A few years ago I ventured out to Chicago for a Six Flags Great America-Wisconsin Dells trip. The main attraction of the Great America visit was the B&M hyper coaster Raging Bull. But, it was almost overshadowed by my surprisingly fun rides on Demon. Riding decades-old Arrow loopers is generally an unenjoyable, ho-hum kind of experience where you’re happy to come away with a ride credit. But, Demon completely caught me by surprise on my visit to Great America.

Demon opened as Turn of the Century in 1976. It was one of the first roller coasters to feature two corkscrews. Then in 1980, it underwent a redesign where two hills were replaced with two more loops. Aside from the new, wildly popular vertical loops, the ride was re-themed with a new name and rock formations, tunnels, and a water fall of red blood was added.

As I entered the queue I was greeted by the Demon theme song. It was a cheesy, dated song, but for some reason I loved it. So many rides at Six Flags have sparse theming, so even really old theming was a welcomed change. After climbing the modest 102′ foot lift hill the train dropped and sped into two back-to-back vertical loops. The second loop has a cool rock formation through it which can be seen while riding if you look up. The next element deserves its own post in my memorable moments category.

After a short break, the train dove into a tunnel lined with red and white lights. The lighting system was probably pretty sophisticated in 1980, but now it just seems so Disco and so 70’s that it’s not even funny. I felt like I was in a pinball machine as the lights followed the train as we zoomed through and flew out the other end of the tunnel. Just as you exit the tunnel you pass by that red waterfall and right into the first of the two corkscrews. The first one passes over the park’s train track. Demon finishes with a short turn and then you return to the station.

I’m so glad that Great America never updated this ride. For some reason, the dated, corny theming is endearing. For a thirty year old Arrow coaster, Demon was surprisingly smooth. And, I found this bit of information from Dave Althoff, Jr. who wrote a review for the Roller Coaster Database that might explain why Demon was so smooth:

I noticed something interesting as I exited. It appears that each axle on the Demon has been modified with the addition of a single shock-absorber, connected to the back right-hand end of the axle and to the car spine. It’s a bit like the shock Chance-Morgan uses on their Runaway Train copy, but it’s the first time I’ve seen this on an Arrow coaster. -RCDB

Overall, this is a very fun ride regardless of it’s pedestrian stats by today’s standards. I’d take Demon over pretty much any Arrow looper besides the Loch Ness Monster at Busch Gardens. I implore Six Flags and Cedar Fair to re-theme and rehab their other old loopers in the same way. Final Rating – 7.0 (Good)

Check out this commercial advertising the newly remodeled Demon at Great America for the 1980 season. Note that the park was called Marriot’s Great America, in the pre-Six Flags days.

Thrilling Roller Coasters - For Brave Riders

Demon is rated ‘TH’ for Thrilling. It’s a 3 out of 5 on my Thrill Scale because it includes four loops. If you fear going upside-down, then you may want to skip Demon.


What’s Your Take?
Have you ridden Demon at Six Flags Great America? What’d you think? Leave a comment below. Images courtesy of CoasterImage.

About The Author

Founder of CoasterCritic.com. My favorite coasters are B&M hypers and gigas. I'm also a huge fan of terrain roller coasters.

32 Responses

  1. CFC

    Looks like a fun ride, although many of there coasters were so similar. Still, it's a step up from Arrow's other loopers, like Carolina Cyclone and the sort due to its smoothness.

  2. Prof. BAM

    I rode Demon this summer and I told people off of going on it. I got about 1/2 the people out of the line. Also at Great America, when I rode Iron Wolf, the power went dead, and I was stuck on the brakes right before the station. I and my two friends (along with the other passengers) had to wait 30 minutes to be released. Worst coaster experience I've ever had. I hear that we would have been first to be released if it wasn't for Superman: Ultimate Flight at the other side of the park.

  3. Tom

    I've ridden a pretty close clone at Great America at santa clara, california. It was fun, and also smooth like this one. I probally would rate it 7.0 too.

    • Marc

      Unfortunately the Santa Clara version pulled the lights from the tunnel in the early 1980s. Shame, it was a nice deminsion.

  4. Patrick

    Very nice review! It's always great to hear what people think about my home park. Just a couple things though. The first corkscrew goes over the train tracks and the second goes over the pedestrian path. When was the last time you rode the Demon? They havn't had the bloodfall/waterfall running for quite some time. I believe they did this because it was rusting the track. I love the Demon theme song, I have the full 20 minute version on my iPod. Here is a nice picture of the original Demon sign with a pool of blood. http://www.negative-g.com/SFGAM/SFGAM80s/SFGAM-De

    • The Coaster Critic

      Thanks for the correction on the corkscrew. Like I admitted in the review I couldn't remember which one went over the train track. I went to the park back in the Summer of '06: "Coaster Critic Headed to the Windy City". I definitely remember the water fall running.

