Theme Park Insider

Justice League Battle for Metropolis 4-D Debuts at Six Flags St. Louis

June 4, 2015, 11:16 AM · When you think about Six Flags, extreme roller coasters and high intensity thrill rides are what first come to mind. However, what happens when Six Flags actually invests in some of the industry’s best dark ride creators and pairs them with their lucrative DC Comics intellectual property? The result of that collaboration is Justice League Battle for Metropolis 4-D. I managed to experience the attraction on its first Gold Pass Member preview day this week, and it was certainly worth the wait. With motion base vehicles from Oceaneering and shooting dark ride technology and animatronics from Sally, riders will think they’re in Orlando or Hollywood, and not a second tier park in the Six Flags chain.

While Justice League is a direct clone of the dark ride opened almost a month ago at Six Flags Over Texas, the sheer presence of an attraction of this caliber at a park in the Six Flags chain that’s not one of their flagships (Great Adventure, Great America, or Magic Mountain) is hopefully a sign of things to come. Perhaps the key factor in placing this attraction in St. Louis was that the park already had a dark ride that could be easily gutted and converted to Justice League, as the former Scooby Doo dark ride building is used to house the new attraction. Nonetheless, if you had never been to the park before (like me), you would never know what existed before Justice League.

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The exterior of the building has been themed to look just like the Hall of Justice that any comic fan or fan of the old Superfriends cartoon will readily recognize. The outside blends in well with Mr. Freeze Reverse Blast just across the plaza, and while this park has spread its DC-licensed attractions around the park, the new area now anchored by Justice League has strong and uniform theming.

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Guests enter right through the front door of the Hall of Justice and through a queue that snakes through the front of portion of the building.

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Eventually guests approach the loading platform and come face to face with an incredible animatronic of Cyborg. It’s identical to the one Robert showed in his review of the Texas attraction, but coming face to face with the character was even more impressive.

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Everything inside the ride is identical to the Texas version of the attraction. The Joker and Lex Luthor have teamed up to take down the Justice League, and guests are armed with their own laser blasters to help the world’s greatest heroes out. Since I was unable to attend the media preview of the attraction, I don’t have a POV inside the attraction, but Robert’s video shows off most of the important parts of the ride. I would note that I felt the animation of the individual laser blasts was very well done, and the six colors of each of the riders’ weapons were extremely easy to differentiate. Also, the combination of screen and practical effects is quite an accomplishment. By no means is this attraction going to unseat Spiderman or even Transformers for the best motion base attraction in the world, but the use of practical effects like falling shelves of drums, fire, water and wind put this ride on another level. One of the most impressive effects was a shooting screen that was projected on fog. I felt that was even more convincing than the Dementor effect on Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. Due to time constraints, I was unable to get more than one ride, but I would have easily ridden another dozen times, just like I love to ride Men in Black: Alien Attack. Just like MIB, targets are worth varying amounts throughout the ride, and it will take repeated experiences to figure out how to maximize your score.

Speaking with some park employees and management while we were waiting to ride, everyone was very proud of the attraction, and excited to get something so much better than the old Scooby Doo shooter dark ride. Guests too were excited as the first gentlemen in line showed up at the park 90 minutes before it opened to be first during the announced preview. The animation is definitely better than what we saw on Canada’s Wonderland’s Guardian we rode last summer (and looks to be better than Voyage to the Iron Reef at Knott’s Berry Farm), but it's not up to the high standard set by Universal on Spiderman and Transformers. Also, the Oceaneering vehicles do not move as much as the ones on Universal’s rides, but that’s probably a good thing since riders are trying to aim and violent motions would hinder the ability to play the game. While we experienced a “clean” run through the attractions with all of the effects working, we were asked numerous times on the way out if everything worked correctly, which suggests not everything works 100% of the time. The ability of the park to properly maintain the ride and get as many “clean” runs as possible for guests will ultimately gauge the success of this level of dark ride in the Six Flags chain and potential future installations of rides like this. As someone who has been going to Six Flags parks for decades, I’m skeptical that they can pull this off and get these attractions to continue to perform at a high level a year from now, but hopeful that they can do it, because as much as I love roller coasters, rides like Justice League Battle for Metropolis 4-D are the future of themed entertainment. Kudos to Six Flags for taking such a big risk with these installations, particularly in one of their second tier parks, and here’s hoping they are an overwhelming success.

