Six Flags Great America in Gurnee, Ill., has offered smaller stage shows and park parades in previous seasons.
But this year, a new entertainment offering is bigger, better and has more sound, flash and thrills than any prior performances of the past.
On Saturday night, I attended the premiere of "igNIGHT — Grand Finale," the new mesmerizing and immersive nighttime spectacle unveiled to capture the imagination and attention of thrill-seekers of all ages.
It's a brilliant blend of visual effects, serving up live singing and dancing with pyrotechnics, fireworks and a pure and simple storyline that's as old as human desire: romance.
"igNIGHT – Grand Finale" is staged outside in the Hometown Square area, not far from the Six Flags Great American landmark double-stack carousel. Each night from now until Aug. 11, at park closing time, this 30-minute show unfolds in a remarkable multimedia towering stretch of stage.
The stage story is set in Chicago and takes the audience on a journey using the cutting-edge multimedia elements to share a unique storyline beginning with love-crossed characters Frederick and Elizabeth, who meet and are separated by the Great Chicago Fire. Presented with a series of connected musical numbers, it fast-forwards to today, as a young pair named Lizzie and Freddy meet with common friends, not realizing they are both connected to the Great Chicago Fire through their great-great-grandparents. (It does trivialize the real tragedy of the biggest life-altering devastation of the Windy City's history.)
I'm told this production ranks as the biggest and most advanced show in the amusement theme park's 37-year history, and boasting high definition video, mapping technology, advanced audio and interaction with the audience. The musical numbers including the sounds of recording artists such as Frank Sinatra, Selena Gomez, Kanye West, One Direction, Bruno Mars and others.
As for specifics, it showcases:
• Six high-definition projectors
• 120 pyrotechnic rounds launched nightly
• An interactive element with a handheld glow stick that will light up in sync with the show (available for purchase)
• More than 30 performers, including a DJ, costumed characters, a quartet and more. There is also a pre-show event to work up to the show starting at park close each night.
• More than 150 costumes
• A six stories, 50-foot, tall set measuring 75 feet wide with a multilevel stage
• More than 30 projection planes built in to the set to make the one-dimensional video appear 3D
• 102 lighting fixtures to add atmosphere
"The 'igNIGHT — Grand Finale' is the largest show of its kind in the world and surrounds guests with this multimedia universe allowing them to interact with the show," said Six Flags Great American President Hank Salemi.
Six Flags Great America and Hurricane Harbor are both included for the price of admission, allowing access to 14 roller coasters, the free 20-acre water park, shows and three children's areas. Contact sixflags.com/greatamerica or call (847) 249-4636.