Six Flags unveiled its 2014 lineup of new roller coasters, thrill rides and water slides at the amusement park chain's 13 locations.
Six Flags' 2014 additions include four roller coasters, four thrill rides, five water attractions and a new water park.
Among the highlights:
Six Flags Great America (outside Chicago)
By far the biggest addition at any Six Flags park for 2014 is the Goliath wood-steel hybrid coaster planned for Six Flags Great America in Illinois.
Goliath will be designed and built by Idaho-based Rocky Mountain Construction, which wowed ride enthusiasts this summer with the triple-inversion Outlaw Run at Missouri’s Silver Dollar City.
Expectations will be high for this one and talk has already begun of Goliath as a contender for best new coaster of 2014.
Goliath is being billed as the world's fastest wooden coaster (72 mph) with the tallest (180 feet) and steepest (85 degrees) drop.
Like the steroid era in baseball, all these "wooden" coaster records come with an asterisk.
Goliath will feature an underground tunnel, a series of over-banked turns and multiple inversions, including a 180-degree zero G-roll twist.
Six Flags Mexico (Mexico City)
South of the border, Rocky Mountain Construction will convert the Medusa wooden coaster in 2014 to a wood-steel hybrid with three inversions.
Over the past couple years, Rocky Mountain converted two old wooden coasters - the 1990 Texas Giant at Six Flags Over Texas and the 1992 Rattler at Six Flags Fiesta Texas - into wood-steel hybrids that combine a steel track with a wooden structure.
The ongoing relationship with Rocky Mountain portends good things for other parks in the amusement park chain with aging wooden coasters like Six Flags Over Georgia (Great American Scream Machine and Georgia Cyclone), Six Flags St. Louis (Screamin’ Eagle and Boss) and Six Flags Magic Mountain (Colossus).
Six Flags Great Adventure (New Jersey)
The Zumanjaro Drop of Doom coming to Six Flags Great Adventure in 2014 will be a blast.
The unique 415-foot-tall drop tower will be attached to the side of the 456-foot-tall Kingda Ka, the world's tallest roller coaster and one of the fastest at 128 mph.
The Zumanjaro ride is remarkably simple: After a 30-second ascent and a brief pause at the top, riders will drop at 90 mph in a free-fall descent lasting 10 seconds before an abrupt deceleration.
If the timing is just right, the Kingda Ka train and the Zumanjaro gondola will reach the top of the tower at exactly the same time - and that's when the shaking starts. The gondola seats will rumble violently as the coaster climbs the track, causing the tower to sway several feet.
That was my experience on the similar Lex Luthor Drop of Doom at Six Flags Magic Mountain this past summer - and it's a sensation you won't soon forget. It feels like an earthquake in a skyscraper - only you're strapped to the outside of the building.
The addition of Zumanjaro comes with a couple curious subplots that may offer clues about future plans at Six Flags Great Adventure.
First, the queue for the new ride will pass through a baboon habitat designed to symbolically tie the amusement park to the new Safari Off-Road Adventure at the formerly separate 350-acre animal park next door.
Second, the opening of Zumanjaro is apparently forcing the closure of the 1979 Rolling Thunder racing wooden coaster, clearing space for a potential new attraction in the next few years.
Six Flags Over Georgia (outside Atlanta)
The changes coming to Six Flags Over Georgia in 2014 beg more questions than they answer.
The amusement park in the suburbs west of Atlanta plans to add a Hurricane Harbor water park with a wave pool, tube slide complexes and kiddie play area on land currently occupied by the Southern Star Amphitheater.
While Six Flags water parks typically require a separate admission, Georgia's new Hurricane Harbor will be included with admission to the amusement park. The only problem is Six Flags already has a water park in the Atlanta area: White Water in Marietta, about 20 miles away.
Other theme parks - notably Indiana's Holiday World and Pennsylvania's Hersheypark - have successfully incorporated water parks within a more traditional coaster and thrill ride park.
