Six Flags reveals plans for world's fastest coaster

August 26, 2019, 9:09 AM · Six Flags today announced plans for the most ambitious thrill ride ever created — Falcon’s Flight, which will be the world's tallest, fastest, and longest roller coaster.

I'm still looking for the specs on the ride, but taking Six Flags' word for it, Falcon’s Flight likely will be the premier attraction at the new Six Flags Qiddiya park, which was announced today in Riyadh. Themed lands in the park will include:

Six Flags Qiddiya

"The Six Flags brand began in 1961 when we opened as our first park, Six Flags Over Texas, which was themed according to the six flags that once flew over Texas. At Six Flags Qiddiya, we return to that heritage by creating six immersive lands designed for Saudis of all ages who seek family entertainment experiences steeped in their rich culture and history. We are thrilled to be part of a project of such scale and scope and are proud to celebrate this milestone with Qiddiya," David McKillips, President of Six Flags International Development Company, said.

"Our vision is to make Six Flags Qiddiya a theme park that delivers all the thrills and excitement that audiences from all over the world have come to expect from the Six Flags brand, and to elevate those experiences with authentic themes connected to the location. As a place that will create indelible memories and moments of delight, telling stories that resonate with our guests is a central notion that will be evident throughout Qiddiya," said Michael Reininger, the former Disney executive who now serves as Chief Executive Officer of Qiddiya Investment Company.

Six Flags Qiddiya is set to open in 2023.

Replies (20)

August 26, 2019 at 9:19 AM

Whilst this will no doubt provide thrills to local Saudis it's hard to see it attracting any kind of significant overseas attendance. Saudi Arabia is far less accommodating of foreign visitors than Abu Dhabi and the theme parks there have consistently failed to draw the predicted crowds, largely down to the simple fact that a great many people just don't want to travel there.
A new and exciting coaster is always welcome but this one is destined to be one of the least-ridden record breakers in the Six Flags chain.

August 26, 2019 at 10:08 AM

David's point about people not wanting to travel to the Middle East is well taken. I am personally fearful of going there because I'm a Westerner and a woman. The way I dress is so far off from the modest attire expected of women in Muslim countries that I'd be afraid of pissing someone off and ending up in prison.

August 26, 2019 at 10:24 AM

Bobbie I think modest is more like attire that is not too skimpy or revealing, which is common. The Muslim theocracies dress code for women is simply repressive.

August 26, 2019 at 10:37 AM

Another Mid-East theme park that no one will visit. If a Sheikh builds a record breaking coaster in the desert, and no one is around to ride it, does it really break any records?

August 26, 2019 at 11:16 AM

I once read the first coaster was build for people who wanted to euthanasia themselves. This looks like that coaster.
Not sure why all the fear comes from to visit an Arab country. People living there want the same as we. They want a happy life and love their children. Sure people on the top are silly idiots, guess who is on top in the USA.

August 26, 2019 at 11:34 AM

Sounds like an amazing park that no one outside Saudi Arabia will see. I really hope for their sake they have enough locals who want this because if their goal was to attract foreigners good luck! The UAE parks are no were near as successful as they wanted so if locals don't like this they'll go bankrupt for sure.

As much as I would love to see the parks in the UAE I refuse to spend money in countries that outright ban my existence. I know I would be perfectly safe their as long as I keep quiet but Saudi Arabia is definitely a VERY unsafe country to visit for westerners. Do they seriously think that this will increase tourism???

August 26, 2019 at 12:41 PM

Pretty disappointed in Six Flags for choosing to build a theme park in a country where half the world's population (women) won't be allowed to visit without a male chaperone.

August 26, 2019 at 2:26 PM

While they won't get a lot of visitors from non-Muslim countries, Saudi Arabia is probably more interested in attracting visitors from traditionally Muslim countries, including N African nations, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Pakistan, to name a few.

August 26, 2019 at 2:31 PM

I'm super skeptical of this actually happening, and if it does I'm extremely confident it will be a failure. The coaster itself seems to defy the laws of physics and also appears to be an example of "bigger isn't always better." The rest of the park does sound intriguing, but it also doesn't sound like something impressive enough to book a trip to Saudi Arabia (even if doing so was an easy process).

August 27, 2019 at 7:36 AM

This looks like one of those ‘Planet Coaster’ type, fan creations. Impressive but, as AJ said, it doesn’t look like it can actually translate into a real life ride. Even if it does become reality though, I’ll never experience it, because I have no desire to visit Saudi Arabia, no matter what kind of theme park is being built there.

August 26, 2019 at 3:48 PM

Big step to go from having no real entertainment venues of any kind to investing billions on a theme park and entertainment complex, especially for what is essentially a closed society. This is still a Kingdom where cinemas are a foreign concept, let alone theme parks, and yes many of us are explicitly unwelcome there. The UAE is far more open and developed than Saudi Arabia and still struggling to be more than an airport hub for Emirates and Etihad airlines, betting on Dubai Expo 2020 to turnaround what's been a lackluster result so far....

August 26, 2019 at 4:58 PM

>>Saudi Arabia is far less accommodating of foreign visitors

I think a qualifier is needed there. Instead of Foreign visitors, I think that sentence only makes sense if you read it as "Western" visitors. We can demonstrate, easily, millions of foreigners visiting Saudi Arabia every year. They have a major draw for a certain type of person who is expected to find a way, at least at some point in their life, to get there. There are companies who make a fortune helping people get to Saudi Arabia for just one event in the year.

