Six Flags Great America unveils new roller coaster Goliath

Allison Hechtman and Amanda Bozorgi


The monstrous new Goliath roller coaster breaks three world records– tallest, steepest, fastest– but is it on its way to becoming a Six Flags Great America classic?
Goliath opened last June to both cheers and jeers. It features inverted loops, overbank turns, 180-degree twists, and giant drops. However, Goliath is not your typical coaster due to its material: wood.

According to Six Flags Great America communications manager, Katy Enrique, this has been made possible thanks to a new twist on an old material.
“Parks thought initially, why would we build a wooden roller coaster? That was everyone’s first coaster,” said Enrique. “That’s on old school ride. [At Six Flags Great America], we can build a new wooden roller coaster that’s breaking all these records, and it’s smoother . . . it’s quieter . . . it’s innovative.”

Goliath Stats:

  • Reaches speeds of 72 miles per hour
  • At its steepest, track is slanted at 85 degrees
  • Measures 180 feet at tallest

Publicity has mainly been through social media and other news sources, including the Chicago Tribune, CBS, and ABC.
“[It] is a little unusual for a regional theme park to get on the Tonight Show and The Weather Channel,” explains Enrique, but it has been easy to pique interest in the new attraction. “What makes Goliath so incredibly popular is that it’s a wooden roller coaster, and people know what a wooden roller coaster is . . . it’s the tallest, steepest, and fastest wooden roller coaster and they can immediately picture what that means when they hear about [Goliath], and that draws them to come here and try it.”

The publicity has been working well– a Six Flags Great America customer survey indicates that 91% of 2014’s guests have heard about Goliath before coming to the park, and 46% of guests say that Goliath was a major reason for their ticket purchase.
With the addition of Goliath, Great America now boasts having the national record of most wooden track in a theme park, with a grand total of 16,458 feet between Goliath, American Eagle, and Viper. Perhaps the most interesting part of Goliath is the twists and turns within its structure, allowing for the head-chopping views, where it looks like the structure is not tall enough for the coaster and the rider.

Goliath has helped with the parks daily attendance, which is closer to 50,000 on a weekend and closer to 10,000 on a weekday. Sometime in September, Raging Bull alone hit one million riders. Iron Wolf, the ride that used to stand in Goliath’s space, wasn’t hitting anywhere near those numbers. After twenty years at Great America, guests were simply ready for Iron Wolf to be retired.
Unfortunately Six Flags never had the option of building Goliath and keeping every other coaster. At this point in time, Six Flags can not expand onto any of the nearby land, and if they choose to build a new roller coaster they must do so by creating space that was previously occupied by another ride. Iron Wolf was the ride that had to be sacrificed to make space.
“We are landlocked, there is nowhere else for us to go, so if we’re going to build a new roller coaster, you’ll have to see something else come out,” said Enrique.

Thankfully, the old coaster does not go to waste. Iron Wolf was dismantled, repainted, and re-themed. It is now Apocalypse sitting at Six Flags America in Maryland. Six Flags will often recycle rides in this manner.
Enrique commented, “What Six Flags actually does is they take a ride that was very unique to us at one point, and then they transfer it to another park where it can be a unique addition for them.”

Six Flags Great America will close for the season at the end of October, so get out there and conquer Goliath as soon as you can!