Coaster101’s Thoughts on Six Flags’ 2020 Announcements
Six Flags made their New For 2020 announcements last week. As always, the chain had something new for (almost) every park. The major news was the new custom RMC Raptor coaster coming to Six Flags Great Adventure, Jersey Devil Coaster. The parks also announced two additional coasters, Sidewinder Safari, a spinning wild mouse coaster (and animal exhibit) at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom, and Aquaman Power Wave at Six Flags Over Texas. The other parks announced a variety of flat rides, water park additions and more. So with all of those announcements done, what did we think of the Six Flags’ 2020 announcements? Also, check out our piece on the Cedar Fair announcements made earlier in the summer.
Nick: The Jersey Devil was a nice surprise and I’m glad to see a Mack Power Splash (Aquaman: Power Wave) coming to the US but outside of that, not a lot that interests me personally. An addition flat ride or water slide is not going to be the thing that finally gets me out to a new park or back to one I haven’t been to in a while.
John: Six Flags seems to be sticking to their years-long pattern of adding something to (almost) every park in the chain. There are a few clear winners this year and a few parks that seem to continue to get the short end of the stick. But for the most part, it’s a fairly well-rounded lineup of new rides.
Andrew: There was some really good — Six Flags Over Texas and Six Flags Great Adventure both come to mind, some okay, and some that didn’t excite me at all. It’s a perfect metaphor for how I view the chain. I might be one of the few in this group who is not a Six Flags member/passholder, and with my nearest Six Flags park six hours away, there wasn’t an announcement that has me rushing to DC or Atlanta to become a member anytime soon.
Shane: I like what was announced, but I was definitely expecting more than one standout attraction. I’m starting to think that it might be better for Six Flags to take a page out of Cedar Fair’s book and have a few off years so they can build some flagship attractions at their parks rather than a collection of mediocre flat rides in the name of spreading the wealth. The danger with that is that some parks could end up like Valleyfair or Michigan’s Adventure.
Mike: I think Six Flags definitely has added enough for 2020 to make me want to keep my Gold Plus Membership for another year. Sure, the chain isn’t adding a spread of A-list attractions across the country, but there are a few that definitely have my attention.
Eric: Seemed like a pretty typical Six Flags year. Every park (almost) getting something, and a couple of big exciting things. Maybe fewer than we were hoping or fewer than usual, but I think after West Coast Racers and Maxx Force last year not too unexpected to see a little bit quieter a year.
Eric: I was very surprised by what Six Flags Discovery Kingdom is getting! My prediction was something in the former elephant enclosure, which was right. And I thought an animal exhibit might be what went there, which was also kind of right. But, I was not expecting a coaster at all. That was a complete surprise, especially with SFDK getting pretty decent investments over the past 4 years (Joker, Wonder Woman, Harley Quinn, and Batman). As a Northern Californian, I love that Six Flags is continuing to invest in the park, and I love that they’re including the animal exhibit and theme. It’s what sets SFDK apart from the rest of the chain.
Nick: I think the interesting thing here is the ride types we’re not seeing at a Six Flags park in 2020: no hybrid RMCs or conversions, no free-spins, no Larson Loopers, no Skyline Attractions, no Justice Leagues. Has Six Flags exhausted these (built them at all the parks that are going to get them) or just taking a year off?
Eric: I think you might be right that they’ve exhausted them. When I interviewed Sally about Justice League a couple of years ago, they mentioned that the chain was going to “take a break” from them. Maybe similar to the others. Not gonna complain about no more Larson loops!
John: I too was surprised by Six Flags Discovery Kingdom receiving a spinning wild mouse coaster, especially since the park was already home to Pandemonium, which closed in 2012 (it now operates as Joker at Six Flags Mexico). I suppose enough time has passed. I was also surprised that Six Flags is building a custom version of the single-rail RMC Raptor model rather than just building a clone of Six Flags Fiesta Texas’ Wonder Woman Golden Lasso Coaster.
Andrew: My biggest surprise was a non-announcement at Six Flags Magic Mountain. For a flagship park in the chain, I was expecting them to add something, despite the fact that their new-for-2019 coaster isn’t open just yet. You’ve got to think that another one of those Ride Entertainment/Funtime Vomatrons like are going to St. Louis and The Great Escape couldn’t have been that much more expensive for the chain to add a third at Six Flags Magic Mountain.
Shane: Great Escape got a thrill ride! And the Discovery Kingdom announcement was out of nowhere, too. I can’t think of the last time a park added a spinning wild mouse -or any wild mouse for that matter- but a new coaster is always a welcome addition. I am also surprised that Six Flags was able to keep Jersey Devil under wraps, they had us guessing right up until the reveal. In a day and age where most planning documents are a click away, that’s truly impressive.
