Galvan Investigates: Six Flags’ most Iconic Roller Coasters
Column by: Mike Galvan - Galvan316
Galvan Investigates: Six Flags’ most Iconic Roller Coasters

The Following post does not necessarily reflect the opinions of SFGAmWorld.com, its webmaster, staff or its readers. This posting is a study and several sources, including the authors own personal accounts have been used to discover the facts with-in.

Coaster enthusiasts like you and I love our lists. Whether it is our top 10 Wooden Coasters, Top 3 Best inversions whatever your heart desires it seems we have a “Top” whatever list. This will be one of those lists, with a twist though; it is the most important/iconic rides in the Six Flags chain.

To make this list, there are a certain criteria that had to be met:

1. Significant Impact to the Six Flags Chain 
2. Still operating as of 2/1/13
3. Must be in a Six Flags Park
4. Located in the United States 
5. Made impact to the roller coaster industry (NOT necessarily the coaster enthusiast community)

The rides will be listed in no specific order; they will have a synopsis of why I believe the particular ride has made the list. Whenever possible I will give my overall impression of the ride if I had ridden it.

Superman: Escape from Krypton- Six Flags Magic Mountain 

This ride was the initial shot of the “Coaster wars” of the late 90s and early 00s. Tied as the tallest/fastest ride when it opened in 1997, Superman must be on this list given its significant impact on the industry as a whole, and starting a whole new trend in the industry of pushing the envelope. 

In addition to being the tallest and fastest in the world, Superman was also the first coaster (along with Tower Terror at Dreamworld Australia) to utilize LSM technology. This ride however was plagued by problems early on, and was in fact delayed 1 year before opening. 
Once it did open however, the ride lost its title as the 1st 100mph coaster (Dreamworld beat it out again) a series of accidents involving Intamin rides in the early 00s forces the ride restraints to be redesigned, coupled with the massive power consumption the ride needed to operate, this ride was often closed or using one side while in operation.
In 2011 Superman received a much needed refurbishment, including new Intamin trains, as well as turning the ride facing backwards. And in 2012 Six Flags pushed the envelope once again by building “Lex Luthor Tower of Doom” to the sides of the 400 foot tower. 

Galvan’s Take: I rode this ride in 2005, and thought it was okay, nothing too special, mainly because the car only went up a 3rd of the way up the tower. Really glad to see it get the TLC it needed in 2011 though.

X2- Six Flags Magic Mountain 

Debuting in 2002, X2 is the world’s first 4th dimension roller coaster. (Now called a 5th Dimension coaster with the additions of fire and music elements) X2 delivers a ride experience unmatched by any other coaster in the United States. It truly is an icon of roller coasters, and easily makes this list due to in large part to its uniqueness and yet another example of the Coaster Wars’ envelope pushing. 
X2 features seats that rotate 360 degrees, a 215 foot first drop and travels at a top speed of 76 mph. X2 has had rave reviews from the general public and coaster enthusiasts alike. It truly is one of the best coasters on the planet.

Galvan’s Take: A Religious experience, a ride that delivers from 1st drop to the final brake. If you’re any kind of coaster enthusiast you MUST ride this ride.

Revolution- Six Flags Magic Mountain

This coaster makes the list because of its significance to the roller coaster industry. Having the first successful loop of a coaster earns this rides place on this list and (I promise no more SFMM Coasters) Designed by Werner Stengel and manufactured by Schwarzkopf, this ride isn’t the tallest or fastest but it is one of the most important. Now if they’d just get rid of the OSTRs!

Galvan’s Take: The OTSRs kill this ride, but it’s a classic. 

New Texas Giant- Six Flags Over Texas

I debated about this rides place on this list compared to what we’ve listed so far. But this ride and its significance to Six Flags and the industry as a whole can’t be denied. Texas Giant originally opened in 1990 and bears a similar resemblance to Cedar Point’s Mean Streak, and much like Mean Streak the ride had a “not so good” reputation. 

This “reputation” forced Six Flags hand, and a total revamp of the ride was made in 2010. The result is this hybrid steel/wood ride called New Texas Giant, these modifications by Rocky Mountain Construction created a whole new wave of wooden/steel coasters, including a revamp of Rattler at Six Flags Fiesta Texas among others, and thus the reason why this ride is on the list. 

Galvan’s Take: Rode Texas Giant in 2005, dying to get on the new Texas Giant. 

Screamin Eagle – Six Flags St. Louis

The last design by famed coaster designer John Allen, Screamin’ Eagle opened as the fastest and tallest coaster in the world in 1976. Screamin’ Eagle is on this list because of its renowned pedigree. Screamin’ Eagle is a classic ride that is befitting of a list of Iconic rides. 

Galvan’s Take: I am not a big fan of this ride, but understand its history, and importance.

Mindbender- Six Flags over Georgia

For over 30 years this ride has been a staple at Six Flags over Georgia, and there is definitely a good reason why, billed as the world’s first triple loop roller coaster, in 1978. Mindbender is on this list because of many factors. 1 being its designer and builder Stengel/Schwarzkopf and 2 because the ride despite its age, is very intense, smooth ride.
Mindbender along with its Schwarzkopf sister Shockwave at Six Flags over Texas, and cousins Whizzer at Great America and Revolution at Six Flags Magic Mountain, have amazing staying power, and are a truly a Six Flags Icon.

