Six Flags Magic Mountain theme park in Valencia, California offered a preview of the new "Green Lantern: First Flight" roller coaster and the newly themed DC Universe area to press and select guests Thursday. CBR News was there as the eighteenth roller coaster in the park's line-up of thrill rides debuted and gave it a test spin.
The day began at 11:00 AM with the unveiling of the DC Universe theme area. Greeting guests at the entrance were several members of the Justice League -- though Green Lantern's own absence was conspicuous. The League members escorted everyone through the revamped locale, which features little nods to the DCU's rich history like the Clinton Street Apartments, a façade for Poncho's Bar, and signs for Big Belly Burger. Besides "First Flight," the new DC Universe area includes the park's first superhero-related coaster, "Batman: The Ride," and the re-themed thrill rides "Flash: Speed Force," and "Wonder Woman: Lasso of Truth."
When the group arrived at the entrance to "First Flight," the League escorted Magic Mountain President Bonnie Rabjohn onto a stage erected before a replica of the Green Lantern Corps' Central Power Battery. "It's like almost becoming totally immersed in a comic book," she said of the new theming. Since 1994, the area was known as "Gotham City," a region loosely based on the first two "Batman" films with a darker, severe steel look and a Batmobile parked out front. The update sees brighter colors and other DC Comics superheroes sharing the spotlight with the Dark Knight. "We couldn't be more thrilled with our partnership with Warner Bros and DC Entertainment," she continued. After thanking the various design and maintenance teams involved in "First Flight" and the DC Universe area, Rabjohn introduced Geoff Johns, writer of the "Green Lantern" comic book series and the Chief Creative Officer at DC Entertainment.
"I just rode the ride ... I didn't get sick, which I was psyched about," he joked. "[It's great] to see a Green Lantern roller coaster join Batman and Superman here at Six Flags." Addressing the retheming, he added, "If you're hardcore fan like me, everything here is recognizable from the books."
After Johns finished, Green Lantern finally made his appearance, encouraging the assembled crowd to put on their replica power rings and recite the Oath. Soon after, the Power Battery lit up and fireworks shot into the sky. The courtyard in front of "First Flight" was filled with green and black confetti. With that, everyone made their way to the ride’s unusual and somewhat warm queue. As with any new attraction, there were some hiccups and quests waited longer than expected to take flight, but the ride proved to be a successful innovation.
"Green Lantern: First Flight" is a unique attraction: a three hundred and sixty degree spinning seat roller coaster. Instead of sprawling out across the park, it takes riders straight up a 107-foot hill before dropping them through 828-feet of winding vertical zig-zag track as the car spins freely in tune with gravity, often completing full rotations. The experience recalls the scene in the “Green Lantern” feature in which Hal Jordan makes his first trip to Oa.
"The ride is very much like one of his flights," noted Johns about the its feel.
The sensation is alternately thrilling and terrifying with spinning drops coming at you at unexpected moments. The coaster's track is generally out of view, giving riders no indication if the cars will spin, drop or hang on the precise for a tense second or two. Though quick, it offers a truly intense experience for coaster enthusiasts and fans of "Green Lantern."
One interesting note: while all roller coasters elicit screams from riders, the sounds coming from "Green Lantern: First Flight" are very particular. They arrive in short bursts and remind this reporter of the classic "Escalator to Nowhere" bit at the end of "The Simpsons" episode "Marge Vs. The Monorail."
"First Flight" marks the third roller coaster Magic Mountain added to its line-up this year. In March, the park also opened "Superman: Escape from Krypton," an updated version of the 100 mile per hour thrill ride. This was followed by the opening of the new "Road Runner Express" over the Memorial Day weekend.
"Green Lantern: First Flight" opens today at Six Flags Magic Mountain.