Ride Review: Zumanjaro: Drop of Doom at Six Flags Great Adventure

July 10, 2014, 1:52 PM · Hailed as the world’s tallest and fastest drop ride, Zumanjaro: Drop of Doom opened at Six Flags Great Adventure on July 4, the park’s 40th anniversary. It seems only fitting that this extreme ride is attached to Kingda Ka, another extreme ride and the world’s tallest coaster. Although I found Zumanjaro somewhat intimidating, I decided that it was a must-ride. With an entrance to the right of the entrance to Kingda Ka, it actually has a single-rider lane, an attribute that pleased me no end. As a single rider, I was able to make it to the head of the queue in almost no time. And you get a great view of Theme Park Insider Award-winning, number-one coaster El Toro from the entryway.

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In the loading station, riders are directed to one of three gondolas seating eight across. The restraints consist of overhead harnesses attached to seat belts. Once the riders are secured, catch cars descend from overhead and attach to the gondolas prior to dispatch. Riders are then lifted 415 feet up into the air. Initially, the ascent is slow, but as the gondolas get closer to the top they pick up speed. At the top, the riders hang there for a suspenseful 10 to 12 seconds or so before the inevitable plunge. This is the part of the ride that I found to be the scariest, being suspended at that altitude with my feet dangling and everything in the park, except for the top hat on Kingda Ka, far below me. Although the advance publicity said that from this vantage point it’s possible to see my home city of Philadelphia 52 miles to the south, I can assure you that I was not looking for Philadelphia but rather thinking about my impending doom. At this point I felt my gondola rock and dip slightly, a precursor of what was to come.

A second or two later the three cars plummeted almost to the ground at a speed of 90 mph. Awesome drop! And talk about a jolt! But not nearly as bad as I had expected; in fact it was very good and, while quite intense – of course!, I didn’t find it significantly more intense than the launch on Kingda Ka or the initial drop on El Toro. Not everyone seemed to be of the same opinion. I said to the guy in the seat next to me “That wasn’t so bad!” while the girl on my other side grabbed my hand and did not look like a happy camper. One guy remarked that the elevators in the Sears Tower were probably as fast but, baby, the elevators in the Sears Tower never felt like this!

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One thing that proved to be a disappointment is that whereas the park’s press release said that Kingda Ka trains would be launching toward the riders on Zumanjaro, this did not happen during any of my four rides. In fact I saw Kingda Ka trains on the launch track but never saw them launch while I was riding Zumanjaro. A cast member suggested that this might be for safety reasons due to the danger of things falling from overhead although it might have just been a fluke. We shall see how it plays out for the remainder of the operating season. In any case, Zumanjaro: Drop of Doom is a novel, thrilling ride and a great addition to the park’s stellar ride lineup.

Replies (9)

July 10, 2014 at 5:39 PM · Remembering Dueling Dragons, it's easy to understand why they potentially wouldn't want to run the trains at the same time. At 120-something mph, I would be fearful that a rider on Ka could lose a lot more than their eye if some idiot decided to toss something.
July 10, 2014 at 6:36 PM · Great review, and one of the reasons I visit TPI. However, the correspondent is far more brave than I am. I consider rides like the one reviewed here to be lunch liberators. Thanks but no thanks, Six Flags. I'll take a dark ride any day over this one.
July 10, 2014 at 7:55 PM · That's an interesting observation. I was thinking that the most likely scenario would be a cell phone flying out of someone's pocket on Kingda Ka and hitting someone on Zumanjaro but both are possibilities. Someone I met at Coasting For Kids at Dorney had been given a tour of Kingda Ka and remarked that the "cell phone graveyard" on KK was right under the apex, which is where the riders on Zumanjaro would be most vulnerable.
July 10, 2014 at 9:17 PM · Screamscape is reporting that the state of New Jersey is prohibiting the park from running the 2 rides simultaneously. Kinda Ka is fully locked out while Zumanjaro is loading, operating, and unloading.
July 10, 2014 at 9:28 PM · At first I wondered if Zumanjaro wouldn't simply duplicate the thrill experience of Kingda Ka, with an almost identical drop in the identical place. But without the high-speed launch, it seems that Zumanjaro offers a (relatively) milder experience than Kingda Ka. That's not a bad thing, though -- parks should be appealing to a wide variety of thrill fans!

