Hi everybody. This installment will be on 1994-1998: The Full Stride of the Time Warner Six Flags era. As always, credit for the pictures goes to Harry Applegate and Tom Benton. Now, additional photo credits goes to Coasterimage.com, Joyrides.com, and NewPlusNotes.com
1994- The Right Stuff: Mach 1 Adventure debuts; Parachuter's Perch is renamed and rethemed into Parachute Training Center: Edwards Air Force Base Jump Tower; Autobahn bumper cars debut; Dennis the Menace Screen Test Show and Maverick Behind the Scenes Show debuts in the Showcase Theater; Skeeball Barn becomes Studio 28 Arcade
The Right Stuff: Mach 1 AdventureTime Warner sure does a great job of making the final product close to the rendering
At the time this ride opened, the hottest ride in the amusement park industry was the simulator ride. After Star Tours opened in Disneyland in 1987, every amusement park needed to open one. Companies like Iwerks Entertainment (the company that built the simulator for the Right Stuff) gave parks their simulators. This particular kind of simulator that the ride incorparated, the Iwerks Turbo Ride, was introduced the year before in Paramount's Kings Dominion as Days of Thunder. Even though the simulator bases were provided by Iwerks, the theming and ride film production were done by Six Flags. The theme of this ride was the 1983 Oscar winning film, the Right Stuff. Some of the props included an actual F-104 jet and the Bell X-1 "Glammorus Glennis" prop that was used in the "The Right Stuff" movie. As for the ride film, it incorparated the "break Mach 1 (the sound barrier)" aspect of the 1983 movie. The plot involved guests taking part of a Mach 1 mission of their own, with the seats simulating T-38 supersonic jets. After the ride, guests went to a mandatory exit through a gift shop.
The Right Stuff ride film ran until 1998. In 1999, as part of the "War on Lines", Dino Island 2: Escape from Dino Island 3D debuted and was shown until 2002. In 2003, The Right Stuff was brought back for one season (possibly becuase of the flying involved in the movie, it was brought back to coincide with the opening of the nearby Superman: Ultimate Flight coaster). In 2004, Spongebob Squarepants: The Ride 3D debuted and stayed in the theater until 2007. In 2008, the (extremely awful) Fly Me to the Moon film debuted.
Starting in 1996, the film in the theater would be changed for a Halloween themed movie. In 1996, Dino Island: Get Petrified debuted as part of Fright Fest. It was brought back in the 1997 and 1998 Fright Fests. In 1999, a new Halloween film debuted, the popular Elvia's Superstition. It was showed until 2003, went into hiatus in 2004, and brought back in 2005.
My experience: I love simulators. They are my favorite things to ride in a theme park (second only to roller coasters of course). This ride happened to be my first simulator ride. I might as well describe each movie I've seen in the theater
Escape from Dino Island 3D: Seen it for most of it's run. Every time I saw it, it scared the hell out of me (I was 5 and 6 years old when I saw it)
Spongebob 3D: Good ride film. My second favorite ride film showed in the theater.
Fly Me to the Moon: Hate it with a passion. This isn't really a simulator film at all, it's just a scene from the equally bad feature film, with the seats badly synced to the film. It sucks that it has to come back again in the 2009 season.
Elvira's Superstition: Favorite film in the theater. It just sucks that they don't play the 3D version.
Portion of Boardwalk recieves Air Force theming
When the ride opened, the area around the ride was rethemed to a landing strip of Edward's Air Force Base. The park's former administration building had the words "US Air Force" painted on. A new restroom facility was built and had an Air Force latrine sign on top. The nearby Parachuter's Perch ride was renamed to Parachute Training Center: Edwards Air Force Base Jump Tower.
Autobahn bumper cars
In Great Adventure's history, the park opened alot of bumper car rides. This addition was Great Adventure's recent foray into their long bumper car history. As the name suggests, the theme of this ride are the European highways known as autobahns.
My experience: I never really went on this ride. Having been on other bumper car rides, I wasn't missing much.
Dennis the Menace Stage Test Show and Maverick Behind the Scenes Show
This season, the Showcase received not one, but two shows themed after Warner Bros. films. During the spring season, the theater hosted the Dennis the Menace Stage Test Show. The show was about Warner Bros. trying to cast a child for the role of Dennis the Menace (the live-action film debuted a year prior). The summer season saw the Maverick Behind the Scenes Show (the Maverick movie debuted around this time). The show told viewers the making of the comedy.
