New Great America coaster Mardi Gras Hangover gets first guests loopy
A plaque near the newest ride at Six Flags Great America declares the park has been celebrating Mardi Gras every day since the section of the park named after the holiday opened in 2004. Only now has the park wanted guests to think of the morning after a good Fat Tuesday celebration with its newest stomach-churning ride, the Mardi Gras Hangover.
The Hangover is a giant loop coaster that takes riders forward and backward before suspending them completely upside down 100 feet above the ground. That height has put the ride in the record books as the tallest loop coaster in the world, according to park President Hank Salemi.
"There's none near this big," he said. "This is the tallest one yet."
The ride is being dubbed the park's 16th coaster. Unlike traditional roller coasters that use motors to take riders up to a very high place and then let gravity do the rest, Salemi said the Hangover is powered by motors the whole time.
Salemi said they decided to build the coaster after listening to feedback from guests who wanted new thrills at the park.
Alissa Behn, a Gurnee resident and longtime Great America patron, was among the first Tuesday to experience the Hangover and gave it high marks.
"It is an interesting view when you get up there and see the world upside down," Behn said. "It's a really good ride."
Bob Rohrs, an Antioch 13-year-old, said when he was suspended upside down he could feel his stomach drop.
"When you get going again it is such a relief," Rohrs said.
The park pulled out the stops to introduce the ride to the media Tuesday morning. Men on stilts and a cadre of mascots including Bugs Bunny, Foghorn Leghorn and Daffy Duck welcomed the Mardi Gras beads necklace-wearing crowd. The ceremony started with an energetic dance crew and finished with a storm of confetti.
The ride will be available to select park members Wednesday and Thursday. It will open to all season pass holders Friday and to all guests Saturday.
There will be a special Mardi Gras Festival July 28 to Aug. 12 that will feature big parades and special food offerings.
Salemi said it will be a season of festivals this year at the park, including the Christmas-themed Holiday in the Park celebration running every weekend between Thanksgiving and New Year's Eve for the first time.