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Six Flags' 'Dark Knight' coaster set to open in April
By Lee Filas | Daily Herald Staff

An artist's rendering of the cars and artistic content of "The Dark Knight" roller coaster under construction at Six Flags Great America in Gurnee.

 

Construction for the new roller coaster "The Dark Knight" continues at Six Flags Great America in Gurnee as workers transform an existing theater into an indoor pre-show area.

 

Paul Valade | Staff Photographer

The new roller coaster "The Dark Knight" is being constructed next to "Superman: Ultimate Flight" at Six Flags Great America.

 

Paul Valade | Staff Photographer

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Published: 3/1/2008 7:56 PM

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Though construction has been delayed by the weather, Six Flags Great America officials say the "Dark Knight" roller coaster is still on track to open in April.

Brooke Gabbert, Great America public relations manager, said the company is pushing to make up for about two weeks lost because of bad weather so the newest attraction will be ready when the Gurnee park opens April 26.

"That is still our goal," she said. "Thankfully, we do have indoor areas so complete construction days have not been completely lost."

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The $7.5 million coaster will be housed in a seven-story building next to "Superman: Ultimate Flight." It's based on the movie "The Dark Knight," scheduled to be released in theaters in July.

Gabbert said Christopher Nolan, the director and writer of the movie, has been a major part of creating the coaster to make sure it "maintains the integrity of the movie."

Riders will start in an indoor waiting area - built in the renovated Theatre Royale - that can hold up to 600 people. While in line, they'll attend a "press conference" where the story line will be explained, Gabbert said.

Then, they'll board a Gotham City subway train that is under attack.

"Chaos is happening all around them," Gabbert said. "And this subway ride may or may not be the safest way out of the city."

She said the coaster is similar to what's known as a "wild mouse" coaster, which features numerous twists and turns to spin people around.

But, she added, the theme and art located on the walls and on the sides of the track the highlights of the journey.

"People will be amazed at the theming we have in place for the coaster," she said. "It really takes on a role in itself."

Gabbert said the indoor roller coaster is the first of its kind the company is building. Two other indoor coasters are being built by Six Flags in New England and New Jersey.

The only construction that has been done on the coaster so far has been the waiting area, she said.

Gary Pohlman, the director of maintenance and construction, said crews are doing everything they can to ensure the ride will open on time.

"We have been able to work on the waiting area, so we are ahead on that," he said. "But, the weather needs to break so we can get to work."

He said the building will go up prior to the coaster going in. A crane will be built inside the structure to help assemble the coaster, and disassembled before the coaster opens.

Pohlman said the need to erect the building first is to help set up the artistic content for the coaster, such as specialized lighting, cat walks and artistic themes.

In the meantime, season passes for the park are on sale on the web at www.sixflags.com/greatamerica. They cost $89.99 for individual tickets, and $84.99 per ticket when four season passes are purchased.