What We Think About the 2018 Six Flags Announcements

A couple weeks ago the whole Coaster101 team got together to share our mostly positive thoughts about the 2018 Cedar Fair announcements (which included four pretty awesome looking coasters). Now it’s Six Flags’ turn, as they made new attraction announcements for every park in the chain last week. This included a few of first-of-their kind rides (at least in North America), some worlds tallest rides, and an RMC conversion of Georgia Cyclone. So, with all this news we got together to talk about what surprised and excited us with the announcements.

Every park in the Six Flags chain is getting some new attraction.

Overall Feelings

Eric: OK, so with every Six Flags park getting something, what is the overall feeling we get from these? Does it feel like a good year for Six Flags? Are they keeping up with Cedar Fair? Are we looking forward to 2018?

Nick: Now that they’ve both announced for 2018, it’s interesting to compare the two chain’s spending strategies. Six Flags seems like they spread their capital around more, with every park getting something. Meanwhile, some Cedar Fair parks get essentially nothing while others get giant roller coasters. I think Six Flags worst additions are better than Cedar Fair’s worst, but Cedar Fair’s big projects are wayyy better than Six Flags. For direct comparison, look at the RMC Raptor coaster each chain is adding. The Cedar Fair version looks better due to the extra investment in theming.

Andrew: With so many parks in the chain, we get a lot of the same things we’ve seen the last few years from Six Flags, just in different places — an RMC Conversion, some Zamperla Giant Discoveries, water park upgrades, a Freefly, a Giant Loop, continued use of the same attraction names for completely different attractions — the list goes on. The “unique” attractions — the Tourbillons at Great Adventure and Over Texas, Wonder Woman at Fiesta Texas and Skywarp at Discovery Kingdom are exciting because new types of rides are making their debuts in the U.S, but of those, I’m really only super excited for Wonder Woman Golden Lasso. The other rides, I could take or leave.

Wonder Woman Golden lasso is the RMC Raptor coming to Six Flags Fiesta Texas, probably the most anticipated ride of the announcements.

John: I agree with Nick — Six Flags appears to be sticking with its “spread the wealth” strategy. Obviously, there are some clear winners this year: Six Flags Fiesta Texas’ single-rail Wonder Woman Golden Lasso from RMC and Six Flags Over Georgia’s Twisted Cyclone RMC conversion. But those pale in comparison to Cedar Point’s Steel Vengeance, Kings Dominion’s Twisted Timbers and even Knott’s Berry Farm’s HangTime. I have to give Six Flags credit: while every park isn’t welcoming a groundbreaking attraction in 2018, each park is receiving something marketable. I don’t think the same can be said for Cedar Fair parks.

Larry: Yeah, Six Flags certainly has it down for every single park getting some sort of addition to their park, whether it’s a flat, coaster, or water park addition. Sure it covers all of the parks, but because the budget is spread evenly, and probably discounted cause of the bulk purchasing, but like what those above me said, it leaves their major capital expenditures rather lack luster. To put it into perspective, Six Flags hasn’t put in a new B&M coaster since 2012 when X-Flight at Six Flags Great America was built.

Mike: While I’ve never been a fan of Six Flags’ recycling of ride names and theming, I actually think this was a pretty decent year for Six Flags. Yeah, they only have a couple of first class coasters coming this year, but looking at their past 3-4 years, they’ve made quite a few of their parks destinations for coaster enthusiasts. It’s been several years since I’ve been to a Six Flags park. Since my last trip, the chain has added rides such as Twisted Colossus, Wicked Cyclone, The Joker at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom, the S&S 4D coasters, and now adding rides like Wonder Woman at Fiesta Texas and Twisted Cyclone at SFOG. While none are as mind blowing as, say, Steel Vengeance at Cedar Point, I wouldn’t expect any of them to be. Cedar Point always makes the biggest and baddest of them all. But I think Six Flags has done a good job over the past few years of adding top notch attractions, while at the same time continuing to add marketable mid-tier and family attractions to keep their parks relevant.

Eric: Yeah, I think we have to give credit to Six Flags for sending something everywhere. And while the coaster lineup is limited like Mike said, most of the rides are at least decent thrill rides. I like the Giant Discoveries well enough, the Tourbillons looks pretty neat. Hey, least there’s only one Larson Loop, right?

