New, Technologically Advanced Coaster Opens in Vallejo: Always Amused July 2019
By Erik Chalhoub
With theme parks in Southern California getting all the hype this year — Star Wars: Galaxy Edge recently opened at Disneyland, a new quadruple-launching coaster is being built at Six Flags Magic Mountain, and Universal Studios Hollywood is about to debut its re-imagined Jurassic World attraction — parks in Northern California have been relatively quiet in 2019.
The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk added two new family rides — Twirlin’ Teacups and Crazy Surf — while California’s Great America is prepping for a yet-to-be-announced water park expansion. Gilroy Gardens, meanwhile, is still riding high with its 2018 Water Oasis expansion that helped it enjoy a record-breaking year for attendance, according to park officials.
Thankfully, for the Northern California thrill seekers, Six Flags Discovery Kingdom opened a new coaster on Memorial Day Weekend that is sure to put riders head over heels, literally: Batman: The Ride.
Known as a 4D Free Spin coaster manufactured by S&S Worldwide, Batman stands at 120 feet tall and rocks riders up a 90-degree lift hill. Depending on the weight of the riders, guests can expect to flip at least six times as the train traverses its twisting I-box track frame.
While each seat rotates freely, several sections of the track features magnets that force inversions.
The ride also includes two beyond-90-degree drops that give riders a feeling of weightlessness as they flip their way through the twisted track. Eight riders can fit per vehicle, with a total of five vehicles.
During a ribbon-cutting ceremony on May 24, Discovery Kingdom President Don McCoy thanked everyone involved in making the ride a reality, which he said involved a “tremendous amount of planning, collaboration and hard work.”
“Based on one of the world’s most iconic superheroes, Batman: The Ride brings cutting-edge ride technology to the West Coast,” he said. “This is really an exciting day.”
The 4D Free Spin is a popular installment among Six Flags parks, with the first debuting at Six Flags Fiesta Texas in 2015.
Discovery Kingdom invited members of the American Coaster Enthusiasts to the media day, and I had the chance to try the ride before it officially opened to the public.
The towering, vertical lift hill is very intimidating as you step up to the ride. Once seated and dispatched, the rocking motions of the ride vehicle while climbing the lift took me completely by surprise, just as I was enjoying taking in the view of the park.
Once it crests the lift hill, anything goes. Of the four times I rode it, each time through the course was unique, due to the weight of the riders. You’ll be flipping many times on one ride, while others you may be hanging upside-down as you whip around the beyond-vertical drops. I was out of my seat longer than I was actually sitting in it, and the cushy restraints made the ride a lot more comfortable than I had imagined it would be.
Batman: The Ride is a great addition to the park, and offers new thrills that you can’t experience anywhere else on this end of the state. For park operating hours, visit sixflags.com/discoverykingdom.