Has Its Rewards.
exhilarating (ig-zil-er-ayt-ing) adj. that which exhilarates,
causes intense pleasure, puts one in a state of profound joy,
makes the heart pound with unfettered glee. exhilaration n. See Rollercoasters, Bolliger & Mabillard.
Pardon me while I indulge in a little film criticism for a
second - I'm a big fan of director Tim Burton, and though I recognize
that his two Batman flicks are not his strongest efforts,
I still think they're the best of that franchise. Since then,
without his dark vision to guide it, the series has gotten progressively
goofier and less entertaining.
But we Thrillseekers need not complain, for that cloud comes with
a sterling silver lining - while the Caped Crusader's cinematic
adventures are getting worse, the thrill rides inspired by them
are getting much, much better. We can revel in the numerous Batman: The Ride inverted coasters and the recently reintroduced Batman and Robin: The Chiller and Mr. Freeze linear
induction terrors, each of which makes up for a dozen lousy
movies. And that silver lining has just gotten even brighter.
On April 4th, 1998, a Bolliger & Mabillard-designed scream
machine debuted to join this notorious collection and enter the
record books as the longest, tallest, fastest, loopiest stand-up rollercoaster in the world: Six Flags Magic Mountain's
magnificent Riddler's Revenge.
Friends, I suppose it's possible that, someday, I'll have something
truly negative to utter about a Bolliger & Mabillard thrill
ride. Not today. Pure and simple, the Riddler's Revenge is as
close to perfect as any other rollercoaster in operation. This
superlative piece of engineering feeds your ravenous Thrillseeking
hunger like a seven-course banquet. It may not be the scariest
coaster you've ever ridden, but I dare you to find one that, from
chain lift to brake run, is more spiritually satisfying.
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Magic Mountain, nestled around the rolling hills of Valencia,
California, has never looked better. Locals tell me that the West
Coast got a ton of rainfall, courtesy of El Niño, and if
any good has come from that infamous atmospheric disturbance,
it's the abundance of lush green growth that covers the Mountain
these days. If you walk clockwise around the park, up the slope
past Revolution and Viper, you'll enter a dense
thicket of trees whose leafy branches completely obscure the legendary
California sunshine. It's mighty purty and a welcome relief from
the heat, to boot.
But the greenery you'll be wanting to see is not something any
natural phenomenon created. No, you'll be looking for a product
of the super-natural, and you'll find it farther along.
The Revenge is tucked around at the back of the park, in the new
4.9 acre "Movie District" zone, a themed area that has
replaced the "Monterey Landing" section. And once you
stumble into this coaster's main plaza, you'll be greeted with
a panorama that brought me to my knees in pious reverance:
Is that not
a sight to affirm your belief in a higher power? Bolliger &
Mabillard rollercoasters are more than just thrill rides; they
are kinetic sculptures, as pleasing to the eye as they are to
the adrenal glands. The Riddler's Revenge, with its graceful curls,
twists and loops, is a blend of form and function that would do
any museum proud. I may not know Art, but I know what I like...
and this I absolutely love.
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As you'll recall from the Batman Forever film, Edward
Nygma, a sad-sack inventor toiling away at Wayne Industries, became
quite unhinged when his proposals for a new kind of television
were soundly rejected. Choosing to pursue a life dedicated to
Evil, he transformed himself into The Riddler and went on to terrorize
Gotham City's endlessly terrorized population. Of course, Batman
intervened and poor Eddy's nefarious schemes were ultimately thwarted
- the final reel saw him locked away at Arkham Asylum. End of
story... or so we thought.
Doin' time at Arkham, Mr. Nygma had little to distract him from
plotting this final Revenge. Now that he's back on the loose,
our fortunes have taken a delightful turn for the worse. That
winged cone over the entrance to his new lab looks innocent enough,
but it's actually another of his consciousness-scrambling NygmaTech
gagdets, just the thing to subdue and lure us in (as if we needed to be lured).
Standing in the queue, intertwined with the back half of the Revenge's
course, we are in right in the thick of things, with trains sometimes
roaring directly overhead. I do mean roar, people: at one
point, beneath a barrel roll inversion, I'm happy to report that
the sonic blast is enough to make ya wince. Before entering the
station, you can turn to your right and check out both the 156-foot
tall lift hill and jaw-droppin' 124-foot-tall vertical loop, two
hightlights that are just a hair bigger than those found
on Kentucky Kingdom's Chang...
and all that sky-piercing green steel is mesmerizing.
Once you're actually inside the station, your wait is nearly over; the loading
platform is up two short flights of stairs. The interior is a
bare industrial space, but there are some nice touches: The Riddler's
symbolic "question marks," projected from overhead spotlights,
flicker and dance against the walls, visually punctuating a driving
musical score. And watching those sleek green and yellow coaches
load and unload is all the pre-flight entertainment you'll need.
It's nothing you haven't heard before, but I'll say it again anyway:
climbing into B&M's beautifully-engineered passenger harnesses
is like puttin' on your favorite pair of pants; ya just slide
right in and make yerself comfortable. Once you're locked in place,
snuggling up to the shoulder pads, those last few seconds of anticipation
are like Thrillseeking foreplay. Soon. So soon.
