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Whizzer (roller coaster) facts for kids

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Whizzer Logo.svg
The Whizzer as it appeared in 2005, showing its unique lift hill.
Previously known as Willard's Whizzer
Six Flags Great America
Park section Hometown Square
Coordinates 42°22′06″N 87°56′08″W / 42.368199°N 87.935659°W / 42.368199; -87.935659
Status Operating
Opening date May 29, 1976 (May 29, 1976)
California's Great America
Coordinates 37°23′46″N 121°58′29″W / 37.396057°N 121.974689°W / 37.396057; -121.974689
Status Closed
Opening date 1976 (1976)
Closing date 1988 (1988)
Replaced by Gold Striker
General statistics
Manufacturer Anton Schwarzkopf
Designer Werner Stengel
Model Speed Racer / Extended Jumbo Jet
Track layout Terrain
Lift/launch system Trains are powered by a hotrail
Height 70 ft (21 m)
Drop 64 ft (20 m)
Length 3,100 ft (940 m)
Speed 42 mph (68 km/h)
Inversions 0
Duration 2:00
Max vertical angle 35°
Capacity 810 riders per hour
G-force 3.0
Height restriction 36 in (91 cm)
Trains 3 trains with 4 cars. Riders are arranged 1 across in 6 rows for a total of 24 riders per train.
Flash Pass Available
Whizzer at RCDB
Pictures of Whizzer at RCDB

Whizzer, originally Willard's Whizzer, is an Anton Schwarzkopf Speedracer roller coaster located at Six Flags Great America in Gurnee, Illinois. It was one of two identical roller coasters built for the Marriott Corporation for each of their “Great America” parks at their debut in 1976, with an identical version of the Whizzer at California's Great America. Marriott continued to operate both parks until selling them in 1984. Manufactured by Anton Schwarzkopf of Germany, the two rides were the last “Speedracer” models ever built. The California Whizzer was dismantled in 1988 while the Illinois Whizzer remains in operation, as one of only two Speedracers still in existence worldwide (the other operating as Broca (formerly known as Zambezi Zinger) at Parque Nacional Del Café in Montenegro, Colombia).


From the start, both Whizzers suffered from problems with the braking system that would sometimes allow the trains to collide in the station. Unfortunately, no immediate solution was put forth to remedy this problem. In one four-year period, from 1976 to 1979, there were at least 11 recorded instances of station collisions on the California's Great America version, resulting in an unknown number of injuries. There were also two station collisions on the Six Flags Great America ride - both of which occurred less than a month apart in 1976. A total of 31 riders were injured in the Gurnee collisions. Then on March 29, 1980, a 13-year-old boy was killed and eight others injured when two trains collided at the station on the Santa Clara Whizzer.

Gurnee Whizzer

Six Flags Great America's Whizzer marked its 40th anniversary on May 29, 2016. The ride nearly was closed in August 2002, fueled by increasing maintenance costs, to make way for Superman: Ultimate Flight. However, due to public backlash and outcry, the park reversed their decision at the last minute and instead demolished Shockwave, putting Superman: Ultimate Flight on its plot of land in Orleans Place.

Santa Clara Whizzer

After Marriott sold California's Great America to the city of Santa Clara under management of the Kings Entertainment Company, the Whizzer continued to operate until it was subsequently demolished in 1988. A few cement footers still remain, outlining the spot where the ill-fated Whizzer once stood.


The Whizzer has been recognized as an ACE Coaster Landmark and received a plaque on August 10, 2012.

Golden Ticket Awards: Top steel Roller Coasters
Year 2008 2009 2013 2014 2015 2016
Ranking 45 47 40 44 46 45
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