Six Flags Magic Mountain opens its 20th roller coaster Friday with the debut of Wonder Woman: Flight of Courage. An adult can tackle as many of 15 of those in a day if everything falls perfectly into place - namely, that lines are short, all of those rides are operating and the hypothetical person in question has a higher tolerance for coasters than your author.
Nobody, I presume, questions Magic Mountain’s dominance on the roller coaster scoreboard. Cedar Point long ago stopped trying to compete in this arena; Cedar Fair’s Sandusky-based flagship park slumbers with a meager 16 coasters (if you count the stagnant former world record holder, Top Thrill Dragster). That reduces the coaster-hoarding debate, such as it is, to one of diversity, theoretically allowing mega-thrill parks to prune their collections.
That doesn’t seem to be the Los Angeles area park’s view on things. Wonder Woman, as it will likely be known to locals (the flat ride whose name it cribbed will not live long in the memory - this is the way at Magic Mountain), fills a kind of niche at Magic Mountain. It also accomplishes a macro-level goal for what was the Gotham area of the park and is now a larger, better-connected D.C. Universe area.
The single-rail coaster, provided by current it-kid Rocky Mountain Constriction, is unique and delivers a joyous minute-long jaunt through the 3,300 feet of track. Wonder Woman: Flight of Courage delivers three inversions and something akin to the journey Six Flags hoped Green Lantern: First Flight was going to provide all those years ago: a thrilling, repeatable people eater. And then came its darkest night.
Wonder Woman brings some life to a stagnant area of the park: Gotham. (The jokes write themselves, don’t they?) Six Flags has not been in the taking-care-of-the-toys-it-has business during my adult life, opting instead for refreshment by way of investment. That has meant new coasters at a breathtaking clip and at times a haphazard approach to the rest of the park.
The new coaster will come with a slightly renovated plaza, including a new store and a rethemed flat ride. The station, dubbed "The Embassy of Themyscira," creates a nice entry point for the coaster, but you’re left looking at a lot of concrete. That’s a recurring problem around the northern loop of the park; I don’t know if you’re aware, but it gets hot in Valencia in the summer. The high on Friday is 101 Fahrenheit and there is no shade in the plaza.
But the coaster? It’s brilliant. Six Flags Magic Mountain does not lack for land, to the point that a “land-locked” coaster like Wonder Woman feels free to explore despite not touching any of the park’s borders. RailBlazer, a smaller, more compact RMC Raptor at the soon-to-be defunct California’s Great America, is an absolute joy; Wonder Woman feels like a revelation because of its ability to stretch its legs.
That does not make it remarkably different from its Eastern sister, Jersey Devil, with whom Wonder Woman shares more personality traits than RailBlazer. While RailBlazer is more akin to the Premier Spaghetti Bowl coasters of yore, Wonder Woman is most similar to an out-and-back wooden coaster... but with inversions. Think Blue Streak but with zero-gravity stalls and barrel rolls. It’s a graceful, exhilarating experience that serves as a complement to its next-door neighbor, Batman: The Ride.
Its near-clone nature will matter little to the scores of riders (myself included) who have yet to experience Jersey Devil, the former record holder among single-rail coasters. That’s just another billboard-filling, mouthful of a record that Six Flags Magic Mountain added to its quiver this summer.
The boarding process for the coaster is guest- and employee-friendly, and the layout of the station is well thought-out. The restraints do not feature a secondary seat belt, so the only impediment to this attraction’s capacity is the number of passengers each train carries (12). Crews were dispatching trains at clips as quick as every 45 seconds during media previews, but expect that to be closer to once a minute, which would give the coaster a capacity of around 720 riders an hour.
That likely means long lines for riders this summer for an attraction that’s a great addition to Six Flags Magic Mountain’s ever-growing coaster collection.
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