Six Flags Chicago: 11 ways to have more fun and spend less

by | Aug 28, 2015

Six Flags Great America in Gurnee, IL is one of Chicago’s most fun places for kids.

It draws crowds from all over northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin. A day of unbridled spending can cost you a hefty sum. But a day at Six Flags Chicago can be an amazing value if you look for ways to increase your fun and decrease your spending.

Short line for Goliath roller coaster in bad weather at Six Flags Chicago.

Tip #1: Go when the weather is forecast to be bad.

  • To spend more time riding and less time waiting in line, plan your trip on a day that will be unseasonably cold or rainy … or even better; cold and rainy. You may find you’re able to walk on some of the park’s most popular rides without waiting in line.
  • This phenomenon is even more pronounced early and late in the season when “bad” weather is even less pleasant.
  • Park operators shut down rides when lightning strikes within 7 miles of the park or any time the weather may pose a safety concern. Adjust your expectations if you pick a day when a strong probability of thunderstorms or extreme weather is forecast.

Express entrance for Discover cardholders at Six Flags Chicago.

Tip #2: Special Entrance for Discover Card Cardholders

  • If lines at the entrance are long, and you have a Discover Card in your pocket, check special entrance for Discover Card cardholders to the left of main entrance — between the ticket sales windows and the main entrance.
  • The Discover Cardmember Entrance doesn’t require that you pay for admission or anything else with a Discover card. You only need to present the card at the special cardmember entrance.
  • Warning: Sometimes it actually takes longer to get through the Discover Card cardholders line than through the general admission line.

Tip #3: Outside food is not allowed, except …

  • Six Flags Chicago has a policy that no outside food be brought inside the park.
  • All bags are searched at the entrance for weapons, drugs, alcohol, and outside food.
  • There seems to be some tolerance for small items such as a bottle of water, cereal bars, or the occasional banana.
  • On the other hand, people who attempt to bring larger quantities of foods such as whole packages of cookies, crackers, etc., will be turned away at the door.

Tip #4: Outside food is allowed in the parking lot

  • Tailgating is allowed.
  • Outside alcohol is not allowed anywhere on the grounds—including the parking lot.
  • Tailgating is a good way to save money or stick to a healthy diet.
  • You’ll need to get your hand stamped at the exit for re-entrance.

JBs Barbecue and Sports Bar at Six Flags Chicago

JB's Barbecue and Sports Bar

JB’s Barbecue and Sports Bar

Tip #5: JBs Barbecue and Sports Bar is a great place to get a drink

  • There are a few locations throughout the park that offer a limited selection of beer.
  • JB’s is the only full bar that offers a wider variety of beers, wine, and mixed drinks.
  • Drinks aren’t cheap. A 20oz. beer will cost about $10.
  • Menu offers tasty Barbecue offerings—it’s actually pretty good.
  • If you order a drink while sitting at the bar, you can place your food order with the bar tender instead of standing in line to order at the counter. When your food is ready, your bar tender will bring it to you instead of waiting for your number to be called as a counter order.

Tip #6: Get 5% Cashback with your discover card.

  • Discover More and Discover it cardmembers earn 5% Cashback Bonus on purchases at Six Flags Chicago
  • If you have a qualifying Discover card, you must sign up for the bonus on the Discover website:
  • It’s easy enough to do from your mobile phone while you’re in the park.
  • According to Six Flags’ Discover promotional page, the cashback bonus is good on all purchases you make at Great America between when you sign up and the end of the year.

Tip #7: Eat during off-peak hours

  • If you’re going to eat in the park, do it while everyone else is still riding rides if you can.
  • Lines for food get very long and move very slowly by most fast food standards.

Tip #8: Arrive early and ride the most popular rides first.

  • Your best chance to avoid lines on your favorite ride on any given day is to arrive before the park opens so you can get through security and admission before long lines form.
  • The park will continue have more people entering than leaving over the two hours following the park’s opening.

Tip #9: Ride opportunistically

  • Some visitors arrive at Six Flags Chicago with an agenda, wanting to ride all the big rollercoasters before anything else. Unfortunately, in doing so they walk right by opportunities to ride other great rides with much shorter lines.
  • The park is laid out in a circle that makes it hard to quickly get from one side to the other. That makes it hard to pick and choose your rides. But it gives the opportunistic rider an advantage.
  • Instead, hop on rides with short lines when you walk by them

Tip #10: Don’t ignore the smaller rides.

  • It’s easy to be impressed with Six Flags Great America’s roller coaster. They tower over the rest of the park and seem to have been crammed into just about every square foot of available space. But these rides tend to have longer lines than the smaller, spinning, carnival-style rides tucked into just about every corner.
  • These smaller rides tend to also have a lower minimum height requirement and make Six Flag’s one of Chicago’s fun places for kids.
  • Some of these smaller rides are pretty intense in their own right (The Orbit, Fiddler’s Fling, Revolution).
  • Here’s a list of smaller rides that typically have very short lines.
    • Hometown Fun Machine
    • The Orbit
    • Fiddler’s Fling
    • River Rocker
    • Triple Play
  • But some other rides, such as Ricochet, seem to have long loading processes that make even short lines seem long.

Tip #11: Look for season passes and dining deals.

  • The best deals come near the end of the season in early September when Six Flags starts promoting season pass deals for the next year.
  • Look for deals that include free parking and access to Hurricane Harbor, Six Flags’ water park at Six Flags Great America.
  • Look for dining pass deals when you activate your season pass at the park in the fall.

Do you have any tips for Six Flags Chicago we’ve missed?

Please leave a comment at the bottom of the page to share your Six Flags Great America wisdom.

Six Flags Great America

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