Vote of the week: Is The Dark Knight Coaster really that bad?

July 11, 2008, 10:33 AM · Something interesting has been happening this summer on Theme Park Insider, and I thought it time to share with you.

Every year, we award a "Best New Attraction" honor to the highest-rated attraction on the site that debuted within the last 12 months. This year, that award went to Universal's The Simpsons Ride. But in the years that we've been handing out new attractions honors, none of those winners has managed to crack the top echelon of highest-rated attractions on the site: The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man, Twilight Zone of Tower of Terror, Pirates of the Caribbean.

But... on the other end of the scale, this year, one new attraction has plunged to the very bottom, tying long-time TPI punching bag Stitch's Great Escape as readers' least-liked attraction on the site.

I'm talking about Six Flags' Dark Knight Coaster.

Seriously, Theme Park Insider readers seem to hate this thing, but is it really that bad? I haven't been on it, since Six Flags did not build one at my local park, Magic Mountain. So I'd love to hear from readers who have been on the ride. How does it compare with other bad attractions you've ridden?

Tell us your thoughts in the comments.

Replies (17)

July 11, 2008 at 2:37 PM · I'm interested to hear comments from others as well. Being close to Great Adventure we're heading over soon, but the reviews have been so bad I'm almost dreading it.

Seems that no matter how many executives pore over evaluative material projecting what the general public will consider the "next big thing," it's all trial and error in the end.


July 11, 2008 at 3:50 PM · I think the whole problem with the ride is that alot of people are expexting a "E" ticket type attraction, when its not and wasnt meant to be this. This isnt hyped up to be a hyper coaster like Raging Bull, but it is a decent family ride that can be enjoyed by most people who visit the park.
Having just ridden is this morning and alot of times before today, it is a good coaster, as long as you keep your expectations in check. Its a wild mouse coaster in a building with some special effects thrown in while you ride in the dark. From what ive been told is that they plan on adding some more special effects but due to time restraints they may not be added till next year.
The ride isnt worth a 1 1/2 hour wait which is what happens if you dont get to the ride early when the park is busy, but few rides are worth a 1 1/2 hour wait in line, and while I love Raging Bull, I would no longer wait that long for a ride a truely enjoy.
So if you arent expecting a fanatstic attraction and visit when the line isnt as long you should enjoy what is a good family ride.


July 11, 2008 at 5:00 PM · Wow... never thought an attraction could drop below Stitch's ranking.

I think the problem with any Marvel or DC themed ride, if I may play the Average Joe here, everyone's expectations are high. For example, when I see rides like Riddler's Revenge, Incredible Hulk, those totally make me go "Ooooooooh, I gotta ride those!". But using the Batman License for anything less than an "E ticket"... seems a little strange. I know the Superman ride at Six Flags Magic Mountain isn't exactly the greatest anymore... it's pretty tame if you ask me. But is this ride confused about its audience?

Does it move and set-up like a kid's ride, but themed like a scary teen/ adult ride?

Or maybe people just don't know what to make of this type of ride?

July 11, 2008 at 5:24 PM · In the beginning...
I faulted the public for the poor reception. The chain didn't blatantly say "Hey kids, this is a mouse-in-a-box!". But they did market it differently than any coaster they have in recent years. No speed/height/drop stats were thrown around, the 'family' word was thrown around a bit, and the word 'theme' was used often as well. They even went as far as to say it would be like Space Mountain, which is quite mouse-like itself except for the banking, and the ending that seems fast since the beginning is so slow.

In the present day...
I shift some of the blame to the chain. They started throwing the 'thrill' word around a bit more, and the commercials have a thrill edginess to it in reference to TDK. Also, statements claiming that if you like Nitro or El Toro you'd like this too proved to be erroneous.

In the end, I feel it is a solid family ride. It is easily the best wild mouse I've been on, and that's not counting the theming. It is absolutely nuts on the turns, the hills have good air (for a mouse), and the cars are so roomy! I've never fit in a Wild Mouse that well before with my 36/38" inseam legs. In that backseat, you realize you're in the Cadillac of Wild Mouse cars. The theming is very good for a Six Flags park, but it does have it's flaws. The major one, which incidentally might actually be categorized as good show, is the fast pace of the ride makes it hard to take everything in. However, that does add a feeling of chaos to the ride. The lack of "avoidances" at the turns hurts the ride as well. The turn near the lift does a very good job utilizing the "I'm going to fall off the track" feeling since you usually have another subway car that you're "heading right for". The lower portion lacks props as well, but you can see in the dark if you know where to look that there are some down on the floor turned off. Turning those on will add more, and make the ride better.

My usual advice- Ride it, but don't expect Nitro-in-a-box. It's more like an advanced Skull Mountain. That usually gets people into a BatMouse mindset.

July 11, 2008 at 5:27 PM · I agree with Robert fully! When I went to the press event, I will admit it was a little disappointing. I went on it last night with my 10 year old cousin and she thought it was nice, but nothing special. Thats my view on it: nothing special. However, its not the worst I have ever been on, but its disappointing in the same way Stitch was since it is a so so attraction. I think people, including myself, am just disappointed that it replaced Alien Encounter which was voted at a solid 7 on the site.