Mike: I’m also surprised at Six Flags topping itself by going with an even bigger RMC Raptor model. I figured Cedar Fair would have been the company to come out with a bigger custom Raptor model. I can’t wait to ride in the back row of that monster!
Nick: I think the Mack Power Splash is a great move. It’s going to be almost as fun to watch as it is to ride, with the reservoir magically filling up to create the big splash (and if you want to know how a Mack Power Splash works read our explanation here).
John: I think Jersey Devil is the most exciting of the announcements in terms of ride experience. However, I’m most excited to see Six Flags and RMC partner again after an RMC-less 2019. And I’m also excited to see the company branching out to other manufacturers like Mack. I think this will open the door to more possibilities — perhaps a Mack launched coaster?
Shane: I’m excited to see that RMC is willing to expand on the raptor model. Jersey Devil looks like a great addition, and I’m excited to hopefully see RMC test the limits of the single rail design in the coming years.
Eric: Like John mentioned above, I was also surprised that the new RMC Raptor was not a clone of the other two. I sort of thought we’d be seeing some copy pastes of them like we do with the Free spins. I agree with Shane, it’s very exciting to see a bigger, custom design. Partly because it also means that we might see more and more custom models of it. I love RailBlazer, I can’t imagine how good one that’s twice as long will be! The PowerSplash is also pretty cool. I love seeing a new ride model show up in the US. And Nick’s piece on how they work is great!
Mike: The Aquaman-themed Mack Power Splash definitely caught my attention. I’m already a huge fan of Impulse coasters, especially the ones with vertical spikes. The Mack Power Splash takes that concept and combines it with a classic Shoot the Chute ride. Aquaman will probably be just as fun to watch as it is to ride. Plus, having visited Six Flags Over Texas during this past summer, this ride will be a welcome addition in that Texas heat.
Andrew: Whenever I think of Aquaman, I think of the Frank Caliendo comedy bit about the Super Friends where Aquaman makes a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Now, it will be synonymous with a MACK Powersplash. That’s the coaster model I’ve been most excited to see migrate stateside, and now we have one.
Also, not specifically related to a single attraction, but I’m glad to see Six Flags getting away from IP-themed attractions a little bit. Going with Jersey Devil Coaster and Adirondack Outlaw, Six Flags has proven that you don’t need a DC Comics Character to help sell your new attraction!
Eric: I know West Coast Racers isn’t open yet, and that could be part of the reason, but nothing at all for SFMM is disappointing. Six Flags pretty much always adds something everywhere every year, so it was also a surprise. I wonder if the plan was always to not add something to Magic Mountain this year since WCR is a pretty big investment, or if this was a decision made after the coaster was delayed. I thought we’d at least see something in the kiddie section of the park or the water park, as they’ve both been untouched for a while.
John: After being blown away (literally and figuratively) by Maxx Force at Six Flags Great America, I’m slightly disappointed that another compressed-air launch coaster isn’t opening in 2020. Perhaps, like the single-rail RMC, Six Flags is just taking a year off. Because the world needs more of these. I was also hoping 2020 would be the year Six Flags America and/or Six Flags St. Louis would finally receive a new coaster — not just one relocated from another park. Roar at Six Flags America seems like the perfect candidate for a hybrid RMC treatment (see: Joker at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom). And while I’ve given up hope that Six Flags St. Louis’ Boss will ever see the RMC treatment, the park would be a great fit for a single-rail RMC Raptor.
Shane: Besides Jersey Devil, I’m disappointed Six Flags didn’t really take any risks. The unique thrill rides going to Great Escape and St. Louis are good, as well as the Fiesta Texas ride, but they are still fairly “safe” additions. Something like Maxx Force was a great unexpected move for the chain, and it paid off really well, so I’m disappointed the chain didn’t follow that up. Maybe next year, once they get a feel for West Coast Racers’ reception.
Andrew: That Jim-Reid Anderson is retiring in early 2020, so we won’t get another one of his legendary videos. Every park in the chain, save for one, added something. You can’t be disappointed in that. Go multiple years without adding something? That’s disappointing.
Mike: Still waiting on the day Six Flags America gets an A-list attraction added. I’m also bummed that the closest Six Flags park to me (Six Flags Over Georgia) didn’t get any new coasters. Hopefully, they have something big planned for 2021.
Cedar Fair vs Six Flags: Which chain’s 2020 additions are you more looking forward to?