While Six Flags insists the two Atlanta-area water parks will complement each other, the questions still abound:
Will the new Hurricane Harbor eventually grow into a full water park?
How will Six Flags Over Georgia combine the amusement park and water park experiences?
Does the new Hurricane Harbor reduce the value of a White Water visit?
Will Six Flag sell or close the White Water park?
Six Flags America (outside Washington, D.C.)
The Six Flags park in Maryland will get to brag about a new themed land without the price tag usually associated with such an investment.
Six Flags America will convert the existing rides in the Southwest Territory area of the park to a new Mardi Gras theme while adding a Ragin' Cajun spinning wild mouse coaster and the French Quarter Flyers flying scooters.
The 2004 Ragin' Cajun comes to Six Flags America courtesy of Six Flags Great America in Illinois as part of the amusement park chain’s coaster relocation program. The brilliant cost-saving strategy is simple: What's old is new to somebody else.
The flying scooters are a throwback to an earlier age of amusement park rides that are making a comeback at theme parks such as Holiday World, Hersheypark, California’s Great America and Knott's Berry Farm.
Six Flags New England (Massachusetts)
The actual height of the world's tallest swing ride is being kept under wraps by Six Flags New England for fear a rival will swoop in with a slightly taller ride that will usurp the title.
Plans were approved in 2012 for a 410-foot-tall ride, although at the moment Six Flags is saying only that the New England SkyScreamer swing tower will top 400 feet.
Since 2011, the Funtime Star Flyers have been installed at more than half of Six Flags parks - each record-setter a little bit taller than the last.
La Ronde (Montreal)
The new addition for 2014 at Canada's only Six Flags park is a familiar Top Spin-style ride with a twist.
The thrill ride typically consists of a spinning passenger gondola suspended between two counterweighted arms.
But on Le Ronde's Demon, the twin arms will rotate independently, causing the gondola to tilt diagonally - making a wild ride even wilder.
Six Flags Mexico has a similar Vekoma-built ride known as Huracan.
Great Escape (New York)
The Six Flags park in upstate New York will add a spinning pendulum swing for 2014.
The thrill ride features a spinning gondola attached to a swinging arm that lifts riders 50 feet in the air.
Great Escape's Extreme Supernova appears to be a 16-seat Zamperla Midi Discovery, similar to the Huss Frisbee and KMG Afterburner rides common at many parks.
Six Flags Magic Mountain (Southern California)
The Roller Coaster Capital of the World will add its 19th coaster in 2014 - a 14-foot-tall kiddie ride with a top speed of 16 mph.
The as-yet-unnamed Zamperla family coaster is one of several smaller projects on tap for Six Flags Magic Mountain in 2014, including the Colossus and Batman coasters running backward as well as improvements to the annual Fright Fest event at Halloween.
Magic Mountain's Hurricane Harbor water park will add a pair of Bonzai Pipeline slides featuring enclosed capsules with trap doors that drop riders into a high-speed free fall.
Six Flags St. Louis (Missouri) and Six Flags Discovery Kingdom (Northern California)
The Six Flags parks outside St. Louis and San Francisco will each get the same water battle ride in 2014.
The ingenious Tsunami Soaker attraction combines two familiar amusement park rides - a spinning teacup with a water battle boat ride.
Riders facing outward on the teacups will fire water cannons at each other while spinning through a few inches of water.
La Ronde, the Six Flags park outside Montreal, opened a similar Mack Twist n Splash ride this summer.
Personally, I don't like to get soaking wet at theme parks. I’ve always wished water parks would install water rides. It just seems like a natural fit: You're already wearing a bathing suit and anxious to get wet.
Six Flags Fiesta Texas (San Antonio)
The four-slide Bahama Blaster complex coming to the White Water Bay water park at Six Flags Fiesta Texas will feature enclosed capsules with trap doors that drop riders into a high-speed free fall.
Six Flags Over Texas (Dallas-Ft. Worth)
The original Six Flags park will add new rides to an expanded kiddie area as well as a water slide at the adjacent Hurricane Harbor water park.
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