When you think about Six Flags, extreme roller coasters and high intensity thrill rides are what first come to mind. However, what happens when Six Flags actually invests in some of the industry’s best dark ride creators and pairs them with their lucrative DC Comics intellectual property? The result of that collaboration is Justice League Battle for Metropolis 4-D. I managed to experience the attraction on its first Gold Pass Member preview day this week, and it was certainly worth the wait. With motion base vehicles from Oceaneering and shooting dark ride technology and animatronics from Sally, riders will think they’re in Orlando or Hollywood, and not a second tier park in the Six Flags chain.
While Justice League is a direct clone of the dark ride opened almost a month ago at Six Flags Over Texas, the sheer presence of an attraction of this caliber at a park in the Six Flags chain that’s not one of their flagships (Great Adventure, Great America, or Magic Mountain) is hopefully a sign of things to come. Perhaps the key factor in placing this attraction in St. Louis was that the park already had a dark ride that could be easily gutted and converted to Justice League, as the former Scooby Doo dark ride building is used to house the new attraction. Nonetheless, if you had never been to the park before (like me), you would never know what existed before Justice League.
The exterior of the building has been themed to look just like the Hall of Justice that any comic fan or fan of the old Superfriends cartoon will readily recognize. The outside blends in well with Mr. Freeze Reverse Blast just across the plaza, and while this park has spread its DC-licensed attractions around the park, the new area now anchored by Justice League has strong and uniform theming.
Guests enter right through the front door of the Hall of Justice and through a queue that snakes through the front of portion of the building.
Eventually guests approach the loading platform and come face to face with an incredible animatronic of Cyborg. It’s identical to the one Robert showed in his review of the Texas attraction, but coming face to face with the character was even more impressive.
Everything inside the ride is identical to the Texas version of the attraction. The Joker and Lex Luthor have teamed up to take down the Justice League, and guests are armed with their own laser blasters to help the world’s greatest heroes out. Since I was unable to attend the media preview of the attraction, I don’t have a POV inside the attraction, but Robert’s video shows off most of the important parts of the ride. I would note that I felt the animation of the individual laser blasts was very well done, and the six colors of each of the riders’ weapons were extremely easy to differentiate. Also, the combination of screen and practical effects is quite an accomplishment. By no means is this attraction going to unseat Spiderman or even Transformers for the best motion base attraction in the world, but the use of practical effects like falling shelves of drums, fire, water and wind put this ride on another level. One of the most impressive effects was a shooting screen that was projected on fog. I felt that was even more convincing than the Dementor effect on Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. Due to time constraints, I was unable to get more than one ride, but I would have easily ridden another dozen times, just like I love to ride Men in Black: Alien Attack. Just like MIB, targets are worth varying amounts throughout the ride, and it will take repeated experiences to figure out how to maximize your score.
Speaking with some park employees and management while we were waiting to ride, everyone was very proud of the attraction, and excited to get something so much better than the old Scooby Doo shooter dark ride. Guests too were excited as the first gentlemen in line showed up at the park 90 minutes before it opened to be first during the announced preview. The animation is definitely better than what we saw on Canada’s Wonderland’s Guardian we rode last summer (and looks to be better than Voyage to the Iron Reef at Knott’s Berry Farm), but it's not up to the high standard set by Universal on Spiderman and Transformers. Also, the Oceaneering vehicles do not move as much as the ones on Universal’s rides, but that’s probably a good thing since riders are trying to aim and violent motions would hinder the ability to play the game. While we experienced a “clean” run through the attractions with all of the effects working, we were asked numerous times on the way out if everything worked correctly, which suggests not everything works 100% of the time. The ability of the park to properly maintain the ride and get as many “clean” runs as possible for guests will ultimately gauge the success of this level of dark ride in the Six Flags chain and potential future installations of rides like this. As someone who has been going to Six Flags parks for decades, I’m skeptical that they can pull this off and get these attractions to continue to perform at a high level a year from now, but hopeful that they can do it, because as much as I love roller coasters, rides like Justice League Battle for Metropolis 4-D are the future of themed entertainment. Kudos to Six Flags for taking such a big risk with these installations, particularly in one of their second tier parks, and here’s hoping they are an overwhelming success.
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