You've probably heard the saying "Everything is bigger in Texas." One thing is for certain, the Texas Giant lives up to the saying, as this mighty wooden monster delivers a ride worthy of its name.
Texas Giant is located at the original Six Flags theme park just outside of Dallas. One of several oversized wooden coasters built at the time, this is only one that continues to perform well.
To construct this monster, contractors used 900,000 board feet of lumber, poured 1,220 concrete piers, hammered 10 tons of nails and screwed in 81,370 bolts. The estimated total cost to construct the Texas Giant was five and half million dollars.
Since its debut on March 17, 1990, Texas Giant has left its mark in the roller coaster history books. Texas Giant has consistently ranked as one of the top wooden coasters in the world. In 1996, the international year of the roller coaster it ranked #1 in the world. The editors of Amusement Today, members of the National Amusement Park Historical Association and the readers of Inside Track, and The Ride Magazine have all voted it the #1 wooden roller coaster.
So what makes the Texas Giant so special?
Standing the same height as a fourteen-story building, Texas Giant can be seen for miles in the flat Texas landscape, but what you can't see from the outside is the wild layout on the inside. A large drop, blazing speed, sweeping turns and a slick return course through the support structure are the elements to be discovered. Of course a ride up to the observation deck of the Oil Derrick will reveal what's hidden from below.
The top of the lift is adorned with Looney Tunes' Wild E. Coyote and the words "Wait! Let's Discuss This." For those who aren't fond of big drops, you might want to discuss it for on the other side is a 137-foot freefall designed to weaken even those who claim to have an iron stomach.
After climbing 143-feet the trains have plenty of potential energy to unleash. Cresting the apex the train slowly disengages from the lift and releases that energy as gravity pulls down, propelling the train to highway speeds (62 mph). The Texas Giant is not a ten second ride, in fact more than two minutes will pass between the time you leave the station and the time you return.
At a cruising speed of 60+ miles-per-hour the elements on the Giant come at a rapid fire pace. Texas Giant's track curves up into the first of two sweeping turns to the left. The initial section of track before the second turn is like the rim of a scalloped bowl. Up, down, up, down and finally turning to parallel the first drop for another descent that leads into the second sweeping turn that is tucked inside of the first.
What follows is an impressively steep dive into the structure. Pulling up and out, the train cruises over a nice hill with a pop of "airtime" before diving back through the structure of the lift hill and first drop.
A little more than halfway through the circuit the train starts a double helix rounding over the lift hill and threading through the structure of the first drop. Departing the helix the train begins the wild return run that has made this coaster famous.
Fans of Texas Giant claim that the last portion is the best and it's hard not to agree.
Resembling parts of GhostRider at Knott's (Texas Giant came first) the trains maneuver along track that is buried within the wood structure. The effect is a mind game, as your brain comes alive visualizing the speed you're traveling as beam after beam of wood passes by only feet away in a blur. Like a good topping makes ice cream better, elements like hills and banked turns improve a coaster. This relentless stretch delivers jarring laterals and pops of airtime add to the thrills as you speed through this wooden cage.
Just as the Giant is about to put on the brakes you emerge out of the structure to jump over a couple of bunny hops, lifting your buns from your seat once more before coming to a rest on the brake run. The finale is in some cases what makes or breaks a coaster, and Texas Giant's finale is one to be remembered.
So how does it rank?
The recent polls ranking it #1 are probably a little generous considering the newer competition, but considering how Texans love their slice of the world its understandable why it's a favorite.
Overall, Texas Giant after 16 years still delivers a ride that rewards you for stopping. So next time you're passing through the Lone Star state and want to get your adrenaline fix, go pay Six Flags Over Texas a visit and experience first hand the Texas Giant.
Height: 143 feet
Max drop: 137 feet
Descent angle: 53°
G-force: 2.7 G's
Top speed: 62 mph
Length: 4,920 feet
53-degree First Drop
Number of Vehicles:
3 - 24 passenger trains
March 17, 1990
Curtis D. Summers
Six Flags Over Texas
Texas Giant logo courtesy of Six Flags Over Texas. All rights reserved.
Photos by Eric Gieszl, Copyright © 2003, 2006 Ultimate Rollercoaster.