Six Flags Dark Knight Coaster: A HUGE LETDOWN

If you’re into the whole brevity thing and you simply can’t stand my never-ending tangents, then here’s the short version: I’ve had more exciting rides on a compact John Deere Gator. Better yet…I’ve taken my life in my hands on numerous occasions reaching speeds 30 to 40 times faster than the Dark Knight Coaster on my Mongoose BMX bike. And yes, you CAN ride on my pegs.

A new ride at a local amusement park is usually pretty damn exciting. It gives us even more motivation to flock to the park and shell out zillions on season passes, parking passes, hopper passes, etc. This season, Six Flags Great Adventure in N.J capitalized on the popularity of the Batman Begins sequel, The Dark Knight, and threw up a dark ride in it’s honor. Naturally, like any die hard insane Bat-Fan, I needed to ride it.

I got there before the park opened because I knew I wasn’t going to want to stay in line for an hour and a half to ride it. Even though it was the Dark Knight, I don’t have the patience that I used to. Waiting for Kingda Ka was the biggest letdown because we must’ve waited 2 hours for a ride that seemed to last 7 seconds. The anticipation was high judging by how fast everyone sprinted to the Dark Knight as soon as the security guards let down the rope to get into the rest of the park. Don’t you hate it when you’re in a holding pattern in an amusement park waiting for it to open and you realize people actually work there and it isn’t just a fantasy world? There’s guys filling cold cases with soda and iced tea, opening up the doors to the various memorabilia and candy stores, and others are sweeping up. I always thought that stuff was done by the amusement park fairies that live in the old Victorian house at the front gate.

For young park visitors, the Dark Knight is a fun attraction but for the majority of people expecting a thrill ride similar to the Aerosmith Rock n Roller Coaster, they’ll surely be disappointed. It’s the most boring, lame, and uneventful ride in the park. I didn’t have to wait on line, but if you do you’ll wait in what they are trying to make us believe is the Gotham City transit system. The lights are dim and the big screen is showing a press conference with Harvey Dent (actually played by Aaron Eckhart) answering questions about crime in Gotham. Then the lights get even dimmer and the Joker’s catchphrase WHY SO SERIOUS comes on the screen while random Jokeresque quotes scrawled on the walls illuminate. There was a short montage with jolts of James Cagney and melting celluloid that for some reason got me so pumped. We boarded the ride, and not soon after I was deflated. I realized that we rode the majority of the ride and I kept saying “I’m sure it hasn’t even kicked in yet.” Was I wrong! The ride was over and nothing happened.

The Dark Knight “coaster” as it’s called is far from a coaster. It felt like it went about 5 mph!! There’s nothing even going on inside while you’re in you’re little 4 person train. You see some blacklit/florescent markings on the walls to make you think Joker is around, and you hear someone who sounds like Heath Ledger trying to spook you out, but other than that there’s really nothing to the ride.

Leave it to Six Flags to make a shitty ride. They can work wonders with their roller coasters but when it comes to other rides and attractions they suck. They rarely show any creativity and it usually seems like they don’t want to offer a variety of attractions. If they wanted to create a throwback dark ride, why didn’t they make a haunted house? At one time Great Adventure had a haunted house but it burned down in ’84. Check out this great article at Dark in the Park about the old Six Flags haunted castle. I haven’t been to a good haunted house since Castle Dracula.

It seemed like they whipped up the Dark Knight coaster in 6 weeks so I’m sure Six Flags has the means to make the most kickass, scariest haunted house on the east coast. You’ll always hear them bragging on TV with their annoying ads about how much bigger Great Adventure is than Disneyland, and how they feature a safari. Who cares how much land they own? How about concentrating on making Great Adventure an awesome amusement park with awe inspiring rides? Isn’t that the point? Their coasters are kickass but they are seriously lacking when it comes to creating atmosphere. I want to escape when I go to a theme park. I want to be pulled into Metropolis when I wait for the Superman ride, I DON’T want to feel like I’m waiting an hour in the sweltering Jackson, N.J sun by the greasy haired kid dressed all in black, yellow converse, who’s blasting some metal song from his ruby red Razr phone.

With Six Flags association with the WB and DC characters, it’s a shame that they can’t get a grasp on the rides in their parks. How about a Marvin the Martian Space Mission? A Gossamer Funhouse? A Wonder Woman Invisible Jet ride? C’mon people…this is off the cuff here! Imagine what I could do if I really put my mind to it!

I love going on rides like Nitro (my favorite), El Toro, Superman, and The Scream Machine, but they don’t offer much personality. The rides themselves are awesome but what I value is the atmosphere. Six Flags chinces out and they don’t take the opportunity to sweep you into a different world as you’re waiting to go on the ride. That long wait is sometimes excruciating and could be made a lot more interesting. You know what I mean if you’ve been on any ride in Disney World and Universal like Spider Man, and Star Tours in MGM. I want to be transported and be so distracted that the greasy haired kid won’t even make it into my brain because I‘m seriously convincing myself into thinking that I‘m about to rocket into space. Maybe the people who run Great Adventure could go take a ride on Space Mountain, Tower of Terror, or even one of the awesome rides in Universal’s Islands of Adventure. They could learn a thing or two.

Have you gone on any terrible rides? If so, tell us about it!