1995- Viper debuts; The Batman Forever Stunt Show debuts to replace the original; Yum Yum Palace becomes the Great Character Cafe
In it's planning stages, this TOGO roller coaster was originally planned to be themed after Clint Eastwood's 1992 Best Picture winner, Unforgiven. The theme was changed, due to film not being sutable for Time Warner's family friendly policies for Six Flags (though the western theme remained). The ride was renamed to Viper and was built on the site of Ultra Twister (another TOGO coaster). The ride opened in June, after several delays. Lines were long when the ride opened, but after two years, the ride's popularity faded. The main reason the ride's popularity faded was because the ride was rough and painful due to the ride's restraints and the overall ride time was only 40 seconds. During the 1998-1999 off season, Vipers extended queue was removed and replaced by Rodeo Stampede. When TOGO ran out of business in 2001, Six Flags was considering removing the ride. That plan was scrapped due to Six Flags not finding an appropriate ride that would fit on the land that was occupied by Viper. During the 2001 season, the ride was in SBNO (Standing But Not Operating) status. In 2002, it finally reopened, but it's operation between 2002 and 2004 was rare. On Labor Day 2004, Viper carried it's last passenger. In May 2005, Viper was finally demolished. It, and the nearby Taz Twister and Tweety's Roundup rides were replaced by the El Toro wooden coaster. Viper's station and exit ramp were salvaged to be used as El Toro's station and wheelchair entrance.
My experience: I never been on this coaster. Hearing about the roughness complaints over the years, I quite glad that I missed out on riding this coaster.
The Batman Forever Stunt Show
As part of Time Warner's policy of using Six Flags to promote Warner Bros. new film releases, this show debuted to replace the original Batman Stunt Show. The show is based of Batman Forever (which was released in theaters about a month after the show opened at Great Adventure). The stage from the original recieved a few changes. The Axis Chemicals building became the NygmaTech building. Also, the Gotham City Hall building had it's top removed and had a Two-Face helicopter installed on it. The show ran until 1998, making it the arena's longest running show.
My experience: I have very few memories of this show. The only thing I remember well about this show, are the huge explosions.
Yum Yum Palace becomes The Great Character Cafe
In 1995, one of the park's original structures gets a makeover. As part of Time Warner's policy of bringing their characters and brands to Six Flags, the restaurant recieved an interior renovation. The interior is given a 1950's theme and featured Looney Tunes characters in fiberglass form.
1996- Skull Mountain debuts; Lethal Weapon Water Stunt Spectacular debuts; Rotor is moved to Frontier Adventures and renamed to Taz Twister; Dino Island: Get Petrified opens for Fright Fest
After the sucess of Batman the Ride, The Right Stuff: Mach 1 Adventure, and Viper, Time Warner decided to open another elaborate themed ride. Once again, it is a roller coaster. Like Viper, instead of theming the ride after a Warner Bros. film, it has an original theme (Unlike Viper however, Skull Mountain was an original concept from it's planning stages to it's opening). When it opened, it had on of the most elaborate queues in the entire park. The first portion, which was rarely used, was a rainforst which had an abandoned camp site, two huts, a crashed jeep, and a cauldron. The second and current portion is the mountain itself. After walking through a cave, riders board their "expedition trains" and explore the rest of the mountain. At the end of the 1998 season, the rainforest portion was removed and replaced by the Jolly Roger ride. After a few seasons, the strobes in the ride were turned of and only used during Fright Fest (Though the strobes were used during the summer 2008 season)
My experience: Skull Mountain was one of my first roller coasters. Even 8 years after my first ride, I still find it to be an enjoyable coaster. Probably, the ride experience would be a lot more enjoyable if the extened queue still exsisted.
Lethal Weapon Water Stunt Spectacular
While one area of the park had a stunt show, another one opened in the park's Great Lake Grandstand. The show was a water stunt show, meaning that it featured speed boats and jet skis. It also featured a tank, the show's only land vehicle. The show ran until 2001.
For the third time in it's history, the park's Rotor is moved to another location in the park. Because of the start of construction of Skull Mountain in Fall 1995, the park starts dismantling Rotor (At the time of this relocation, it was called Typhoon) and moves it to it's third and final home. The ride ran in this spot until September 4, 2005. In it's spot is the heavily banked turn around section of El Toro.
