Home to 11 roller coasters ranging from the family friendly Whizzer to the jaw dropping heights of Raging Bull, Six Flags Great America in Gurnee, IL has added a new roller coaster to their park and it is like no other in the world, Goliath. When Goliath opens to the public on June 19th it will break three current world records for wooden roller coasters: Goliath will be the fastest, and have both the tallest, and steepest drop in the world. Goliath also will also be the world’s second looping wooden roller coaster.
Previously it was difficult to create inversions on wooden roller coasters due to how the track was constructed and how the wood was bent to create turns and loops. But Rocky Mountain Construction company took 4 long years to create a technology that made the inversions safe for the riders, required less maintenance and also made the ride quieter and smoother than ever before. A traditional wooden roller coaster’s track consists of layers of wood stacked and glued together and then a steel track would go on top. The train would run with steel wheels. The new wooden roller coasters have created a track with the layers of wood but then they made the steel track wider and filled it with grout to make for a smoother ride. The steel wheels were also replaced by polyurethane wheels to make for a quieter ride.
I had the privilege to be one of the first hundred riders to take a spin in one of Goliath’s chariots before media day and before the ride opens to the public. Being an avid rider, but not a roller coaster enthusiast I went into this with an open mind. I have been on some crazy record breaking rides such as the 420ft Top Thrill Dragster at Cedar Point and one of the oldest wooden roller coasters, Jack Rabbit built in 1920 at Kennywood, but this one made my jaw drop.
Going up the 165 foot lift at a 45 degree incline was just the start to this beast of a ride. Back down 180 feet at an 85 degree angle and into an underground tunnel I was already wondering what else might surprise me on this ride. Hills that make you float out of your seat and the speeds of 72 mph were things I had experienced before and enjoyed but I was not prepared for this shocker of an inversion. When I went through the 180 degree zero g roll twist I was amazed by how smooth the transition was between the regular track and the inversion. Speeding through the spiral inverted zero-g stall, which is a roller coaster first, was something like I never would have imagined. It was like when you were a child and would sit upside down on the couch, only you are strapped into a roller coaster. You’ll be astonished by how gravity keeps you in your seat but also makes you feel weightless. I’m dubbing this inversion the change and cell phone taker. I can just see a pile of money and phones falling out of the general public’s pockets when this opens. Pulling into the station I was covering my mouth looking to my friend who was sitting behind me saying, “What was that? Wow!”
I can definitely see this being a favorite at Great America and a great wooden roller coaster for those people who don’t care for the rustic jiggles and shakes from older wooden roller coasters. The new technology has made this ride smooth, quiet, fast and re-rideable. The seats on this ride are also nice for tall riders who used to knock their knees into the train riding the old wooden roller coasters. Instead of a box that you sit in, the front of the seat has no front wall. You’ll wear a seat belt and a pull down lap bar with ankle restraint, so no more bruised knees and ankles. Goliath will have a soft opening on June 18th for media day and will be open to the public on June 19th. I look forward to riding this again and am eager to hear what everyone else has to say about the ride.