Six Flags' New "Goliath" Roller Coaster Is Up There With The Best

As if there weren't enough things in life I'll have to sheepishly avoid: Six Flags unveiled its record-setting roller coaster "Goliath" Thursday morning, and it sounds like a hell of a ride. In addition to appearing heart-poundingly fast, steep and sharp, it's also a classic-style wooden coaster, oozing with retro appeal. And if you're lucky enough to live in the greater Chicago area, you can experience it firsthand: it's located at the Six Flags Great America in Gurnee, Illinois.

The Goliath, which had faux-Roman gladiators on hand for its grand opening — an odd anachronism, as the Biblical tale of Goliath has nothing to do with Rome — has been dubbed a record-setter three different ways. It currently stands as the fastest, steepest wooden roller coaster anywhere in the world, and with the longest sustained drop. It achieves speeds of 72 miles per hour, amid a 180 foot drop at a harrowingly sharp, 85 degree angle.

Depending on how you feel about high-speed thrills, this could sound exciting, or terrifying, or a weird mix of both. The only way to know for certain is to strap in and give it a try! Reading about a roller-coaster or watching a video is a poor substitute, if a comfortable one, for actually taking the plunge. Nonetheless, mounted-camera footage released by Six Flags comes close to giving you a taste of the action.

So, how well does the Goliath stack up against its worldwide competitors? If steel-built coasters are thrown into the mix, that 72 m.p.h. top speed sounds a little underwhelming. As you might expect, the steel construction allows for an even faster pace, with Ferrari World's Formula Rossa, located in the United Arab Emirates, clocking in at a staggering 149 miles per hour. In fact, the top ten fastest steel coasters all outpace the Goliath by wide margins, with the top six breaching the 100 mile per hour mark.

So too do steel coasters support drastically greater heights and steepnesses, with Japan's Takabisha achieving a 121-degree vertical angle. In short, there's a lower threshold on just how full-throttle roller-coasters made of wood can be, but in pressing against those limits, the Goliath is now their king. And, let's be honest, there's absolutely nothing wrong with preferring to go 72 miles per hour m.p.h. instead of 149.

It's also, at least by early rider reviews, a much smoother experience than many of its rivals. The company that built it, Rocky Mountain Construction, incorporated new technology into the track which reduces that familiar, rickety rumbling that normally comes with such classic coaster designs. ABC News quoted reporter Jessica D'Onofrio, who got a special early cruise along the rails, as calling the Goliath the "smoothest ride of any coaster I have been on," and "a great adrenaline rush."

While the Goliath's smoothness might be in the eye of the beholder — or, really, the butt of the beholder — we're willing to take her word on the adrenaline rush part.

Image: Six Flags Great America