A Full Throttle construction tour... and a taste test?
Written by Robert Niles
In four months (or so), it'll be the tallest roller coaster loop on Earth. Right now, it's just a dirt hillside in the middle of Six Flags Magic Mountain. But Six Flags' Tim Burkhart still wanted to show it off.
Burkhart is the Director of Maintenance, Construction and Engineering for Six Flags Magic Mountain and is leading the project to build that loop, the highlight of the park's newest roller coaster, Full Throttle. He described the ride today during a construction tour for invited reporters.
If you've visited Magic Mountain before, that partial building in the background might look familiar. It's the former station of the park's old Log Jammer flume ride, which the park closed a few years back to clear space for what would become Full Throttle. Crews are building Full Throttle's station on the site, which will retain the old Log Jammer facade on the side facing the park's High Sierra Territory land. Riders will enter the Full Throttle queue from this side, though, walking under the coaster's launch on their way up the ramp to the new loading station.
Once on board, riders will launch from the station directly into the 160-foot loop, which will be built just in front of the massive crane you see here. Six Flags is billing the loop as the world's tallest, and Burkhart explained why fans should see that as an especially impressive record.
"Building a loop is much, much, much harder than building an inversion," Burkhart said. "Anyone can take a track and flip it. I've done it a million times -- it's easy to do. But to build an actual loop, with all the supporting structure, and the dynamics you have to do to be at 160 feet, that is a much [more] difficult thing."
Burkhart described the rest of the ride: "You'll go through that loop, and you'll make a sweeping turn [you can see the black track supports to the right in the photo above]… the track will climb the hill and go over the Superman midway, dive down, then go up into the Immelmann, which is an element where the coaster will go up, then make a turn, then dive back down. When it makes that dive, it will go in the tunnel. As we've talked about, the train will stop, we'll have some special effects business in there than will remain secret until we open up. Then we'll launch you backwards, out of the tunnel, back up the Immelmann. You'll come straight back down into the tunnel again and this time instead of stopping you, we're going to hit it and it's going to push you out of the tunnel. You'll go over the top of the loop, so the top section of loop will have interior track [for the initial loop] and exterior track for coming over the top.
Workers install Full Throttle track in the ride's special effects tunnel.
"On paper, it says you'll have a second to a second and a quarter of airtime [on the top hat over the loop]. That doesn't sound like a lot but most of the airtime you get on a roller coaster is measured in tenths of seconds, so you'll have a great amount of airtime as you come over that and you'll have a great view. Then you'll come down off the top into a set of brakes… you'll make a turn, come back into the station and that's the end of it. The entire ride cycle from the moment you get into it until the moment you get out of it will be in the neighborhood of a minute-twenty to a minute-thirty seconds. It'll be a lot like Superman, where you've got a hard launch. You're just going for it the entire time. The only time you're going to pause is when you're up on top of that loop. You'll slow down just as you crest and before you come down that 160-foot drop."
Burkhart noted that Full Throttle's trains will launch directly from station, unlike what was shown in the original concept video that the park showed earlier this year, in which riders launched from a separate tunnel. If you're wondering about wait times, Burkhart estimated that Full Throttle will be able to accommodate about 750-800 riders per hour, with two trains of 18 riders running simultaneously.
The coaster won't be the only element in the park's Full Throttle project. Magic Mountain is also building two new food counter service restaurants which will stand near the ride's entrance.
It doesn't look like much now, but this summer the old arcade building will become home to a new version of the park's Loaded Dogs hot dog stand and High Octane Wings, serving six styles of chicken wings. After the construction tour, Six Flags representatives invited us into the nearby Mooseburger Lodge to taste the wings they'll be serving at High Octane Wings.
Clockwise from bottom left: Six Flags Magic Mountain's new Lemon Pepper, Buffalo, Hot Habenero, Barbeque, Garlic Parmesan and Orange chicken wings
Six Flags has invited reporters on construction tours before, but I can't remember ever being part of a Six Flags restaurant taste test. After trying the new wings, I understand why Six Flags seemed so eager to show them off. Each of the sauces, which Six Flags said were developed and made on-site, delivered the "full throttle" flavor park reps promised. If I were buying wings in the park this summer, I'd select the original Buffalo and the Garlic Parmesan. Rate the Buffalo a medium on spice. If you're looking for major heat, choose the Habanero, which builds on the basic Buffalo sauce and amplifies the spice, leaving your mouth tingling for several moments after a bite.
The Garlic Parmesan offered a nice crunch, with mellow garlic flavor. There's a hint of Sriracha in the Barbeque, but not enough to cut the overly sweet taste. The Lemon Pepper offered up bright flavor with a nice pepper kick on the first bite, but by the third bite I found the citrus overwhelming. The Orange wing delivered a more mellow sweetness with a hint of citrus that didn't overpower the wing. It'd be my choice if I were looking for a sweet wing. That said, it's refreshing to see Magic Mountain looking to build up its food service along with its record-setting coaster collection.
Full Throttle and the new restaurants open "this summer," according to park representatives. No more detailed opening date than that, yet.
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