41 years ago, a large plot of empty land in Gurnee, Illinois was transformed from a big grassy field, to one of Illinois' top amusement parks.

For those who have lived in Illinois, you will recall that when Great America opened it's gates in America's bicentennial year, it was first called Marriott's Great America. In 1984, Six Flags corporation bought the theme park from the famous hotel corporation and renamed it Six Flags Great America.

In 1976, when Great America opened, it was such big news that WLS-TV, out of Chicago,  aired a one hour TV special celebrating the grand opening.

You will notice that in 1976, great America only had three roller coasters when it opened,

  • The Whizzer (Originally called Willard's Whizzer)
  • Turn of the Century (now re-themed and renamed Demon)
  • Gulf Coaster. (This roller coaster barely lasted one season because it caught on fire several times)

The grand opening TV special featured celebrity appearances from:

  • Mel Blanc as Bugs Bunny
  • JoAnn Worley
  • Forrest Tucker
  • Jerry Stiller Roger Perry
  • Cast Members of Great America

How many of those 1970's celebrities do you remember?


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