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Six Flags Fiesta Texas puts a new spin on fourth-dimension coasters

New Batman coaster navigates a zigzagging track with undulating straightaways and free-fall drops

The new Batman fourth-dimension roller coaster coming to Six Flags Fiesta Texas in 2015 will feature seats that spin forward and backward as the train navigates a zigzagging track with undulating straightaways and free-fall drops.

Set to debut in summer 2015, the one-of-a-kind 4-D Free Spin coaster by Utah-based S&S Worldwide will feature a track manufactured by Idaho-based Rocky Mountain Construction.

Built on a relatively compact footprint, the new Batman: The Ride coaster will reach a top speed of 40 mph over a 1,000-foot-long track that snakes back and forth like a demonic pachinko game.

Visitors will enter through the Monarch Theater, which will serve as a queue for the ride where visitors will encounter a Batmobile, bat suit and bat signal. In Batman lore, Bruce Wayne’s parents were murdered right before his eyes after leaving the Monarch Theater.

After ascending a 120-foot-tall vertical lift, riders will undulate over two hills while flipping forward twice before diving over a beyond-vertical raven drop. Following a reverse flip, riders will spin backward while falling over another beyond-vertical raven drop before executing a final forward flip. The weak-stomached need not apply.

Aided by magnetic kickers along the track, the Batman trains will spin freely based on gravity and the weight distribution of the cars. Based on rider feedback, Fiesta Texas can increase or decrease the amount of spinning by adjusting the kickers.

The new ride replaces the 1992 MotoRama Turnpike, where visitors drove miniature Ford Thunderbirds, Cadillac DeVilles and Chevy Corvettes.

Also gone is the “Rockin’ at Rockville High” 1950s musical revue, which started in 1992 and was a key factor in Fiesta Texas taking home Amusement Today's Golden Ticket Awards for best shows during a 10-year stretch from 1999 to 2008. A new show will soon be announced for the theater.

It remains to be seen if the rest of the Rockville area in the San Antonio amusement park will be converted into a DC Universe themed land as part of a promised "urban renewal project."

With the Superman Krypton floorless coaster nearby, fans in online forums have already begun to speculate about the possible transformation of rides in the area to a DC Comics theme. Could the Poltergeist launch coaster become the Joker's Revenge (a name previously used for a 1990s coaster at the park)? Would the Flash work as a theme for the Hustler teacup ride (as it has been used for DC Comics attractions at other Six Flags parks)?

For it’s part, Six Flags officials say none of the speculative changes are in the works but promise additional announcements about the Rockville area in the coming months.

Of course, Batman: The Ride is a rather run-of-the-mill name for a new, one-of-a-kind coaster. In fact, Six Flags has used the Batman name for six inverted coasters by Swiss-based Bolliger & Mabillard at parks across the United States, including nearby Six Flags Over Texas. Adding to the confusion, the Goliath coaster at Fiesta Texas is nearly identical to those other B&M Batman rides.

Six Flags is billing the new Fiesta Texas coaster as a “world’s first” ride, but it’s probably better described as S&S Worldwide’s first 4-D Free Spin coaster.

Fourth-dimension coasters, with seats that rotate forward and backward, have been around since X2 debuted at Six Flags Magic Mountain in 2002 (then known simply as X). Since then, 4-D coasters have been built in China, Japan, Sweden, Spain and Finland.

The 4-D Free Spin coaster is best thought of as S&S’ response to Swiss-based Intamin’s ZacSpin 4D ball coaster, the most recent of which was built in 2011 at Magic Mountain as Green Lantern: First Flight.

Both rides feature a vertical track layout on a compact footprint. The rotations on the Intamin ZacSpin are predetermined while the cars on the S&S ride spin freely (as the name implies).

The ZacSpin rides have been criticized -- by men in particular -- for delivering a multiple G-force karate kick to a rather sensitive region of the body. The corporate switch to the similar S&S coaster appears to be a none-too-subtle acknowledgement by the Six Flags powers-that-be of those “comfort concerns” with the Intamin ride.

Earlier this year, Theme Park Review’s Robb Alvey took a test ride on a prototype of the S&S 4-D Free Spin coaster at the ride manufacturer’s facilities north of Salt Lake City. Raised to the loading platform by forklift, Alvey rode the gut-churning prototype several times on a sub-freezing mid-winter day. Afterward, Alvey declared the “incredibly smooth” S&S ride as “very different” and “even better” than the Intamin ZacSpin.

As a final note, the partnership between S&S Worldwide and Rocky Mountain Construction is notable for bringing together two coaster manufacturers that many ride enthusiasts would like to see collaborate again.

Over the past few years, RMC has captured the attention of the coaster community with a string of mind-boggling looping wooden coasters while S&S has gained a reputation for pushing the envelope with cutting-edge ride concepts. What might a fourth-dimension looping wooden coaster look like? Only time will tell.

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