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Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Astroworld Batman Intamin Stand-Up Coaster at Darien

So I wanted to just write about the Batman: The Escape, Intamin Stand-Up Coaster that sits in pieces at Darien Lake, but realized I wanted to do a little primer on the genre of coaster as well, so here goes!

The standup roller coaster made its first appearance in Japan in 1982 with the addition of stand up trains to two coasters that were previously sit-down attractions. Both of them were built by the Japanese coaster company, TOGO.  This company would go on to retrofit one other coaster to have these stand up trains. In 1983 and 1984, Arrow Dynamics attempted to convert several of their coasters, including the Corkscrew Coaster, Extremeroller at Worlds of Fun, and the Railblazer at Six Flags over St. Louis. Neither of these attempts would stick, and Arrow would pull their hat out of the ring soon after.

TOGO took it to the next level in 1984 and built the now defunct King Kobra at Kings Island, as a coaster built to be a stand-up coaster. They would go on to build five more stand-up coasters, with three of them in Japan and two more in America at two of the other Kings Entertainment Company* parks, Kings Dominion and Canada's Wonderland. Below you can see the Shockwave at Kings Dominion, a ride that is actually running really well these days. Since I started writing this post, Canada's Wonderland actually announced that they are removing their stand-up coaster SkyRider.
*KECO: precursor to Paramount and Cedar Fair

Anyways...onto what I initially attempted to write this post about:

In 1986, Intamin threw their hat into the ring and contracted with Giovanola to build a stand up coaster for Six Flags Magic Mountain. It was named "Shockwave," and it was an extremely popular ride, despite the uncomfortable restraints. (Photo Credit to RCDB)
At this point in time, Six Flags had a corporate "ride exchange program" and would pass rides back and forth between the parks. This ride was put into the program and would only spend two years at the park. It was sent to Six Flags Great Adventure to open for the 1990 season and given this nice aqua-blue paint scheme. (Photo Credit to RCDB)
It continued onto the "ride exchange" carousel and ended up at Six Flags Astroworld in Houston Texas, where it was renamed Batman: The Escape. It opened for the 1993 season and it appeared to have some stability in location once the "ride exchange" program was ended.  (Photo Credit to RCDB)
But come 2005, Six Flags opted to close their 8th largest attended park for a lucrative real estate deal, right in the midst of the housing bubble, something that several other parks that were closed in that era dealt with, including Cedar Fair's Geauga Lake, and the Myrtle Beach Pavilion. As was the case with these other two parks, the land deals either fell through or were non-existent, leaving Astroworld, once an accompanying attraction to the world famous Houston Astrodome, as a field for overflow parking.Many of the park's rides, including the Arrow suspended coaster, XLR8, the Texas Cyclone wooden coaster, the world's first rapids ride, and many others, were ripped apart mercilessly. The Mayan Mindbender coaster was reassembled the next year at Wonderland Park in Amarillo, Texas. Serial Thriller, a Vekoma SLC, was moved to another Six Flags Park, the Great Escape, near Lake George, New York, where it remained in limbo for a number of years before it was reassembled at La Ronde in Quebec. Greezed Lightnin' a Schwarzkopf launched shuttle loop coaster, was moved to Joyland park in Lubbock, Texas, where it sits in limbo because the planned location will be unable to built upon. Ultra Twister is a Togo Ultra Twister that also sits in limbo at Six Flags America, near Washington, D.C. 

Batman faced and still faces a similar fate. It was moved to the then Six Flags owned, Darien Lake, near Buffalo, New York where it still sits today, unlikely to be resurrected. We drove by Darien on the way back from Seabreeze. We pulled over on the side of the road to get an awesome view of their Intamin built hyper coaster, Ride of Steel and the rest of the park. We just happened to spot these, still sitting in a yard across the street from the park. I thought they had been scrapped but apparently some pieces remain. I thought they looked pretty cool so I took some photos. These were taken in August of 2014.

I could not help but stop and take a picture of this awesome view! Predator is on the left, Ride of Steel is in the middle, and the rest of the park's rides are on the right. I love taking in rides as they are going.
Pretty rusty, but really not looking too bad for sitting in a field for nearly a decade. 
It looks like the inside of this track tube is the bees knees, literally!
This decent sized young tree growing through the track tells me these have not been moved in a while!
At one point this section of track was where the train crested the lift hill. I heavily doubt that this ride will ever be brought back, but who knows. I think the closest thing this ride will do to coming back is heading to the local scrapyard to get recycled into your next refrigerator, car, or other steel item. It would be cool to purchase a few of these to use as props for something, or maybe as a garden ornament. I think having to use a crane each time you move them would make this plan not very practical.
Now back to Ride of Steel. Some view to see as you drive into the park! Talk about an awesome placement!
I hope you enjoyed my little primer on the beginnings of the stand-up coaster as a lead in to the status of the former Shockwave/Batman stand up coaster!

2 comments:

  1. Great write! I stopped by Darien Lake last June to take photos of Batman, I was also surprised that they are still there AND then I decided to visit again last month on way to Buffalo and I cannot believe my eyes, the pieces are now FENCED off! Plus on current Google Street View, you can see them putting the fences up. I wonder if they decided to put a fence around because of us? Heh.

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  2. It's a shame that Darien Lake let Astroworld's stand up coaster rot to rust and let nature take its course on the former coaster.

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