Six Flags Great America reopening April 24, jobs available
By J. Coyden Palmer
For those who have grown weary of being stuck in the house with the family, and the kids have gotten on your last nerve, there is hope on the horizon. An outdoor attraction that hosts over 3 million people a year will reopen its gates soon.
Six Flags Great America in Gurnee, IL is looking forward to welcoming back guests later this month. In addition the amusement park in Lake County is also in need of hiring 4,000 workers for three parks this season. Those 15 years and older are eligible for hiring.
During an exclusive interview with the Crusader earlier this week, Caitlin Kepple, communications and marketing manager for Six Flags Great America, said the park is excited to be welcoming guests back for 2021 starting Saturday, April 24 and the park has taken extensive measures to allow for the safest experience possible, following the guidelines of the CDC and State of Illinois.
Kepple commented that visitors will notice several changes in the Park’s appearance. The bathrooms have all been renovated with no-touch faucets and dryers, there are hand sanitation stations throughout the park, seating areas have been reconfigured to create more space between parties and those long lines for rides will be shortened due to limited capacity. Riders will be spaced out between parties while in line.
The park is also increasing the amount of maintenance, and guests two years-old and older will be required to wear a mask during their time in the park.
“We opened our water parks, Hurricane Harbor Chicago and Rockford for a short time last season and we opened for two holiday in the park events at Great America, but we are so excited for the sunshine and to welcome guests back for our thrills and fun,” Kepple said.
“We will be open weekends only until about mid-May, which is our typical schedule due to the weather here in the Midwest. Starting the week of Memorial Day weekend, we will go back to our regular schedule of seven days a week.”
Admittance to the park, at least in the early part of the season, will be by reservation only. This is because Great America is limiting the amount of people to 25 percent capacity, following the guidelines set forth by the State of Illinois. Reservations can be made at sixflags.com/reserve. The reservation system will be in place until further notice, according to Kepple.
Other COVID protocols include mask wearing by guests and team members, a temperature screening before gaining admittance to the park, hand sanitation stations throughout the park, especially near the rides and parties will be seated together on the rides. There will also be signage in the park reminding guests to socially distance themselves.
“We’ve also shifted to a mobile payment and cash to card system here in the park. We are no longer accepting cash,” Kepple said.
“If you have Apple Pay, Android pay or anything you use on your phone, we will accept that or credit cards. If you do bring cash, we will have kiosks throughout the park where you can transfer that cash to a prepaid Visa card that you can use in the park or take with you and use anywhere it is accepted in locations around the world.”
In terms of the rides themselves, Kepple said guests can expect all of their favorite rides to be operating at some point this season, unless they are closed due to weather or a maintenance issue,with one exception.
The Sky Trek, which is the tallest ride in the park and is a 360-degree, rotating, observation tower, will be closed for the foreseeable future. This is because it is an enclosed space, which make it hard to maintain COVID protocols inside.
All other rides, like Goliath, the American Eagle, Batman, the Joker, X Flight and the park’s most recent thrill ride, Maxx Force, will be open and ready to go.
The park is currently in its rehabilitation phase due to the harsh winter weather effect on some of the rides.
“At this point we are still working on our rehabilitation schedule which is standard for this point in the season,” Kepple said. “We are working to have as much product available as possible as we open. We’ll be introducing attractions as they become available.”
Those who purchased a season pass for 2020, but were unable to use it because the park shut down due to the pandemic, will be able to use their season pass in 2021 at no extra charge. Six Flags members who pay on a monthly basis, had the opportunity to pause their membership. That pause will end on April 24. Those who kept their monthly payments will be given some extra benefits. They can visit their member portal on the Six Flags app to learn more details.
New for this year, Hurricane Harbor Chicago is going to become a stand-alone park, the 27th in the Six Flags family. What this means is Six Flags members and Great America season pass holders will still have access to Hurricane Harbor Chicago.
Those wanting to just visit Hurricane Harbor and not Great America, will now be able to do so without having to buy the combined ticket, saving money.
Also new this season, Hurricane Harbor Chicago is introducing Tsunami Surge, the tallest water coaster in the world at a height of 86 feet. It reaches a top speed of 28 miles per hour over 950 feet of enclosed tunnels and open-air slides featuring three gravity-defying blasts and five breathtaking drops, along with five hairpin turns. Riders will experience mind-blowing bursts of color with AquaLucent visual effects that intensify the ride experience.
For teens, retired seniors and others, last year’s shutdown meant a loss of summer employment opportunities. Six Flags hires thousands of temporary employees during the season. Kepple said Six Flags is currently hiring for all positions with the lowest paying jobs starting at $11 an hour.
“If anyone is interested, we encourage them to go to: www.sixflags.com/greatamerica/jobs as we have over 4,000 positions we need to fill.
“We have positions in food and beverage division, ride operator, lifeguard, security… we really have a little something for everyone depending on what you are interested in,” Kepple said.
“We do start hiring at the age of 15 in some of our departments, which is a great first job opportunity. But we have many retirees who are looking to stay engaged with the community and all ages in between. All of our hiring is being done virtually so as you apply online, we are interviewing and hiring seven days a week. So once a person applies, our human resources team will review their application and reach out to them to try and set something up as soon as possible.”
The best economic value is a season pass as it gets guests access to all attractions and can be used at any Six Flags park in the country. For additional discounts like reduced or free parking and use at the most parks around the world, consider becoming a Six Flags member. Season passes start at $59.99 and memberships start around $84.