Thursday, June 26, 2014

Scott And Carol Present - Goliath at Six Flags Great America

We arrived in the dark, to better bring you pictures of the sun rising over Goliath, symbolizing the dawn of a new coaster at Six Flags Great America. Unfortunately, it was so cloudy you couldn't even see the sun and the threatening weather ruled the day. It didn't really matter, everyone was excited to finally ride the latest Rocky Mountain Coaster wooden hybrid coaster that they refused to let anything dampen their spirits.

Hank Salemi, park president, welcomed people to the grand opening after daylight, and just before the sky opened the faucets. The park has something to crow about since Goliath breaks three existing world records for wood coasters.

 The Gladiators arrived to provide a nice visual for the television crews.

But here are the real Gladiators of Goliath, the Rocky Mountain Construction Goliath installation crew. These are the guys who braved one of the worst winters in Gurnee's history and just like the mailman, they delivered!

Here is an overall aerial view of Goliath from Sky Trek Tower. This was the original design of the lift hill, not a change. Artistic license was used in the creation of the simulation so it did not show the correct structure.

We took our first ride with Alan Schilke, lead designer of Goliath and many other coasters. He talks about the challenges of perfecting the layout for Six Flags Great America's new roller coaster, and one of the downsides of being a coaster designer.

A new sign guides riders to the redesigned station, leftover from Iron Wolf. Oncoming riders have a great view of the train climbing the lift, and they will see how fast it goes through the course. Goliath has polyurethane coated wheels which give it a different sound than a traditional wood coaster, but they sure make the ride smooth.

The lift hill of Goliath reaches 165 feet skyward, and it goes below grade to complete the 180 foot drop. We showed how deep the tunnel was here, on a construction tour last winter.

The 85 degree first drop with a nice blue sky the Saturday prior to Media Day. We took some pictures during the commercial/B-Roll shoot. Riding in the back seat is the most intense spot on the six car train. With only lower body restraints, every rider on the train has a great view of the many unique elements of Goliath.

You can see the brightly painted "Topper Track" throughout the structure as it twists and turns along the 3,100 feet of track. The train is exiting the tunnel as it heads back towards the station.

The over banked turn after the first drop gives riders a preview of things to come. The first pass through the tunnel is just before the track rises up towards this turn.

The Spacely Sprockets Rocket family roller coaster in the foreground is a good training tool for those not tall enough to tame the airtime of Goliath. Conveniently located just around the corner, it makes it easier for families to regroup after their rides.

You can see the cameraman in position to shoot the zero-g stall video as the train roars by going approximately 50 mph. The top speed of Goliath is 72 mph, at the bottom of the first drop. The compact layout is evident in this shot because you can see three separate pathways for the train.

After traversing the over banked turn, on the decline the riders experience another radical change in orientation. The elements seem to flow into each other, without any pauses, changing east, west, north, south, up, and down, almost as quickly as you read through the different options. 

Here is the top of the dive loop... 

and here is the down side, but thrill seekers won't find anything down about this element! 

After the dive loop the trains heads up to the zero-g stall, a great feature of Goliath.

Fred and Suanne, owners of Rocky Mountain Construction, recently announced they are doubling the size of their track manufacturing plant, to better serve the industry. They also had high praise for the crew who built Goliath.

With live shot cameras on the front, and on ride videos set for the middle, there was lots of media interest in Goliath. With the longest drop and fastest speed of any type of wooden coaster, national attention was given to the opening of this new rollercoaster.

If you just can't wait, here is the POV, courtesy of Six Flags Great America. Our thanks to Katy, and the rest of the Six Flags Great America crew, for their assistance on both 6/14/2014 and Media Day. Also Alan, Fred, and Suanne, for talking with us and graciously answering our questions, no matter how strange they seemed.