West Coast Racers was worth the wait.
Six Flags Magic Mountain this morning opened its long-delayed new racing coaster to Six Flags members. But first, Six Flags invited several reporters and guests to take a few rides.
This Premier Rides coaster features two tracks that are actually one, twisting in a Mobius strip design just like the Magic Mountain's Twisted Colossus. That means you get two laps around the track in the park's new "Underground" section, which also now houses Apocalypse as well as West Coast Racers.
Three trains run on the track. In between laps, your train slides into a "pit stop," parallel to the load station where the other two trains are unloading and loading. The pit stop needs some decorative work, which is one reason why Six Flags prohibited us from recording any on-ride video today. But off-ride views show the nonstop action that West Coast Racers delivers.
The ride starts innocently enough, with a slow roll out of the station to meet the car from the pit stop. Then the initial launch doesn't smack you in the mouth the way that many other launch coasters do. But the acceleration builds with the launch continuing up the hill and pushing you into a high five element that delivers a sharp ejector airtime moment.
Watching from the street, none of these hills will intimidate anyone. The maximum height on West Coast Racers measures just 67 feet. In fact, the top speed here is a Sammy-Hagar-rage-inducing 55 mph. West Coast Racers ain't the Indy 500. This is a street race. You're not setting records around a superspeedway here. You're drifting through the intersections of Los Angeles. It's nonstop action as you slam from one turn, one twist, and one dip into the next, seemingly testing the limits of the soft, over-the-shoulder "seat belt" restraints that keep you from flying out of the car. (The lap bar's actually doing more of that work, though.)
Like Steve McQueen roaring through San Francisco in Bullitt, it's all about the airtime on West Coast Racers. The ejector on the high five shocked everyone on my first ride, and we didn't get a chance to breathe until the pit stop. Even what looks like a pause after the initial airtime sequence, a ground-level segment lightly decorated to look like the LA River, delivers the ride's second (and fourth, on the second lap) launch, a nice little kick in the pants that sends you flying into the ride's spaghetti bowl — another mess of hangtime and airtime moments with a surprising headchopper element on the first lap.
That first lap actually left me hoping that Six Flags doesn't get too slick with its operations on West Coast Racers. The time you spend in the pit stop equals the time it takes the ops team to prep the next train for dispatch. At peak capacity, the ops team at load will start unloading a train as soon as it returns to their station. Then the ops team will have reloaded that train during your first lap, so that it is ready to dispatch as soon as you hit the pit stop, allowing you to get through it faster than the Red Bull F1 team.
While the thrills here are not extreme, given the ride’s limited specs, I needed a breather today after the chaos of that first run. For a ride that looks like the compact, junior version of Twisted Colossus, West Coast Racers might actually be the most efficient coaster in America in terms of thrills per second. I don't know that I could take a flying run through both laps without pause — at least if I didn't want to stagger off the ride like someone in desperate need of a DUI attorney.
West Coast Racers is open to Six Flags members at Gold level and above today and tomorrow, opening to all season passholders and members on Monday and through January 4. (Update: This is a change from the original schedule.) West Coast Racers then will open to the public on January 9, 2020. We will be back for the media day then, bringing you on-ride video and more analysis.
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