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Six Flags Challenges Disney, Universal at Their Own Game with Justice League: Battle for Metropolis

May 19, 2015, 11:01 AM · ARLINGTON, Texas — Six Flags Over Texas this morning did something that theme park fans might not expect from a Six Flags park — it opened a world-class dark ride that sets a new standard for what an interactive attraction can be.

Opening the Justice League ride

With a blast of his ray gun, Six Flags Over Texas park president Steve Martindale "cut the ribbon" to open Justice League: Battle for Metropolis, an interactive dark ride that challenges riders to help Superman, Batman, and the rest of the Justice League to save Metropolis from Lex Luthor and The Joker.

Developed in cooperation with Sally, Oceaneering, and a who's who of themed entertainment contractors, Justice League provides a comic-themed, 3D motion-base ride that might challenge The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man (from rivals Marvel and Universal) for overall experience. If you think you know what a Sally shooter is, think again. Justice League offers a blend of thrills, narrative and game play that should place it among the world's elite dark rides.

No, the 3D animation isn't quite up to Spider-Man's standards, and there's one transition during the ride when riders are left with a blank moment that breaks the narrative momentum. But Justice League adds animatronic scenes and more practical sets than Spider-Man. And, oh yeah, did we mention that Justice League is a game, too?

The Joker
Photo courtesy Sally Corp.

All the game play happens on a half-dozen 3D screens and a fog screen in the ride, where you'll try to blast The Joker's orange-suited henchmen and Lex Luthor's robot army to score points. The quest for a higher score will by itself prompt many riders to come back and try again, but even non-gamers will need at least a couple of turns through the ride to soak in all of what's happening. Yes, there's a great animatronic scene where the Joker blasts you with his laughing gas, but later 3D scenes offer memorable highlights, too, including a simulated 360-degree loop as Lex Luthor and the Joker conspire to foil your attempt to help the Justice League.

The frenetic narrative pace in this three-minute ride at times matches the best moments of Universal's Transformers ride, while drawing you ever more convincingly into the action through the game play. Let's take a ride:

Justice League opens to the public this weekend, with a clone of the ride opening at Six Flags St. Louis at the end of the month.

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Replies (19)

May 19, 2015 at 11:29 AM · Wow, I'm impressed.

I hope this ride is a huge success for both parks and Sally Corp and hopefully these rides will roll out to more SF parks in the years to come.

May 19, 2015 at 11:43 AM · Any idea on the height requirement on this ride for kids?
May 19, 2015 at 11:53 AM · 42 inches to ride with an adult, 48 inches alone.
May 19, 2015 at 12:13 PM · I'm really excited to see this kind of ride coming from Six Flags. This kind of ride ups the competition level of the parks, and we are the ones who win from this. I'd love to see Six Flags start to take this level of theming to the park as a whole, but this is a great start.
May 19, 2015 at 12:23 PM · I love the fact that everyone is stepping their game up in general. I'm just worried that too many attractions will rely on 3D glasses, which is something that works well when done right. But when it isn't, then it's just a gimmick... yes, I'm looking at you King Kong 360 3D. There's only one sweet spot and that's in the middle of the tram.
May 19, 2015 at 12:54 PM · I wouldn't say this is a contender for Spider-Man's spot, but it looks fun, at least.
May 19, 2015 at 1:21 PM · I'm very impressed and I hope that Six Flags will clone this ride to many of its parks. I'm definitely going to visit because of this new ride.

On a side note, however, I think that the interactive aspect is not really needed on rides that are as detailed and high-paced as this one. To me, it can be more of a distraction. Just imagine, would "Spiderman" be better if you had to constantly shoot at something? I don't think so.

I am not trying to say that theme parks should stop developing interactive dark rides. But I do think that it's time to get away from our current concept of "interactivity." Right now, "interactivity" means that riders have a laser gun in their hand and pull the trigger as much as physically possible. I think ride developers should explore the concept of "interactivity" from a different and fresh angle.

May 19, 2015 at 1:45 PM · I'm really happy that Six Flags Theme Parks are doing more with their DC Superheros than simply naming a Roller Coaster after one of them, and giving that ride a paint job that matches his super suite. This looks like a huge step forward for Six Flags Parks.
May 19, 2015 at 1:50 PM · Okay, this may be the best dark ride not built by Disney or Universal. Given the reputation Six Flags has, I'm amazed they managed to pull off a world class dark ride that looks even better than Cedar Fair's most recent effort. I hope Six Flags buys more of these, as I can't think of a single park in the chain that wouldn't benefit from the attraction. Now, time to decide whether to wait a couple years and see if SFMM gets their own version or to start looking at flights to Dallas.
May 19, 2015 at 2:33 PM · I have four words to say...it's about damn time!!!

For years, Six Flags's idea of a "superhero-themed ride" was just taking a roller coaster they were building and slapping the name of a popular comic book character on it.

Okay, so maybe Universal isn't exactly excluded from this either. Another roller coaster with a popular comic book character slapped on it, a Mad Tea Party ripoff with a popular comic book character slapped on it, and a drop tower with a comic book character slapped on it. But those rides still have a fair amount of theming; and then of course there's The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man, one of the greatest 3D attractions in the world and one of the greatest attractions in the world in general.

While I have never physically been to a Six Flags park, I'm glad they're doing this and really hope that this signals the start of even more big things to come from that company.