So I do not think the Dark Knight or Stitch's Greatest Escape are the worst rides.

I also do not trust all of the votes on this site. I am in great disagreement with the Mama Melrose vote and I read all about how terrible DCA was on the site and I was actually impressed.

By the way, what won best new attraction over Spiderman?

July 11, 2008 at 7:04 PM · I wonder if this ride was at a Disney park instead, would it get the bad reviews they talk about. Perhaps not since Disney is a master of taking tame rides and making them great. And the Disney fanboys would defend the ride. However since this is at a Six Flags park, it gets bashed.
July 11, 2008 at 10:29 PM · Spider-Man opened with the rest of IoA in 1999, which was before the beginning of the awards.
July 12, 2008 at 4:54 AM · I think you may have a point Vince. If the ride were at Disney, it would be defended to the death. I've never ridden this ride, but I've heard a lot of positives and negatives about the ride. Based on that, here's what I suspect.

The ride isn't a speed demon or 200 feet in the air, so the Six Flags thrillseeker base is going to deem it subpar. The ride is probably perfectly fine for the family, but Six Flags hasn't exactly been the authority in family attractions in a while, and families haven't exactly been packing the parking lots either. I think that Dark Knight would get better marks if people who like themed, more family oriented attractions were riding and rating it.

July 12, 2008 at 8:58 AM · Derek, I think you hit the nail on the head. When folks go to Disney, they are looking for highly themed, family friendly, narrative attractions. When folks go to Six Flags, they are looking for big time coaster thrills.

I understand Six Flags is trying to re-engineer their parks to be more family friendly, but there is going to be pain in that effort. An entire generation of teen/young adult, season-pass-holding thrill seekers are going to be disappointed in anything that doesn't go 100 mph, 400 feet in the air, and have double digit inversions.

However, Six Flags needs to stay focused on the task ahead. Those same thrill seekers that are complaining about this new family attraction have plenty of other hard core thrill rides to visit at most SF parks, so they are going to continue to visit. But if SF is ever going to break free of their financial woes, they are going to have to broaden their appeal beyond those thrill seekers. In other words, building family friendly attractions is not going to hurt their current customer base, but should (at some point) lead to increased patronage from the highly coveted family market.

Having not ridden the new Batman ride, I can't comment on it merits, but I can understand what SF is trying to accomplish. Problem is, and I have said it all along, there is not some magic formula for turning standard midway parks into themed, family destinations like those found in Orlando and southern California. Therefore, SF should not worry so much about adding new rides at this point, but instead they should focus on the basics: make their parks cleaner, train their staff to be more customer focused, and make sure the rides they currently have are well maintained and safe. Once the basics are down, they can move on to (as Mark Shapiro, SF's Chief executive, stated) “building anticipation to its rides through stories and characters…".

July 12, 2008 at 10:03 AM · I was looking at how everyone that stated that this is a more family oriented ride, as opposed to a thrill ride normally associated with Six Flags.

I feel like this kind of judgment is being passed onto attractions like the kid rides in A Bug's Land.

I mean, if the wrong audience is rating these rides, is that truly fair?

Tuck & Roll's Bumper Cars isn't the same audience as Stitch's Great Escape. Stitch is just a bad attraction, but Tuck & Roll is for kids.

July 12, 2008 at 11:37 AM · No, kids hate Tuck n' Roll's, too. I took a slew of kindergartners to A Bug's Land before it opened to the public, and they unanimously disliked the slow, overstuffed "bumper" cars. They couldn't see anything or feel anything and didn't get the point.

That one remains my personal pick as the world's worst theme park attraction.

July 12, 2008 at 1:14 PM · Ah, point taken Robert! But do you or anyone else think any other kids rides are unfairly judged?
July 12, 2008 at 2:06 PM · I think that a slew of rides at Legoland are underrated, notably Royal Joust. There's a window of about two years for that ride (ages 3-4, maybe 5, if the kid's nostalgic). Anything older than that and child will be bored. But for a three-year-old, it's a thrill ride.
July 12, 2008 at 10:42 PM · As for the theming and "show" of the Dark Knight Coaster, it still is pretty terrible. Six Flags is no Universal or Disney!
July 13, 2008 at 9:45 AM · In my opinion (and my friend's) the ride is pathetic. Part of the reason for my voting "yes" is the 1.5-2 hour line- it moves sooooo

I didn't like: the waittime, the themeing at all, the movie seemed mostly like an ad for the movie and didn't hold my attention, the ride itself (and I actually like mouse trap rides), and did I mention the wait.

Also, to me, it seems like it's marketed towards the extreme crowd (even tho SFGA's site says "Moderate"). The effects during the movie, I think, would turn off younger riders.

Oh, I did like ONE (1) of the drops (short, unexpected, and almost fun)

So, based on everthing, it is the worst ride in recent memory.


July 13, 2008 at 7:13 PM · Owing to the general malaise of the SF brand, it's not likely I'll be riding one any time soon.
July 13, 2008 at 10:29 PM · And I'd just like to acknowledge that I am an idiot for screwing up the question on the vote. But it looks like figured out what I meant. Sorry about that.

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