new rides, including Spacely's Sprocket Rockets (a Vekoma junior roller coaster), Scooby Doo's Mystery Machine, Yogi's Yahoo River, Rocky Road's Rescue Service, and Bedrock Boulder Roller. Bugs Bunny Land was renamed Looney Tunes National Park and included the Looney Tooter Choo Choo Train, the Waddaview Charter, Porky's Buzzy Beez, Petunia's Lady Bugz, Looney Tunes Lodge Foam Ball Factory, Pepe Le Pew's Peak, and the Nature Trail. An accident occurred on Demon, stranding 23 passengers upside-down on the black train for nearly three hours.
Raging Bull, a B&M hyper-twister roller coaster. This 202-foot (62 m)- high, 73 mph (117 km/h), and 5,057-foot (1,541 m)-long monster immediately changed the Great America skyline forever, quickly becoming one of the most popular attractions at the park.
Great America celebrated its silver (25th) season in 2000. This was the last year for the much-loved Sky Whirl, as well as the Hay Baler ride. An accident involving a guest occurred on the Cajun Cliffhanger ride, which caused its eventual removal.
In 2001, Great America added two new roller coasters. First was an Intamin impulse coaster named Vertical Velocity, or V2. Riders are launched at speeds over 55 mph (88 km/h) up a twisted vertical tower, then fall backward and climb up another straight tower. The ride repeats, but on the second time up the back tower, riders are held facing straight down for a moment before being released. The ride was added to Yankee Harbor, and the swing ride Whirligig was moved closer to the lift hill of Batman: The Ride to make room for the coaster. Vertical Velocity, continues to be one of the park's most popular attractions. The park's second ride for 2001 was Déjà Vu, a Vekoma Giant Inverted Boomerang ride to replace Sky Whirl and Hay Baler. On Déjà Vu, the riders were pulled backwards up a vertical tower and dropped through the station and into a cobra roll inversion, followed by a loop over the station and up another vertical tower. After being pulled up a bit more, the ride then repeated the course in reverse. The ride did not debut until October 7 that year due to mechanical and design issues, causing a public relations nightmare for Six Flags, including being threatened with lawsuits regarding false advertisement of the opening date of the ride. Déjà Vu continued to be problematic maintenance-wise, with guests frequently finding it closed. Due to increasing operating costs, Six Flags announced in 2007 that the Déjà Vu coasters at this park and Six Flags Over Georgia were going to be removed for the 2008 season.
2002 was a quiet year for the park. The highlight was the announcement that American Eagle would once again run the blue side backward. (The configuration of Forwards Red and Backwards Blue would stay put until the end of the 2005 season and then put back again in the 2011 season.) The park's original Imax film "To Fly" was once again shown in the Pictorium. In June and July, rumors that the park was planning to remove Whizzer surfaced. These proved to be true, as the park put a banner on the ride's entrance sign informing guests that the final ride would be on Sunday, August 11. However, on August 3, the park announced that due to public outcry, they would keep Whizzer. It was soon decided that Shock Wave would now be the coaster to be removed for a new attraction to open in 2003. Major additions to the entertainment department included brand-new parade floats. Power Dive was removed due to maintenance problems.
Superman: Ultimate Flight took to the skies in 2003 in Shock Wave's place and was the Midwest's second flying roller coaster (the first was X-Flight at Geauga Lake). While the layout of the ride was not original, the unique flying position continues to be a hit among guests. The parking lot on which Shock Wave had stood was replaced with a more lush, landscaped look for Superman's grounds. The historic Ameri-Go-Round in County Fair was removed at the end of the season.
The area between where Power Dive and Cajun Cliffhanger had stood was transformed into Mardi Gras for 2004. The wild-mouse roller coaster Ragin' Cajun was added, along with a HUSS Top-Spin model named King Chaos, Zamperla Rockin' Tug named Jester's Wild Ride, and a Zamperla Balloon Race named Big Easy Balloons. Also, a HUSS Frisbee named Revolution was taken from Six Flags Great Adventure and opened in County Fair, replacing Ameri-Go-Round. Batman: The Ride was repainted for the 2004 season, going from black track and supports to yellow track with dark purple supports. Vertical Velocity received additional support structures on both its forward and rearward spikes. After sitting (and rusting) on a hill unused since 2002, the dismantled pieces of Shock Wave were finally scrapped at the end of the 2004 season.
In 2005, Six Flags Great America built its own Hurricane Harbor water park. The new 13-acre (53,000 m2) water park, located on the former site of a parking lot adjacent to Viper and Raging Bull, features attractions such as Hurricane Bay (the 500,000-gallon wave pool), Bahama Mama and Bubba Tubba (two family slides), and many more. The new water park was a success and boosted attendance by 24% in 2005. In 2006, a new "Tornado" water slide was opened, although to some scandal, as reports surfaced of rider injuries early in the 2006 season.
Great America celebrated its 30th anniversary (the beginning of its 31st season) on May 29, 2006.
