Six Flags goes for theme, atmosphere with Dark Knight Coaster
By Anthony MurphyThe Dark Knight Coaster at Six Flags Great America debuted to the press this morning. Set in the "Gotham City Rail" station built into the park's old Theater Royal, the attractions begins with a detailed transit station queue, leading into a pre-ride show area, something new for Six Flags.
Published: May 20, 2008 at 9:16 PM
In the preshow, a news broadcast sets up a video press conference by Gotham's new district attorney, Harvey Dent (played, as in the upcoming "Dark Knight" film, by Aaron Eckhart). Dent shrugs off a question about Batman, before the Joker cuts into the feed. Dent’s campaign poster is transformed with the creepy smile drawn on by the Joker and its henchmen while the entire room lights up with words that say “Why so serious?” “Ha Ha Ha,” and “Give him a smile.” The preshow ends with Joker’s henchmen taking over the station and the words “What are you waiting for?”
There is short line after the preshow. Guests pass by a busted security area in which half of the monitors are shorted out and the others show the Joker’s henchmen running amok in the station.
After that, it's into the loading station. The coaster's cars seat four people, making the capacity of this ride up to 600 people an hour. The car also is shaped like a subway car and placed on a continuous system which only stops for a lap bar check. You need to enter and exit the ride while it is moving slowly. The car enters the subway system and is put into a very quick chain lift and the Joker’s laugh is heard and lights flash around you. You go through a part of the building which is lit by "Ha Ha"s, much like in the preshow. The car then turns a hairpin turn around a mannequin of Batman with lights flashing around it making it look like the figure is moving.
Most of the rest of the ride is a bunch of hairpin turns that go around set pieces. One of the more impressive effects is the holographic henchmen breaking through some billboards with mannequins on the top. When the corner is turned, other henchmen are setting fire to a Gotham office building. Batman appears one more time, but this time on the Bat Cycle, using the similar light effects from earlier in the ride. Then there is a few of “near misses” with an explosive truck before going into a series of drops which were sudden since they happen in the dark, but not very high drops. The ride pretty much ends after this and the car slowly enters the loading area which is where the ride began.
As a Wild Mouse coaster, the attraction is pretty tame with its concentration on turns rather than drops, but still relatively fun. However, the ride is pretty scary and intense due to the Joker’s scary laugh and the Joker’s gang which wear creepy clown masks. Also, this attraction is based more upon the serious and scary version of Batman rather than the campier Batman with Jack Nicholson, Tommy Lee Jones and Jim Carrey. The effects were also very similar to Disney's Rock 'n Roller Coaster except for the Dark Knight’s effects do not seem to be synched with your roller coaster car, meaning that they happen randomly.
This could be considered, in some ways, a positive aspect because no two trips on the Dark Knight are the same. From going on the roller coaster more than once, I observed this with my second trip being the best. A little disappointing with the effects was there were not very good “scene” setups meaning you could see all the scenes at the beginning of the ride. Also, due to the hairpin turns, future scenes can be easily seen. More walls would do wonders on this attraction.
If children are not scared of the Joker or any of the effects, this roller coaster will be a good first coaster for the little kids that want to go on the “big kids” ride. However, I think there will be a want for the actual ride to be a more thrilling roller coaster. I foresee this as being the biggest complaint since Six Flags Great America is a park that prides itself on holding innovative and thrilling roller coasters.
But as the Joker says: Why so serious?
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