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Posts tagged “six flags new england

The Death of the Wooden Coaster at Six Flags

This past month has not been a good one if you’re a wooden roller coaster residing at a Six Flags park. The chain announced the closure of not one, but two additional woodies: the Riverside Cyclone at Six Flags New England and the legendary Colossus at Six Flags Magic Mountain.

Colossus dominates the parking lot of Magic Mountain, but not for long.

Colossus dominates the parking lot of Magic Mountain, but not for long.

The Colossus rumor is the worst kept secret in the industry – but the Cyclone announcement was out of left field. In the past 5 years, five different wooden coasters will be either modified or removed from Six Flags parks. So why do I claim this as the “death” of the wooden coaster era there? You have to look at the pattern of other parks in the chain to understand it:

1.) Park builds wooden coaster.

2.) Due to unknown reasons (some insiders claim it’s to save money) maintenance is deferred, making the ride rougher.

3.) As a result, the coaster must be modified from original form to save on wear and tear, either via brakes or “topper track.”

4a.) The coaster is EITHER removed altogether due to lack of ridership, complaints or sheer amount of work needed to repair and restore it…

OR

4b.) The coaster is modified to a steel track, provided by Rocky Mountain Construction, making it a steel coaster with wooden structure. (a la the “New Texas Giant,” “Iron Rattler”)

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Iron Rattler at Six Flags Fiesta Texas

Now, to be fair – each of these rides (sans Medusa) were well beyond their prime. Of the five wooden coasters that have been converted to steel or are slated to close, three were heavily modified from their original form, making them shells of their former selves. (In the case of the Cyclone, the ride itself was just poor, rough and terribly paced to begin with.)

Hell, Colossus and it’s dual track hasn’t really raced for the past 20 years. Why? Usually only one track was open – you guessed it – to save on maintenance and wear. Anyone who’s ridden it this year will attest, the right side track hasn’t been used in months – and it shows.

The original drop of the Riverside Cyclone can be clearly seen below the modified drop.

The original drop of the Riverside Cyclone can be clearly seen below the modified drop.

Not many guests know, but most of the rides and attractions at Six Flags aren’t American built – they’re almost exclusively from Europe. The traditional wooden coaster is really America’s sole contribution to the amusement community worldwide (not forgetting the Log Flume).

So then, are we witnessing a generational shift in technology, much as our Great Grandparents saw the shift from side-friction coasters to safer (and more extreme) wooden upstop rides? Or are we witnessing a stopgap cost cutting measure? Tell me what you think in the comments section, below.

Personally, I’m torn – everyone loves the latest and greatest – but you have to remember and preserve the past, too. Wooden coasters are expensive to maintain, no doubt – but NOT maintaining them through their life ends up being more expensive in the long run.

My final thought – the Giant Dipper in Santa Cruz is 90 years old and yet it’s smoother than any wooden coaster at any Six Flags park. And yet, all of those woodies are at least 50 years YOUNGER.

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Architect Envisioned Massive Coasters for Golden Gate, Bay Bridge

Golden Gate Bridge Roller Coaster

From the people who brought you the massive Hangar One at Moffett Field, The Empire State Building and Hoover Dam, comes arguably the grandest, most scenic (and most insane) roller coaster idea of ALL TIME!

Golden Gate Bridge Roller Coaster

The proposed “Bridge Coasters” would not only break current coaster records – they would obliterate them – 75 years before the records were even set! Photo from the California State Archive

The stats for this proposed duo of coasters are simply staggering. 1,000 feet tall – 750 foot drops – a 190 mph top speed. Even by today’s standards, these two coasters would have easily kept their records for height and speed.

By comparison, the Transamerica Pyramid – which was built in 1972 and is the tallest building in San Francisco – is 850 feet tall.

The tallest roller coaster in the world currently is Kingda Ka at Six Flags Great Adventure. It tops out at a measly 456 feet high. Formula Rossa in the UAE is the fastest in the world, at a yawn inducing 149 mph. Heck, even the “bunny hills” on these coasters were proposed to do 40 mph over them…at 1,000 feet in the air!

