On the Shuttle Coaster side, the first roller coaster to open with a 90 degrees segment was Superman: The Escape at Six Flags Magic Mountain (Valencia, CA). Scheduled to open in 1996 originally, this Intamin AG Reverse Freefall challenges with the Linear Synchronous Motor (LSM) launch system pushed back the opening to 1997. Composed of two parallel tracks in an L shape, large fifteen passenger cars were accelerated to 100 mph out of the star and then traveled up the 415 feet tall tower. The tower was originally painted silver and the noise of the LSM motors combined with the cars huge steel wheels running on steel I Beam created the same massive noise like a jet fighter taking off.
A look at Superman: The Escape, shot from the park Sky Tower.
The original look of the Fortress of Eternity, that served as the ride waiting line and loading station.
The track on the tower is at ninety degrees, and when running at full speed, riders got to experience an astonishing 6.5 seconds of weightlessness.
The figure of Superman would be looking right at you as you would race up the tower. You can the emergency brakes at the top of the tower, which consists of permanent eddy-current magnetic brakes.
After 13 years of good and loyal services, the ride was shut down in 2010 for an eight months makeover where the tower was repainted blue and red with the yellow track. The cars were changed and now run backward and are now equipped with Intamin shoulder restraints. Due to the space required for the shoulder restraints, arm guards now equip the outer seats on the first three rows, and the last row went from three seats to two. Superman: Escape from Krypton reopened in March 2011.
Looking toward the Fortress of Eternity on top of Samurai Summit.
The repainted tower.
One of the new ride vehicle racing up the right track.
Looking toward the ride from the Sky Tower in 2012.
To coincide with the Batman & Robin movie that was released in 1997, Six Flags ordered from Premier Rides three roller coasters for their parks that would be themed to the film. Two of them were painted light blue and named Mr. Freeze, at Six Flags St. Louis (Eureka, MO) and Six Flags Over Texas (Arlington, TX). Both layouts are similar except the one in Texas goes to the left in the Top Hat, and the one in Missouri dives to the right, mirroring each other. The third one was Batman & Robin: The Chiller at Six Flags Great Adventure. It featured more of an elaborate theme and dueling tracks, but for our article, we will talk about Mr. Freeze.
Ello Coaster provided us with this great shot of Batman & Robin: The Chiller. The ride also featured the Inside Top Hat maneuver on the dark blue Batman track. You can see behind the red track on the left of the picture. Ello Coaster
Mr. Freeze features a unique technical innovation: the first Shuttle Coaster to run two trains on the same track. How is this possible? The station has two loading platforms and guests exit in the middle. Once the train is ready to launch, the whole track slides to align itself with the launch tunnel. The train then accelerates to 70 mph using Force Engineering Linear Induction Motors (LIM) and once it reaches daylight, starts racing up the vertical Inside Top Hat. Invented by Premier Rides, this curious maneuver reaches 150 feet in the air and is shaped like an Inverted U. The train races up at a 90 degrees angle, twists, complete a half loop and then races back toward the ground again at 90 degrees.
Negative-G provided us with this great shot of the sliding loading platform at Mr. Freeze at Six Flags Over Texas. http://www.negative-g.com/
A reader provided us with this photo of Mr. Freeze Top Hat and Vertical Hill. This is the Six Flags St. Louis installation.
This unique photo shows the classic Shockwave Roller Coaster at Six Flags Over Texas and in the background, a rare side look at the Top Hat and Vertical spike of Mr. Freeze. This photo appears courtesy of Negative-G. http://www.negative-g.com/
What follows was the world’s first overbanked turn. Commonly thought of as a feature invented for Millennium Force at Cedar Point, Mr. Freeze features a 105 feet tall curve where the train banks to a fantastic 121-122 degrees. Not quite an inversion, but a unique way to turn. The train then races toward the middle of the Top Hat and goes up a vertical spike. Also angled at 90 degrees, This 235 feet tall spike features ten pairs of LIM motors to boost the train up so it can clear the two elements backward. As a safety feature, a plunger and pneumatic brake are mounted at the top to prevent any issues in case of the LIM over firing.
The same reader provided us with this great shot of the Overbanked Curve on Mr. Freeze at Six Flags St. Louis.
Our friend Flex shot this great look at the whole course of Mr. Freeze at Six Flags St. Louis.
Negative-G shot this great photo of the train in the middle of the Overbanked Turn at Six Flags Over Texas. http://www.negative-g.com/
The train at the highest level it normally reaches on Mr. Freeze at Six Flags St. Louis from the same reader.
The ride also had its challenges, and both premiered to the public in 1998. The St. Louis theming package was a little more straightforward than at Over Texas, and in 2002, the ride got a new lease on popularity when the large shoulder bars were replaced by lap bars. In 2012, the rides were reprogrammed, and the trains turned around for Mr. Freeze Reverse Blast.
On the full circuit side, the first roller coaster to feature a 90 degrees drop was the prototype Thrust Air 2000 at S&S Power in Logan, UT. It was unveiled to the media and the world in October 1999, and it featured a 170 feet tall hill where the train entered and exited it at 90-degree angle. The ride was imaginative as it featured a mighty Air launched system where using a catch car mounted to a steel cable, the train launched from 0 to 80 mph in 1.8 seconds amazingly. The ride was a throwback to older rides as S&S chose to use steel I beam for the rails and used rubber tires for the wheels for comfort.
Thrust Air 2000 was sold to Paramount who chose to place it at their Kings Dominion property in 2001. The ride did require modifications to fit its new home, and S&S modified the hill, shortening it to 165 feet and adjusting the 90-degree drop on the other side. It opened in 2001 as Hypersonic XLC, and after a troublesome life, it was removed from service after the 2007 season. For the photos of Hypersonic XLC: Pictures courtesy of CoasterGallery.com, used with permission
The most important modification between the prototype and Hypersonic XLC was to this element: the train entered on the left and dropped down on the right. Since the ride was built over walkway, the exit track was raised and the actual segment 90-degree portion much smaller. http://www.coastergallery.com/
The launch track, filled with pneumatic pinch brake calipers and pusher tires to move the train into position. http://www.coastergallery.com/
The track going up the tower had more brakes that were used both to slow the train going up and in case it did not make it up, slow it down. http://www.coastergallery.com/
The original look of the train and the ride also gained this airtime hill that also served to slow the train at the end. After the 2001 season, Interactive Rides came in to modify the ride and trains. http://www.coastergallery.com/
A close-look at the ride original rubber tires and assembly. http://www.coastergallery.com/
A final look at Hypersonic XLC. The course was quite simple as after the large hill, it went down into a banked turn, did an S-Curve before rising into the airtime hill. The brakes were mounted on the other side of the airtime hill. http://www.coastergallery.com/