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Article updated: 8/18/2013 7:33 AM

Great America to pitch new wooden coaster to Gurnee

By Bob Susnjara

Six Flags Great America in Gurnee plans to seek village permission to construct what may be the fastest-ever wooden roller coaster, officials said.

If built, the ride would be in the theme park's County Fair area where the Iron Wolf roller coaster once stood. Iron Wolf operated from 1990 to 2011.

Gurnee Mayor Kristina Kovarik said the proposed roller coaster would be a big deal to the village because new rides typically boost attendance. Gurnee levies a 3 percent amusement tax on Great America tickets, which are projected to generate $2 million in revenue for the current budget and accounts for most of the category's income.

"We are excited," Kovarik said Saturday. "I was thrilled to learn they are bringing in a roller coaster."

Gurnee's advisory planning and zoning board Wednesday night is scheduled to entertain a request from Great America for special permission to build the coaster with a maximum height of 165 feet. The advisory panel then would issue a recommendation to the Gurnee village board, which has the final word on issues.

Kovarik said some information Great America has provided to the village regarding the new coaster is considered "confidential" because park representatives intend to make a formal public announcement later this month. She said not all aspects of the ride are expected to be divulged at Wednesday's planning and zoning board meeting.

However, Kovarik said the proposal submitted to the village is for "the fastest wooden roller coaster."

"It doesn't say U.S. or the world," she added.

Great America spokeswoman Katy Enrique would only say full details about the new attraction won't be released until Aug. 29.

No new rides were unveiled at the park this year. Great America's primary splash for the season has been running Batman: The Ride backward, which is said to make it seem like a different coaster.

Great America's newest roller coaster, X Flight, opened in 2012. It was the fourth winged coaster in the world and the second in the United States.

American Eagle is the park's wooden coaster that has been running for 32 years and is visible from the Tri-State Tollway and other approaches to Gurnee. The 4,650-foot-long ride, which features a 15-story drop on the first hill, has separate tracks built side by side and tops out at 66 mph.

X Flight, the American Eagle and a scenic railway for young children are among the attractions in the County Fair area where the new coaster would be constructed.

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