Newest Great America coaster The Joker takes first riders for a spin
The newest ride at Six Flags Great America adds a another way for guests to feel the happy combination of ripping speed and sheer terror that only roller coasters provide.
The Joker opens to the general public on Saturday, bringing a dimension not found on the Gurnee theme park's other 14 coasters: spinning. Spinning, spinning and more spinning, if you are doing it right.
The roller coaster's cars suspend riders on either side of its track and are designed to allow the seats to spin, sending passengers head-over-heels at least six times.
How many additional spins they endure is up to the rider. Using a system of magnets, each seat is calibrated to spin more or less frequently, depending on the passenger's preference.
Park President Hank Salemi said riders can get in more spins if they choose to rock their car back and forth.
"If you hit the ride on the right spot and throw your feet up over your head you can cause yourself to spin multiple times," Salemi said. "It's intense to watch it, but once you get on it it's re-ridable. I don't think it is so intense that you feel sick."
The ride starts with thrillseekers being lifted up a 12-story, 90-degree hill before being dropped down through several huge turns, including two beyond 90-degree drops that give the sensation of free falling.
The Joker is located next to Batman: The Ride in the Yankee Harbor section of the park. The ride opens to the general public on Saturday. There is a special pre-opening Friday for season pass holders.
Guests waiting in the sure-to-be-long lines this summer will be taunted by an animated version of Batman's nemesis. Providing the voice for the clown prince of crime is Mark Hamill, who does the Joker's voice in several animated "Batman" films and is best known for his role as Luke Skywalker.
Accompanying the new roller coaster is a new gift shop called VILLIANS, which will be next to the HEROES shop in the Orleans Place section of the park.