July 15, 2009

Coastering and rollering, part two

More on my birthday trip to Six Flags. Yesterday I covered the three top coasters—all awesome—now I round up the rest, ranging from quite good to gruesomely pathetic…

4. Superman: Ultimate FlightThe gimmick here is that once riders are strapped in, the seats flip back so that they're in a "flying" position, à la the Man of Steel. You ascend a ridiculous high distance (115 feet off the ground), facing downward, stirring even the most latent fear of heights. Then, the ride spends down a serpentine steel track, including a cool pretzel loop (pictured above, though that's at the Georgia Six Flags). Fun, kind of soothing, but too short to really have an impact (and the design is ridiculously dated; there are faded signs along the line area with 15-year-old drawings of forgotten Superman characters).

5. The Great American Scream MachineAnother classic steel coaster, with a lot of corkscrew and batwing turns. A little jerkier than one would like—apparently, this ride results in a lot of whiplash injuries. Still, it provides the prototypical looping-coaster experience, and I wish we'd thought to go back for a second run. Also, it has an awesome name.

6. The Dark Knight
The new indoor coaster last year, and boy, is this thing lame. The experience begins by watching a useless short film (a tie-in with the movie, complete with an appearance by Aaron Eckhart as Harvey Dent), before you're led into the ride proper, which is a "Wild Mouse"–type deal; you travel in what's basically a cart along a looping horizontal track, nearly crashing into supposedly disturbing distractions. It's like Mr. Toad's Wild Ride at Disney World, which was my favorite ride as a gutless little kid (I didn't venture on anything serious till I was an adult).

The Dark Knight features only a few moderately surprising, short drops, a couple of tight turns, and underwhelming special effects. (This was the only coaster that the scaredy-cat in my party was willing to ride.) Yeah, the Dark Knight would be a great ride for a young kid, but The Dark Knight is an absolutely horrible movie for a child, so the whole endeavor makes zero sense.

7. Rolling Thunder
Lousy. A 30-year-old, piece-of-shit wooden coaster that is extremely bumpy, extremely boring, and probably extremely unsafe. It doesn't fill one with confidence to read that, in this age of silently efficient steel coasters, the major modern improvement of Rolling Thunder is the replacement of Douglas fir with Southern yellow pine. We waited an extra ten minutes on the loading platform while a drunk handyman fixed a malfunctioning restraining bar with a rusty screwdriver. That was enough to get our scaredy-cat headed for the exist, and I really should've followed.

Oh, and we also went on the Congo Rapids Ride and the Log Flume, both of which soaked me good on a sizzling day. Plus, I got a picture with members of the Justice League. Good times, great oldies.