Specific Type: Accelerator Coaster
Superman has been just about everywhere. Whether it's saving the world or taking adventurous theme park guests on the ride of their lives, the Man of Steel gets around. Now, he's getting ready to go Down Under, but he's not going to be on vacation. In late 2005, Warner Bros. Movie World Australia will lend the globally-recognized image of Superman to the continent's first ride of its type: an Intamin Rocket Coaster using pneumatics to propel thrill seekers into a unique ride. Taking the former name of another launched steel coaster, X-Press, Australia's Superman: Escape blasts off as the seventh coaster from Intamin AG using hydraulics to power the exceedingly extreme experience. Over the summer of the 2005 season, red track rose into the skyline of Movie World in preparation to send thrill-seekers leaping modestly-tall buildings; in this case, the equivalent of a thirteen-story building. It became apparent that while this ride wouldn't be a record-breaker, it would certainly give Australian coaster lovers some good bragging rights.
Superman: Escape may not be any 400-foot-plus Top Thrill Dragster or Kingda Ka, but unlike those two tera-sized coasters, this ride has plenty of its own uniqueness to boast with a satisfactory layout. Like all Rocket Coasters, Superman's most visible track element is its first vertical hill directly succeeding the launch. But unlike any of the others, this ride takes a trip straight up towards the sky without a vertical twist before rolling over the 180-degree transition into the vertical drop. In this case, it's on the way down that riders encounter a nice quick twist towards the ground. In further contrast to many of its counterparts, the Australian superhero coaster packs the rest of the course with action instead of calling it a day after the first hill and sailing into the brakes. Immediately after a thirteen-story plunge, the red track twists through a figure-8-like formation with two graceful non-inverting-corkscrew hills crossing over each other and a quartet of heavily-banked curves, and a pass-through of the station building's walls included to enhance the experience.
Australia may not be the competitive coaster continent of the world, but Superman is the latest addition to a small but impressive collection of rides Down Under that should give roller coaster lovers enough incentive to start packing their bags. After all, who can forget Dreamworld's 390-foot Tower of Terror shuttle coaster, the "little" brother to the original Superman coaster,Superman: the Escape at Six Flags Magic Mountain. And let's not overlook the fact that the same park still holds the record for the world's tallest freefall tower with the impressive 377-footGiant Drop running up the side of the coaster's tower. Warner Bros. Movie World Australia has gathered together a noteworthy ride collection of its own with the continent's only inverted coaster, Lethal Weapon: the Ride, and the unique enclosed wild mouse coaster known as theScooby-Doo Spooky Coaster. Superman: Escape may only be the park's fourth coaster, but it gives any coaster enthusiast living or vacationing in the area a sure reason to check out the 1991 park.
Riders find the sign for Superman: Escape and enter the queue line. They soon find themselves entering the New York City subway system preparing to board their train. Soon, they find it waiting, but this isn't any ordinary subway train. This is a sleek, open-air, twenty-seater fit with Intamin AG's simple over-the-shoulder restraints. Once the next group of passengers sit down and buckles up, they realize that something's amiss from the normal day on the subway. The dreaded Lex Luthor is trying to destroy New York City today, and he's starting by wiping out the subway system. The ground rumbles. It looks like he's trying to trigger an earthquake to bring the city down on the subway, and helpless passengers are at his mercy. But wait, is help on the way? Yes, it's the one possible earthly hero - Superman! Riders feel him grab onto the back of the train and start pushing to move it out of the danger zone, and he's moving quickly!
Charging ahead at superhero-worthy speeds, Superman pushes the train to escape the situation in no time and reaches miles an hour before the hydraulics are finished doing their job. At the end of the elevated launch track, the front car hits the vertical transition and leads riders starting to head up towards the clear blue sky above as the g-forces push them into their seats. The red track soars vertically several stories, then decides to start leveling out. Riders are whisked over the crown of the hill as they're given a quick taste of the view from 131 feet looking out over the 252-acre theme park. The track continues its curving vertical path on a tight radius pulling into the major plunge. Before riders know it, they're heading straight back down again at a ninety-degree angle, and not only heading down at ninety-degrees, but twisting around a ninety-degree roll to the right.
After leveling out at the bottom of the first drop, the track immediately pulls into a sharp, yet smooth banked curve just above ground level. The track bends to the right while the train charges forward on its side at breakneck speed to complete a flat turnaround transitioning into a climb towards the sky. At the top of the hill, the track pulls over and down into the second drop while beginning a banked curve in the opposite direction to form the non-inverted corkscrew maneuver. While the track continues diving, it flies straight through a small hole cut into the side of the station building, providing riders with the "headchopper" sensation as they speed forward through the constrained opening. Continuing on the path to the right, the track begins curving upwards again gracefully, this time towards the bottom of the track for the second hill. Topping off just below the first non-inverting corkscrew, the coaster performs a similar maneuver in the opposite direction, ending it with a right-handed dive.
While the track dives, it levels out and continues curving while riders race ahead on their sides parallel to the ground. The track hops as it wraps up the 270-degree turn and then enters the brakes where riders can feel the sensation of Superman grabbing hold of the train's lead car and slowing it swiftly to a stop. Riders re-enter the subway tunnel with all order restored and Lex Luthor defeated, for now. However, another crazy action-packed experience is only as far away as the queue's entrance!
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