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Article updated: 8/29/2013 5:26 AM

Goliath wooden coaster to open next year at Six Flags

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A Goliath of a ride is coming to Six Flags Great America in Gurnee.

Park officials are set to announce early today that construction of the new "Goliath" roller coaster will begin in the fall and open next spring.

When completed, they said, it will be the fastest, tallest and steepest wooden roller coaster in the world. Riders will even flip upside down at two points, making it one of only three wooden coasters in the U.S. to have a 180-degree roll.

"Goliath will be the biggest roller coaster that we have ever added to Great America in the park's 37-year history," park spokeswoman Katy Enrique said.

Viper and American Eagle are the only other wooden roller coasters at the Gurnee amusement park.

Goliath takes riders up a 165-foot lift hill, then plunges them down a record-setting 85-degree drop for 180 feet before sending them 15-feet underground, park officials said.

On that drop, the ride will reach speeds of 72 mph, before hitting maneuvers that include three over-banked turns, a 180-degree zero G roll, an inverted drop and an inverted zero G stall.

"Six Flags Great America is known for introducing record-breaking and first-of-its-kind roller coasters," said park president Hank Salemi. "Goliath will be unmatched."

Salemi and others from the park will hold a ground breaking on the new coaster at 10 a.m. today.

Scott Heck, a member of the American Coaster Enthusiasts, said coaster aficionados worldwide will line up to take a turn when the ride opens next year.

"I love wood coasters over steel because of their gritty feel," the Wisconsin resident said. "And, this one sounds like it will be the best of them. It's going to be amazing."

He said he expects park attendance will get a major boost from the ride when it opens.

"Every coaster person will want to ride this," Heck said. "It's good to see Six Flags go in this direction."

This is the sixth time Six Flags has used the name Goliath on a roller coaster, but the first time the name was attached to a wooden coaster. It is often used by Six Flags to reflect the large nature of each coaster.

Goliath coasters are featured at Six Flags Magic Mountain, Six Flags New England, Six Flags Over Georgia, Six Flags Fiesta Texas, and Six Flags La Ronde in Montreal.

A Goliath coaster is located in the Netherlands, at a location not owned by Six Flags.

The new ride will be in Great America's County Fair area on the spot once occupied by the Iron Wolf coaster.

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