Dino Island: Get Petrified
For the first time in it's history, the Right Stuff simulator theater played a different film (As the ride was designed to be changed just by changing the ride film). This particular change happened only in the 1996-1998 Fright Fests. Whenever the film was shown in the theater, the area where the Bell X-1 was, there would be an inflatable T-Rex and some plam trees. Also the "hanger" queue had netting placed on top. In 1999, Dino Island's sequel, Escape from Dino Island 3D, debuted as a regular season film. Around that time, there was a new halloween film that debuted in the theater, Elvira's Superstition.
1997- G-Force Centrifuge and Space Shuttle: Flight Testing are moved to the Boardwalk; Time Warner Gift Boutique is renamed and rethemed to Justice League Headquarters; Snowy's Snacks is built; Dare Devil Dive debuts
G-Force Centrifuge and Space Shuttle move to the Boardwalk
During the 1996-1997 off-season, three rides, Space Shutte: Flight Testing, G-Force Centrifuge, and Phileas Fogg's Balloon Ride, were dismantled and moved out of Movietown. Where the three rides used to be, it was to be replace by a new ride. Space Shuttle and G-Force Centrifuge were relocated to the Boardwalk. Phileas Fogg's Balloon Ride was removed from the park after 22 seasons. Both were part of the air base themed portion of the Boardwalk area. G- Force ran here until the end of the 2001 season. Space Shuttle ran here until the end of the 2007 season.
Justice League Headquarters opens
In Movietown, the Time Warner Gift Boutique was rethemed to the Justice League Headquarters store. The store changed its merchandise from Time Warner and Warner Bros. merchandise to merchandise themed after DC Comics superheroes and villians. This was done in response to the construction of a nearby ride (that would have it's opening delayed until 1998)
Dare Devil Dive debuts
After sitting 5 years unused, the land that used to be home to the Shockwave stand up coaster was finally used for a new ride. Dare Devil Dive was an upcharge bungee jump ride. After riding, rider could either get a picture of them riding or a video of them riding. This ride went through a huge opening delay in it's debut season. Originally planned to open in the spring, the ride had to be dismantled when an error was discovered. After it was reassembled, it opened in August 1997. But Dare Devil Dive was not the only ride plaqued with problems in it's debut season
1998- Batman and Robin: the Chiller debuts
In 1997, Warner Bros. released Batman and Robin. To promote the movie, Six Flags built three Liner Induction Motor launching coasters themed after the movie and the Mr. Freeze character. The movie was a box office and critical flop and brought the Batman film franchise to a grinding halt. The coasters also had rocky starts. In the case of Batman and Robin: the Chiller, it was plaqued with problems due to engineering and design flaws and constant maintenance. In 1997, it only ran for one day during soft openings. After that, it was closed due to problems with it's LIM launching system. The park tried to have it operating again, pushing it's opening to Summer and Fall 1997. By late August, the decision was made to push the opening all the way to Spring 1998.
1998 came and the ride finally had it's grand opening and the ride recieved rave reviews. But there were two main problems after opening. First, the ride was originally designed to duel. When the ride was running both sides, it couldn't duel because of power constraints. Another problem were the ride's over the shoulder harnesses. From 1998 to 2001/2002, the harnesses gave riders massive headaches and made people who wore earings had bloody ears after riding. In 2001, the Robin side recieved lap bars and ridership increased. In 2002, the Batman side recieved lap bars.
2 years after Chiller opened, the ride encountered another problem, valleying. Sometimes times, the ride would have enough speed to make it through the zero-g rolls going foward, but not going backwards, causing the ride to stop between the cobra roll/top hat (which ever side was operating) and the zero-g rolls.
In 2006, one of the wheels on the Robin side malfunctioned, causing the ride to come to a halt between the cobra roll and the zero-g roll. During the 2006- 2007 off-season, the zero-g rolls were removed and replaced by humps.
The humps however, couldn't prevent another incident. In 2007, another incident occured, thus hammering the final nail in Chiller's coffin. After several failed attempts to reopen the ride, deconstruction began in Fall 2007. The only thing that remains of Chiller is it's queue, station, "Observatory" theme element, and gift shop.
My Experience: I've only been on this ride once, on the Robin side. The ride experience was really exciting. The best part of the ride was when it navigated the entire course backwards. It sucks that I never got to experience the Batman side. At least the park has Kingda Ka to make up for no Chiller.
That's the end of part 5. The sixth and final part: 1999, will be coming soon.