We’re in the midst of summer. Either you lay back and take in the sun and barbeque or you get out and make some noise. I say let’s head to the amusement park and get on the tallest and fastest rides and never look back.
Lucky for us, the geek-elite, amusement parks have long catered to our tastes. There are dozens superhero-themed roller coasters. Six Flags Magic Mountain in California and Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey lead the pack each with 5 thrill rides with superhero/comic themes.
Here’s a roundup of rides that’ll make you scream:
- Superman coasters
- Batman coasters
- other superhero coasters
- villain coasters (yes, villains need love, too)
Superman Roller Coasters
Other than throwing yourself at the ground and missing, the easiest way to experience flying is to get into the front seat of a roller coaster. No character in the superhero catalog epitomizes flying more than Superman, which is perhaps why there are more Superman thrill rides than any other. And due to exclusivity rights, Six Flags is the owner of them all.
Now, Six Flags has long been criticized for their cookie-cutter ways, but looking at their bottom line, I suppose they really don’t care. You see, the above coaster is not the first with that title. Six Flags opened three other Superman: Ultimate Flight coasters back in 2002 and 2003 at their Over Georgia, Great Adventure, and Great America parks. However, these earlier three were of a different design and featured a very important element: lay-forward seating. Once passengers are in their seats, the seats pull up from behind to put them in a flying position.
Superman: Escape From Krypton is a recently revised coaster at Six Flags Magic Mountain. It’s that one that shoots passengers straight out then straight up. You know the one. What did they revise? Six Flags simply pointed the cars the other way, so on the way down you’re facing forward (oh, and they painted it). I haven’t been on this ride since the change over, but flying foward, racing to the sky was scary enough.
That’s not enough apparently, as Six Flags is currently attaching another ride to the sides of this Superman ride, featuring none other than his nemesis Lex Luthor. It’s not a roller coaster, but rather Lex Luther: Drop of Doom is a vertical drop from about 400′ in the air.
Bizarro is the evil clone of Superman set out to destroy him. Fittingly enough, the ride itself is a clone. It’s the theme for two roller coasters by Six Flags (here they are with that cookie-cutter again), SF New England and SF Great Adventure.
Now, to keep you confused, these Bizarro coasters aren’t exactly the same. The one at the SF New England Park is unique, while the SF Great Adventure shares a design (and at one time the name) with Superman: Ride of Steel at Six Flags America (pictured below). To further the confusion, there used to be a third ride with that name, but dropped the “Superman” and is now simply Ride of Steel at Darien Lake.
Superman Krypton Coaster at SF Fiesta Texas has perhaps the nicest setting, but I would have expected a bit of green somewhere in the design…
I want to add a note and a picture about one defunct Superman ride simply because of its uniqueness. Superman: Ultimate Escape operated from 200-2003 when Geauga Lake was owned by Six Flags. Since then, SF sold the park and the ride moved to Dorney Park.
Batman Roller Coasters
DC Comics is no slouch when it comes to licensing off their biggest characters. Holding down the other end of the fort is none other than Batman. Six Flags also has a hold onto the Batman name, with eight iterations of the ride known as Batman: The Ride and three as The Dark Knight Coaster.
Starting with Batman: The Ride: One of these coasters is located in Spain, known as Batman: La Fuga. The other was located at SF New Orleans, but after the park’s closing was move to SF Fiesta Texas and renamed Goliath. The original version was built at Six Flags Great America in 1992 was the first inverted roller coaster (meaning the track is above the cars, you know, suspended).
Okay, so The Dark Knight Coasters. There were going to be three of them, timed with the release of The Dark Knight in theaters, except SF New England ran into some problems. Instead, that third coaster ended up at SF Mexico City. The Dark Knight Coaster is a simple indoor wild mouse coaster much like Disneyland’s Space Mountain, but not as PG-13.
Six Flags New England did eventually get something to fill that empty lot, and much like The Dark Knight Coaster, the Gotham City Gauntlet Coaster is a wild mouse style. Just this time, it’s outside.
But it’s not SF New England’s first Batman ride. Back in 2002 they opened the purple painted Batman – The Dark Knight, a floorless coaster packing in 5 inversions (you know, going upside down).
Other Batman roller coasters of note include Australia’s Arkham Asylum – Shock Therapy, a redecoration of their Lethal Weapon coaster.
Batman: Knight Flight opened at Geauga lake when Six Flags owned it. When SF left in 2004, Cedar Point changed the name to Dominator, and CP later moved it to King’s Dominion when Geauga Lake closed in 2007.
There was also the dual roller coaster (pictured below) Batman and Robin: The Chiller, which ran at Six Flags Great Adventure between 98-07. And finally, there is the closed ride Batman The Escape, which was the name of a ride that existed at two other parks as Shockwave before living a healthy 12 years at SF Astroland. It now lives dismantled in a shed in upstate New York.
Other Superhero Roller Coasters
The Incredible Hulk Coaster has been going strong since Universal opened Islands of Adventure in 1999. One of the main reasons for its popularity are the 7 inversions, which includes not only two loops, some corkscrews, but also the largest cobra-roll (though I can’t verify that last part is still true).
Three Green Lantern coasters exist. The one in Australia has a brief 120° drop, which is to say that you start the first drop with an almost-inversion.
Green Lantern began it’s life as Chang when Six Flags owned Kentucky Kingdom. Six Flags moved and opened the ride in their New Jersey park in 2011.
And lastly, Green Lantern: First Flight. The name obviously comes from the comic book, though the timing seems to have lined up with the movie in 2011 rather neatly. This type of roller coaster (called the Zacspin) is new to the United States, but it’s not the first ride at Six Flags Magic Mountain to feature spinning cars extending outside the track (that would be the X-2). Six Flags is taking some flack for this addition, as the ride is short and jerks passengers uncomfortably as it changes directions quickly. Won’t stop me from getting on it!
If you’re wondering where is the Spider-Man roller coaster, let it be know, so am I. Spider-Man seems to have been left in the dust. He does have a thrill ride at Universal’s Island of Adventure and a theme park in Malaysia has a Flying ride that many call a Spider-Man roller coaster, but that’s not official.
Villain Roller Coasters
Good guys be damned! The bad guys have to get in on this racket, too.
Joker’s Revenge lasted a short 5 years at Six Flags Fiesta Texas, 1996-2002.
Riddler’s Revenge joined Batman: The Ride in the DC section of SF Magic Mountain in 1998. At that time, it was the biggest and baddest stand up coaster, and to this day is one of the best rides in the business.
The Mr. Freeze ride at Six Flags Over Texas changed its name when it changed the seating direction, now the seats face backwards on Mr. Freeze Reverse Blast.
Joker’s Jinx and Two Face: Flip Side opened in May of 1999. Batman wasn’t around at the time, I guess. Joker’s Jinx (video below) is just a spaghetti bowl of track, but is reported to be a smooth ride. On the other hand, Two Face: Flipside closed in 2008, after 9 years of service, due to an accident. The villainous ride not only stopped during the ride, but upon reentering the station, sprayed fluids from a busted pipeline at it’s passengers.
Catwoman’s Whip is a “family friendly” ride at SF New England, and by “family friendly” I mean the main drop is 27 feet. Sitting next to the much larger Bizarro, this ride seems like Catwoman has been put firmly in her place. And further, FYI, this ride was previously named Poison Ivy’s Tangled Train.
Yeah, so there you have it. My mostly complete list of existing and some defunct roller coasters featuring the comic universe’s elite superheroes, and a few of their foes. I’m sure if I’ve missed any, kindly people will let me know about it in the comments.Sources, related sites