20 in 2020: The Jazzland Coaster Quartet
Before it met its untimely demise due to damage from Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Six Flags New Orleans was home to six roller coasters. Four of those opened in 2000 with the park, which was then known as “Jazzland.” Six Flags bought the park in March 2002 and rebranded it as “Six Flags New Orleans” in 2003.
In this edition of “20 in 2020” where we’re highlighting roller coasters that opened in 2000, we’re going to look at each of those four coasters that debuted with Jazzland. These range from a custom hybrid wooden coaster to a kid-friendly junior steel coaster. Just over 15 years following Hurricane Katrina’s landfall, three of the four remain standing.
By far the most unique of the four coasters, Mega Zeph was a Custom Coasters International (CCI) hybrid coaster — its wooden track supported by a scaffolding-like steel structure.
Mega Zeph stood 11 stories tall and featured a top speed of 57 mph. Its track stretched 4,000 feet in length.
The name “Mega Zeph” was derived from Zephyr, which operated at the former Pontchartrain Beach amusement park on the banks of New Orleans’ Lake Pontchartrain.
The coaster was located in the Mardi Gras section of the park.
Each of the coaster’s two Gerstlauer trains sat 24 riders — four riders in six cars.
Fun fact: at least one of Mega Zeph’s trains was moved to Six Flags St. Louis (under Batman: The Ride’s station) to use for spare parts for Boss’ (another CCI) trains.
Another fun fact: Mega Zeph was partially illuminated and featured in the 2013 film, Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters.
Due to the nature of the coaster’s structure, relocating it to another park would be a costly and challenging endeavor.
Watch a video of Mega Zeph in action below:
2. Muskrat Scrambler
Slightly tamer than Mega Zeph, Muskrat Scrambler was a traditional wild mouse-style coaster made by L&T Systems.
The coaster stood just over 47 feet tall and reached a top speed of 25 mph along its 1,183-foot-long course.
Like Mega Zeph, was not relocated and remains nearly untouched.
3. Rex’s Rail Runner (later known as Road Runner’s Express)
Rex’s Rail Runner, renamed Road Runner’s Express after Six Flags purchased the park, was a popular “junior coaster” model from coaster manufacturer, Vekoma.
It was located in the Kids’ Carnival section of the park, which became known as Looney Tunes Adventures when the park reopened as Six Flags New Orleans.
Of the four original Jazzland coasters, Rex’s Rail Runner is the only one to have found a new home. In 2011, the coaster reopened as Road Runner Express at Six Flags Magic Mountain.
Below, watch an on-ride video of Rex’s Rail Runner from 2001:
4. Zydeco Scream
Another popular Vekoma model, Zydeco Scream was a traditional boomerang coaster that was situated in the Pontchartrain Beach section of the park.
But Jazzland was not Zydeco Scream’s first home. The coaster was originally built and operated at Parque de Atracciones de Montjuic in Barcelona. That park closed in 1998, and the boomerang coaster was disassembled and shipped overseas to New Orleans for its second life.
As is standard on the Vekoma boomerang coasters, a train of 28 riders was slowly hoisted backward up a 16-story-tall spike before being released to complete the double-inversion boomerang element and vertical loop.
The train would be lifted to the pinnacle of the second spike before being released to complete the course in reverse.
Zydeco Scream was the tallest coaster at Jazzland. At 116 feet, it narrowly surpassed Mega Zeph’s 110-foot-tall lift hill.
Like Mega Zeph, Zydeco Scream is still visible from outside of the park.
For more Jazzland/Six Flags New Orleans, see our time-lapse of the park before and after Hurricane Katrina and our interview with Tonya Pope, who is leading the effort to reopen Jazzland.
See the other “20 for 2020” coasters here.