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Great America looking forward to another big season

Great America looking forward to another big season


Six Flags Great America had a monster season in 2018, with the opening of Mardi Gras Hangover, the world’s largest looping roller coaster, and the theme park’s new Holiday in the Park Christmas season event.

But they’re not resting on their laurels in 2019 or suffering from an excitement hangover.

That’s just not their style.

“2018 was a huge year for us, but we’re so excited for this year, too,” said Micaela McGinley, a communications specialist at Great America.

What’s got her so excited?

“We’ve got a massive coaster coming; it’s like nothing you’ve experienced before,” she said, actually sounding breathless on the phone Monday.

What’s taking her breath away is Maxx Force, a new roller coaster opening sometime this summer at Great America.

It does sound like a beast and has “the fastest launch on any coaster in North America,” she said.

Fast? How fast?

“It goes from zero to 78 miles per hour in under two seconds,” McGinley explained and, while that might not sound all that impressive to anyone who’s driven on I-94 near Chicago, she insists “you can’t get that acceleration anywhere else.” (Well, not legally.)

That speed, she said, comes through the coaster’s air launch system, which is “quicker and faster than launching through magnets. It’s also a smoother way to start your ride.”

Maxx Force — which is so special it needs two xx’s — is a work in progress “and it was just topped off,” McGinley said. “It goes 175 feet in the air and has a double twist. It’s exciting to see it coming together, and it’s starting to feel real now.”

Without getting too dramatic, McGinley said Great America visitors “will have to prepare for this one; it’s really intense.” (In case you need practice screaming your lungs out, the theme park in Gurnee, Ill., has 16 other coasters that are up and running.)

McGinley compares Maxx Force to X-Flight, her favorite roller coaster at the park. Both feature a “smooth, cool ride. I could spend the whole day riding X-Flight.”

For those worried about their favorite Great America attractions, McGinley said no other rides were harmed to make way for Maxx Force. The new coaster is near the park entrance, on the site of the former Pictorium IMAX theater and next to Raging Bull.

“It’s exciting for it to be there, right in the front of the park,” she said. “It really adds to the skyline; you can’t miss it.”

Maybe you can’t miss it, but I certainly will try. I am, admittedly, a Nervous Nelly when it comes to roller coasters and pretty much anything with “double twists” and zero-G rolls, but when I asked McGinley if Great America is trying to kill me with these crazy rides, she assured me, “We are trying to thrill you.” (Safety, she added, is always stressed at Six Flags theme parks, which is important in an industry with heavy-duty thrill rides.)

Welcome to the neighborhood, Maxx, I’m sure we’ll meet sometime this summer. I’ll be the one shaking in terror; you’ll be the one zooming into the sky.

Have a comment? Email Liz at, or call her at 262-656-6271.


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