Six Flags is coast­ing its way to the lead

USA TODAY Weekend Extra - - TRAVEL - Arthur Levine

When you think of Six Flags, chances are you think of thrills. That’s be­cause the amuse­ment park chain has built its rep­u­ta­tion on scar­ing the be­jeezus out of any­one who dares to brave its roller coast­ers and other rides. For 2019, Six Flags will bur­nish its rep­u­ta­tion with an­other batch of scream-in­duc­ing, crazy con­trap­tions.

Start­ing a few years ago, the com­pany com­mit­ted to open­ing some­thing new at ev­ery park each sea­son. Not all of the at­trac­tions de­but­ing in 2019 will be head­lin­ers. But there are plenty of rides com­ing to the mid­ways that will get thrill-seek­ers’ pulses rac­ing.

Once again, coast­ers will hog the spot­light at the parks. Per­haps the most anticipated ride will be West Coast Rac­ers, a launched rac­ing coaster com­ing to Six Flags Magic Moun­tain in Va­len­cia, Cal­i­for­nia. In­stead of re­ly­ing on a tra­di­tional chain lift hill and grav­ity to get up to speed, the ride will use elec­tro­mag­netic propul­sion to scream out of the sta­tion and hit 55 mph on a straight­away.

The park is billing the at­trac­tion as the world’s first quadru­ple-launch, twin-lap rac­ing coaster. It will fea­ture two trains that will nav­i­gate the course along­side one an­other. Half­way through the ride, pas­sen­gers will ex­pe­ri­ence a vir­tual “pit stop” themed to West Coast Cus­toms, the shop known for trick­ing out celebri­ties’ cars. Af­ter the brief respite, rid­ers will re­peat the course on the op­po­site track.

Magic Moun­tain al­ready holds the world record for the most num­ber of coast­ers. West Coast Rac­ers, which will be thrill ma­chine No. 20, will ex­tend the park’s brag­ging rights.

Six Flags Great Amer­ica near Chicago is pitch­ing its new ride, Maxx Force, as the world’s fastest launch coaster. At 78 mph, it will be plenty fast, but there are many launched coast­ers at Six Flags lo­ca­tions and else­where that hit much higher speeds. By “fastest,” the park means that it will rev up to top speed in less than two sec­onds. Yowza! In­stead of elec­tro­mag­netic propul­sion, Maxx Force will use com­pressed air for its record-break­ing ac­cel­er­a­tion. The ride also will fea­ture five in­ver­sions, in­clud­ing one that rid­ers will ex­pe­ri­ence at more than 60 mph.

A num­ber of Six Flags parks have in­tro­duced “4D Free Fly Coast­ers,” which fea­ture cars that in­de­pen­dently spin and flip 360 de­grees for­ward and back­ward on the out­side “wings” of an un­du­lat­ing rib­bon of track. In 2019, Six Flags Dis­cov­ery King­dom in Vallejo, Cal­i­for­nia, will open Bat­man: The Ride, its ver­sion of the un­usual at­trac­tion. The coaster will in­clude “raven turns,” el­e­ments that will send its trains fall­ing over the edge and head­ing 180 de­grees in the op­po­site di­rec­tion.

There used to be more stand-up coast­ers, in which pas­sen­gers mount ad­justable, bi­cy­cle-like seats and stand for the du­ra­tion of the ride, but a num­ber of parks have been ei­ther scrap­ping or con­vert­ing the no­to­ri­ously un­com­fort­able at­trac­tions. Six Flags Amer­ica in Up­per Marl­boro, Mary­land, is opt­ing for the lat­ter. It will re­place the trains on the former Apoc­a­lypse with floor­less mod­els in which pas­sen­gers will sit above the track with their feet dan­gling. The mod­i­fied ride, which will be re­named Fire­bird, will climb 100 feet, hit 55 mph, and in­clude two in­ver­sions.

Since it won’t ac­tu­ally coast, Lone Star Rev­o­lu­tion, the ride com­ing to Six Flags Over Texas in Ar­ling­ton, won’t tech­ni­cally be a coaster. Still, the park is tout­ing the 100-foot-tall, mo­tor-pro­pelled ride as the world’s largest loop coaster. The train will cir­cum­nav­i­gate the at­trac­tion’s gi­ant loop a few times in each di­rec­tion.

Three pen­du­lum rides, in which pas­sen­gers sit fac­ing out­ward on a ro­tat­ing plat­form that swings back and forth, are on their way next year. The Joker Wild Card at Six Flags Fi­esta Texas in San An­to­nio and Won­der Woman Lasso of Truth at Six Flags Great Ad­ven­ture in Jack­son, New Jersey, each will soar 17 sto­ries into the air, while Pan­de­mo­nium at Six Flags Over Ge­or­gia in Austell will climb a slightly smaller 15 sto­ries. All three will hit top speeds of at least 70 mph.

Darien Lake in New York, which used to be a Six Flags park, is back un­der the chain’s um­brella. It also will go tall in 2019 with SkyScreamer, a swing ride that will climb 242 feet as pas­sen­gers spin around on pre­car­i­ous, open-air seats.

Two spin­ning “flat” rides, Su­per­girl at Six Flags St. Louis in Mis­souri and Cy­borg at Six Flags New Eng­land in Agawam, Mas­sachusetts, will pour on the thrills. Cy­borg will be placed in­side a dark­ened build­ing and in­clude spe­cial ef­fects.

Six Flags Fron­tier City in Ok­la­homa City, an­other park that is back in the com­pany’s fold, will wel­come four rides for young chil­dren in its new Tim­ber Town land. The wa­ter park at The Great Es­cape in Queens­bury, New York, will get a new name, Hur­ri­cane Har­bor, and ex­pand with ad­di­tional at­trac­tions, in­clud­ing Bucket Blasters. Pas­sen­gers will be armed with wa­ter soak­ers on the in­ter­ac­tive ride.


Maxx Force at Six Flags Great Amer­ica near Chicago will use com­pressed air for record-break­ing ac­cel­er­a­tion. The ride will also fea­ture five in­ver­sions, in­clud­ing one at more than 60 mph.

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