Bird? Plane? It’s Superman coaster at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom

(Six Flags)
Los Angeles Times staff writer

A first-of-its-kind vertical roller coaster debuting June 30 at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom will take riders through a pair of twists, a towering heart-line roll and a non-inverting loop.

Dubbed Superman Ultimate Flight, the custom Premier Rides launched coaster at the Northern California park combines a unique blend of elements from other coasters, including Cedar Point’s Wicked Twister, Universal Orlando’s Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit and Green Lantern: First Flight at Six Flags Magic Mountain.

PHOTOS: Superman coaster at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom

Superman Ultimate Flight starts with an electromagnetic launch through a neon-lined tunnel that pushes the coaster partially up a vertical spike before the train barrels backward through the tunnel again and up another vertical spike. The launch recalls the Wicked Twister at Cedar Point, an Intamin Impulse shuttle coaster.


After racing through the tunnel a third time at speeds reaching 62 mph, the train navigates a 180-degree twist as it again climbs the first vertical spike to the ride’s highest point.

At the top, trim brakes slow the train before heading into a heart-line roll at 150 feet in the air. The slow-moving barrel roll offers plenty of hang time with only a lap bar restraint holding riders in place.

Another trim brake just before the first drop dangles riders over the edge of the second spike before the train dives down another 180-degree vertical twist that leads into a non-inverting loop. The non-inverting loop, which twists twice at the top keeping the car upright at all times, recalls a similar element in Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit at Universal Studios by Maurer Sohne.

Upon exiting the loop, the train zips once again through the tunnel and up the initial spike before rolling back into the station.

The vertical layout of the 863-foot-long track allows Superman Ultimate Flight to sit on an extremely compact footprint, recalling Green Lantern: First Flight at Six Flags Magic Mountain, an Intamin ZacSpin coaster.

With only single 12-person trains operating on the track, the new ride may experience some significant capacity issues.

Among its many innovative elements, the one-of-a-kind coaster will also hold the title for tallest inversion west of Mississippi for its 150-foot-tall heart-line roll. Volcano: The Blast at Virginia’s Kings Dominion, a 1998 Intamin inverted launch coaster, holds the record for tallest inversion for its distinctive 155-foot roll-out element.

Similarly, the Maurer Sohne SkyLoop coasters, which bear many similarities to Superman Ultimate Flight, feature 152-foot-tall corkscrew inversions.

Superman Ultimate Flight joins a number of Six Flags coasters referencing the DC Comics superhero, including Superman: Escape from Krypton (Six Flags Magic Mountain), Superman: Ride of Steel (Six Flags New England and Six Flags America), Bizarro (Six Flags Great Adventure and Six Flags New England) and Superman el Ultimo Escape (Six Flags Mexico).

In fact, three Bolliger & Mabillard flying coasters at Six Flags Great America, Six Flags Great Adventure and Six Flags Over Georgia all bear the Superman: Ultimate Flight moniker.

The colon-free Superman Ultimate Flight ride at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom will replace Pandemonium, a $6.5-million Gerstlauer spinning coaster that debuted in 2008 as Tony Hawk’s Big Spin.