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Six Flags Magic Mountain claims coaster crown with 18th roller coaster, Green Lantern: First Flight

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Published: June 30, 2011 at 2:48 PM
Six Flags Magic Mountain this morning reclaimed the title of "America's Coaster Capital" with the opening of its record 18th roller coaster, Green Lantern: First Flight.

Green Lantern: First Flight opening ceremony

Green Lantern is the first Intamin ZacSpin coaster in the United States, with dual cars of four seats mounted on either side of a zig-zagging vertical track. The seats spin up in a 360-degree revolution "up to three" times. Why "up to"? That's because the weight distribution on the cars seems to affect the spinning motion on the trains. The boy I rode with reported that on his first ride, he didn't go heels over head at all.

But on our ride? We did. Oh, yes, we did.

At first glance, I thought the rather small, 825-foot-long Green Lantern looked like "X2 Junior," a condensed version of the park's other coaster that features spinning side-mounted seats. But after riding, I'm calling Green Lantern "X2: Super Concentrated" instead. This is an intense ride experience especially on its final two turns.

Green Lantern feels nothing like the free flight and airtime of a traditional, horizontal roller coaster. No, this ride makes you feel more like a ball bearing falling down a Pachinko machine. The speed increases as you zig-zag down the ride, culminating in two whip-quick flips before you dive into the station. At a couple ticks under a minute, what Green Lantern lacks in length, it makes up for with intensity.

Doing the math in my head, at one minute per ride and eight riders at a time, we're looking at a maximum capacity of 480 riders per hour. And that's with continuous loading and no delays with people getting into and out of seats. (Four cars wait in the station while one rides on the track.) So this isn't a high capacity ride by any means. Expect long waits for the first few weeks until word gets out that this coaster isn't for rookies and casual fans. Green Lantern is a roller coaster for hard-core fans who've been looking for something fresh, with a sharp new spin.

Readers' Opinions

From Timothy Nguyen on June 30, 2011 at 3:24 PM
Man... shoulda went to SFMM tomorrow instead of Tuesday. Robert, I ain't gonna challenge you on the idea that green lantern is going to get shorter, but X2 still has ridiculously long waits to this day (well, at least the day I went) and that is apparently "super intense." No Flash Pass + other rides= X2 and Superman un-ridden :( .
From Robert Niles on June 30, 2011 at 4:47 PM
True, "shorter" waits for rides with under-500 hourly capacities is a very relative term. But I found X2 a much more enjoyable ride than Green Lantern. I'd wait an hour for X2 (even though that's a rare wait time). I can't say the same for GL. If others feel the same, that might help bring down the GL wait time by the end of the summer.

Keep in mind, though, that while I like the flying- and floating-sensation on roller coasters, I'm not a fan of whipping and spinning rides. I just don't like that sensation. Think of this as a vertical flat ride, with the spinning on the y-axis instead of the traditional x-axis. (Yeah, I'm a math geek.) If that sounds fun to you, you'll love Green Lantern.

From James Rao on June 30, 2011 at 4:24 PM
Thanks for the timely review and fun video, Robert!

Gratz to SFMM on claiming the coaster crown, and kudos to them for continuing to add unique coaster experiences. This new coaster may not be for everyone, but with 18 to choose from, who cares?

So, has the "Coaster Capital Of The World" signage come down at Cedar Point yet.... or are they thinking of getting a piece of the crown back next year...?

From 66.66.200.85 on June 30, 2011 at 6:58 PM
This looks like your head gets bantered about....maybe its just the angle of the video, but this may be one coaster I skip......
From Ben James on June 30, 2011 at 8:29 PM
James,

I bet that anything is possible with Cedar Point. I know the new CEO has to grapple with the shrinking debt from taking on Paramount Parks. But, I think it would have to be 2 coaster in order to take on the title again. However, there is nothing to say that they can't push their alternate claim "America's Roller Coast".

From James Rao on June 30, 2011 at 10:00 PM
Lousy slogan, but it might have to do.

And yeah, with their money issues I figured they'd just build one new coaster and be "tied" - at least they'd have part of the crown.

From Kurt Larson on July 1, 2011 at 12:11 AM
Aquaman looks pretty sweet in the far right corner. LOL.
From Anthony J on July 1, 2011 at 10:33 AM
I'm nauseous just watching the video. I don't know how I would do on a full day at Magic Mountain and I've never actually been to a Six Flags park. How do you alternate between the thrills? The bench ride?
From James Rao on July 1, 2011 at 11:01 AM
Lol... yes, Shapiro's favorite invention, Bench: The Ride. According to "another website/podcast", Shapiro is suing IOA over the use of his idea in Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey! ;)
From Andre Somma on July 1, 2011 at 11:59 AM
Looks like a vertical wild mouse.
From Larry Zimmerman on July 1, 2011 at 12:40 PM
Seems kind of short to me. Then again, short is a relative term (take Top Thrill Dragster, for example).
From Robert Niles on July 1, 2011 at 2:20 PM
James, +1.

Anthony, the pause between the thrills is called "the wait times."

From Anthony J on July 1, 2011 at 10:57 PM
I would've FlashPassed. Then what? lol
From Derek Potter on July 2, 2011 at 12:55 PM
I'm sure that Cedar Point will come with something soon. I do have a question though, is the coaster war something worth winning at this time? Lots of debt and a new CEO will probably ask that question too. Green Lantern is indeed a novel ride, but it's low capacity and I dare say more of a novelty than a ride with real staying power. There aren't a whole lot of new coaster designs (except for some of the wooden designs out there) that are worth spending the money on when there are so many other ways to improve the park and make it even more popular and profitable than it already is.

Instead of a new coaster, CP would be better off rehabbing the Mean Streak in the style of Texas Giant. They are after all, pretty much the same design by the same designer, although Mean Streak is a little bigger. Mean Streak just isn't that popular anymore. In this era, the coaster war doesn't just mean quantity, but also quality.

From James Rao on July 2, 2011 at 2:32 PM
Great point, Derek. I would rather go to a park with a half dozen excellent coasters, than one with a dozen coasters no one wants to ride.

Busch Gardens in Williamsburg is a great example of quality over quantity. Without Big Bad Wolf the park has just five coasters (one of them a kiddie coaster) and it still soundly thumps Kings Dominion in attendance which has fourteen coasters in operation (of which about three - Volcano, Dominator, and Back Lot Stunt Coaster - are worth repeated rides). Why does Busch win? Well, because the park is really a top notch experience, and their coasters, while limited in number, are all excellent.

Furthermore, new coasters are largely overrated when it comes to attendance drawing power. You need look no further than SeaWorld Orlando and Universal Studios Orlando - both parks added new coasters in 2009, and both parks had attendance skids that same year. It is time for park designers to start getting a bit more creative, not only with coaster designs, but with all their attractions, and with their attraction selections as well.

And yes, Derek, the Iron Horse treatment would be awesome on Mean Steak. In fact it should be mandatory for any Dinn Corp woodie (hello, Timber Wolf)!

From Flavio de Souza on July 4, 2011 at 6:34 AM
I would love to see a Disney version of this Intamin ZacSpin coaster, with a (real) Disney theme; perhaps it could be partially indoor.

What you think Robert? Could it be a good idea or do you think that it has too many spins and flips for the average Disney`s rider?

From Robert Niles on July 4, 2011 at 1:09 PM
I'm intrigued by the idea of a coaster that has a seat which can rotate along the track. That could be used to help enhance the storytelling on a coaster. So perhaps this technology could be adapted to a Disney ride. But as it is installed here? No way. Way to intense for the average Disney visitor, as you say.

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