Are you looking for a fun theme park in the Chicago Area? Our family loves Six Flags Great America. The park has a great mix of rides for both younger and older children so it’s perfect for families. The holiday events for Six Flags Fright Fest (Halloween) and Holidays in the Park (Christmas) are can’t miss experiences. In summer time, your family will also enjoy the epic Hurricane Harbor water park. Find out everything you need to know before you go in my Ultimate Guide to Six Flags Great America. It’s filled with tips on Six Flag tickets, location, season pass, where to eat, what to bring and more.
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Six Flags Great America – Ultimate Family Guide
Six Flags Chicago Location
The Six Flags location, or as the locals call it, Great America, is not located in the City of Chicago. Instead, it is located in the Chicago suburb of Gurnee, Illinois. The park is just an hour north of the city and only 15 minutes south of the Wisconsin and Illinois border, making it an easy trip from Milwaukee too. It is conveniently located right off of I-94 with easy access for drivers. Just take the Grand Avenue Exit East.
Address: 1 Great America Parkway, Gurnee IL
Six Flags Great America Tickets
I would suggest you buy tickets ahead of time to get the best price. You can often find discounts on the Six Flags website. If you are a local, there are usually coupons on the back of Coke cans which you can bring to the park to get your discount on tickets when you arrive. You also can get discounted tickets at Jewel Osco.
Six Flags Season Pass
If you plan to go more than two times in one year, I would suggest you look into getting a season pass. Our family has purchased season passes for the last couple years and we have always gotten our money’s worth. The great part about having the pass is you can come visit for just a couple hours and not feel you have to stay the whole day to make up for the high ticket prices.
There are several benefits to purchasing a season pass. Each type of pass has different levels so you will need to see which best fits your family’s needs. All passes get you into the Six Flags amusement park and water park for free. Most of the tickets also include parking which is a big help. There are several days out of the year when season pass holders can bring a friend in for free. This is a great way to let your kids bring a friend with them to the park. The pass also includes access to all the holiday events. Find out if a season pass is right for you here.
Tip – We find the cheapest time to purchase a season pass is usually in the fall for the next year.
Six Flags Parking
There is a fee to park in the Six Flags parking lot in addition to your ticket price. They do have a huge lot but it gets pretty full in the summer and weekends. You can pay more and get VIP parking which will get you much closer to the entrance.
Tip: – There are different numbers and characters for each area of the parking lot. Take a picture of the one closest to your car so you remember where you parked.
Eating in the Park
They have a strict policy of not bringing in any outside food. When you enter the park, they will search your bag and take any food they see. So, your stuck buying food in the park. I will be honest, the food is pretty expensive, especially if you need more than one meal. Also, the service is slow and it can take awhile to wait in line for food. Here are a few ways to save money and time on food:
- I feed the kids a big meal in the car on the way to the park to fill them up before we go in.
- Fill the kids up on Popcorn – You can purchase a popcorn box and after that it only cost $1.00 to refill. This container can be used throughout the season you purchased it. I just bring it back with us every time we visit the park. Bonus: eating the popcorn keep the kids occupied while standing in line for rides.
- If you get a season pass, you can purchase a meal plan. We have added just one meal plan onto our family’s season pass and we get a snack, lunch and dinner which we share as family snack. Tip: The chicken finger basket can feed me and two little kids.
- Buy a refillable drink cup – Purchase a refillable drink cup for a one time fee and you can bring it back to the park every time you come in that season. If you only plan to go one time, they have a cheaper cup that is only good to refill for one day. You can refill the cup at stations around the park or any food stand.
- Bring a Picnic – Get your hand stamped and head out to your car for a picnic at lunch time. There are a few picnic benches in the parking lot to use. Or, most people just throw a few chairs in their trunk and eat right outside their car.
- Eat Outside the Park – Often, we will just feed the kids some popcorn or snacks and then head to a restaurant outside the park on our way home. You will find tons of fast food restaurants on Grand Avenue.
- Bring a refillable water bottle and you can use their water filling stations for a free drink.
Related Article – 10 Awesome Family Getaways From Chicago
Favorite Roller Coaster & Attractions
Six Flags Great America has over 75 rides and attractions, featuring everything from kiddie roller coaster to big heart-pumping roller coasters. You’ll also find tons of games, a carousel ride, a scenic railroad ride, and much more. There is something for every age group in your family.
Big Roller Coasters
The park has 14 big roller coasters to ride. The most popular ride is the Goliath which opened in 2014 as the world’s tallest, steepest, and fastest wooden roller coaster. Some more thrilling roller coasters are Batman the ride with non stop loops and twists, the high speed Demon, and Raging Bull the tallest, longest, and fastest ride at the park. If you want an old classic, make sure to ride the American Eagle. Be prepared to wait in long lines to enjoy these thrilling rides on busy days. Tip: make sure to take off your hat so it doesn’t fly away.
Medium Size Roller Coasters
There are two roller coasters that are perfect for kids who are not quite tall enough yet for the big roller Coasters. Try the Little Dipper, a family friendly wooden roller coaster, and the Whizzer.
