Is X-Flight the New Batman: The Ride?
So, I've been doing some thinking again...
In 1992 B&M introduced the inverted coaster at Six Flags Great America, in the form of Batman: The Ride. The design was an instant hit with guests, and parks started lining up to get their own version.
The inverted coaster became a staple attraction at pretty much every park in the country. Most major parks have the B&M version. Other parks that either didn't want to spend the money, or couldn't afford the B&M went with Vekoma's version.
Intamin also has a design, but it never caught on in the states, with the exception of the launched Volcano at Kings Dominion.
Bottom line is that almost every major park has one, with the exception of Kings Island - which is something I still don't understand.
There are many custom designs out there, but Six Flags opted to distribute the Batman design across their other parks, much to the chagrin of many enthusiasts.
I think there are a number of reasons why Six Flags went this route...
1) Design and production costs are cut considerably, which bring the total cost of the project down. Perhaps even an agreement was made between Six Flags and B&M to purchase a certain number of these rides.
2) The general public has no clue the same ride exists elsewhere.
3) Delivering a consistent product across the company.
4) The ride was a popular/reliable draw to get people in the gate.
Considering those three things, it was actually a very smart decision to clone Batman all over the company.
All told, Six Flags purchased 8 Batman coasters directly from B&M over the years - SFGA, SFGAdv, SFMM, SFoG, SFStL, SFoT, Parque Warner Madrid, & La Ronde. They also purchased Gambit from a park in Japan that showed up first at Six Flags New Orleans and now resides at Fiesta Texas.
Which brings us to X-Flight...
First of all, I believe the wing rider is the next inverted coaster - in the sense that they are so marketable and will prove to be such solid additions, that parks across the country will buy them.
I wouldn't be surprised to see most Cedar Fair parks, Hersheypark, the Busch parks, and of course, the major Six Flags parks get one over the next few years.
Having said that, I see a lot of similarities between X-Flight and Batman: The Ride.
1) Both introduced (to U.S.) at Six Flags Great America
2) Reliable B&M products
3) A new way to ride a roller coaster - very marketable.
4) Modest in size, five inversions, somewhat compact/flat layout.
5) High-capacity, comfortable rides (unlike the flyers).
It makes me wonder if this same X-Flight design will show up at other Six Flags parks across the country. The fan in me hopes not. But the business side of me thinks that that is exactly what we'll see.
With parks like Great Adventure, Georgia, and Texas "due" for a roller coaster in the next few years, I wouldn't be surprised to see X-Flight show up at those parks soon.
Additionally, if all the parks keep the X-Flight name/theme, it makes marketing and retail very easy.
* This post was modified at 11/8/12 10:49:18 PM *
Coaster to Park Ratio: 4.95 / Steel to Wooden Ratio: 2.53 / Wooden Coaster Percentage: 28.4%
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