I am a thrill junky. Give me a parachute, I’ll jump out of that plane. Give me a raft, I’ll ride the Rapids. It’s rare that you’ll see me cowering in fear when faced with an adventure. But alas, there are now TWO times that I can say I have been so utterly scared that I nearly backed down. The first was cliff jumping on an Indian reservation in Northern Wisconsin. The second at Six Flags Great America? What the what?! There is no greater thrill than facing your fears. But, I definitely did not assume anything at Six Flags Great America could make me feel that deep in your gut, stomach churning, mind won’t stop racing, life flashes before your eyes fear.
I grew up 40 miles from Sandusky, Ohio. Home of the 16 years running (but recently dethroned) “Best Amusement Park in the World,” Cedar Point. For many summers, I’d get a season pass and make weekly visits to the park. At Cedar Point you’ll find Top Thrill Dragster – a 420 foot tall steel coaster that broke records for height, drop and speed when it opened in 2003. You’ll also find 15 other coasters including the world’s best (and my favorite), the Millennium Force. Growing up riding the best of the best at America’s Rockin’ Roller Coast, I became quite an amusement park snob. However, my roommate Sam had private access to Six Flags Great America for a day – and coasters with no wait was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.
It was a cold, gloomy day but we had an incredible time. Six Flags Great America is just a 50 mile drive from our house in downtown Chicago, so we were there in just under an hour. As the park was closed for a private event, we were on each ride in less than 15 minutes, except for the newest coaster, Goliath, which we waited for about 45 minutes. We started off at Superman where you start seated and then are tilted forward to assume flying position, because duh – you’re superman.
Throughout the day we made it on 12 attractions – 9 coasters in all. If you’ve been to amusement parks or have seen the Full House Disney Word episode, you know this is nearly impossible. We were feeling pretty proud. One of our favorites was X Flight which is impressively smooth with no jerking or head thrashing. You soar through the twisted course with a perfect balance of dips, twists and (oh my god – can we fit through there?) tunnels. Like this one:
But our favorite of all, the one that caused the aforementioned gut-wrenching fear, was the rip-cord. I’d seen many take the Fall before at Cedar Point, but I was always a broke kid who’d rather spend my limited funds on an elephant ear. Not today. Today I was gonna fly. We stepped up and paid the $20 premium and got strapped into our harness. Can you tell how scared/ excited we were?
This picture cracks me up most of all because of the three girls hanging in the harness. The rip cord was called the Dare Devil Dive. A slim cable draws you up 25 stories high (125 feet) and then you release the rip cord and fall to your death.
Just kidding. I didn’t die. But, it sure felt like a plausible outcome as we were jerked and dragged up into the sky. Sam was a bigger scaredy cat than me – so she gave me the job of pulling the rip cord. That is the part that freaked me out! For some reason if someone else pulls the trigger – it’s no problem. But I am incredibly frightened by being the responsible party for pushing the limit.
Once we got to the top, they told me I was free to pull the rip cord. I counted 1, 2, deep breath, sigh, well this wouldn’t be the worse way to end it, unless it just left me horribly disfigured, and my family, sigh, ok, let’s go, 3, AHHHHHH!
Once I pulled the cord, it was nothing but good times. Both Sam and I laughed hysterically as we soared through the sky, arms spread wide. The tagline for the rip cord is: “The Delirious Leap Into Extreme Exhilaration.” Yes it was. Yes it was.
After removing ourselves from the harness, we decided that since we were on Cloud 9 and worked so hard we deserved a reward (whatever you’ve gotta tell yourself). We remembered that the last time we were at Six Flags there was an outrageous line for Funnel Cakes. We ran directly to the shop.
Okay that work of confectionery genius is a red velvet funnel cake hot fudge ice cream sundae with a cherry on top. I’ve never tasted something so magical in my entire life. I’m sure it was about 5,000 calories – so I’m glad Sam was willing to split it with me. Worth every single bite.
We made our way to a few more rides and then before heading out of the park we stopped at the famous Columbia Carousel. I had just recently read about this Carousel while on my trip to Sarasota, Florida. At the Columbia restaurant they talk about two original carousels – the world’s tallest for the past 40 years. We climbed to the second deck and snagged a spot on two of the biggest, most ferocious looking ponies on the merry-go-round.