Little Kid Rides
There are two great areas to find rides for younger kids. Head to Kidzoplis in the County Fair area for a teacup ride, airplane ride, and krazy cars. There is also a spray pad and huge pirate ship to run around. When done there, head to Camp Cartoon in Yukon Territory for a small roller coaster and more fun kid rides.
There are two attractions that are not roller coasters or rides that we also love. The first is driving the Rue Le Dodge bumper cars, which is always fun when you’re with a group of people. The other is the Justice League Battle of Metropolis. It’s a 4D interactive experience that makes you feel like you are in the city of Metropolis fighting the bad guys. Everyone has a laser gun to shoot and at the end, you can see who has the highest score. Tip: Beware if you get motion sickness, you will feel it on this attraction.
There are several fun water rides in the theme park that are perfect for warm summer days. Younger kids will love Buccaneer Battle where you pretend to be a pirate and shoot water cannons at passersby, but be aware that they can shoot at you, too. For the older kids, hop on Loggers Run and Roaring Rapids, both will have you soaking wet at the end.
Tip: Bring a poncho to try and stay a little dry. Here is a family pack of ponchos we like to use at amusement parks and for hiking. They easily fit into your purse.
Related Article – 7 Can’t Miss Things to Do in Chicago with Kids
Tips for Your Visit to Six Flag Great America
Here are 10 simple tips to make your visit to Six Flags easier.
- Wear comfy shoes. You will be walking a lot.
- Get to the park early before the crowds get too big
- When you get into the park, head to your left for smaller crowds. Most people automatically go to their right when they enter. Or head to a ride you know will have a longer line later in the day.
- Bring a lightweight poncho instead of a heavy rain coat. They are perfect for rain days or when you go on the water rides.
- Bring a stroller if you have younger kids. It’s a lot of walking and the kids get tired. Also, it’s a great way to carry all your stuff. You’ll find places to park your stroller outside each ride.
- Wear a fanny pack. When you get to the ride, you will have to put your purse or bag in a big bin before getting on a ride. I wear a fanny pack so I can keep my wallet and phone with me.
- Bring a cooling towel to use on hot days when you’re waiting in a long line.
- Don’t forget to wear a hat and sunscreen. There is not a lot of shade.
- Wear layers when you come in the colder months.
- Download the Great America App to see how long the lines are for different rides, find out show times, and view the interactive map. It will also give you directions from your location to where you want to go.
Six Flags – Hurricane Harbor
Did you know Six Flags has it’s own water park called Hurricane Harbor? You’ll find a huge wave pool, tons of water slides, kids area, lazy river, and big play pool. You can easily spend a whole day here swimming and having fun. Another option is to do half the day at the water park and the other half at the amusement park. There is an entrance to Six Flags amusement park inside of the water park so it makes it easy to go back and forth.
Tips – Get to the water park early if you want seats up close to the pools. There are lockers to store your belongings and changing rooms near the bathroom. Life vests are also available in different sizes by the pools. If you get hungry, there are several food stands and your meal plan for Six Flags also works in the water park. They have free water bottle refilling stations in the water park too.
When we are at the water park, we wear a waterproof cell phone holder around our neck or wrist. It also holds our Six Flags cards and money. That way when we leave our stuff on the chairs, we don’t have to worry about anything important being stolen. Find our favorite cell phone holder below and a few more of our favorite water park items.
Celebrating Holidays at Six Flags Great America
If you love Halloween time, head over to Six Flags for Fright Fest. You will be amazed at all the Halloween decorations around the park. We would go just to see all the decorations.
During the day time, the event is family friendly and not too scary. However, after 6 pm, it is not recommended for children under 12. At that time, you will find roaming staff in elaborate scary costumes who’s job it is to jump out and scare you. They will sometimes even follow you around. There is a night time parade which is pretty cool to see but also scary. I would say attending this event at night depends on your children’s age and how scared they get. My youngest son loves it even though he’s under 12 while my older one not so much. Rides are open the whole time plus there’s a cool light show in Carousel Plaza.
Holiday in the Park
Six Flags Great America started a fun new Winter Holiday event in 2018. The park is decorated with Christmas trees, beautiful lights, and decorations. Watch a light show while you’re there and listen to the carolers.
There are not many rides open but if you get a season pass, I highly recommend strolling around the park to visit this winter wonderland. Throughout the park, you will also find s’mores stations and hot chocolate to warm up. We found this to be a really fun way to celebrate the holidays and will now make it an annual holiday tradition.
Related Article – 10 Best Christmas Light Displays in Chicagoland
Are You Ready to Go to Six Flags Great America?
Are you ready now for your family adventure at Six Flags Great America? Hopefully my tips for visiting the park will help everyone have a great day. If you have any questions or great tips of your own, please leave them in the comments. I love to hear from my readers.
Want more fun ideas of things to do in Chicago with Kids? Check out my Chicago Family Attractions Guide and be ready for more fun family adventures.
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