      I'm glad that you liked the review. You have a nice home park. I need to re-visit as I only got to ride three coasters (Viper, Raging Bull, & Demon) as many were closed due to rain. The clones like Batman & Superman weren't a big deal, but I wish I would've made it on American Eagle & Iron Wolf. I couldn't wait out the rain too long because I had to zoom on up to the Wisconsin Dells for Hades!

  5. Quil

    CC, which would you say is better, Six Flags Great Adventure or Six Flags Great America.

    • The Coaster Critic

      Like I said, I didn't get to ride everything at Great America. Based on what I know and JUST on the roller coasters of each park I'd have to go with Great Adventure. I can't speak to the parks as a whole though.

  6. Prof. BAM

    I talked people out of riding Demon yes. I went on Demon and I was fighting to retain consciousness after the first corkscrew inversion. I used that info to talk people out of the line. I've ridden the three Arrow's at My native park in Minnesota. One is a corkscrew clone. It came before Demon, but I wanted to ride every coaster that wasn't a clone of one I've been on. Demon is worse than our Corkscrew up here.

    • Judy_P_in_Pgh

      Different rides have different effects on different people. I don't think I'd want anyone else deciding what I'll like or trying to talk me out of something before I rode it. I'd like to make that decision myself, thank you. 🙂 If it has a bad effect on me, I'll choose to not ride it again. I assume that is what you (Prof. BAM) did. Have you been on any other rides that have caused you to almost lose consciousness? Fortunately, I've never experienced that!

      • The Coaster Critic

        I agree Judy. Sorry you had a bad ride on Demon Prof. BAM, but like Judy said rides can affect people differently. I blacked out for a moment on Goliath at Magic Mountain from the g-force heavy helix. Others have as well, but plenty of others have not. After researching blackouts, I found out they can can be more likely depending on your condition. When I was at SFMM, I hadn't eaten or drank much and it was hot, so that probably affected my ride.

  7. Prof. BAM

    That could be a reason for my near blackout. I didn't eat anything at all that day. But Arrow caosters have definately had a bad effect on me. Arrow may have given us some good rides in the past, but this is the future.

    • CFC

      Hey, time rolls on. Arrow is obsolete, but now we've got Intamin and B&M. And one day, Intamin and B&M will become obsolete, just as Arrow has. Time rolls on.

    • Rosie

      Very true and I’m sorry for your bad ride, these days even I get banged up from them, but still I’d hate to see some of the arrow loopers like Viper, Scorpion and Boomerang go. Maybe if they fixed the old loopers up they could make them the smoother rides they once were.

  8. Prof. BAM

    Sorry Coaster Critic I got everyone off Topic. Back to Demon at Six Flags Great America.

  9. Thomas

    Great to hear the good ol' Demon is still going strong. I remember the Turn of the Century to Demon transition. And that song was cheesy back then! It's heartening that tradition stands. "It's the Demon, he's gonna find you…" Back then the ride ops actually wore short capes! Marriott's did awesome theming: the tunnel out of the station was full of smoke, of course the post loop tunnel lights, and the blood ran freely through the mouth of the Demon/rock feature before the corkscrew with glowing red eyes after dark. I wish I could find the radio commercial with the flowers in the attic girl whispering: the Demon awaits you….

  10. Rob F

    The demon has always been a personal favorite, as it is usually smoother than other 2 accross loopers, was by far a sleeker looking coaster car than previous models, had the added dimensions of the startup fog cave, the rock through the second loop (which you definately see when you are on the ride), the cave of lights and sound after the second vertical loop (which surprised you the first time you ride the ride), and the waterfall that misted you (at least in the front seat) after you entered the cave entrance that led to the 2 corkscrews. Why don't more coasters add more visual features? (except the old Busch parks, which seemed to undertand that — I will really miss Big Bad Wolf in Virginia) I do miss the demon's original more spongy overhead bar padding though, since it didn't hurt much if you did get more side to side motion and banged into the bar. But it probably wasn't as durable (they always had chunks of foam missing then) and the new ones seem like they might hold you in safer. What made the old spongy soft padded bar more interesting is that there were no handholds, so it felt like you had no-where to hold onto (making it seem less secure and a little more scary).

