When Six Flags New England decided to build their most recent attraction, they went above and beyond what they’ve done before.
Forty stories above and beyond, to be exact.
Six Flags New England is located in beautiful scenic Agawam, Massachusetts and is known for some famous coasters and innovative water park. While swing rides are nothing new to theme parks, New England SkyScreamer offers riders a view that normally can only be viewed in a helicopter.
The ride has been in development for over two years and the park had to work with Agawam to build a structure of its height. Foundation was poured last fall and work continued over the harsh winter of 2013/2014.
“We really had a tough winter this past year and we saw a lot of snow,” said Six Flags New England Communications Manager Jennifer McGrath. “Our maintenance team, along with the ride manufacturers and engineers, worked relentlessly through the hard winter because we promised our guests that we would have it ready for Memorial Day weekend. Here we are on May 16 open to season pass holders. We are very proud of all that went in to make this attraction happen.”
Guests are lifted 400 feet in the air and are spun 35 mph and while the concept of the ride isn’t breaking new ground, the ascension alone could be a ride within itself. According to McGrath, the element of fear is what most riders are excited about. Added to the theming is the appropriate assortment of songs, such as Ozzy Osbourne’s “Flying High Again” and The Foo Fighters’ “Learn to Fly” played from 35 speakers around the tower that seems to follow the gondola as it travels so only riders can hear them.
She went on to say that Six Flags is adamant about adding a new major attraction each year to their parks. Last year, they added Bonzai Pipelines to the Hurricane Harbor Water Park section. The Pipelines are another impressive feat of engineering, as the tubular body slides hit 40 mph and rise to 70 feet in the air.
They expanded the size of the water park, the largest in New England, last year as well by another four acres.
“In 2012, we added Goliath, the world’s tallest inverted boomerang coaster, so we are always adding something new,” she said with a proud smile. “People always ask what we are trying to tailor to, whether it be family, teens or adults. We really listen to our guests through our guest service surveys and it looks as though we’ve been adding more thrills for our guests. We have 11 coasters at this particular Six Flags and that’s a large amount of them. What sets us apart from other Six Flags parks is the amount of coasters, but on the flip side, the amount of rides for kids as well. We are really proud of our product offering.”
No visit to Six Flags could be complete without a trip on Bizarro, previously known as the Superman: Ride of Steel coaster. Without hyperbole, sitting in the front row during the first drop is the closest most people will ever feel to flying, as front-row riders are unable to see the track below them. The 200-foot drop alone makes it understandable why it won the Golden Ticket Award for Best Steel Coaster five times (and counting).
While the ride stayed the same with the change of the name, the theming did improve. Warning: This is the flagship attraction of the park. You will have an easier time finding Clark Kent and Superman in the same room together than breezing through the queue. Those waiting in line have a story to follow about the creation of Bizarro, as seen above. “Surprisingly,” the transformation to Bizarro had one lightning bolt hitting Bizarro and another hitting the Medusa attraction at Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, New Jersey.
In CrackAxle Canyon, the western-themed part of the park, you aren’t going to see the lines you normally see for coasters and the like. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. A hidden gem lies here that is so unassuming, most walk right by it.
Houdini – The Great Escape is a head scratcher of an attraction. The exterior of the attraction is an opera house, but once guests enter, the feel is much more of an old house. Guests enter the pre-show room (think Tower of Terror) and watch a short video which shows a young Harry Houdini performing street magic. The room also displays some of Houdini’s most famous tricks.
As guests pile into the attraction, they sit in theater-style rows facing each other. The narrator announces the hunt for Houdini is on. Guests can feel the seats move, but are they? Are the walls moving? Are they swinging? A sensory overload overwhelms riders as even the savviest guest has to think twice as to what is actually happening.
The seats in this Vekoma built Madhouse attraction are attached to a swaying gondola within a rotating drum. Guests have to wonder if they are spinning upside down or are the walls doing so. Similarly, The Haunted Mansion’s stretch rooms leaves spectators wondering if the walls are going up or if you are going down (the answer depends on which Haunted Mansion you’re in). This is the same kind of optical illusion on a much larger scale.
One of the biggest benefits to the attraction is normally one of the most annoying for most heavily-themed attractions: Glowing exit signs. For safety measures, they obviously have to exist, but you can’t help but feel taken out of the experience. However, while you can’t figure out if you are flipping around or the walls are spinning, the exit signs are flipped upside down.
With the addition of the New England SkyScreamer, Six Flags New England continues to get better and better. The coasters continue to draw audiences and families can enjoy the park as well. The view from SkyScreamer is one that needs to be seen to be believed. For more information, visit https://www.sixflags.com/newengland/attractions/new-england-skyscreamer. Also, make sure to follow Theme Park University on Twitter and Facebook!