Specific Type: Steel, LSM-Launched, Racing, Shuttle
On March 15, 1997, Six Flags Magic Mountain would reach new heights - and speeds - with the tallest and fastest steel-tracked ride the Valencia, California park or anywhere else on the face of the earth had ever seen. Towering vertically to 415 feet in height and accelerating to reach speeds of 100 miles per hour, the 20-million-dollar Superman: the Escape raised the bar in the race of extreme rides to a truly unprecedented level and set new limits for coasters worldwide. Superman came from the designers at Intamin AG as one of only two coasters like it in the world, the other being its smaller counterpart ride located at Australia's Dreamworld park. Utilizing Linear Synchronous Motor technology, the coaster is launched off at an acceleration clip of 14.3 miles per hour per second delivered by a series of rare earth magnet 'stators' to attract and repel the car and get the ride up to speed in seven seconds - a slower but also effective acceleration. From there, the ride's vertical L-shape of a layout carries the car up - straight up and to the end of the shuttle-coaster's run, but not before serving up a record 6 seconds of negative g's. With two identical tracks running parallel along the course, this ride also gives passengers on either side the occasional opportunity to race one another while cutting the ride waiting time in half.
The line for Superman takes queuers into a station themed to resemble the Fortress of Solitude where cars will be boarded on the parallel tracks in each side of the station area. After pulling down simple T-shaped lap bars into place, the 15-passenger car is blasted from the station area and out into the daylight to begin the acceleration. Linear Synchronous Motor stators pass beneath the car at a gradually-increasing rate as passengers speed along the horizontal portion of Superman's layout. Once the ride reaches the top speed of 100 miles per hour, the car begins to put some distance between it and the launch track, beginning a gradual slope from horizontal to vertical. Soon, riders say goodbye to the park and hello to the sky and travel straight up towards the clouds. Nearing the Man of Steel himself standing and staring authoritatively from the pinnacle of the coaster's structure, the car reaches 300-foot altitudes and begins to slow. The weight of the ride vehicle brings it to the point of reversal and puts riders at advantage to take in the over six seconds of airtime bliss. Without lingering any longer, the car takes on the vertical feet in reverse and Superman: the Escape becomes Superman: the return. Leveling back to horizontal track, the ride speeds the car backwards along the straight track, gradually wearing off speed and slowing to re-enter the station.
Just after the July 4 weekend of 2010, Superman: The Escape was suddenly and unexpectedly closed down, with no reason given by the park as to why. Only a sign in front of the ride stating that the ride would reopen again in 2011 stopped speculation of the rides removal. From here, speculation went rampant, with rumors spreading of new paint, updated/new LSMs, backwards facing cars, or a complete re-theme of the ride. With the rides sister coaster, Tower of Terror II at Dreamworld having just undergone an overhaul with backwards facing trains, that rumor seemed to be the most realistic.
On October 20, 2010, it was announced by Six Flags Magic Mountain that Superman: The Escape would be closed down for several months for a “refurbishment.” In the announcement, the park confirmed that when the ride opened in 2011, it would be born anew as Superman: Escape From Krypton, withbackwards facing cars and a fresh new paint job. The new trains were significantly more “streamlined” than the old trains, and featured lower-profile sides for a more exposed feeling, but at the price of more restrictive over-the-shoulder restraints. The vibrant new paint job would be representative of the “Man of Steel,” with yellow rails on a towering blue support structure, with the tallest portion of the tower structure painted red, a familiar color scheme for those who have ridden Six Flag’s Superman coasters in the past. After a few months of operation, once everyone has gotten a chance to experience the “new” ride, the park has reported that one train will be turned back into the forward-facing position, giving riders a choice as to which way they would like to ride.
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