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Six Flags singles out Wonder Woman for new coaster
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Among its extraordinary collection of rides, Six Flags Magic Mountain in Southern California has a wild array of roller coasters. But its latest, Wonder Woman Flight of Courage, is quite distinct; its track is comprised of one flat and relatively thin piece of steel rail. Among the few single-rail coasters in existence, it lays claim as the longest and tallest ride of its kind. Not surprisingly, it is getting rave reviews.
What the heck is a single-rail coaster? Most coaster tracks feature a twin set of rails on which its trains’ wheels roll. As its name implies, rides such as Flight of Courage have only one rail–but not the tubular steel pipes found on most steel coasters. Manufactured by industry darling Rocky Mountain Construction, which refers to its single-rail rides as “Raptor Track” coasters, they feature the company’s innovative IBox design.
Shaped like the letter “I,” the trains’ running wheels roll along the flat top of the track; the side friction, or guide wheels roll at a perpendicular angle along the flat side of the track; and the unstop wheels, which keep the trains tethered to the track, fit snugly in the channels of the track. The unique design has allowed RMC to create some of the smoothest and most beloved coasters such as Iron Gwazi at Busch Gardens Tampa. The company’s single-rail Raptor Track coasters have the potential to be even smoother than its more conventional two-rail rides. Flight of Courage, which opened over the weekend, appears to be quite stable and smooth.
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What also makes Raptor Track coasters unique is the single-row seating configuration on its trains. Passengers sit in low-slung, open-air seats that straddle the 15-inch-wide rail. It’s a unique riding position, especially since the solo riders don’t have anybody or anything on either side to encumber them.
I had the honor of being the first person outside of Six Flags and RMC to ride the first Raptor Track coaster, Wonder Woman: Golden Lasso at Six Flags Fiesta Texas, which opened in 2018. While they are both named after the same DC superhero, the new Magic Mountain ride is different from its Texas counterpart. Whereas Golden Lasso crams a series of inversions and other maneuvers into a compact jumble of track, Flight of Courage has a large footprint and an out-and-back layout that offers much more breathing room between elements. The rat-a-tat succession of inversions combined with the whip-fast transitions between elements made possible by the single-rail design on the Fiesta Texas coaster makes for an extremely disorienting (but wholly satisfying) ride experience. The California coaster, on the other hand, allows passengers to better anticipate and prepare for the inversions and other elements. It likely delivers a smoother ride as well.
That’s not to say that Golden Lasso was rough. Despite the jostling and tumbling from the nonstop elements, the train, the car, and I remained fairly unflappable. But I can’t wait to try the more casual pacing on Flight of Courage to find out whether it lives up to the promise of the single-rail concept.
While the precision of IBox track, compared to tubular steel, is quite high during the manufacturing process, human error can mess with the final product. If the left and right rails aren’t properly aligned during the on-site installation of a two-track coaster, or if they become misaligned over time, rough rides can result. Single-rail rides such as Flight of Courage, however, are essentially pre-gauged; there is nothing to align and therefore nothing that can get discombobulated.
The ride certainly looks inviting. It begins with a lift hill that rises 131 feet and then dives down, accelerating to 58 mph. That’s followed by an airtime hill and a raven dive that reverses direction. There is a freaky zero-G stall that turns passengers upside down and leaves them hanging there for a sustained period as the train races forward. That’s followed by more airtime hills, a shorter zero-G roll, and other elements along the ride’s 3,300 feet of track. At 1,800 feet, the original Raptor Track coaster, Golden Lasso, is considerably shorter in length. It’s also not as tall or fast.
The new Magic Mountain coaster is nearly identical to Jersey Devil, which opened last year at Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey. That ride is 300 feet shorter and a mere one foot shorter, giving Flight of Courage the bragging rights.
This isn’t the first time RMC has worked its magic at Six Flags Magic Mountain. It turned Colossus, the park’s aging twin-track wooden racing coaster, into the wooden-steel hybrid gem, Twisted Colossus. It is among an exclusive list of coasters to which I give a five-star rating.
The park also played a critical role in the history of RMC. The company’s founder, Fred Grubb, and its original engineer and designer, Alan Schilke, first met one another while working together to try and re-track and salvage another past-its-prime Magic Mountain wooden coaster, Psyclone. That project got scrapped, but the park chain reunited the two to work on the Texas Giant at Six Flags Over Texas. That led to the formation of RMC, the pair’s breakthrough concept of IBox track, and the first IBox wooden-steel hybrid coaster, the rechristened New Texas Giant.
Incredibly, Flight of Courage is Six Flags Magic Mountain’s 20th coaster, piling on to its record as the park with the most number of coasters in the world.
Are you planning to work up the courage to give Flight of Courage a whirl? Have you been on Jersey Devil? Have you experienced Golden Lasso or any of RMC’s other single-rail coasters? Let us know.
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