Six Flags is known for Bugs Bunny and other Looney Tunes characters, whirling rides, the DC Comics superheroes, and soak-inducing water rides. But more than anything else, the thrill-centric theme parks are renowned for their wild roller coasters.
Before guests even get in the gates, the screams from coaster riders fill the air, and the Six Flags coasters that pierce the parks' skylines get guests' adrenaline pumping. Get the lowdown on some of the highlights with the following reviews of select Six Flags roller coasters. Click on the headings for reviews of each of the rides.
This wooden-steel hybrid coaster, an update of the classic Colossus, is not only the best ride at Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia, California. It is one of the (if not the) best coasters in the entire world. It's got two lift hills, two drops, a racing feature, loads of airtime, and is just plain, wild fun.
It's an enormous hypercoaster (actually, it's among the tallest roller coasters in the world). But height and speed aren't everything when it comes to thrill machines. The punishing helix on Goliath can make it a scary (and not in a good way) ride.
Located at Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, New Jersey, Kingda Ka is the current world's champ for the tallest coaster. When it debuted, it was also the fastest. It's able to scale its height and reach its speed by using a hydraulic launch system. Being so fast and tall doesn't necessarily make it a great ride, as you can read in our review.
Known as a hypercoaster (which climbs approximately 200 to 250 feet and is designed for speed and airtime), Nitro is among the best of the breed. Hitting a top speed of 80 mph, it may not be as fast or tall as Kingda Ka, but in many ways, it offers a more satisfying ride. Although it opened in 2001, Nitro still offers a wonderfully smooth ride.
Superman is a great theme for a flying coaster. Passengers enter the queue by passing under the famous “S” logo and can see the trains soaring just above them while they are in line. After riders board the train and have their restraints checked, the seats tilt back 45 degrees into “flying” position. It's a giddy feeling to ride “faster than a speeding bullet” in flying mode like the superhero.
Six Flags New England in Agawam, Massachusetts has some great coasters including the wooden-steel hybrid, Wicked Cyclone, the classic wooden ride, Thunderbolt, and The Joker 4D Free Fly Coaster. But its best ride is the hypercoaster, Superman the Ride. It is damn near coaster perfection and is our pick for the best steel coaster anywhere.
There is another hypercoaster at another park in the chain, Six Flags America in Upper Marlboro, Maryland, that is similar to Superman the Ride. It was designed and built by the same manufacturer and even has a Superman theme. Its layout, however, is slightly different, and it doesn’t include any underground tunnels. For those reasons, it doesn't quite measure up to the incredible coaster at Six Flags New England. But Superman: Ride of Steel is still a great ride.
Goliath at Six Flags Great America in Gurnee, Illinois is a wooden coaster, but it's a different kind of woodie. Manufactured by the same company that pioneered the wooden-steel hybrid IBox track coasters, Goliath uses what's known as "Topper" track. Instead of a wooden coaster’s thin metal rail, it features a wide steel rail that completely covers the track’s wooden stack. That helps allow for a smooth ride and it allows Goliath to include inversions—something most wooden coasters do not have.
Let's run down some of the other coasters at the Chicago-area park with mini reviews of X-Flight, Vertical Velocity, Superman: Ultimate Flight, Batman: The Ride (the world’s first inverted coaster), The Joker, Raging Bull, Whizzer, Little Dipper, and Viper.
The innovative ride manufacturer, Rocky Mountain Construction (RMC), has revolutionized the park industry with its wild concept, the hybrid wooden-steel roller coaster, which includes its patented IBox track. The first ride to feature the newfangled track is New Texas Giant. It is an incredible coaster, as you can read about in our review.
The Rattler had been one of the most notoriously rough wooden coasters. Then the Six Flags Fiesta Texas ride, located in San Antonio, also got a makeover courtesy of RMC (the second one to do so), and the wooden-steel coaster is now among the smoothest and best rides out there. You wouldn't be rattled at all to ride it.