  11. airtime

    I have been riding Demon at SFGAm since its inaugural season, and I have loved every single one of the dozens of rides I have taken on it in the last 30 years. Sure, now a trip to SFGAm centers on Raging Bull and S:UF, but we still take time to ride the legend (not to mention our Schwarzkopf treasure, the Whizzer!) I also still love the Demon song! ("You're delicious, nutritious to the Demon…")

  12. XYZ

    I've ridden the Demon at California's Great America, though I don't think it is as smooth as the one in Six Flags that is described as smooth. The one at Great America is good but is pretty rough, much rougher than the Grizzly.

  13. Jacohn

    Six Flags Great America being my home park, I've ridden Demon numerous times. I respect the ride for being a vintage Arrow Looper but other than the nostalgia of being a classic 1980s coaster, it has little to offer. The theming isn't bad but the ride itself is average at best. Upon entering the queue you realize that this ride is quite unpopular (even on busy days the wait is no longer than 10-15 minutes) and after riding, you understand why. In my opinion the first drop is the highlight of the ride, it does give some airtime. But after the first drop everything else is sub par. The first two loops are quick and fairly boring. After the first two inversions the lighted tunnel just seems dull and out of place. To cap off the ride, you are forced to endure two consecutive corkscrew. By then, you've been rattled around so much that you literally dread the thought of the final two inversions. Although the inversions themselves are shockingly painless, going into the first corkscrew is a painful ordeal. Overall, the ride is an outdated looper that attracts little ridership. I think the ride is very forgetable and that Six Flags should consider removing it and replacing it with a more modern coaster. The ride has had its moment in the sun and may have been thrilling and fun when it first debuted, but today, it is skippable and boring. Personally, I think it probably would have been better as the old Turn Of The Century. The fact that the coaster no longer matters is cemented by the fact that one of its trains is literally wrapped in a bubble gum ad. To any potential Great America visitors, this coaster is worth one ride considering the short wait and because of the chance it gives to experience a classic looper, but worth skipping on every subsequent visit to the park.

    • The Coaster Critic

      I'd love to hear what you think of my old home park's Arrow looper Anaconda at Kings Dominion. Having ridden it a hundred times I've had plenty of time to note all of its flaws. I'd imagine that I'm much harder on it than you'd be and I bet it's the same case with Demon to some extent. It was definitely unpopular but for me it was a refreshingly fun ride for its age and stats.

    • Levi

      The "bubble gum irrelavancy" slam is more of a comment on Six Flags' cheesiness than it is on the Demon itself. Two of Six Flags' signature rides – El Toro and Kingda Ka – have also received this treatment.

      The Demon itself is a very good coaster and it's short-sighted in my opinion to call for its demise. For an "unpopular" ride, the thing is actually quite popular. Everybody seems to like it. On my recent visit, upon leaving the park I heard a couple teenagers who were coming in say – "look, there's the demon!" Obviously these kids have ridden it and like it, and they'll be riding it again.

      The demon is 30 years old in a park with about a dozen "newer" coasters. Of course it's not going to have 45 minute waits, and that's a GOOD thing. It doesn't mean the ride should be razed. All amusement parks with some age on them should have some classic coasters from their past, and at SFGreat America the Whizzer and the Demon both fill this need.

  14. Emily moeison

    I love the demon but I wasn’t sure about what u wer talking about when u said about the blood waterfall and the helix in the tunnel??? I didn’t remember that when I traveled far to go to the six flags in gurney. (I live in Arkansas) so Is there a waterfall and helix in gurnee?

  15. Levi

    …by the way, happy to report that upon my visit yesterday there was NO cheesy bubblegum ad on the Demon, so I guess the deal has lapsed. Hopefully that means the hairspray ad on Kingda Ka and stride gum ad on El Toro might soon be gone, as the evil Dan Snyder regime fades into the rearview mirror.

  16. Joey Till

    Demon is honestly a pretty good ride! SFGAm my home park and ive ridden it so many times that maybe im used to it but this is a pretty smooth coaster as far as arrows go.

  17. Emily moeison

    I love the demon but I wasn't sure about what u wer talking about when u said about the blood waterfall and the helix in the tunnel??? I didn't remember that when I traveled far to go to the six flags in gurney. (I live in Arkansas) so Is there a waterfall and helix in gurnee?

    • CoasterCritic

      I just rode it again a few weeks ago and you're right Emily. There's no helix at the end of Demon. I'm not sure what ride I confused it with. Thanks for pointing that out.

      There was a waterfall when I rode it back in 2006. It was right when you exited that tunnel and began the first corkscrew. It wasn't running when I rode it recently though. This wiki entry mentions it as well: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demon_(roller_coaste


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