Launched roller coasters are the “digital” to traditional roller coasters’ “analog.” There are still analog roller coasters being made, but the digital version is better in many ways, except possibly to purists. Carrying this to the next step, the new roller coaster at Six Flags Magic Mountain includes THREE separate launches!
Located very near the front entrance of the park, the 18th roller coaster (a world record) is called Full Throttle. Although I initially assumed a racing theme, it’s more of an overall “extreme sports” theme, which includes racing but also stuff like snowboarding. The theme is really carried out only on video monitors near the line. The actual theme is rather difficult to implement in the look of the ride, but you do get a “taller, stronger, faster” vibe from the ride, which fits the theme in its own way.
The calling card of Full Throttle, besides the three launches, is the world tallest loop (160 feet high). It’s also the fastest looping roller coaster. Most modern speed coasters skip the loops to focus on speed, but Full Throttle manages to get up to 70 miles per hour thanks to its launches. I originally thought that a loop wasn’t anything new, but it’s surprising how much different a loop this big feels.
After the first launch, you immediately head into the loop. With a normal loop, you are flipped over so quickly that you only have time to experience a brief moment of disorientation. With this mega loop, there is enough track that you really register the sensation of traveling upside down. While you don’t really pause at the top, the car slows down so much that you get a fantastic sensation of hanging on. Indeed, after I let go of the handholds and simply allowed myself to dangle from the restraint, I got one of the best sensations of flying I’ve ever had on a ride–even more than Six Flags’ own “flying coster,” Tatsu!
Coming out of the loop, you pick up speed again and climb a short hill over the walkway outside Superman: Escape from Krypton. There is enough time to see people gawking at you from below before you swoop to the other side and dive into the side of the mountain (via a tunnel, of course). Once in the dark tunnel, the car stops and waits a moment before launching backwards, up the diving hill that just brought you inside. Stopping near the top, you get to roll through the dive again, entering the tunnel, and experiencing the final launch forward as it propels you back towards the start where you climb over the outside of the actual loop structure that started the ride! This feature is called a Top Hat and is another first-of-its-kind. Coming down from the top of the loop aims you nearly straight down. I actually had my hands up at the top and had to bring them down to brace myself once we headed toward the ground. The ride is thrilling, but over too fast. I wanted more!
Sadly, there was to be no more. The ride broke down a few times, including once while I was in the tunnel, so I only got one full ride. Hopefully these are just early kinks that will be worked out soon. Plus, the landscaping is basically still a construction site. Bare dirt and construction vehicles were still on site. As this location used to be a log ride that went through a nicely forested area, I hope the hillside quickly returns to its natural setting. For now, though, the environs are an eyesore.
One thing I love about Magic Mountain is that many of their rides are specifically designed for the park. They utilize their geography to their advantage. Full Throttle fits nicely into not only the hillside and adjacent canyon, but travels around the walkways on top of that hill. It provides a nice view for both the riders and the people walking in another part of the park. It makes the ride feel unique and special, unlike Scream!, for example, which just sits on a flat section of old parking lot.
Accompanying Full Throttle are 2 new mini-restaurants, one serving Buffalo Wings and one serving hot dogs with lots of toppings. All “extreme,” of course. I didn’t try the wings. The hot dogs sounded tempting, but they ended up messy and slightly cold. Again, I’ll chalk it up to opening day hiccups. Well, and being messy isn’t really a problem with them–just me, as I was trying to eat standing up.
The ride is really good though, showing what kind of things can be done in the digital age of roller coasters. You can pack a lot more thrill into a smaller track thanks to the launches. Plus, the reintroduction of the loop as a major thrill is wonderfully unexpected. I’m giving the ride a 7 for now, but once the landscaping is finished and the ride doesn’t break down as often, this would easily go up to an 8.