May 19, 2015 at 2:41 PM · Truthfully, having just returned from a trip to Universal Orlando, I gotta say, I don't agree that "this may be the best dark ride not built by Disney or Universal." It actually looks to me to be better than Universal's Transformers. I thought Transformers, although a great ride, relied too heavily on the 3-D screens. I find a dark ride more convincing when it's more of a mixture of 3-D screens and practical effects, which is why I liked Universal's Spider-Man better than Transformers. Justice League has awesome looking practical effects that exceed Transformers, the giant 3-D screens of Transformers, the motion-based cars, and adds the video game aspect as well, which gives it great repeat ride value. Just judging from the POV video, I can't wait to ride it and kudos to Six Flags for spending the $$$ to create a truly world-class ride at a regional theme park!
May 19, 2015 at 2:59 PM · Indeed, kudos to Six Flags for joining the theme park wars. It is a great day for all park fans when the big chains are all doing such great work.

The question with Six Flags (and Cedar Fair), though, is going to be maintanience. Will this attraction still be in good shape three to five years down the road? Past experience would lead me to believe if you don't ride this year it will be a lesser experience the more time that goes by.

May 19, 2015 at 3:24 PM · Great point, James. That's the challenge.
May 20, 2015 at 6:53 AM · And to think 4 other parks got giant loops instead of this...

It looks like a great ride. I would rather see Six Flags focus on 2-3 parks with these types of caliber attractions, and sell off their other properties.

May 20, 2015 at 7:15 AM · I cannot wait to try this out in St. Louis in a week and a half, hopefully it will actually be open. That Cyborg animatronic is one of the most impressive ones I think I've ever seen anywhere.

As James noted, the story of this attraction will not be written until we see how these attractions are maintained. Six Flags is notorious for letting maintenance issues on rides fester, and something as complicated and intricate as this will require some serious investment to keep in tip top shape.

I'd disagree with you Court. I think the beauty of Six Flags is that they are in so many markets. However, they do need to do a better job of spreading the love. It's fine to give their flagship parks new attractions every single year, but instead of installing small attraction every year at their smaller parks, they should install something notable every 3-5 years. The beauty of Six Flags is that their season passes are good across the chain, and they should promote that fact to encourage guests to see the different parks around the country, not wait for stuff to be installed in their local park. Every Six Flags should try to be more unique, and I think they might find some more success. These dark rides might be a start.

May 20, 2015 at 3:08 PM · Looks even better than Knott's Voyage to the Iron Reef. There's much more things to look at and the trip throughout the city is much more detailed and complicated. It shouldn't be hard to add other villains, but they made Joker the primary villain with a dedicated animatronic.
May 28, 2015 at 11:53 PM · I grew up going to Cedar Point every summer so when I first saw Six Flags Over Texas after moving to DFW I couldn't help but think it was just so tiny in comparison. I enjoyed my first trip there as it had been a while since I stepped into an amusement park. After several dozen trips I have a special place in my thrill seeking heart for Six Flags. It's not CP but it has its moments (for me, namely Shockwave). After visiting USF and Disney a few years ago and then Cedar Point the next year to catch the new Gatekeeper, I took a little Six Flags break because I was just so bored. Nothing excited me like Spiderman, Harry Potter or even the Despicable Me ride. I longed for a dark ride of this scope after taking many trips through the very sad and aging Gold River Adventure. I can't believe it's finally here.

Tomorrow Gold Season Pass Holders are able to preview the ride and because I work in the evenings I am getting up and going solo. I am that excited to try it out. I will let you know what I think when I get back!


EDIT: Since I am unable to post another comment I will put my review here. Based on the other rides at Over Texas and the other SF parks I have been to, it is absolutely amazing. The amount of effort that went into this ride is above and beyond anything I've ever seen from SF before. I have been able to ride 6 times since last Thursday and with each ride I see something new. The animatronics and physical effects are top notch and the interactive element is a lot of fun, even for big kids like me. The scene with the Joker was the best moment for me. That fire is REAL and I loved it.

Now, the nitpicks. This ride could have used about a half dozen more physical effects and one or two more animatronics. There are only two - Cyborg (only appears in the queue) and Joker. While standing in line I over heard a few people asking their group who the heck Cyborg was. It didn't make sense to me to make an animatronic of him and not a character everyone knows and loves. Batman or Superman would have been my choice. My biggest issue with this ride was mentioned in this article - the break in the narrative is glaring. It takes you out of the ride for a moment and I believe a pratical effect would have served this area well.

Is it as good as Spiderman? Unfortunately no, but it's so very close. Taking into consideration that Spiderman turns 16 this year also a factor in my minor disappointment. SF has had nearly 2 decades to catch up and still fell a tiny bit short.

Those who have never experienced a ride like Spiderman are probably going to have an opinion like the first part of my review. This was a new experience for my husband and he was absolutely blown away. Considering he doesn't get too excited about things in general and isn't a theme park junkie like me, that is really saying something.

Six Flags Over Texas gets a big thumbs up from me!

May 22, 2015 at 2:49 PM · Well, Jenny? How was it? I'm in St. Louis and our version of the ride opens next week.
May 24, 2015 at 4:00 PM · Your in for a treat!!! I just rode JLBFM yesterday, I've also ridden Spiderman at universal, and let me tell you this new attraction stands right up to Spiderman in terms of it's technology and enjoyment. It's an amazing new addition to SFOT.

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