Shockwave was a large roller coaster manufactured by Arrow Dynamics at Six Flags Great America in Gurnee, Illinois. Standing 170 feet tall and reaching speeds of 65 miles per hour, it opened in 1988 as the world's tallest and fastest looping roller coaster with an impressive seven inversions: three vertical loops, a butterfly corkscrew, and two regular corkscrews. The seven inversions also set a world record; the previous record was six on Paramount's Kings Island's Vortex, which had opened the year before.
Shockwave was plagued with some operational issues throughout its lifetime. Due to the speed and stress of the first vertical loop a track fracture developed and needed attention on a regular basis in order to remain safe for operation. The wheels for the ride were quite expensive and, according to some ride operators, wore out quickly which required a vigilant crew and frequent closures for a period of ten to fifteen minutes for maintenance staff to be dispatched to change them out.
The coaster gained a reputation as being an overly rough ride, as evidenced by postings in roller-coaster enthusiast newsgroups and forums. The over-the-shoulder restraints did not help, as they bruised many guests' shoulders and upper body. Finally, a rumored accident involving a wheel separation coupled with these issues may have led to the ride being taken down in fall 2002 to make way for Superman: Ultimate Flight
, which had originally been slated to replace the Whizzer
. Since the Whizzer was far more popular than Shockwave, the decision was made to keep Whizzer and tear down Shockwave instead. After, the ride was placed into storage behind the park and offered for sale. After attempts to sell the coaster or relocate it to another Six Flags park failed, it was scrapped at the end of Six Flags Great America's 2004 season.
Remains of ShockWave
Much of the ride was demolished and sold as scrap in 2004, although certain pieces can still be found throughout the park today.
- Most of the track and supports went to a scrapyard in Zion, IL.
- The red train went to Six Flags Great Adventure to use for spare parts on their Great American Scream Machine roller coaster.
- The yellow and blue trains went to Six Flags Magic Mountain for parts on their Viper roller coaster.
- The sign at the ride's entrance was donated to the American Coaster Enthusiasts' Museum.
- Several bolts were auctioned off at a coaster convention.
- A few poles remain in Great America's employee parking lot.
- The lift motor was installed at the Demon.
- The large metal gates that were once part of Shockwave’s entrance were painted black and can be found during Fright Fest as part of the entrance to the Seven Sins Cemetery.
- A portion of the spiral staircase once used to gain access to a maintenance platform between the 3rd loop and block brake is now used at the base of Whizzer’s lift hill.
- An air compressor and a scrap of track are being used as props for Fright Fest.
- The main queue house for Shockwave is still currently being used for Superman Ultimate Flight's queue.
- A small segment of track was re-fabricated for use on the Demon to replace a corroding segment of track.
- A small scrap of the ride consisting of a rail and rail tie was saved from the junkyard by a roller coaster enthusiast.
On Shockwave, riders were seated and pulled down their over the shoulder restraints. They exited the station and entered a short drop before making a U-turn towards the lift. Once at the top, the riders entered the first drop, then entered one of three vertical loops. Next, they turned to the left and entered two back-to-back vertical loops before entering the mid-course brake run. Riders went through a zig-zag turn and entered the butterfly corkscrew before turning around for the two back-to-back corkscrews. Finally, they entered a short drop and hit the brakes. They returned to the station from there.
A year after Shockwave opened, The Great American Scream Machine
debuted at Six Flags Great Adventure
; this coaster has an identical layout but is three feet taller and has a top speed of 68 mph. Both records for a looping coaster, like those of Shockwave before it, lasted only one year: Viper opened at Six Flags Magic Mountain
in 1990 and set the records for tallest (188 feet tall) and fastest (70 mph) looping coaster. All three coasters were designed by Arrow Dynamics