Shapiro era (2006–2010)In December 2005, stockholders approved a plan offered by Daniel Snyder to take over management of the Six Flags chain, who appointed former ESPN employee Mark Shapiro as CEO of Six Flags. Shapiro began to change the parks to give them a more family-friendly environment. These changes were very visible in the 2006 season. The classic Triple Play ride was dismantled prior to the start of the season because Six Flags Over Texas had received a similar HUSS Troika that was damaged during the hasty demolition of AstroWorld and needed a part from the Great America ride. Triple Play did, in fact, return for 2007.
The film Space Shuttle America returned in 2006. The previous film, Stargate SG-3000, had its last showings in September 2005, when the contract with MGM expired. Superstition returned for Fright Fest 2005, followed by Space Shuttle America in spring 2006.
Also in 2006, the blue trains on American Eagle were turned forward again.
In June 2006, the Tony Hawk BoomBoom Huckjam skateboard tour came to Great America for two days. It was a very popular event and returned in June 2007.
On 14 September 2006, Six Flags announced it would replace its sign that sits along Interstate 94. The sign, which had been standing since the park opened in 1976, was replaced with a smaller one featuring an LED screen. The new sign went up within a week after the old one was taken down in December 2006 and uses the old sign's post.
Revolution sat dormant for most of the season. It reopened on October 20 after being down the whole season due to maintenance problems with rides of similar types at other parks.
In November 2006, Six Flags announced a new stunt show for 2007, "Operation SpyGirl", a new original live-action adventure show from the creators of Fox's hit television show 24. Operation SpyGirl opened in May 2007. Reception was subdued, but after tweaking it the entire season, crowds got larger and larger until it closed for the year in August. Operation SpyGirl marked several new ventures for Six Flags, including pre-show entertainment in the waiting area — setting up the storyline that the evil archvillain Max Condor had stolen the "Super Viper Rocket" from the agency for which Spygirl works — as well as a merchandise cart outside selling "SpyGirl" themed merchandise. Spygirl was not popular, however, and did not return for 2008.
In January 2007, it was announced that the American Eagle tent area would be converted into Wiggles World, a third children's area themed after the kid sensation the Wiggles. Wiggles World featured five new rides, Henry's Splash Fountain, the USS Feathersword Play Area, the Yummy Yummy Cafe, and the Get Ready to Wiggle Stage show. The area was a revolution for the back of the park, converting the musty dark tent area into an explosion of color. American Eagle's entrance was relocated to the right of the tent, utilizing part of the entrance building for the adjacent Dare Devil Dive skycoaster, to accommodate the Wiggles area. Wiggles World was considered a success almost immediately.
Also in 2007, the FlashPass system switched from the punch card format to the electronic Lo-Q format and renamed "The Flash Pass" after the DC Comics character. The system is a virtual queuing system that allows customers to wait in a virtual line for an additional fee, thereby allowing them to engage in other activities while they wait. It was offered for: Batman: The Ride, The Dark Knight Coaster, Demon, Fiddler's Fling, Giant Drop, King Chaos, Logger's Run, Raging Bull, Roaring Rapids, Rue Le Dodge, Superman: Ultimate Fight, Vertical Velocity, Viper, and Whizzer.
As part of the new focus on entertainment, several new shows debuted in 2007. "Spirit of America" is similar to the shows preceding the nighttime parades. Positioned near the reflection pond, Spirit of America is a musical welcome to the park. "Show Stoppin'" debuted in the Grand Music Hall as the first fully in-house production in years, utilizing the "Six Flags Great America Singers and Dancers" as they presented pop hits including "Hit me up", "Listen", "Candyman", and many more.
In August 2007 the 20-year-old Splashwater Falls closed early and was removed in March 2008. On 27 September 2007, Six Flags announced the addition of The Dark Knight Coaster, a Mack wild mouse roller coaster. The ride is located indoors, mostly in the dark, and themed with Batman and The Joker scenery. The Dark Knight Coaster's quene utilizes portions of the old Theater Royale. The ride was constructed in promotion of The Dark Knight, and its preshow features Aaron Eckhart reprising his role as Harvey Dent from the film.
Other 2008 improvements included the addition of a second Johnny Rockets (replacing the Bayou Grill in Mardi Gras), and a second Cold Stone Creamery across from Crazy Buffalo Saloon (renamed Crazy Buffet-lo) in Southwest Territory. Raging Bull was repainted the same colors. There now were mandatory lockers at: Superman: Ultimate Flight, The Dark Knight Coaster, Batman: The Ride, Iron Wolf, American Eagle, and Raging Bull. In 2009, these lockers were also added to Demon, Viper, and Vertical Velocity. These lockers have a $1 cost and are required to be used by guests with loose articles, as there is no longer storage for such articles on the ride platform. As of the 2011 operating season, these lockers were no longer required to store loose articles--but they are still strongly recommended to prevent loss of items and theft.
For 2009, Six Flags announced the addition of Buccaneer Battle, a MACK Rides Interactive Freeflow Boat Ride. The ride is located in County Fair on the former site of Déjà Vu. The ride consists of 14 eight-passenger boats navigating a channel 450 ft (140 m) long. During the ride, there are numerous interactive water elements. The park also added a third, smaller Johnny Rockets, replacing Demon Nachos. This location only serves fries and shakes. Sign changes were made for Raging Bull, Roaring Rapids, and Hometown Fun Machine, making them more noticeable.
