Why You'll Love Nitro, the Six Flags Great Adventure Hypercoaster

Nitro roller coaster at Six Flags Great Adventure.
••• NItro's massive track is a sight to behold. © Arthur Levine.

Hypercoasters are all about extreme height, speed, and airtime, and Nitro delivers on all three fronts. Incredibly smooth and exhilarating, it is a must-ride at Six Flags Great Adventure.

Up-Front Info

  • Thrill Scale (0=Wimpy!, 10=Yikes!): 8
    Wild speed, height, and G-forces, but no inversions
  • Coaster type: Hypercoaster, Out-and-back
  • Top speed: 80 mph
  • Height restriction to ride: 54 inches
  • Height of lift hill: 230 feet
  • First drop: 215 feet
  • Ride time: 2 minutes, 20 seconds
  • Note that unlike most coasters, the front of the train, rather than the back, seems to deliver more airtime and a more intense ride.
  • Location: Six Flags Great Adventure

Bone-Rattling Speed

Nitro sits at the back of Six Flags Great Adventure. Its massive yellow and purple track snakes through the woods outside the park's gates. The ride retains a bit of mystery since passengers can't get a good sense of its layout until they're on board and racing at hyper-speed.

The unique and impressive design of the huge 36-passenger trains is evident as they pull into the loading station. The cars' low-slung-sides and raised seats leave riders exposed. Since there are no inversions, there are no over-the-shoulder harnesses. A single, unobtrusive T lap bar ratchets Nitro's passengers into place and contributes to their sense of vulnerability.

There are no jogs at the apex of the lift hill.

Nitro proceeds straight into a 215-foot drop and accelerates to a bone-rattling 80 mph. It immediately shoots up a second hill for some delirious airtime. From there it takes a left turn into the wilds of New Jersey.

The Sweet Release of Floating Airtime

The coaster then navigates a series of hills that alternately deliver rib-crushing positive G-forces followed by the sweet release of floating airtime.

After the horseshoe-style turnaround, Nitro enters into a double helix for some intense positive G-forces -- a little too intense for me. I'm not a fan of spiraling helixes, particularly on hypercoasters. I think they serve to sap a coaster's pent-up energy that could be better used for more hills and airtime. The double-helix element interrupts the airtime-a-thon and brings an otherwise near-perfect coaster down a notch from a five-star rating.

Nitro is similar to other hypercoasters, including Apollo's Chariot at Busch Gardens in Virginia and Mako at SeaWorld Orlando. The three rides share the same manufacturer, Bolliger & Mabillard of Switzerland. Apollo's Chariot  and Mako give smoother rides (although Nitro is remarkably hyper-smooth), and forego the double helix for non-stop hills and drops.

Ironically, the only other coaster among Great Adventure's large arsenal to rival Nitro for a glass-smooth ride and wild airtime is El Toro, a wooden coaster. (Although, its unique hybrid track distinguishes it from typical rough-and-tumble wood coasters.) Both coasters deliver a heckuva one-two punch for thrill machine fans.

Other notable rides at Great Adventure include Kingda Ka, one of the world's fastest and tallest coasters, and Superman Ultimate Flight, a flying coaster.