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Superman the Ride

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Superman the Ride (Virtual Reality Coaster)
Previously known as Superman: Ride of Steel (2000–2009), Bizarro (2009–2015)
Six Flags New England
Park section DC Superhero Adventure
Coordinates 42°02′19″N 72°36′41″W / 42.03861°N 72.61139°W / 42.03861; -72.61139Coordinates: 42°02′19″N 72°36′41″W / 42.03861°N 72.61139°W / 42.03861; -72.61139
Status Operating
Opening date May 5, 2000 (2000-05-05)
Replaced Riverside Park Speedway
General statistics
Type Steel
Manufacturer Intamin
Designer Werner Stengel
Model Mega Coaster
Track layout Out and Back
Twister
Lift/launch system Chain lift hill
Height 208 ft (63 m)
Drop 221 ft (67 m)
Length 5,400 ft (1,600 m)
Speed 77 mph (124 km/h)
Inversions 0
Duration 2:35
Max vertical angle 72°
Capacity 1300 riders per hour
G-force 3.6
Height restriction 54–76 in (137–193 cm)
Trains 2 trains with 9 cars. Riders are arranged 2 across in 2 rows for a total of 36 riders per train.
Flash Pass available
Single rider line available
Superman the Ride (Virtual Reality Coaster) at RCDB
Pictures of Superman the Ride (Virtual Reality Coaster) at RCDB

Superman the Ride (formerly known as Bizarro and Superman: Ride of Steel) is a steel roller coaster located at Six Flags New England in Agawam, Massachusetts. Built by Intamin in 2000, it features a 208-foot (63 m) lift hill, a 221-foot (67 m) drop, and over 1-mile (1.6 km) of track. The park announced plans to change the name from Bizarro to Superman the Ride for the 2016 season, as well as adding a virtual reality feature to the ride, starting June 11.

Superman the Ride has been voted the number one steel roller coaster in the world in Amusement Today's Golden Ticket Awards five times since 2003 and has not been ranked lower than #2 in that same poll. It has swapped with Millennium Force at Cedar Point for the top position five times in the last eleven years. Since its debut, the roller coaster has undergone several safety modifications as the result of two serious incidents.

History[edit]

Prior to the 2000 season, Six Flags New England was known as Riverside Park. Six Flags purchased the park and added their own DC Comics theming. The site that Superman the Ride operates on is the former site of the Riverside Park Speedway.[1] The Speedway was demolished after the 1999 season to make room for a new themed area, DC Superhero Adventure. As part of the $40 million expansion, the park built Superman: Ride of Steel.[2][3] Six Flags worked with Swiss manufacturer, Intamin, to build and design the ride a year earlier. The final track piece of Superman was installed on March 27, 2000, about 40 days before opening day.[2] The ride officially opened on May 5, 2000 as the tallest and longest roller coaster on the East Coast of the United States.[4][5] The entrance and station were themed to Superman with Superman logos and a picture of him located above the entrance.[6] The second tunnel also had a mist effect.[7]

2009 theme change[edit]

Superman: Ride of Steel was re-themed as Bizarro at the start of the 2009 season. Six Flags had to work with the Zoning Board of Appeals to file a permit for the new effects because the ride sits on the Connecticut River floodplain.[8] Although no changes were made to the track layout, a new theme highlighting Superman's evil clone, Bizarro, was added. The track was repainted purple with dark blue supports, and multiple special effects were added; including building structures that give riders the impression of speeding through a city, rings in the shape of Bizarro's S shield that the train passes through, and flame effects. The two trains were repainted purple with new on-board audio. Six Flags introduced an "alternate reality game" to market the newly themed ride.[9] Bizarro opened on May 22, 2009, at the start of Memorial Day weekend.[10] Since the transformation, some of the effects have been removed. The fire effects were removed and moved to the New Texas Giant at Six Flags Over Texas.

2016 theme change and VR experience[edit]

On September 3, 2015, it was announced that Bizarro's theme would be restored to Superman the Ride for the 2016 season.[11] On March 3, 2016, Six Flags announced that the ride would be one of several rides at various Six Flags parks to feature a VR system. Riders have the option of wearing a Samsung Gear VR headset, powered by Oculus to create a 360-degree, 3D experience while riding. It is themed to Superman saving a city from Lex Luthor's Lex Bots who are causing chaos with an anti-gravity ray. This theming also came to the Superman: Krypton Coaster at Six Flags Fiesta Texas and Superman - Ride of Steel at Six Flags America.[12] Starting July 25, 2016, the Virtual Reality experience is now offered from 1 p.m. to one hour prior to park close each day.

