When it opens next year, the new wooden roller coaster planned for Six Flags Great America in Gurnee immediately will live up to its name as a giant in the amusement industry.
Goliath will be a "world record breaking behemoth of a ride," park President Hank Salemi told a crowd of about 100 coaster enthusiasts who joined dozens of employees and executives Thursday at the groundbreaking.
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Bigger, steeper and faster is no exaggeration: At 180 feet it will be the tallest; at 85 degrees, it will have the steepest drop; and, at 72 mph, it will provide the fastest ride of any wooden roller coaster in the world.
It also will be the biggest roller coaster added to the park in its 37-year history and only one of three wooden coasters in the U.S. with a 180-degree roll.
Goliath will be the third wooden roller coaster at Six Flags and it will be built in the County Fair section of the park where the Iron Wolf once stood.
"Six Flags is soon to be the wooden roller coaster capital of the world," Salemi said.
Coaster enthusiast Bradley Bard of Gurnee said he is a fan of wooden and steel coasters.
"Wood -- it just has that different feeling to it," Bard said. "It's just real exciting that they can offer those kind of different elements on a wood coaster with the sensation that you're really riding a steel coaster."
Riders will experience maneuvers that include three over-banked turns, a 180-degree zero G roll, an inverted drop and an inverted zero G stall making Goliath the "most extreme coaster of its kind on the planet," according to the Great America.