Proposal for new roller coaster at Great America is on the table
By Dan Moran firstname.lastname@example.org August 18, 2013 5:07PM
If all goes as planned, Great America will have a new thrill ride next season, occupying space that that was used for the Iron Wolf (pictured) roller coaster. | FILE PHOTO
Updated: October 18, 2013 2:10AM
A new roller coaster with a maximum height of 165 feet would be built on the dormant site of the old Iron Wolf under a proposal by Six Flags Great America that will go before Gurnee’s Planning and Zoning Board on Wednesday.
The board posted a notice last Saturday that the theme park was requesting a variance to allow the establishment and operation of a new coaster in the County Fair area. The variance is required due to a 125-foot limit on structures within the park.
Great America spokeswoman Katy Enrique said on Sunday that park officials are withholding additional details on their proposal for now, with a formal announcement scheduled for Aug. 29.
If approved and constructed, the new attraction would not be Great America’s tallest thrill ride or coaster. When Raging Bull was under development prior to opening in 1999, it required variances not only for its 202-foot lift hill, but also for separate peaks of 155 feet, 141 feet and 128 feet.
The tallest structures in the park are the 310-foot Sky Trek Tower rotating observation platform, which opened in 1977, and the 227-foot Giant Drop that debuted in 1997 in Southwest Territory.
The park launched a teaser campaign on social media earlier this month featuring a park employee stumbling across plans for an unnamed attraction, with clues that included mentions of Guinness World Records.
A request for a height variance is not a guarantee that anything will come to fruition. In June 2010, the village received a request from Great America to allow a 150-foot roller coaster on the site of the former Space Shuttle America motion-simulator ride.
Speculation centered on a ride that would be relocated from another Six Flags park, possibly the shuttered Kentucky Kingdom near Louisville. However, on the night the Village Board was to act on the variance, officials announced that it had been pulled from the agenda.
In 1997, the park filed a request for a 225-foot roller coaster that would have gone up in Yukon Territory and ranked among the tallest in the world at the time. That proposal was also pulled before being detailed.
Successful efforts to secure a height variance occurred in the autumn of 2000, when the village approved two requests — one for the 185-foot Vertical Velocity, which remains open in Yankee Harbor, and another for the 180-foot Deja Vu, which was dismantled in 2007.
Great America’s last significant addition was X-Flight, a Bolliger & Mabillard wing coaster in County Fair that opened in 2011 on the former site of Splashwater Falls and the Great America Raceway. The coaster was the first major thrill ride to be added to the Great America roster since Bolliger & Mabillard’s 106-foot Superman: Ultimate Flight in 2003.
The Planning and Zoning Board’s public hearing on the variance is scheduled to start at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday at Village Hall, 325 N. O’Plaine Road.