Batman Knight Flight, longest Floorless Coaster in the world : Part 5 of our Floorless Coaster Series

Batman Knight Flight, longest Floorless Coaster in the world : Part 5 of our Floorless Coaster Series

Premier Parks acquired Funtime Inc. in August 1995.  Funtime was a regional park chain that owned or managed four properties: Geauga Lake in Aurora, OH, Darien Lake near Batavia, NY, Wyandot Lake near the world-famous Columbus Zoo in OH, and Lake Compounce in Bristol, CT.  The management contract for Lake Compounce that Funtime had just signed was canceled, later picked up by Kennywood (West Mifflin, PA.)

This left Premier Parks (which merged with Six Flags in 1998 and later renamed itself to Six Flags) with two fully-owned properties, Darien Lake and Geauga Lake, and a lease on Wyandot Lake.  Wyandot Lake was maintained and saw small investments by Premier Parks.  Darien Lake and Geauga Lake both saw significant investments.  Geauga Lake had already received a Vekoma Boomerang in 1995, and Premier Parks added Suspended Looping Coasters from Vekoma to Darien Lake in 1997 and Geauga Lake in 1998.  For 2000, Geauga Lake was to be turned into a serious competitor to Cedar Point for the first time, with one of the most significant park extensions in history.  Geauga Lake was to become Six Flags Ohio.

Like at Six Flags Great Adventure in 1999, Six Flags promised 20 new rides for a total investment of 40 million dollars. As Premier Parks had already heavily invested in the park, the twenty new rides tag line was not accurate.  

In practice, they filled in the old wave pool in the waterpark and replaced it with a new seven ride package from Zamperla and the first new coaster, a Zierer Large Tivoli called Road Runner Express.  Themed to the Looney Tunes, the Boomtown was well received.  Then, Hopkins Rides provided a standard 50 feet tall Shoot the Chute attraction, called by its standard Premier Parks/Six Flags name: Shipwreck Falls.  The Wave Pool was replaced with a new one in the water park, along with a new Lazy River.  

Three new adult roller coasters were introduced: Superman: Ultimate Escape, the world’s second Intamin Impulse Coaster, The Villain, a Custom Coaster International (CCI) Hybrid roller coaster, and Batman Knight Flight, the world’s longest Bolliger & Mabillard (B&M) Floorless Coaster.  Superman here included a twisting spike taken forward and was taller than the prototype in Japan.  The Villain hybrid designation is because CCI used a steel structure for space saving purposes and reduced maintenance on the wooden track.  Interestingly, Six Flags purchased three trains from Gerstlauer to use on it, but the brakes on the mid-course brake area were never installed, and it ran with two trains at most.

For Batman Knight Flight, the ride was placed on swampland near the lake in the middle of the park, giving it a unique setting.  It was given a light theme of the “Bruce Wayne Foundation” for the station but did not go further than that, the first sign that the days of the elaborate and themed Batman queue at Six Flags parks were over.  The ride seats had the Batman logo molded into them, a nice touch.

Batman Knight Flight layout starts with a short drop out of the station, leading to a small left turn that immediately turns to the right after, bringing the train into the 157 feet tall lift hill.  Dropping off the lift, it engages into a steep 57° 148 feet tall drop that curves to the right.  A massive 135 feet tall vertical loop provides spectacular hang time at the top, and exiting out of that, this is where this attraction goes into a different style than other looping roller coasters that B&M designs.  The train traverses two steeply banked curves low to the ground before aligning itself with the Cobra Roll double inversion. Typically, B&M tends to throw a Dive Loop or Zero-G Roll or both after the loop, but in a welcome departure from that, Knight Flight went for speed.

Exiting out of the Cobra Roll (and sometimes seeing some speed taken off thanks to the placement of a brake caliper before the entrance of the element), the train turns to the left around the Bruce Wayne Foundation station building.  It enters the mid-course brake run, where it is slowed down a little.  Now above the swamp, the ride goes through a pair of elevated interlocking corkscrews.  The journey concludes with one last high-speed fan curve and a low to the ground spiral into the final brakes, concluding the 4210 feet long adventure. 

The ride was the world’s longest Floorless Coaster and, thanks to its three trains, was the park’s highest capacity attraction.