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Replies (14)

June 4, 2015, 12:53 PM · I have a friend from college from St Louis. If I see him, I may need to convince him to take me on a visit to Six Flags.

Personally, I think this looks like the perfect attraction to replace the Dark Knight at Great America. I'm sure every local would feel the same way.

June 4, 2015, 3:39 PM · I think you've nailed it, Russell, with the suspicion that parks with existing dark ride buildings move to the top of Six Flags' list for getting this attraction. Unfortunately, that would mean I'll be waiting some time before I get to ride this one close to home, at Magic Mountain.
June 5, 2015, 3:38 AM · "The ability of the park to properly maintain the ride and get as many “clean” runs as possible for guests will ultimately gauge the success of this level of dark ride in the Six Flags chain..."

Truth. And like you wrote, Russell, I have my doubts, especially in SFStL where my past experiences have been less than stellar.

Thank you for another great review - and my goodness, where do you find the time and money to get to all these parks, brother?! I'm jealous!

Edited: June 5, 2015, 7:00 AM · This trip was part of a planned vacation to the Midwest (St. Louis and Chicago primarily) James. When we were initially planning this trip, we didn't even know when Justice League was going to be open, and our initial schedule had us visiting the park the day after Memorial Day, which would have caused us to miss the debut. We kept up with the announcements from the park and decided to shift our schedule to loop back to the park at the end of the trip because it looked like the construction was going a bit slower and the ride would not be ready for Memorial Day. While we were on our trip, Robert let me know about the media day, but unfortunately, we were already locked into being in Chicago last Friday, so the hope was that they would open it to the public over the weekend, and we'd be fine riding on Monday. Unfortunately, the park decided to do a phased opening (employees over the weekend with different passholder days over the week) with an official debut this weekend. Luckily we had enough flexibility in the last day of our vacation to hop on this before needing to fly home on Tuesday afternoon.

This was our "big" vacation for the year James, and we travel rather economically, so it's not like our family of 3 broke the bank (under $2k for our 11 days in St. Louis and Chicago with side trips to Milwaukee and Holiday World including 3 and a half theme park days (SFGA, SFStL, and HW), 3 baseball games (Cards, Cubs, and Brewers), and 6 museums (St. Louis Zoo, City Museum, Shedd Aquarium, Field Museum, Art Institute of Chicago, and Museum of Science and Industry)).

I was kinda surprised by SFStL considering how little love it receives in the community. They don't have a marquee attraction (until now), but they have a decent collection of coasters (could probably use a hyper). They had a lot of "older" employees (non students) that seemed to take ownership and have a lot of pride in the park. We spoke briefly with one of the park directors while waiting in line to get wristbands for the JL preview, and he was very passionate about making the park as nice as possible. The park itself is not very well designed, and the themeing is a bit all over the place, but I'd put it on par with the other second tier parks in the chain with JL now putting it near the top of that list. Both days we visited were weekdays (by design), so it was not very crowded at all, but I could see the frustration from some if you're waiting in line more than 20-30 minutes for their less than stellar coaster collection.

I do have to apologize for the lack and quality of the photos since we ended up going on the ride just before flying out. I didn't want to drag my camera gear back into the park when we were just going to ride JL and rush off to the airport. All but the final photo were with my iPhone and while walking through the queue. Since we were among the first in line, I didn't have a lot of time to compose the photos properly.

June 5, 2015, 3:38 PM · To be fair, SFStL has been an improving park over the years since my first very disappointing visit back in 2009. Last time I was there, like 2012, I think, they still had a bad weed problem, and a lot of rides needed some TLC, but otherwise it was getting better. Hopefully that trend has continued. I will try to stop in later this summer, but more likely next year.