Only one Larson Loop this year!

Surprises

Eric: The Six Flags announcements seemed much less leaky than Cedar Fair ones, I had almost no idea what was coming except for Georgia Cyclone. So, which of these surprised you the most? Anything you were completely blindsided by?

Nick: I was really surprised that the Skywarp went to Discovery Kingdom. We had a pretty good idea one was coming to a Six Flags park in 2018, but I figured it would be one of the other parks like Great America or Great Adventure. I was also surprised to learn that Skywarp will be the first to use Rocky Mountain Construction’s T-Rex single rail track.

Andrew: I was surprised that Six Flags Fiesta Texas kind of broke rank and released the information about the Wonder Woman coaster to USA Today several weeks before the big Six Flags announcements. There are any number of conspiracy theories, but it was interesting to see one park announce something while the others were in a holding pattern for several weeks.

John: Six Flags Fiesta Texas’ Wonder Woman Golden Lasso and Six Flags Discovery Kingdom’s Harley Quinn Crazy Coaster were both surprises to me. Fiesta Texas seems to be a “test park” for the Six Flags chain (along with Great America). It was the first park to receive the S&S 4D Free Spin model (Batman: The Ride in 2015), and now it’s the first to receive the single-rail model from RMC. I’m also surprised by Six Flags Great Adventure’s Cyborg Cyber Spin. I don’t think anyone saw that coming, and I can’t wait to see how guests react to it — both riders and spectators.

Did anyone see Cyber Spin coming?

Eric: I think I’m agreeing with Nick the most on this one, I wasn’t really expecting a first of it’s kind to be coming to Discovery Kingdom, especially since Joker is still pretty marketable for them. I wonder if Six Flags knows they’re going to have to do some things there to keep up with California’s Great America down the road,  now that Cedar Fair is clearly going to be investing there. I guess the Raptor in Texas also surprised me, but since they announced it early the surprise has worn off.

Larry: The Tourbillions were certainly unexpected as I didn’t think of them being a ride that would translate to the US market very well, especially with all of the twisting and flipping they offer. I also did not expect that the first Skywarp would be heading for Discovery Kingdom and that it would use RMC’s T-Rex track too, which certainly puts it into a rather curious category.

Mike: Wonder Woman was definitely the biggest surprise for me. While I had heard a lot about RMC’s Raptor track, I had no idea that Fiesta Texas would be getting one of the first rides with it. Nor was I expecting the ride to look so insane! I still have yet to make it to the Texas Six Flags parks, so having yet another first class ride pop up at one of the Texas parks has my coaster senses tingling.

Eric: Definitely agree that it does make a Texas trip seem more and more like something I should do.

Most Exciting

Eric: Alright, so there was a lot announced here, like we talked about every park got something. Maybe not as mind blowing on the high end of things, but what from Six Flags is the most exciting to you? Anything that might push you to visit a park you might otherwise have skipped?

I can start by saying I’m pretty excited Six Flags Discovery Kingdom is getting a Skywarp in Harley Quinn Crazy Coaster. Larson Loops don’t interest me at all, but this looks much more interesting as a coaster (and it’s a real coaster). Skyline has an interesting pedigree, started by a bunch of guys from Great Coasters a few years ago, and it’s exciting that I’ll get to experience their first new coaster (I think). Plus it’s pretty amazing that my two home parks are each getting different single rail attractions being manufactured by RMC (RailBlazer being the other)!

Is this the year of the single rail?

Nick: I’m excited to see how many times my non-enthusiast friends post videos of the tourbillion rides to my Facebook page. Seriously though, I’m excited to see this unique ride come to America. I’m not sure if I would actually want to ride one myself, but it’s going to be an outstanding spectator attraction that will be photographed and video-tapped thousands of times next summer. Big win for Six Flags!

Larry: With the first Skywarp going to be out in the wild next year, I’m sure we’ll be seeing more pop up in 2019, hopefully one on the east coast. Also Wonder Woman at Fiesta Texas is certainly another one I’m excited about as I did not expect there to be 2 of them being built for 2018.