Weber/Anderson Era (2010–present)Six Flags officially emerged from bankruptcy protection on May 3, 2010, and announced plans to issue new stock on the New York Stock Exchange. Amid suspected disagreements regarding the future of the company with the board, Shapiro left the company and Al Weber, Jr. was brought in as interim President and CEO. Six Flags announced that Jim Reid-Anderson would replace Weber and become Chairman, President, and CEO on August 13, 2010.
Great America saw the addition of the Glow in the Park Parade, which was already featured at other Six Flags parks. The parade ran from Memorial Day until mid-August.
The park installed the Little Dipper, a "kiddie" wooden roller coaster that had previously operated at Kiddieland Amusement Park in Melrose Park, Illinois, from 1950 until 2009. It was placed outside Bugs Bunny National Park and opened to the public on May 27, 2010.
MagiQuest was added to the County Fair Games Gallery in place of the Wii Experience.
Space Shuttle America, the park's motion simulator ride that had been closed for two years, was removed during the 2010 season. On May 26, 2010, Great America filed a petition with the Village of Gurnee seeking to exceed the village's 125 feet (38.10 m) height limit. Six Flags was considering installing the Chang roller coaster from a closed Six Flags park in Kentucky on the vacated site. However, the park confirmed it was abandoning those plans in July 2010 and announced a 3-acre (12,140.57 m2; 130,680.00 sq ft) expansion of its Hurricane Harbor water park called Riptide Bay on September 2, 2010. In late 2010, Six Flags began removing licenses from concessions and attractions including those of Papa John's and The Wiggles. As a result, Wiggles World was renamed and re-themed as KIDZOPOLIS for the 2011 season, and Papa John's was replaced by Famous Famiglia Pizzeria. MagiQuest was removed due to a lack of popularity, and Great America Raceway, which opened in 1976, was closed and in the process of being removed.
During the 2011 season (the park's 35th anniversary and 36th season), the park screened a show called Screams and Dreams: Volume 1 in the Pictorium. The 30-minute program detailed the history of Great America from its construction to its acquisition by Six Flags. Volume 2 of the series was screened for the 2012 season and included the period from the construction of Z-Force in 1985 until the construction of Raging Bull in 1999.
On August 5, 2011, Six Flags Great America informally announced on their official Facebook page that the Iron Wolf roller coaster would be closing on September 5, 2011; "After a long 21-year history at the park, we will be removing Iron Wolf. Make sure to get your last rides in – Iron Wolf’s Last Stand is September 5." The coaster is moving to Six Flags America, where it will be renamed "Apocalypse".
Six Flags announced on September 1, 2011, that they would add a revolutionary Wing Coaster that would feature 5 inversions, a 12-story drop, and speeds of up to 55 mph. "X-Flight" was the second roller coaster of its type to debut in North America and only the fourth in the entire world. The ride officially opened to the public on May 16, 2012. The ride is located in the park's County Fair section, on the former site of Splashwater Falls and parts of Great America Raceway.[Weekends in October, Six Flags Great America is for their annual Halloween event Fright Fest. The event started small in the early nineties, and has expanded significantly since then. During the event the entire park goes under the knife to be decorated into several different “Scare Zones” featuring haunted houses, frightening street characters, Halloween themed shows, as well as transformed rides.
The event features several haunts for an additional fee as well. The Mausoleum of Terror, located inside a special scare zone called Necropolis, has been with the event for many years, while the other haunts change every few years with past themes including Sleepy Hollow, a “dead” and breakfast, and a horror movie house called Studio 13. Past haunted trails have included an industrial area taken over by Demons, Area 51, and a Fallen Giant.
One of the most unique things about the event compared to other park’s Halloween events is the transformed rides. Many of the park’s rides receive special theming, notably Chubasco - the park’s teacup ride transformed into Terror Twister 2: A turn for the worse, in which the ride building is enclosed and a custom lighting design matched with a custom club style music mix is played. Also of note, Condor, Revolution, and King Chaos some of the park’s more thrilling flat rides actually run different cycles during the event and are known as The Birds, The Pit and the Pendulum, and The Dying Trapeze respectively.
Another facet of the event is the shows. Love at First Fright has been presented in the Grand Music Hall every year since the events inception and follows the story of a couple on a dare to spend the night in a cemetery who get caught up in crazy antics when several classic Halloween creatures rise from the grave. The show is extremely popular often playing to capacity audiences during the event, and it is known for changing the show up each year to include various pop culture and newsworthy references. Other shows include Dead Man’s Party, Fantome, a parade featuring all the park’s various creatures, and Susan Rosan - A popular hypnotist who has been with the event for many years.
For several years a third party called JPM productions provided street characters and haunted house actors for the event. While the company was praised for it’s costumes and makeup, in 2010 Six Flags moved the entire production in-house for greater creative control.