Photo copyright 2007, Kris Rowberry. All rights reserved

Double the height of Kingda Ka, and it still wouldn’t be as tall as the proposed “Golden Gate Thunderbolt” roller coaster!

Where do I line up?

The folks in the Depression sure thought bigger than we do today, and it’s understandable. It was a dark time for America – and people needed something – anything – in order to lift their spirits. What better way than to build something that was (and may never be) seen by human eyes?

I’m not exactly sure how they would have propelled the ride at such speeds, or how to get it up there to begin with – I know for a fact that Cal OSHA would laugh the proposal right out the door in today’s litigious world…not to mention it’s pretty clear the physics of a ride with that much wind resistance would never be able to complete its circuit!

Ironically, two identical roller coasters WERE built at each of the 1939 Expositions in New York and San Francisco. After the fair ended in New York, the ride was eventually moved…to Riverside Park in Massachusetts, eventually becoming Six Flags New England – where it still runs today as – you guessed it – “Thunderbolt,” the same name proposed for the rides on the bridges.

Thunderbolt at the 1939 SF Exposition

This exact coaster layout, which ran at both 1939 Expositions in New York and San Francisco still runs at Six Flags New England, as “Thunderbolt,” an ACE Coaster Classic. (Shot from SF Exposition)

Photo by Kris Rowberry, all rights reserved.

Thunderbolt at Six Flags New England. Photo by Kris Rowberry, all rights reserved.

And yes, you can expect this and many other amazing nuggets of coaster knowledge and “what if” history to appear in an upcoming episode of the “Lost Parks of Northern California” series!

Read the whole article, from KPIX-5 in San Francisco, here, or just copy and paste the link below:

http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2013/11/22/designer-once-envisioned-massive-coasters-on-golden-gate-bay-bridges/


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Happy National Roller Coaster Day!

While it seems everyday is now a holiday – this is one I can get behind!

Bizzaro at Six Flags New England. Photo (c) 2013, Great American Thrills and Kris Rowberry

So after work today, be sure to get out to your local amusement park and celebrate National Roller Coaster Day!


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Photo of the Day: Batman – the Dark Knight at Six Flags New England

There’s nothing like a custom roller coaster layout to get an enthusiast excited. Batman: The Dark Knight is a custom designed B&M “floorless” coaster.

You got to love the facial expressions I find in these shots! Always a delight when I’m post processing these types of photos.

Batman: The Dark Knight at Six Flags New England. Photo (c) 2013 Kris Rowberry and Great American Thrills

Big thanks goes out to my friends at BorrowLenses for allowing me to capture such beautiful photos with their gear.

Interested in purchasing / using some of my photos? Check out my 500px: http://500px.com/GreatAmericanThrills

View my videos on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/GreatAmericanThrills

Follow me on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/GreatAmericanThrills

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Photo of the Day: Bizarro at Six Flags New England

Bizzaro at Six Flags New England. Photo (c) 2013, Great American Thrills and Kris Rowberry

Originally called Riverside Park, Six Flags New England is by definition the oldest in the chain (opened in 1840) – however, it has only been a Six Flags branded park since 1999.

One of the first major attractions added was Superman: Ride of Steel. The ride was recently re-themed to Bizzaro, complete with mist, sound and lighting effects (That weren’t on during my visit – which wasn’t a bad thing, actually.)

This coaster has won several Golden Tickets (Five in total) – and it’s easy to see why – this turn has become the de-facto “photo” of SFNE and was even featured in an episode of Family Guy! (See below)

Bizzaro at Six Flags New England. Photo (c) 2013, Great American Thrills and Kris Rowberry

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Big thanks goes out to my friends at BorrowLenses for allowing me to capture such beautiful photos with their gear.

Interested in purchasing / using some of my photos? Check out my 500px: http://500px.com/GreatAmericanThrills

View my videos on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/GreatAmericanThrills

Follow me on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/GreatAmericanThrills

Tweet me on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/krowberry

+1 me on Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/1/115502587437263155125/posts

Follow me on Instagram: http://instagram.com/krowberry