Andrew: Biased by location, but with my “home” (loose term, 6 hour drive) Six Flags park, Six Flags Over Georgia getting an RMC, Twisted Cyclone is what I’m most excited about. Also, I’m planning a trip to Discovery Kingdom next September, so hopefully Harley Quinn Crazy Coaster lives up to the hype its getting.


John: Like Andrew, I’m most excited for Twisted Cyclone, as Six Flags over Georgia is the closest Six Flags park to me. I’ve ridden three “built-from-the-ground-up” RMC wooden coasters, but I’ve only ridden one converted coaster (Storm Chaser at Kentucky Kingdom). I’m looking forward to adding another to my list. I’m also very excited to see Discovery Kingdom’s Harley Quinn Skywarp model in action as well as the single-rail Wonder Woman at Fiesta Texas.

Mike: While simply listing Wonder Woman would be the obvious answer, I’d also have to say I’m quite intrigued by the new tourbillion rides. Like Nick alluded to, Harley Quinn Spinsanity seems like one of those rides that my friends post on Facebook with the caption “Would you ride it?”. Can’t wait to make it one of the rides for which I can comment “Been there. Already did.”

Are the tourbillons going to be the most “what the hell is this?” ride for picture takers to enjoy?

Eric: If I lived closer to one of the parks getting a tourbillon I’d definitely be excited to check one out, they look pretty nuts and look like something that would draw people in. It’s a fun ride to watch.

Most Disappointing

Eric: So there’s a lot of neat stuff here, but is there anything we were hoping for that didn’t get announced. Any disappointments here?

Nick:  I’d have to say Twisted Cyclone was the most disappointing announcement, which is odd to say because it’s a new RMC coaster. Maybe I’m just being a spoiled American coaster enthusiast, but the layout is rather underwhelming. The first half of the ride looks great but the lackluster second half and short track length have me thinking this is easily in the bottom three of all RMCs. That being said, even the worst RMC is still better than  literally thousands of other coaster. Maybe I’m already starting to get RMC fatigue?

Will Twisted Cyclone stand out from other RMC conversions? Does it matter?

Andrew: I’m disappointed that for the second consecutive year, we’ve gotten two attractions that are completely different rides, but have the same name. Last year, it was Wonder Woman Lasso of Truth, which was a Star Flyer at Six Flags America, but a Giant Discovery at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom. This year, Harley Quinn’s Spinsanity is either a Giant Discovery at Six Flags New England, or a Tourbillon at Six Flags Over Texas. This is one of my biggest pet peeves about Six Flags.

Wait, which Harley Quinn ride are we talking about?

Eric: Andrew, yes! I think we both complained about it last year, and it seems even worse now. I get them wanting to use the DC brand that they pay for a lot, but this is confusing for guests. Which “Wonder Woman” or “Harley Quinn” ride are we talking about (even in this discussion I keep getting confused which Wonder Woman we’re referring to). I wonder if part of the reason Magic Mountain seems to be doing this less so is because it’s the biggest “destination” park of the bunch (and to a lesser extent Great Adventure getting the only “Cyborg” ride).

At least the magic mountain version has a unique (if not great) name.

Also, am I just an idiot, or did the Six Flags Over Texas teaser video seem to be almost completely unrelated to what ride was actually coming? That seemed a little disappointing, especially compared to the Cedar Fair teaser campaigns.


John: As a former frequent visitor of Six Flags St. Louis, I’m disappointed that 2018 wasn’t the year the park would finally get a new coaster. The park’s last roller coaster added was a Boomerang relocated from Six Flags over Texas in 2013. And before that, it was 2008’s American Thunder GCI wooden coaster (a stellar coaster, don’t get me wrong). The park has had a stream of new rides added since 2008 such as Justice League: Battle for Metropolis in 2015. But in regard to a coaster-sized investment, Six Flags St. Louis seems to be flying under the radar. The Typhoon Twister slide will no doubt be a hit with water park fans, though. But for me, I’ll just keep dreaming about a RMC-converted Boss.

