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Calling Clark Kent Wannabes

What's new for 2003 at Six Flags parks

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Superman coaster Six Flags Great America

A rendering of the Superman coaster that will debut at Six Flags Great America this season.

Six Flags
Over the past few years, Six Flags has been on a tear purchasing amusement parks and pumping tens of millions of dollars into them. The company's largesse has transformed semi-sleepy parks into pulsing pleasuredomes filled with over-the-top roller coasters and other rides. With virtually every major US market (as well as many international markets) now covered, Six Flags has slowed its frantic pace a bit. But the 2003 season will bring some exciting new roller coasters, including two Superman flying coasters, and other wild attractions to Six Flags parks. Following are some selected highlights:

Perhaps the biggest news will be at Six Flags New Orleans. The park formerly known as Jazzland has new owners, a new name, and $20 million worth of new attractions. Big Easy thrill ride fans will be jazzed up about the two new roller coasters awaiting them this season. Batman: The Ride will be a clone of the popular Bolliger & Mabillard inverted coasters found at many other Six Flags parks. A bit like a ski lift gone haywire, it will send riders over Gotham City suspended from the track with their feet dangling. The park will also introduce a looping coaster, a batch of new "spin-and-puke" rides, a Looney Tunes area filled with kiddie rides, and a Batman water stunt show.

Ever since the concept of a flying coaster debuted a few years ago, it seemed like it would be a natural fit for a Superman theme. Laying prone, hanging upside down, arms outstretched (for those who work up the nerve, anyway), riders on flying coasters soar through the air like a certain red-caped superhero. Two parks, Six Flags Great America (near Chicago) and Six Flags Great Adventure (southern New Jersey) will debut Superman--Ultimate Flight flying coasters this season. Like a similar ride introduced at Six Flags Over Georgia last season, the sleek coasters will feature intriguing track layouts to simulate swoops and dives and deliver an exhilarating sensation of flight.

Six Flags Over Texas (near Dallas), also goes to Krypton for inspiration. Instead of a roller coaster, however, the park will unleash the 315-foot tall Superman Tower of Power freefall ride, the tallest in North America. The ride will rocket guests from its base to the top of the tower, then drop them for an exhilarating freefall. Expect lots of air time.

Six Flags Magic Mountain (near L.A.), waging a valiant coaster war with Ohio's Cedar Point, unleashes scream machine number 16 this season with the floorless coaster, Scream. Riders will drop 150 feet with nothing above them and no floor beneath them in what is essentially a flying seat. Scream, indeed.

Heading north in California, Six Flags Marine World (near San Francisco) unleashes Zonga, a steel multi-looping coaster from the legendary Schwarzkopf coaster manufacturing company. This coaster is actually transplanted from Six Flags AstroWorld where it was known as the Texas Tornado.

Speaking of Six Flags AstroWorld (Houston), that park will debut Diablo Falls, a spinning raft ride. Borrowing elements from a water park family raft ride and a splashdown shoot-the-chutes ride, Diablo Falls looks like it will be a fun way to get wet and dizzy. The Texas park will also debut the thrill ride, Swat. Looking for all the world like a giant double-edged fly swatter, this won't be for the faint-of-heart. Six Flags America (near Washington, D.C.) will also feature a spinning raft ride this season, The Penguin's Blizzard River.

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