Gary Jackson: Fire When Ready Pottery
A Chicago potter’s somewhat slanted view of clay & play
Categories: family, special events

Today I spent the day at Six Flags Great America with my niece Taylor, my sister Jen, cousin Kim and my parents! A full day of family fun. Sure, there were a few clouds & more rain than we would like… but never enough to dampen our spirits! Good thing the rain scared away a lot of people and ride lines were short. Couldn’t scare us away though… as we were there ALL day from opening to closing!

We first tried to get on The Whizzer, but it was temporarily closed due to a few showers. So we went on a fast spinny, twirly ride instead. Once we were all a bit wet, we were ready to go further on… to towards our first roller coaster for the day – “The Demon.” Including Taylor & Jen in their “hard-to-get-lost-easy-to-spot-in-a-crowd” neon green shirts!!!

I sat next to my cousin Kim who hadn’t been to an amusement park for FAR too many years! It was like riding them all for the first time with her. It’s a “shame” she didn’t like them at all… ha!!! She LOVED them!!! Aunt Kim needs to get out more.

After a good “warm-up” with The Demon, we were off to the iconic “American Eagle.” It’s the big white wooden roller coaster you can see from the expressway as you drive by Great America. Taylor had conquered this one last summer, so she was excited to do it again. But still looked a little apprehensive going up that first big hill…

And then we made it to the top, over the crest of that huge first hill, and DOWN WE GO!!!

Then back up… and down.. and up… and down… and around…

Back at the station, we could look behind us to see that Kim and my Dad had conquered “The Anerican Eagle” as well. Kim was excited… and a little cold.

Then it was time for lunch. Jen & Taylor went for a theme park classic – CORN DOGS!!!

While we were eating lunch, the rain picked up a bit. Not enough to dampen our spirits, but enough to scare away a lot of other people. Suddenly, the park was a lot emptier and the lines for the rides got shorter. A few Six Flags ponchos at the gift shop and we were good to go again!

And what’s a trip to Great America without cotton candy?!… it’s finger-licking good!

And the residual blue tongues!

Then we were back on the rides. Who cares if there was still some rain?!

Sure, you might get wet. But you’re still laughing and having a great time. And it’s just water… you’ll dry off later! Plus it was fun to watch people’s ponchos blowing & fluttering in the wind as they were spinning around on the rides.

Next up was “Ragin’ Cajun”… one of our favorites from last year. So, from the outside it looks like this little kid’s roller coaster. It’s not very tall. It’s not very big. And it looks like it should be geared towards 8 year olds. So last year we decided to suck it up and take one for the team (Taylor) and stand in line. The line was a lot longer than I thought it should be for a kid’s ride. Once you get on, you find out quickly that it is much more than a kid’s coaster. Imagine a Tilt-A-Whirl on top of a roller coaster?! Yes, the round coaster cars go up & down around the track, but about halfway in, they also start spinning around… going up & down at the same time!!! HYSTERICAL!!!

After the ride, Taylor decided it was time to win a stuffed animal. So Jen, Taylor and I did the water0-squirt-gun game. Squirt the target. First to the top wins. And Taylor got her purple-footed panda… courtesy of yours truly with a dead-on trigger finger!

Later in the afternoon, another bank of rain clouds went through the park. It scared away a few more people, including my parents who decided to go out for dinner. But were weren’t done yet. So we bid them adieu… and were ready to start another round around the theme park. Hitting our favorites again, and tackling the ones we missed the first time. Including the iconic double-tiered carrousel.

Then, as the last storm blew past, the sky cleared up. We were treated to a beautiful sunset. And more importantly, NO LINES!!! Yep, that last batch of rain seemed to have scared away most of the people!!! The rest of our rides for the evening had practically no lines. When Kim and I went on “Raging Bull” & “The Viper”, we walked right up to the trains without ANY line at all!!! So much fun for those who survived the day’s rain!

Our last ride for the night was a return visit to “Ragin’ Cajun” for more twisting, turning, spinning roller coaster fun! Even more fun in the dark when you can’t see the track or where you’re headed!

Our timing was pretty good. As the rides were closing, we made our way back to Hometown Square where we met my parents for “Ignite: The Grand Finale.” It’s the Great America stage show they’ve been hyping non-stop on the radio. Turns out it was a typical theme park stage show, but this time with a large white backdrop-wall-building. The white wall was transformed with a lot of pixel-mapping & lasers. Sure, the story line could have been better, and I would have appreciated if they were singing live instead of lip-syncing… but still, it was visually fun to watch.

The ending was made even better with a fireworks show shooting off the building!

One last shot of the carrousel as we exited the park. Exhausted after a full day of fun.
Sure, we would have preferred better weather, but the trade-off of incredibly short lines was nice. I think everyone went home exhausted with some great memories!

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