by Danny Miller
As the 2012 season gets underway this weekend for many parks across the country, I thought we could take a look at something that every park goes through when building a new ride, giving it a name. Over the years, we have seen some pretty strange names pop up at parks like Terminator Salvation, Evel Knievel, and even Thunder Dolphin is an oxymoron of sorts. The first two mentioned are property of Six Flags and now have been renamed due to license agreements expiring. Respectively they are now called Apocalypse, and American Thunder, names that still raise an eyebrow for some people, but are still much better than before.
On the other hand, Six Flags has also come up with some of the best ride names that describe roller coasters perfectly, such as Titan, Nitro, and even the multiple Superman and Batman rides that litter the chain. This is where I will make my first point. Now I understand that Six Flags has owned the rights to DC Comics characters for years, and to their credit, they have done a great job using that to advertise their rides to the general public. However, seasoned enthusiasts will point out how the parks have gone a tad overboard with using the characters for names and themes, extending them now to Green Lantern rides and rebranding two coasters as the “All New Bizarro Coaster.”
On the other side of that argument, at least when recycling names such as Batman: The Ride and Superman: Ultimate Flight, they rides are clones of each other, so in a way it makes sense that they be called the same thing. One exception to this would be at Six Flags Mexico, where their Batman is actually a Vekoma SLC, not a B&M clone like the rest of them. The other exception is recent, as a new Superman: Ultimate Flight is opening at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom, which will be a brand new ride from Premier Rides that has never been done before.
That is one side of the coin. The other side would be using the same name for rides that are completely different. This is where we get to the name Goliath. Goliath is a great name for a roller coaster. It gives the impression of being big, fierce, and scary, which is exactly what the first Goliath at Six Flags Magic Mountain was. While Six Flags had a short stint of owning parks in Europe, Six Flags Holland (now Walibi World) opened their own Goliath, a green mega coaster from Intamin. Different colors, layouts, manufacturers, and being on different sides of the globe made this one okay.
Then came Six Flags Over Georgia with their Goliath, a B&M hyper coaster that consistently ranks in enthusiasts top ten lists. I was still okay with this one because again, they were all far apart from each other and it was unlikely that the general public would know of the other two. Meanwhile, in Montreal, La Ronde soon opened their own Goliath (La Ronde is also a Six Flags property). This is where it started to get a bit annoying in my opinion. Was Six Flags running out of names for all of their coasters, or was it a matter of just drawing more attention to their new rides?
Enter Six Flags Fiesta Texas with yet another Goliath, but this time it wasn’t an airtime and speed machine like the previous four. This time it was…a Batman clone? That’s right. Rather than take the easy way out with Six Flags New Orleans’ Batman clone and using the same name and theme, the decided to be original and call it Goliath. To the parks credit, at least this one was blue and yellow instead of orange like the two already in the United States.
We thought that the name games were over, but now in 2012, Six Flags New England has taken in Déjà Vu from Six Flags Magic Mountain and has called it…you guessed it…GOLIATH! Now it has just gotten old with this name and quite frankly, I’d much rather have it called Déjà Vu. At least it makes sense for a ride of its type. What doesn’t make sense is why they put a “Giant Inverted Boomerang” right next to their “Boomerang” model, but that’s another story.
Six Flags isn’t the only guilty party, as Cedar Fair has done their fair share of recycling coaster names as well, although not on the scale Six Flags has. Thunderhawk is the moniker shared by Dorney’s 1923 wooden coaster and Michigan’s Adventure SLC model. Intimidator and Intimidator 305, while not technically not sharing the same name, share the same theme and idea behind the ride, as well as similar color schemes. The former Paramount parks also left Cedar Fair with the challenge of renaming certain rides once TV show and movie title licenses expired, leading to names like Flight Deck, and Flying Ace Aerial Chase, as well as Vortex remaining in the chains.
An interesting fact in that regard is also that many Cedar Fair parks have rides with some form of the word “hawk” in their name, including the two aforementioned parks with Thunderhawk rides, Kings Island with Firehawk, Carowinds with Nighthawk, and Cedar Point with their giant swing ride, Skyhawk. Other bird themed rides among the chain include Raptor, Talon, and even Patriot at Worlds of Fun has an eagle as its logo.
This isn’t a complaint by any means against any of the parks or rides mentioned here because they are all great parks and great rides, I just wish that the parks would be a bit more creative when coming up with ride names. I know that it doesn’t really affect the ride experience, but after all, the ride names are what the public associate with the rides. I have no problem with recycling names every once and a while. After all, there are only so many things we can come up with to make these rides sound exciting, but let’s not lose all of our creativity please. What do you think?