Ride experience[edit]

Track Layout[edit]

After departing from the station, the train climbs the 208-foot (63 m)-tall chain lift hill. To the left of the lift hill is the Connecticut River, which is parallel to much of the coaster. After reaching the top, the train drops 221 feet (67 m) into a fogged headchopper tunnel. The ride reaches its top speed of 77 miles per hour (124 km/h). After the train exits the tunnel, it climbs a second hill before dropping down into a 120 degree overbanked turn to the right. Riders then ride through cutouts of buildings and climb the third and fourth major hills. The third hill is where the on-ride photo is taken. After the fourth hill, the train drops through Bizarro's S shields. Riders crest a small hill, turning right into a clockwise helix. This helix is the spaghetti bowl. It then jumps over a bunny hill into a counter-clockwise helix. The train makes a right turn drop into a fogged tunnel followed by three bunny hills before banking right into the station.[13][14]

Trains[edit]

Train in the station prior to the theme change in 2009

The roller coaster features two fiberglass trains with stadium-style seating.[15] Each train has nine cars with two rows of paired seats per car. When the ride was re-themed in 2009, on-board audio was added to the trains. On each one, the two rear seats of the fifth car have speakers mounted in the headrests of the seats that play a soundtrack. This reduced the capacity of the trains from 36 to 34.[4][16] Upon reopening following the change, a recording of various film quotes played while the train was in motion, ending with a loop of Bizarro and several other people chanting his name. Eventually the audio track was switched to a compilation of clips from different rock songs, although the ending portion of the audio loop was kept due to popular demand. While on the final brake run waiting to return to the loading station, riders hear Bizarro chanting his name and "Bizarro #1".[13] The new trains paint scheme was changed from blue and red to purple.[9] Each seat originally had an individual hydraulic T-shaped lapbar restraints, but after several safety modifications, the restraints now consist of two metal bars on each side.[17]

Track[edit]

The steel track is 5,400 feet (1,600 m) in length and the height of the lift is approximately 208 feet (63 m).[4] The track was originally painted red with blue supports, to fit the theme of Superman. In 2009, after the re-theme to Bizarro, the track was repainted purple while the supports were painted a darker shade of blue.[14] In 2016, the paint scheme of the track and supports was restored to its original colors.

Accidents and incidents[edit]

  • On August 6, 2001, one of the trains failed to stop at the ride's brake run, colliding with the other train in the loading station. 22 people were sent to hospitals, without any major injuries.[18] The ride reopened on August 18, 2001.[19]
  • On May 1, 2004, a 53-year-old, 5' 2", 230 lb (104.5 kg) man from Bloomfield, Connecticut, fell out of his coaster seat during the last turn and was killed. Reports show that the ride attendant had not checked that the guest's ride restraint was secure[20] as his girth was too large for the T-bar-shaped ride restraint to close properly. The victim's family said that due to his various medical conditions, such as cerebral palsy, he shouldn't have been allowed to ride. The park stated that the federal Americans with Disabilities Act forbids them from denying a ride to a person with a disability as long as the person can get on the ride by themselves.[21]

Safety modifications[edit]

Superman the Ride has undergone numerous safety upgrades. After the 2001 incident, the PVC airlines were replaced with steel reinforced air hoses to prevent a similar accident from occurring.[19] After the 2004 incident, metal bars were installed on both sides of the “T-bar” restraint, encasing the rider's legs. Shin restraints were added to the lower portion of the restraint, preventing riders’ feet from leaving the car. In addition, all of the seat belts on both 36-passenger trains were replaced with ones at a consistent length, as well as a “go or no go” belt for each seat and “T-bar” restraint. The “go or no go” belt ensured the “T-bar” restraint was in an effective position before leaving the station.[17] During the 2009 rebranding, new trains were deployed with new restraints added. The new lapbars eliminated the center pole, leaving only the exterior poles. New seat belts provided more strength and were less likely to come undone unintentionally.[22]

Rankings[edit]

Superman the Ride, as Superman: Ride of Steel, viewed from in front of a football field

Superman the Ride, along with Millennium Force, have held the top two spots in the Golden Ticket Awards poll every year since 2001. Superman the Ride is praised by the roller coaster community, and the ride is noted for its smoothness and large amount of airtime.

Golden Ticket Awards: Top steel Roller Coasters
Year 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
Ranking 10[23] 2[24] 2[25] 1[26] 2[27] 2[28] 1[29] 1[30] 1[31] 1[32] 2[33] 2[34] 2[35] 2[36] 2[37] 2[38]
NAPHA Survey: Favorite Steel Roller Coaster
Year 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011
Ranking
3[39]
4[39]
2[39]
2[39]
-
-
-

