The only thing more exciting than riding a new ride is learning about a new ride. The end of August has been Six Flags’ time as they typically lump all of their future plans into one giant announcement. For the most part, they followed that format, well within a 24 hour period. To add to the excitement, Carowinds jumped on the day as well and between the huge amounts of info and the range of emotions in response, it is fair to say some of you have lost your shit. So let me take a moment to help you; roller coasters are fun and that is our starting point.
It is only natural to rank or compare these rides to each other, and that is fun too (don't forget to put your money where your mouth is in the Ride Warrior Choice Awards). However, I feel like I need to point out that one ride being more exciting than another doesn't make the second ride less fun. Could you imagine how crazy someone would have sounded last year if they said Twisted Timbers would have been better if Steel Vengeance didn't exist? If that is how you feel, then stay home, shorter lines for me.
I am not going to explore the entire announcement for all Six Flags Parks but just focus on the roller coasters. There is a lot to look forward to with this new round of announcements, and I want to weigh in on some things that jumped out to me, as well as things I have heard from friends and on social media. First, hats off to California, for the second year in a row the west coast will receive two new roller coasters. West Coast Racers for Magic Mountain - don’t worry I’ll take a second lap on this one, and Batman: The Ride at Discovery Kingdom.
I think Six Flags Great America won the day with an exciting ride that fits well within their collection and adds something that is sure to be a hit. The biggest feature that sets Maxx Force apart from the other two launch coasters we just learned about is that the launch will be the focus. Marketing a new ride often comes up with silly records, but Maxx Force will be the fastest accelerating coaster in North America, and that is a significant record. It also highlights the focus, the launch. I personally love the hydraulic launch coasters, so I have high hopes for the pneumatically launch, too. These rides have a catapult feel to them because of the catch car, while LSM/LIM feel like a motorized acceleration and generally don’t have the same impact, but have the added flexibility of multiple launches.
Copperhead Strike, the highly anticipated Mack multi launch, jumped in the water with Six Flags this year and pushed many enthusiasts into information overload. The comparison between Copperhead Strike and West Coast Racers was inevitable. Two flagship parks on opposite coasts both introducing multi launch coasters on the same day, the keyboards were aflame! The talk immediately turned to speed; I think the expectation for both rides was high, maybe too high to overcome the desire for something that would become a landmark. I feel both rides will need to prove themselves, and they aren’t built to fulfill that larger than life role that Superman: Escape From Krypton & Fury 325 were able to achieve.
The speed argument is laughably not being applied equally, as is to be expected, but I’m not concerned about speed for these two rides. On Copperhead Strike, the elements are jam packed in there, so no matter what speed the ride launches with, it is constantly losing and gaining energy as it winds around the corse. I also feel slow inversions lead to great hangtime; this is a personal feel, and when I watched the announcement that was my first thought. I expect Copperhead Strike to hang riders on the roll out of the station, the two vertical loops and the cutback. The expectation was that North America was getting a Bluefire or a Helix, so I am not surprised that many were left scratching their heads. Bluefire does have a faster launch, but it only has one to make it around a similar length track. Helix has the second launch, but it has about an extra quarter mile to cover and taller elements.
Speaking of quarter miles, that brings us back to West Coast Racers, the other ride that left many scratching their heads. I think the reason that I am not worried about speed on this ride is that I am expecting the launches to be closer together. Magic Mountain did not give a full circuit length, but it is safe to say it isn’t going to be 6500 feet. This ride focuses on longer drawn out elements that I think will make the speed feel more present, and maybe even fool riders into thinking that the are going faster than they actually are. The elephant in the park is that Twisted Colossus has a dueling mobius layout with the same signature elements. Was this coaster made too similar? I’m seeing the argument, but I feel like they are different enough to give different experiences. While West Coast Racers features some of the same elements, it appears to deliver them in a different way drawn out and graceful, while Twisted Colossus has those snappy, crazy, RMC changes in direction and airtime. Copperhead Strike is going into a park full of roller coasters with loops and corkscrews, but that isn’t a reason to not enjoy it.
The reality is we really don’t know what to expect until we give them all a shot. How many times have you been surprised by the difference between the reality and the expectation of a new ride? That, my friends, is the fun part, so take a breath, and don’t declare a winner or a loser. Just figure out where you are going to go visit first.