However, do they visit Saudi Arabia for a reason that would typically support a visit to a theme park? As I don't have that characteristic that causes millions to visit Saudi Arabia, I can't say for sure but my understanding is that that's a solemn experience.

The wikipedia page for the wider project (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al-Qiddiya) looks like it was written by an English second language marketing employee for the resort, so I feel justified in suggesting this is how the backers feel about the resort:

>>The main idea behind the project is to establish a healthy, happy and engaging lifestyle place that is full of different opportunities and to encourage young ambitious Saudies who look forwards creating a prosporious Saudi Arabia

When I first read that, I read "Epcot". This suggests its a project designed to inspire a local audience. Nothing wrong with that of course. The section on "Saudi Vision" also supports that

>>The project comes to fulfill the Saudi vision to increase local spending. It is expected that such a project will contribute in returning 30 billion dollars spent abroad by Saudis. Moreover, it is expected that by 2030 the total number of annual visitors will reach 17 million.

I'd suggest its harder to put "Tariffs" in the tourist industry (Exit Visas? Airline departure taxes? The latter is going to hurt bringing in people so you don't want to do that), so trade wars are harder to fight. Trying to encourage people to spend vacation/holiday time at home is certainly something many countries do, so this seems to be a supercharged version of that.

That supercharging probably couldn't be financially justified on its own, but the first paragraph I quoted I think shows the answer: the greater project is stopping a brain drain. If the best and brightest are going overseas, that's a cost to a country/society that cannot be compensated for easily - there's the financial cost in educating them of course, but the person is gone.

I think we forget sometimes that these non-western developements aren't developed with us in mind, and that's okay.

August 26, 2019 at 6:58 PM

I remain skeptical any of this will actually come to fruition. Take the Great MALL of China for example: supposed to be the world's largest, currently at 95% vacancy and basically dormant. The restrictions for tourists (i.e. literally everyone that goes to a Six Flags) are way too tight, especially for westerners. Saudi Arabia will execute you for possessing a single joint!

As for the record breaker coaster, if it were a tower launcher like KK or Dragster I'd say maybe height & speed were possible. But a full chain lift and a launch?? It looks 500ft tall and 10,000ft long. Plus, that rendering looked REALLY sketchy, like an impossibly long drop into a mountainside tunnel? C'mon man. Ain't no way that would ever see the light of day.

To me, it seems like Six Flags Qiddya is trying to sprint before learning to crawl.......I'm calling BS on the likelihood of a 2023 opening, and 100% BS on the existence of Falcon's Flight.

August 26, 2019 at 9:01 PM

I am skeptical as to whether or not this will happen as well, especially taking into consideration all the shady developers Six Flags has been doing business with in China/Dubai making these grand plans and never being able to find the financing for them.

However I am cautiously optimistic for this one because I know the prince of Saudia Arabia has been begging western companies for investment, and most of them aren't taking the bait because they are afraid of what it would do to their reputation. However Six Flags would never turn down a buck and considering this won't cost them a penny and they would get probably get management and licensing fees, if they're the only company that will do it, the prince might make sure it gets done. I honestly don't even think the prince cares if it loses money he wants to show the country can stand up economically with the western world.

August 26, 2019 at 10:14 PM

Wondering if the height is being fudged a little with the height being measured from the top of that mesa rather than the typical first drop height.

I’ll believe this park actually happens when I see it (on the Internet, not in person).

August 27, 2019 at 2:31 AM

Chad H makes some good points. What I don't understand is that if this project is indeed aimed at. in effect, 'locals', then why make everything so extreme - biggest, fastest, tallest, etc? Those stats are going to appeal only to a hard core of thrill seekers and will probably alienate 'ordinary' visitors who would enjoy an Epcot-style experience but may well be overwhelmed by a Six Flags On Steroids approach.

August 27, 2019 at 4:55 AM

David, I think the “epcot” goals are again keen to understanding that. Just an “amusement park” isn’t as effective as telling young ones that they don’t need to leave home to have the same opportunities that are elsewhere as “The worlds biggest entertainment complex with the worlds most advanced experiences”

August 27, 2019 at 8:40 AM

I'm with you guys .... I think this is a flight of fantasy, more than a reality waiting to happen.

........ but, it's interesting to see the kph indicator on certain parts of the ride. The drop off the cliff, and into the light tunnel shows an approx reading of 250kph, which is roughly 155mph. Formula Rossa gets up to 150mph, so it's not beyond the realms of possibility this coaster could just go beyond that. The height record is all down to where it's going to be built, and one has to ask is this natural terrain or structure that will be built to accommodate the coaster? It certainly won't be the initial lift hill and subsequent drop, that defines this coaster as being the tallest or fastest in the world. To be the longest, that's the easy part, especially over the terrain shown.

Don't get me wrong, being an engineer for my sins, I don't think it's feasible, but when you have billions of $$$ to throw at a new park, who know what can be realised.

And like the majority here .... it's a coaster I won't ever see or ride in my lifetime, if it ever does get built.

Just think though, if 6-flags, or anyone, had that sort of money to spend on a park to be built here in the US, or even in Europe .... !?!?

August 27, 2019 at 1:02 PM

Sharing a link to an editorial about Saudi Arabia's leisure and tourism ambitions in general and Qiddiya in particular that analyzes how unrealistic the goals are:
forbes.com/sites/ellenrwald/2019/08/26/saudi-arabias-100-billion-tourism-pipe-dream/

August 27, 2019 at 9:50 PM

Just FYI, I was invited to fly to Saudi Arabia to cover this press conference in person. But I'd already committed to D23 Expo and Galaxy's Edge, so there was no way for me to take Qiddiya up on its offer.

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