Built in 1976 at the opening of Six Flags Great America (Marriott’s Great America at the time), the Whizzer is a Schwarzkopf “Speed Racer” roller coaster. Originally called Willard’s Whizzer, two of these coasters were built: one at each Great America park. The other park was renamed to Paramount’s Great America who removed and scrapped the Whizzer possibly to make room for new coasters. One of the most memorable and rare features of this smaller yet classic coaster is the electric spiral lift with self-powered cars during the lift hill. The seats and feel of the ride are very family oriented. Even sitting in the coaster allows for smaller children to sit in the laps of parents with a seatbelt drawn across. The lift hill, being a spiral powered lift though still retaining the classic click click click, makes a non-threatening ascension followed by a good ride coupled with fantastic foliage. The stats for the current/last standing Whizzer at Six Flags Great America is as follows:

Length: 3100 feet
Height: 70 feet
Drop: 64 feet
Max Speed: 42 mph
Duration: 2 minutes
Designer: Intamin
Location: Gurnee, IL – Six Flags Great America
(Majority referenced from roller coaster database http://www.rcdb.com)

In the summer of 2002 Six Flags discussed removing the Whizzer in favor of a newer coaster to be announced complaining of maintenance issues with the Whizzer. When the rumor turned to a factual press release the roller coaster fan base lit up with angered and saddened riders. Many riders who discussed their love of coasters in the rec.roller-coaster newsgroup voiced their opinions of wanting to keep the coaster. Many phoned and wrote Six Flags begging and pleading through upset conversation and even structured debate. Even a massive petition was started. Riders cited the coaster as their first coaster, a piece of history, and a fun experience with no equal. August 11th was even the official “last day” to ride the Whizzer. The coaster was adorned with a giant banner announcing the end and riders gave it one last go. The word through the newsgroups, online chat, and casual conversation was that nothing really could change the mind of a large corporation. They were wrong. In late summer of 2002 the coaster was finally saved. Six Flags changed their mind. Chicago papers, The Daily Herald and the Chicago Sun-Times, even cited the reason being attributed to the voice of roller coaster enthusiasts. They instead have since removed Shockwave to make space for a new roller coaster in the 2003 season and the Whizzer is still holding its ground.

References include roller coaster database, rec.roller-coasters, Theme Park Insider, Coaster Buzz, and Thrillnetwork.

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