- Thrill Scale (0=Wimpy!, 10=Yikes!): 8.5
Extreme height, speed, acceleration, and freaky lateral Gs capable of inducing grayouts
- Coaster type: Hypercoaster
- Height: 235 feet
- Drop: 255
- Top speed: 85 mph
- Height restriction: 48 inches
Let's set a few things straight. I don't claim to be the world's greatest thrill ride daredevil, and I'm firmly in the maddening throes of middle age. But as About.com's Theme Parks guide, I've boarded a slew of roller coasters of all sizes and challenge levels, I enjoy riding them, and I believe I possess a fairly robust constitution. The disorienting, genuinely frightening -- and I don't mean that in a good way--grayout (one step short of a blackout) sensation I experienced on Six Flags Magic Mountain's Goliath, however, was a first for me--and I hope a last.
On the day I visited Magic Mountain, I rode some coasters before and (once I regained my confidence) after Goliath without incident. Had I given it another whirl later in the day, tried a different seat, or changed any one or a combination of other variables, perhaps I would have been fine. But I wasn't. I felt as if I was struggling to maintain consciousness, and that's certainly not something I expect, nor want, when I ride a roller coaster.
Clearly, the other passengers seemed fine as they exited the coaster with me. And since its debut in 2000, legions of riders have braved Goliath, apparently without succumbing to grayouts. But I've heard complaints from other thrill ride fans about similar episodes on Goliath, so I believe there may be something inherently wrong with the ride's design. Your experience may vary, but I recommend you think twice before testing your limits. Younger children especially might find the experience quite unnerving.
A Giant Monster of a Ride
Goliath is certainly an imposing sight. Its orange track stands out among Six Flag Magic Mountain's crowded coaster skyline. However, like most of the park's coasters, Goliath is set far back from the midway, and it's difficult to get a sense of the ride's layout. To enter the queue, guests walk between enormous "stone-carved" letters spelling out the ride's macho name. A long line leads to the loading station.
The 235-foot lift hill is suitably intimidating. As the train click-clack-clicks up the hill--and keeps clicking and clacking--the sense of apprehension rises. The first drop into an underground tunnel is exhilarating. And the crest of the second hill delivers some wonderful airtime.
But, a mid-course trim brake abruptly sucks a lot of the energy out of the train. What's the sense of building a 235-foot tall hypercoaster only to slam on the brakes and dampen all of the fun? The brake must be an attempt to mitigate the effect of the mind-numbing element that follows it. After a third drop, the train enters a highly banked helix where the track tightly turns and turns into itself. This is where the grayout occurred.
Goliath begins with "G"
Nearly all coasters deliver negative (less than 1 G) and positive (greater than 1 G) forces. When done right, they can be roller coaster nirvana; they're what coaster junkies crave. In most cases, the G forces are momentary bursts. Even relatively high levels, in small doses, can be breathtaking. Goliath's sustained lateral G forces, however, are excruciating.
I started getting foggy as soon as the train began its helix spiral. Instead of letting up, it felt as if the G forces intensified. My vision began getting blurry, and then everything appeared to have a glowing red cast. As the helix continued its tortuous coil, colors faded from my vision altogether. At that point I felt as if I was fighting to stay conscious.
Finally, mercifully, the train exited the helix, and the fogginess lifted. I was never so happy for a ride to be over.
Even if I had been able to withstand the helix without any ill effects, I'd still give Goliath a crummy rating. The best hypercoasters, like Six Flags New England's Superman: Ride of Steel, use their extreme height and speed to produce a symphony of thrilling airtime and barely-in-control maneuvers. Instead, Goliath squanders its pent-up power and falls woefully flat in its second movement.
My advice: Put your slingshot back in your pocket, David, and forget about Goliath. If you want a really good scream machine, check out Magic Mountain's wonderful floorless coaster, Scream.