Nick: Interesting that both chains essentially have one major coaster and a lot of water-related attractions. The dry parks for Six Flags definitely benefited more overall than their Cedar Fair counterparts. It’s good to see each park get something new, and improve the park overall. But even as a coaster enthusiast who travels across the country to parks, out of all their additions they’re only building two rides that might get me to go to a faraway park.
John: As someone who isn’t crazy about water parks, I find Six Flags’ 2020 lineup to be more exciting than Cedar Fair’s water park-dominant new-for-2020 offerings. Just looking at coaster count alone, Six Flags has more to offer — even if collectively they aren’t as flashy as a B&M gigacoaster.
Shane: I think Orion looks more impressive than Jersey Devil, but overall I think Six Flags had the better overall announcements this year. There was a good collection of flat rides announced, I was just hoping for one or two more really impressive additions. I’m surprised Cedar Fair went all-in on the water parks, I’m curious to see how that will pay off for them.
Eric: Yeah, like John I’m also not really a water park fan, so I’m mostly thinking of coasters. I’ve got to go with Six Flags. Partly, my home parks are California’s Great America and Six Flags Discovery Kingdom, so I’ll take the coaster plus animal exhibit over water park every day. But even chain-wide, I think Jersey Devil excites me more than Orion. Not that Orion doesn’t look great, and I already ranted about people complaining about it in our Cedar Fair thoughts, but Jersey Devil is something totally unique. Like I said, I’m a big fan of RailBlazer, and I’d love to see what RMC can do beyond the prototype model. Plus, the single rail coasters are rare enough as it is.
Mike: I’m gonna have to go with Six Flags. I’m definitely excited about Jersey Devil (plus it gives me an excuse to go ride El Toro again). Aquaman: Power Wave also looks like it will be really good. I’m even excited about some of the flat rides, such as Dare Devil Dive Flying Machines at Six Flags Fiesta Texas. While Orion certainly looks awesome, I still have yet to ride Fury 325 at Carowinds. I definitely want to tackle that ride first before heading back to Kings Island. Other than Orion, there isn’t much on the Cedar Fair side that interests me. Living in Orlando, I have my choice of water parks, so all the water attractions that Cedar Fair announced don’t really move the needle for me.
Andrew: I’ll take the contrarian play here. I’m still more excited for Cedar Fair’s announcements, and it’s almost solely because I have two Cedar Fair parks closer to me than my nearest Six Flags park, so I know I’ll get to them before I’ll get to a Six Flags. Jersey Devil and Aquaman are exciting, but the biggest announcement for Cedar Fair is Orion, which comes just three years after the last big coaster opened at Kings Island (Mystic Timbers). I think the quality of the announcements across the board was better for Cedar Fair, who have proven that they’re committed to improving their parks with more than just a bunch of off-the-shelf flat rides.
Nick: I’m guessing a Six Flags park will build a new RMC Raptor in 2021 that will break all of Great Adventure’s records by a small amount, then the next year we’ll see those records broken.
John: I think Six Flags will continue this capital investment trend for the foreseeable future until there’s some major shift in their business model. Should the acquisition of Darien Lake, Frontier City and other properties prove to be fruitful for the company, I could see them scooping up other small- to medium-size parks. Unrelated to that, I would love for the company to someday reignite a relationship with B&M or Intamin to compete with Cedar Fair and SeaWorld parks, but I won’t get my hopes up.
Andrew: Here’s my wish list, and it’s pretty simple. 1) RMC Roar at Six Flags America. 2) More MACK Rides PowerSplashes. 3) RMC T-Rex. 4) Bring Back Mr. Six in some capacity. Will any of this happen? Maybe. Probably not. I’d settle for more PowerSplashes.
Shane: Like I said before, I want to see Six Flags take some risks. They’ve been playing it safe recently, and I think they are moving away from the cloned rides, which is good. The Mack PowerSplash is a great start, some more rides like that from other manufacturers would serve them well. I’m excited to see what their future holds!
Eric: Six Flags seems to have a strong relationship with going on with Zamperla and Funtime, I think we’ll see more of both Endeavours (or new Enterprises, as I like to call them) and “Vomatrons”, and maybe another Air Race. I’m just guessing those are the next set of flats to go out across parks. Sure would be nice to see another small Raptor show up in one of the smaller parks, as well.
Mike: I’m also waiting to see which park gets the next RMC Raptor. If you couldn’t tell by now, I’m a huge fan of those rides. I’m hoping Six Flags Over Georgia gets one soon so I can have one within driving distance.
What are your thoughts on the Six Flags’ 2020 announcements? What are you most excited about, and what 2021 predictions do you have?