Mike: I have to echo John and say I’m saddened that Six Flags St. Louis hasn’t gotten any new coasters. It used to be a park I looked forward to visiting one day, but over the years, it’s gotten surpassed by many other parks on my to-do list. The coaster I’d look forward to most at that park (Mr. Freeze: Reverse Blast) exists at another park in the chain. Seems like the park has become the forgotten child in the chain. It looks like Silver Dollar City in Branson will continue to be the Missouri park that has my heart *bats eyelashes at Time Traveler*.

Larry: Twisted Cyclone was definitely a let down, considering its shaving off over 500ft of track compared to Georgia Cyclone as it shows that Six Flags cuts their budget where needed. It’s definitely possible to convert and extend the original layout as we’re seeing it done with Twisted Timbers and Steel Vengeance. Also Six Flags is only building 3 mid-class coasters, one of those being one they’ve already built 5 times.

Looking Ahead

Eric: And finally, what do we think comes next for Six Flags? We saw the tease recently that Roar (East) at Six Flags America might be shutting down, possibly for an RMC like Roar (West). And we know from our interview with Sally that they’re taking a break on Justice League Dark Rides. So, what do we think Six Flags might do for 2019, and what do we hope they’ll do? Anything on the wishlist?

Nick: Has it really been five years since a Six Flags park has built a brand new B&M coaster? I’m interested to see if Six Flags will ever build another large, completely-from-scratch, custom designed roller coaster again. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the RMC Raptor’s cloned or even a T-Rex track version of the same layout with two-across trains.

Andrew: When I saw this tweet, I was hopeful that Six Flags was going to surprise us with a second RMC for 2018.

I think Six Flags America needs a new coaster that isn’t a “hand-me-down” from Six Flags Great America. The last “new” coaster at Six Flags America was Batwing (a Flying Dutchman clone) in 2001. I think they need a unique attraction that isn’t an off-the-shelf clone.

John: I think Six Flags will continue this “spread the wealth” strategy — Jim-Reid Anderson essentially confirmed that in the chain’s 2018 announcement video. I do hope that the park eventually rekindles its relationship with B&M. But until then, the chain is doing what it believes is best: investing a little (more for some) in each of its properties. And that strategy appears to be working.

Larry: I have a feeling there will be more Raptors, Skywarps, and RMC conversions coming in the near future for 2019. My only concern is, I can’t imagine they’ll be able to keep this up for much longer, especially for the bigger parks such as Magic Mountain, Great Adventure and Great America. I don’t think we’ll ever see Six Flags spend more than $20mil on a capital expense again, so the days of building an El Toro, Raging Bull, or a Tatsu may be behind them.

Mike: I’m also looking forward to what Six Flags America announces with Roar. I can’t count the number of times I’ve been near SFA but never been inclined to stop. Regardless, I think the chain has added enough rides over the last few years to warrant getting a season pass and doing a Six Flags tour across the country. Hopefully we get something good with Roar in 2019 and I can make that a Six Flags year.

Eric: Yeah, I think a Roar conversiom must be coming in 2018, right? Six Flags America could definitely use something. But like Nick said, it’s been an awfully long time since a Six Flags park has gotten a completely custom, from the ground up coaster, hasn’t it? I feel like some of the big parks (the “destination” ones) will need to get something more exciting. I mean, it will have been four years since Magic Mountain got a new coaster, and 6 years since they got a ground up coaster. It’s going to be hard for them to keep being that flag ship park (the one that most competes with Cedar Point as a roller coaster capital) without a new custom coaster. But I guess we’ll have to see how much the chain can and will invest.


So there you have it, what do you think of all the new announcements? How is Six Flags doing, and what do you think of their strategy of a new ride in every park every year, vs Cedar Fair’s that seems a little more top heavy. Let us know in comments below, and keep tuned to Coaster101 for more info as the new attraction take shape over the next six or so months!

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8 Responses

  1. Schoup says:

    SF will not build 20M+ large coasters b/c they can’t under their capital investment formula. The formula sets capital investments at 9% of north american revenue. Then of that 9% it’s split 60% rides, 25% asset management and 15% non rides in park. Thus, SF only has about 74M/yr for rides in 2018. They can’t build a 20,25,30Million B&M giga, dive, wing and spend such a large % of the ride budget on 1 park.