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Nascar's Weekly Grind, With Women at Wheel". New York Times. September 2, 2001. Retrieved December 30, 2012. 
  2. ^ a b Stacom, Don (May 6, 2000). "The Debut Of Six Flags New England". Hartford Courant. Retrieved December 30, 2012. 
  3. ^ Stacom, Don (December 10, 1999). "Benefits Seen To Six Flags Traffic". Hartford Courant. Retrieved December 30, 2012. 
  4. ^ a b c Marden, Duane. "Bizarro  (Six Flags New England)". Roller Coaster DataBase. Retrieved December 30, 2012. 
  5. ^ Stacom, Don (April 13, 2000). "Work Is No Walk In The Park". Hartford Courant. Retrieved January 3, 2013. 
  6. ^ Souliere, Evan. "Entrance of Superman: Ride of Steel". CoasterBuzz. Retrieved January 3, 2013. 
  7. ^ "Superman: Ride of Steel POV". YouTube. Retrieved January 3, 2013. 
  8. ^ Danko, Jim (January 28, 2009). "Superman ride to get wilder". The Republican. Retrieved December 30, 2012. 
  9. ^ a b Danko, Jim (April 5, 2009). "Six Flags roller coaster transformed". The Republican. Retrieved December 30, 2012. 
  10. ^ Danko, Jim (May 22, 2009). "Coaster thrills ride fans". The Republican. Retrieved December 30, 2012. 
  11. ^ MacDonald, Brady (September 3, 2015). "Six Flags unveils new attractions for every park in 2016". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved September 4, 2015. 
  12. ^ "Six Flags adds VR roller coasters". Digital Trends. Retrieved March 3, 2016. 
  13. ^ a b "Bizarro POV". YouTube. Retrieved December 30, 2012. 
  14. ^ a b "Bizarro at Coaster-Net". Coaster-Net. Retrieved December 30, 2012. 
  15. ^ Danko, Jim (March 21, 2009). "Six Flags New England in Agawam gives Superman roller coaster a makeover". The Republican (Springfield). Retrieved January 3, 2013. 
  16. ^ "Bizarro at Ultimate Roller Coaster". Ultimate Roller Coaster. Retrieved December 30, 2012. 
  17. ^ a b "Agawam park to reopen with modifications". Sun Journal. May 29, 2004. Retrieved December 30, 2012. 
  18. ^ "Cars collide on Superman roller coaster at Six Flags New England; 22 injured". The Bryan Times. August 7, 2001. Retrieved December 30, 2012. 
  19. ^ a b "Superman Coaster Reopens at Six Flags New England". Ultimate Roller Coaster. August 19, 2001. Retrieved December 30, 2012. 
  20. ^ "New England: Massachusetts: Coaster Death Report". New York Times. May 8, 2004. Retrieved December 30, 2012. 
  21. ^ "Investigators Preparing Report In Roller Coaster Death". NBC30.com. May 4, 2004. Archived from the original on February 17, 2006. Retrieved December 30, 2012. 
  22. ^ Rodgers, Joel (2011). "Bizarro". Coaster Gallery. Retrieved December 30, 2012. 
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  24. ^ "Top 25 steel roller coasters" (PDF). Amusement Today: 7B. August 2001. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 19, 2013. Retrieved September 14, 2015. 
  25. ^ "Top 25 steel roller coasters" (PDF). Amusement Today: 7B. September 2002. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 19, 2013. Retrieved September 14, 2015. 
  26. ^ "Top 50 steel roller coasters" (PDF). Amusement Today: 14–15B. September 2003. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 19, 2013. Retrieved September 14, 2015. 
  27. ^ "Top 50 steel roller coasters" (PDF). Amusement Today: 18–19B. September 2004. Archived from the original (PDF) on April 3, 2007. Retrieved September 14, 2015. 
  28. ^ "Top 50 steel roller coasters" (PDF). Amusement Today: 26–27B. September 2005. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 19, 2013. Retrieved September 14, 2015. 
  29. ^ "Top 50 steel roller coasters" (PDF). Amusement Today: 26–27B. September 2006. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 19, 2013. Retrieved September 14, 2015. 
  30. ^ "Top 50 steel roller coasters" (PDF). Amusement Today. 11 (6.2): 36–37. September 2007. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 19, 2013. Retrieved September 14, 2015. 
  31. ^ "Top 50 steel roller coasters" (PDF). Amusement Today. 12 (6.2): 36–37. September 2008. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 19, 2013. Retrieved September 14, 2015. 
  32. ^ "Top 50 steel roller coasters" (PDF). Amusement Today. 13 (6.2): 32–33. September 2009. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 19, 2013. Retrieved September 14, 2015. 
  33. ^ "Top 50 steel roller coasters" (PDF). Amusement Today. 14 (6.2): 34–35. September 2010. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 19, 2013. Retrieved September 14, 2015. 
  34. ^ "Top 50 steel roller coasters" (PDF). Amusement Today. 15 (6.2): 38–39. September 2011. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 19, 2013. Retrieved September 14, 2015. 
  35. ^ "Top 50 steel roller coasters" (PDF). Amusement Today. 16 (6.2): 36–37. September 2012. Archived from the original (PDF) on April 2, 2015. Retrieved September 14, 2015. 
  36. ^ "2013 Top 50 steel Roller Coasters" (PDF). Amusement Today. 17 (6.2): 34–35. September 2013. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 19, 2013. Retrieved September 14, 2015. 
  37. ^ "2014 Top 50 steel Roller Coasters" (PDF). Amusement Today. 18 (6.2): 46–47. September 2014. Retrieved September 14, 2015. 
  38. ^ "2015 Top 50 steel Roller Coasters" (PDF). Amusement Today. 19 (6.2): 49–50. September 2015. Retrieved September 14, 2015. 
  39. ^ a b c d "NAPHA 2005–2011 Survey Results". National Amusement Park Historical Association. Retrieved May 27, 2012. 

External links[edit]