Still, running both at the same time would have amplified the thrill of each, at least visually if not physically, so not being able to do that not only misses that opportunity, it will slow down and reduce the hourly capacities of each ride.

Someone who knows the data ought to do the math, but I wonder if the combined capacity of the two rides, operating one at a time, will end up being less than the capacity of Kingda Ka was before, when it could run without interruption. If so, this would have to count among Six Flags' bigger fails.

July 11, 2014 at 8:52 AM · Thanks, Russell, for reporting the state of New Jersey's position re operating the two rides simultaneously. (As of July 2, the park didn't even have a license from the state to operate the new ride, so that the press preview scheduled for July 2 had to be cancelled although Six Flags wasted no time in getting a license in time to operate it on July 4.)

And thanks, Robert, for voicing some of the same concerns I have but was reluctant to put in my article. Your comment that "running both at the same time would have amplified the thrill of each, at least visually if not physically, so not being able to do that not only misses that opportunity, it will slow down and reduce the hourly capacities of each ride" is spot on. First of all, while on Zumanjaro I was acutely aware of the Kingda Ka trains on the launch track and getting impatient when they didn't launch, as this would have been both exciting and entertaining. Secondly, Kingda Ka usually has the longest queue of any ride in the park; the average wait time to get on, at least on a weekend, is 90 minutes. So with the trains stalled until a cycle on the drop ride is completed, you can see how this will result in significant delays for both rides. I was there this past Sunday, when the park was not at all crowded, and it still took an hour to get to the loading station on KK. Then something rather odd happened. An empty train was dispatched to the launch track, where it sat indefinitely. A second train was sent out of the loading station behind the first one and when neither one moved within the next 15 minutes I gave up and got out of line. I went back to Zumanjaro and guess what? It was closed. Coincidence?

July 11, 2014 at 11:43 PM · I went on it last weekend. I loved the view! The drop was great! I got a little scared going up the tower! It was a wonderful experience!

The Queue Sucks. I waited 2 and 1/2 hours for the ride. As good as it is, I wouldn't wait an hour in that queue. No diversions, no mist fans. It is a covered queue with tons of steel. That's it. Also the Flash Pass Line needs to go for now. The capacity is too brutal to support three lines.

It can get better...

July 12, 2014 at 2:47 PM · If Kingda Ka is locked down whenever Zumanjaro loads, operates and unloads then Kingda Ka would never operate. Think about what you're saying.

Kingda Ka does not launch a train when Zumanjaro is in operation, but that is not true for loading and unloading.

Six Flags was foolish to install this ride in New Jersey.

July 13, 2014 at 7:11 PM · I went back a week after first riding Zumanjaro and the queue was much longer. I have now seen it from both the perspective of a Zumanjaro rider and a Kingda Ka rider. Both rides are approximately 30 seconds. The prohibition against operating both rides simultaneously seems to have a greater impact on Kingda Ka than on Zumanjaro. With a retractable roof, Zumanjaro can be fully loaded while Kingda Ka is operating. Two Kingda Ka trains typically go by while this is happening. On the launch track of Kingda Ka, I sat there and watched the gondolas on Zumanjaro ascend and descend, knowing that my train was not going anywhere until the drop ride was over. What this means is that there is approximately a 30-second delay for every other Kingda Ka train. I can't do the math; maybe someone can help me here. According to Roller Coaster Database, Kingda Ka can accommodate 1400 riders per hour. With a 30-second delay every 90 seconds (allowing for two KK trains to operate consecutively before a 30-second delay while waiting for the drop ride to finish), to what extent does this reduce the ride capacity of KK? It doesn't seem significant, but b/c the park is open from 10:30am to 10:00pm, it might add up to more than I would have calculated.

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