And I wasn't trying to criticize your budgeting abilities or anything, I was just impressed at how well traveled you already are this season. If my jealousy came off like an attack, I apologize!

June 5, 2015, 4:51 PM · I didn't take it as an attack, but felt a little background was needed as to how we ended up in St. Louis.
June 5, 2015, 6:35 PM · Gotcha!
June 6, 2015, 12:07 PM · For history buffs: Six Flags St. Louis is one of only three parks actually built by Six Flags. Opened in 1971 as Six Flags Over Mid-America, it was the third and final Six Flags-built park, following the original Six Flags Over Texas (1961) and Six Flags Over Georgia (1967).
June 6, 2015, 12:35 PM · History buffs might also be interested to know that some of the original trash, debris, gum, and weeds have been preserved from that opening day in 1971 for their viewing pleasure. ;)
June 8, 2015, 2:45 PM · I live in St. Louis and can't wait to check out this ride. I don't go to Six Flags St. Louis as much as I probably should, but I haven't had great experiences there lately (went a lot as a kid). I also believe they are trying to improve the park, and Justice League is a great move.

I'd love to see them lessen the carnival atmosphere. They seem as focused on getting you to play basketball games for money than get on rides. I'm not holding my breath, though. I'll be heading there later this month, so we'll see.

Edited: June 9, 2015, 6:39 AM · This was my first visit to the park, and I did notice that they were really aggressive about getting guests to play games. They also had a number of "specials" to encourage pass holders (extra shots/rings, $$$ off listed price) and kids (play till you win) to play the games. Over the day and a half we were at the park, I had a very pleasant experience, but could see how it would get frustrating on a busy Saturday in the summer. The coasters are not the best, and the layout of the park is pretty terrible with themeing that's all over the place (DC-licensed rides in 3 different lands - Justice League/Mr. Freeze, Batman The Ride, and Superman Tower). Again, this might have been a function of us visiting on weekdays and the Justice League preview, but there were a lot of managers roaming the park, and the few that I spoke to were extremely pleasant and excited about JL.

The one thing that I really liked was that there were posted signs in virtually every ride loading area that threatened ejection and a 1 year ban for having any object in your hand during a ride's operation. I never saw the rule being enforced, but I never saw anyone disobeying the prohibition. This is the first time I had seen such a sign (have seen numerous line jumping signs at other SF parks - completely ignored by guests and staff at Magic Mountain), and my hope would be that the threat has stopped any issues and enforcement is not necessary. They should put these signs in every park and enforce the rules vigorously.

If this park could add one marquee coaster, it would be amongst the best second tier SF parks (SFNE, SFFT, and SFDK). While I liked The Boss fine for a woodie, a park this size really doesn't need 3 wooden coasters, and could probably do either an RMC refurb of The Boss, or remove it in favor of a hyper that would have a wider appeal. JL puts this park on the map for now, but once clones start spreading around the country, the shine will wear off quickly, and this park could use something unique that will elevate its well-rounded, but average coaster collection.

June 9, 2015, 1:45 PM · It's tough because the Screamin' Eagle is iconic, but it's also painful to ride. The Boss is also not a very smooth experience. Both take up a lot of real estate, so they've built flat rides or a Boomerang that don't take up as much space. I'd love to see them have a real top-tier thrill ride that's unique. They have been adding a new attraction every year, so we'll see...
June 9, 2015, 8:23 PM · Screaming' Eagle was actually pretty smooth for its age, particularly in the front row. The Boss was a bit rough, but not terrible considering some of the terribly rough, aging woodies I've been on in the past few years (Ghost Rider I'm looking at you!).

My guess would be that JL will probably be the last big addition for a couple years (maybe a Giant Loop for 2016), but if this park is to succeed beyond 2016, they need a coaster that is unique and be a real draw like what SFGA has with XFlight, Raging Bull, and Goliath.

June 11, 2015, 7:55 AM · Glad to hear the Screamin' Eagle wasn't too bad. I have a feeling they may do something smaller in Hurricane Harbor in 2016. We're more likely to see a larger addition a few years later. Still, I'm excited to be one of the first to have JL!

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