Galvan’s Take: Absolutely loved this ride. A definite can’t miss.

Apocalypse/Iron Wolf Six Flags America/SFGAm

The significance of this ride cannot be understated; it was B&M’s first ride, a ride that launched a very successful roller coaster design firm (I have a feeling that there might be another B&M on this list soon too). Yes the ride wore out its welcome at Great America, and probably had no business being relocated to SFA, but still this list focuses on the industry as well as enthusiasts.

Galvan’s Take: It’s Iron Wolf… 

Nitro- Six Flags Great Adventure

One of the most highly regarded rides in the United States, Nitro easily makes this list as one of the most Iconic rides in the Six Flags chain, Standing at 230 feet tall and a top speed of 80 mph. Nitro helped to usher in a new era in Hypercoasters, that is still seen today with rides like Behemoth, Goliath, Diamondback and Intimidator. Raging Bull isn’t on this list because this ride is. And it’s clear that when it comes to Hypercoasters B&M wrote the book. And that book started with Nitro. (Remember this is a SF only list, totally aware of Apollo’s Chariot) 

Galvan’s Take: Easily one of the best Hypercoasters around. 

El Toro- Six Flags Great Adventure

Regarded as one of it not the best Wooden Coaster in the United States, El Toro makes this list for many reasons. It’s a fan favorite with the GP and enthusiasts alike, it uses a revolutionary construction method, known as the “Plug and Play method where pieces are built together on side and constructed, reducing construction costs and time, this plug and play technology also delivers a ride that is very smooth. Above all else, the ride features so pretty impressive stats. One of the steepest first drops of a wooden coaster, one of the fastest wooden coasters, and a wooden coaster that features a cable lift.

El Toro has been a home run for SFGAdv since day one. But it makes this list because of its revolutionary design, ride stats and popularity.

Galvan’s Take: Easily one of the best wooden coasters on earth, and like X2 it is a MUST for a coaster enthusiast.

Up until now, we’ve seen rides across the Six Flags Chain that has made a significant impact on the industry, the general public, and enthusiasts. I have researched every park in the chain to find out whether or not a ride was deserving of being listed.

Now begins the section rides that are close to home, and their significance to Six Flags.

Batman: The Ride- Six Flags Great America

Probably one of the most important rides on this list as when it was introduced it was the most innovative captivating, envelope pushing, and amazing coaster of its day, and many people may still consider it to be so. 

Great America wanted an inverted coaster, one that traversed through loops and corkscrews. What it got, was a B&M masterpiece, and a ride that will forever be linked to not only Great America and B&M but changing the roller coaster landscape forever. 
Batman is and was a roller coaster work of art, yes it’s been cloned, but when you have a masterpiece like Batman, as with a famous piece of art, you want to make sure everyone has a chance to experience it for themselves, or you want to have one hanging on your wall to enjoy too. 

Galvan’s Take: I have ridden the Batman the Ride coaster at 6 different parks (SFMM, SFOG, SFOT, SFSTL, SFGAdv and SFGAm) they all have their own identity, (Especially SFSTL’s which I hate) but one thing is for sure nothing beats the original and that is the Gurnee installation of Batman. You all should be considered lucky and fortunate to have such an amazing piece of roller coaster history at our home park.

American Eagle – Six Flags Great America

American Eagle truly is the benchmark for wooden coasters, even today with wooden coasters becoming more and more popular than ever, Eagle still holds records for length, speed, height and drop for a racing woodie. While Eagle may have lost a step or two and isn’t in the same class as rides like El Toro or Voyage. Eagle will forever be one of those rides where despite there are rides that are better, it is still an icon of roller coasters. 

Galvan’s Take: American Eagle doesn’t nearly get the love and attention it should from people outside of the region. It is an excellent ride and despite what I said about there being rides better. Eagle still is more than worthy of being on a list like this.

There you have it, the Galvan Investigates list of the most important Coasters of the Six Flags Chain. 

Honorable Mentions:

X-Flight – Six Flags Great America
Kingda Ka- Six Flags Great Adventure
Goliath – Six Flags New England
Viper- Six Flags Great America
Medusa- Six Flags Discovery Kingdom
Judge Roy Scream – Six Flags over Texas
Whizzer- Six Flags Great America
Mr. Freeze- Six Flags St. Louis/over Texas
Rattler- Six Flags Fiesta Texas
El Monstre- La Ronde
Great American Scream Machine – Six Flags over Georgia
Tatsu – Six Flags Magic Mountain

When writing this column, I took into account a lot of things, I know that no list whether it’s a top ten, most iconic, best whatever is perfect. What I think is iconic, might be something you think should be torn down. Never the less I thank you so very much for reading, and as always welcome your feedback positive, in different or negative. If you feel that I may have left off a ride, tell me why in the comments section below, I always love a good coaster discussion.

Thank you again!

If you have an idea for another Galvan Investigates topic, please do not hesitate to message me about your idea, if it is good enough to launch an investigation on I will certainly credit you for the idea. Thank you for reading.
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