Ride review of new Superman coaster at SFDK
The new coaster Superman Ultimate Flight (SUF) at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom opened to the public 6/30/12 (I believe) and I was curious to check it out. Since I had no specific plans for Independence Day, I decided to make the one hour drive to SFDK to see what this latest "Superman" has to offer.
Entering the park at 10:35 (just missed opening by 5 minutes) I picked up my first ever Flash Pass only to find out the SUF is not included in the basic pass I was purchasing :( So I headed over to SUF and arrived there at almost 11:00. The line on the platform appeared to be only about a 20-30 minute wait so I climbed the few stairs and got in line. Then I looked over the edged of the platform and realized the platform I was on was less than half of the total line. I was looking down onto another set of switchbacks that was hidden from view until arriving atop the elevated platform. Okay so now I'm thinking this will be about an hour wait but I should stay in line now because the line won't be any shorter later in the day. After waiting in line exactly an hour (with at least another 20 minutes to go) the ride op shouts out "I need one single rider". Ah ha, my lucky is improving. I raised my hand and he called me to come on up.
Once inside the loading area the ride op assigns you to a row and you get no choice of seating. I ended up in the last row (which didn't really matter to me for this type of ride). I have to comment here that the ride ops in the station were doing an excellent job of hustling the guests on and off the ride really fast by literally saying "quickly, quickly, lets keep the line moving, hop in and grab a seat." They repeated that for every trainload. There was one op on the loading side and another op on the unloading side and each would wave their arms frantically motioning everyone to keep moving. This is something I've rarely (if ever) seen at a Six Flags park. The simple lap bars made the loading and unloading very quick. The lap bars are very comfortable and snug fitting with adequate padding. I was pleasantly surprised to find padding around the ankle area to keep my legs/feet comfortably in place. With me being 5'-10" and 165# this was a nice fit but it might be less comfortable for taller and/or wider riders.
There are 3 launches. The first launch is forward with a smooth and powerful takeoff. Not the strongest launch and not the weakest launch. It propels the train out of the station and onto the inclined track just high enough that the front row is nearly vertical. As the train rolls back through the station the second launch kicks in nicely and we soar backwards and upwards twisting to the top of the non inverting loop. This was a very unique sensation. Because I was in the back row of the train, my seat was almost completely upright as we crested the loop. Then we headed forward twisting downward and into the station for the third launch. The third launch propels the train forward to full speed through the station. Soaring through the front of the station house the track curves vertically and into a forceful but smooth 180 degree twist before leveling off at the coasters highest point. It feels like the train is now just barely crawling forward as we navigate the heartline roll nearly 150 above the ground. The pace through the heartline roll is about as slow as Hydra's JoJo roll (at Dorney). It was a very unusual sensation to experience such a slow heartline roll with only a lap bar.
Exiting the heartline roll we return to an upright position. The train slowly arches downward (as it passes over the magnetic brake) into a 90 degree (vertical) drop which spirals 180 degrees on the way down. Then we bottom out sitting upright and continue through the non inverting loop which makes the final diving and twisting drop into the station. The station brakes barely slow the train as we once again pass through the station and make a slight climb skyward before rolling back into the station for a final stop. As soon as the train stops there's no time to catch my breath before the lap bars instantly pop open and I hear "quickly, quickly, lets keep the line moving, hop in and grab a seat." T he ride ops are hustling in the next riders before we're even out of our seats.
It all happens much faster than this description lol and its over before you know it. The smoothness and quietness of this ride are what impressed me most about SUF. For a first time ride it certainly was worth my wait, but not worth an hour plus for a second ride. I only rode once for the entire day.
Thanks for reading. Ask questions and I'll gladly provide a response.
* This post was modified at 7/6/12 6:18:11 PM *
Great Review. I checked this coaster out on you tube and it looks very unique, unlike anything that I have ridden. I'll probably never get to ride it, being that I live in PA. Whenever I do get to California, I'll probably focus on the southern part of the state.
Yes, it is quite unique indeed. The uniqueness is in the combination of elements. Elements such as launch, vertical ascent, vertical descent, slow heartline roll and non inverting loops have all been done before. Combining the elements all into one coaster makes it unique in that respect. However, even with all its uniqueness it still only gets a score of 7 of 10 from me. Somehow I just don't see this coaster catching on very well and being cloned everywhere. I could be wrong but it seems more like a novelty to me. Just my opinion. I almost rated it 6 of 10.
Great review! It reminds me a bit of The Chiller with some addition to it (watched a video). Looks like a ride I would love but a capacity nightmare. That slow jo jo roll does look crazy with only a lap bar. I was almost going there this summer but my convention plans changed from San Fran to San Diego so It's Knotts and Sea World for me instead.
It is definitely a capacity nightmare. One train operation only carrying 12 riders per cycle. I think SFDK knew it would be a capacity nightmare and purposely designed the queue with a platform area where you can not see the other switchbacks as you approach. I have to give credit to the hard working ride ops - they were doing a great job. However there is just no possible way to move the line faster when the ride is only capable of cycling 12 riders at a time with one train. The capacity issue is a major reason I don't see this coaster catching on. I will be surprised if there are more than 5 of these being installed in the US in the next few years. Just my two cents worth lol
But that is true as I don't see the major parks installing many of those types. As for the smaller parks, it could work for them as far as being attention getters and capacity not being too big a deal.
I was grateful to attend the Media Day/VIP Preview last week (I'll get around to that Trip Report eventually) and was very pleased by the event, and glad to get on the coaster as much as I did.
I definitely enjoyed the uniqueness of the ride, there wasn't a whole lot I could compare it to. It was definitely less intense than the former Chillers at SFGAdv, somewhere less than that but more involved than an Impulse Coaster. It really felt like it was in its own league, and the novelty didn't come close to wearing off after my dozen or so rides.
Just having lap bars is a terrific touch, especially considering the dangling you get on that inversion. With all the twisting it does forwards and backwards, a shoulder restrain could have been brutal. Yes, they staple you, and it is a bit uncomfortable, but you're glad to have it as you slowly roll upside down 150-ish feet in the air, trust me.
Of course capacity is the obvious concern. I think 300 rph is all they can realistically hope for. At a park like this, that's kind of embarrassing. On the plus side the operators seemed efficient enough, and they were vigilant about finding single riders, so I'm sure the effort will be appreciated even if the line crawls.
I ended up ranking it just inside the top 50 in my steel list (out of 268) - so it's definitely a solid ride, good level of intensity, absurdly one-of-a-kind, though not exactly mind-blowing. Highly recommended if you're in Northern California, as is an early arrival at the park. ;)
Just wanted to share some thoughts, full TR of the event to come.
Favorite Steel, Wood: Montu, Thunderhead
www.gregscoasterphotos.com ← Go there! It's good!
* This post was modified at 7/7/12 12:05:17 AM *
* This post was modified at 7/7/12 10:18:45 AM *
That's so funny, because a Wild Mouse is exactly what Superman replaced!! Even the capacity bottleneck that was Pandemonium moved crowds better than this, and managed to not draw huge waits since it wasn't nearly as much of a headliner as this is. It's a confusing addition for so many reasons.
I'm not sure if this ride is a test or what, I would *think* that you would want to see the response to a ride like this at a smaller park FIRST, before bringing them to major parks. Green Lantern is another great example of a head-scratcher of a decision. Just seems backwards to me.
Favorite Steel, Wood: Montu, Thunderhead
www.gregscoasterphotos.com ← Go there! It's good!