Blessed relief: the train glides forward. Immediately, we begin
the ascent, climbing up and threading through not one, but two
of the Revenge's inversions. The first shadow is cast by a dive
loop, the second by that massive vertical sucker. If several trains
are in operation and the gods are smiling, you may get a special
treat: a train that soars through the dive loop just as you pass
underneath. Soon, so soon...
Once we're through the vertical loop, the rest of the Revenge is behind us,
but not fer long. If you've got something to say, say it now cuz
once we're over the top, there's not a moment's peace until we're
back in the station. (Unlike Chang, which features a brief U-turn
at its summit, the Revenge offers no post-chain-lift solace.)
The lead car tips forward, and this puppy goes critical.
Swooping to the left and falling hard, our train races down 146
feet like there's no tomorrow. We and our fellow riders become
a chorus of the damned, thirty-two voices screaming in unison,
drowned out only by the thundering growl of a multi-ton vehicle
hitting 65 hell-bent miles per hour. Beautiful!
That 124-foot loop pulls us away from the planet's surface and
the world disappears in a swirling blur. Your scream turns from
one of terror into one of ecstatic release... there is nothing
but the sensation of taking flight, of breaking gravity's shackles
and soaring free. It's a transcendent moment, one that makes us
the thrill-craving lunatics we most certainly are.
Back down we plunge, charging right into the next element, the first dive
loop. Hurtling past the base of the freshly repainted Freefall
Tower, the train goes skyward and inverts, twisting to the left.
This second whoop-dee-doo may be a tad shorter than the vertical
loop, but it's just as exhilarating. At this point, if you've
succumbed to the experience, your Superego has surrendered to
your Id and all you want... is more.
And it's more you're gonna get. Plummeting out of that maneuver,
the train surges back towards the lift hill and into another dive loop, this one hauling us up and over the chain lift.
Shrieking back towards the opposite end of the course, the train
careens into the inclined loop, and we're head over heels for
the fourth time in a row. It's a non-stop G-force party
and everyone's invited!
The wicked loop frenzy is momentarily interrupted as our coach
jumps a small hill and swings around for a mid-course brake run.
Sure, you can hear a dreaded little hiss as those mechanical nasties
try to slow us down, but the marauding train crashes through with
Standing in the last row is especially satisfying; there's a small drop right
off the run and, as it regains cruise velocity, the train yanks
you away from this one flat section of track good and hard. That brutal little jolt is enough to make the brake run worthwhile.
Those few seconds of uprightitude are over - we pour directly
into a bodacious barrel roll, performing this grand maneuver as
the train makes a beeline towards the Freefall Tower. Down into
a steeply banked curve, we fly to the left and leap over the Freefall's
horizontal "run-off" track. Leaning to the right, the
track whips us through a 250-foot spiral, turning us around for
the home stretch.
We don't deserve it, but we get one last treat, a second barrel
roll that tosses us like human salad over the waiting throngs.
There's a quick turn to the right, and this sublime Revenge comes
Had I not regained the capacity for rational thought, it would
have taken a cattle prod to get me off this thing. My Id was still
hollering for more, whining like an overindulged three-year-old.
Fortunately, I was able to make myself move away, clearing the
aisle for the next lucky foursome. But as I stumbled out, staring
longingly at those enormous lime-green curlicues, I could hear
that little voice murmuring, "It will be mine... oh yes...
it will be mine."
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I remember well one special screening of Universal's classic 1970s thriller Rollercoaster, that "Sensurround" extravaganza
starring George Segal and Timothy Bottoms. The movie's climax
took place at Magic Mountain and featured a brand-new coaster
that was then known as the "Great American Revolution."
The first shot to introduce this ground-breaking ride slowly panned
from the left to the right, finally coming to rest on the Revolution's
signature vertical loop. And when that big white circle filled
the screen, the audience gasped. Yes, some 20 years ago,
that thrill ride was literally breathtaking.
Today, it takes a whole lot more than something as rudimentary
as the Revolution to make the hair stand on end. But year after
year, Bolliger & Mabillard continue to raise the bar ever
higher, creating the kind of rides that can amaze even the most
jaded Thrillseeker. Just think of what we can still look forward
to: B&M's first hypercoaster; B&M's first "heartline"
coaster; B&M's first "launched" coaster. If there's
an upper limit to the pleasures we can endure, Claude and Walter
will find it, and they will take us one step beyond.
"The future's so bright, I gotta wear shades..."
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TM & © 1997 Six Flags Theme Parks Inc. Batman, The Riddler
and all related characters, names and indicia are trademarks of
DC comics © 1997. Logo artwork reproduced by permission of
Six Flags. All rights reserved.
- TRACK LENGTH:
- TOP SPEED:
65 Miles Per Hour
- MAX. G
- MAX. HEIGHT:
- MAX. DROP:
- RIDE DURATION:
- CARS: 32-passenger
trains composed of eight cars; each car accommodates four passengers
1,800 guests per hour
Bolliger & Mabillard, Monthey, Switzerland