    SF is going to build probably 5 or 6 Raptor clones and clone Skywarps just like they did superloops. Skywarps only cost 2M so they are ideal clone material. SF has even shown they will put Skywarps at parks with superloops which while everyone knew they bought one, most figured it would go to a non superloop park b/c it’s in the same looping ride genre.

  2. Eric says:

    Yeah, I figured it was something related to their capital expenditure scheme. I just can’t imagine them actually driving any new attendance at a park like Magic Mountain with super loops or Skywarps (well, the Skywarp actually looks fun, but still), especially with what’s happening at other Southern California parks.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I just wish that even if it’s not a 20-30 million dollar investment they could at least get grounf up non cloned coasters again. I think a part they’re reasoning for not adding major attractions is because a lot of these parks already have these flagship rides and at each of they’re parks they’re just adding on depth.

  4. Etienne says:

    As none of you pointed it out, La Ronde hasn’t had a new roller coaster in years (last addition : An old SLC in 2010) and has only received old flat rides frome other parks since, except for this year Giant Discovery ride. In fact, it feels like SF use La Ronde as a dump for scrap rides. One of the last years additions was a hunted house supposedly open all year long, which happen to be open only on Halloween fest since the second season of the ride at the park. Now, this year, they closed two rides, a standup coaster and a log flume, so there’s even less rides than last year! Next year, three new flat rides will come to the park, probably all recycled rides from these other parks who recieves stunning new rides. It’s really a shame, since there’s a really good potential for that park, as it is served by a subway station and stands within a major city. SF really don’t spread the wealth equally that’s for sure… If only CF had bought the park back in 2001!

  5. Schoup says:

    @Etienne

    SF lack of investment in La Ronde is probably for a good reason, they don’t see a good return om investment coming from it. Six Flags doesn’t show revenue by park and EBIDTA(earnings before interest debt and amoeritization) by park like Cedar Fair. But the parks that get the most at SF probably have the most revenue and EBIDTA. Cedar Fair it’s obvious to see why Valley Fair, WOF, MI Adv get little. They produce a very small % of the chains revenue and EBIDTA. That’s probably the case with SF and why SFA, LaRonde and Great Escape get “neglected” more than other parks. When CF or SF are looking at investments they look at potential. SF America is a dumping ground mostly for relocated coasters yet they are in a very high populated area in the 50 and 100 mile radius even more so than La Ronde. SF Corporate obviously doesn’t feel from the research they have done that La Ronde or SFA will draw significant attendance increases with larger investments. In contrast, Cedar Fair did an entire investment presentation on how lucrative the Charlotte market was demographically(people under 30 and % of families) and income wise(average income they target as park goers) and thus their initial 50M over 3 year investment in Carowinds, which included Fury 325. CF again this year doubled down in an investor presentation on more significant investments to Carowinds. CF also is starting a 20 yr plan for Ca Great America b/c they see huge potential in that Northern CA market. Essentially CF and SF invest more in certain parks for a reason, either they are producing revenue/earnings now or they see huge opportunity in the future with some increased investments

  6. Schoup says:

    @Eric

    SFMM will likely have their next coaster be unique but nor expensive b/c they can’t afford 20-30M coasters. The perfect example is Full Throttle, it’s unique and a good coaster but not very expensive. FT has very poor capacity and is actually suited in that way for a smaller park. I would not be surprised for the next coaster at SFMM to be a RMC Raptor or one of the inexpensive S&S concept coasters. Cost matters more than issued on capacity or coaster size to SF in their post bankruptcy era.

  7. Jeremy says:

    Thanks for the great comments. Very interesting perspectives on how investments are made. I would love any links to read more into this. Very interesting read.

  8. Anonymous says:

    I enjoyed La Ronde when I went this summer, and they do already have a great day collection (IMO). I wish Six Flags would buckle down and give this park an off-season devoted solely towards overall cosmetic improvements, because this park NEEDS some TLC. Paint jobs, better signage, figure out something to help with all of the downtime there coasters have. This park can’t handle a ground up new coaster right now, because there are so many cosmetic things that NEED done. Sometime soon 2020-2023 I think we’ll see a coaster here, but they just need to put effort into general cosmetic improvements.

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