The first thing you notice upon seeing Goliath in person is the roller coaster's initial drop—it's 85 degrees, making it the steepest amusement-park dive in existence. The new Six Flags Great America attraction is also the tallest and fastest wooden coaster in the world, boasting an 180-foot drop and top speeds of 72 mph. Forget rickety hills and whiplash turns—Goliath is a wooden coaster for the modern age, taking advantage of recent technological advances to provide one of the smoothest rides we've ever experienced.
We ventured out to Gurnee for the Goliath Media Day, standing in the rain with dozens of coaster enthusiasts while waiting for a chance to take a spin on the ride's winding rails. After an hour delay, the inclement weather passed and we entered the queue, picked a car, pulled down our lap bars and got ready to conquer Goliath.
The ride begins with a gradual climb up the coaster's 165-foot incline, inching forward until the cars crest over the near-vertical downhill, Goliath's most thrilling feature. For a split second you'll feel as if you're careening straight to the ground—until you suddenly level out and zoom through an underground tunnel.
An over-banked turn leads to a string of gravity-defying maneuvers, beginning with a 180-degree roll into an inverted drop which leads into an inverted hill. It's the most disorienting part of the ride, twisting riders upside-down while they're falling and then again while they're climbing.
Another trip through the coaster's subterranean passage leads to a final banked turn before depositing riders back at the station. Like any great roller coaster, Goliath feels like it's over in a matter of seconds (it actually lasts about a minute and a half) and leaves you shaken, but ready for another ride along its twisted tracks.