1992 was the year that Bolliger & Mabillard really started to pick up momentum. The wild success of their stand-up coasters, Iron Wolf at Six Flags Great America and Vortex at then Paramount’s Great America gave B&M the gusto to come up with something new. Six Flags Great America came to Bolliger and Mabillard to ask for just that.
Back in the late 70’s, Arrow Development started research on a new kind of coaster that would give riders a brand new perspective. Instead of being perched above the track, they would hang below it and swing around every corner. This gave the advantage of being a much smoother ride. These were dubbed the suspended coaster and became popular all over the world.
At their factory in Utah, they came across a major problem with this design. The coasters could not experience inversions of any kind without violently swinging to the side. This had the unfortunate effect of limiting the suspended coaster’s design to family coasters. Bolliger & Mabillard would fix this problem with their new design by developing a sleek new car that would be fixed to the frame instead of swinging. This new design would be dubbed the Inverted coaster and its design would spread like a wildfire to hundreds of parks.
B&M’s new toy was a resounding success drawing huge crowds for its opening day–so much so that it needs an extra set of queues for extra large crowds. Lines for Batman: the Ride were reported to be upwards of three hours that day. While entering the ride, it’s interesting to note that the old test that the old test seat is still present. This test seat possesses the original, pointier harness with a seat belt buckle bolted on.
The original test seat with the pointy harness.
When you enter the queue you are greeted by a beautiful city garden with a nice baby-blue wall. “Building a better tomorrow.” If you look carefully, you can also spot an easter egg on a couple signs crediting the manufacturer. It all looks really nice and welcoming. Gotham City park looks like an amazing place to bring a family. However, as we all know, there is often a darker side. After crossing through this blue wall, we are immediately welcomed by skid row. A cop car has crashed itself on a fire hydrant (complete with working lights and water.) There are sounds of sirens, police radios, and gunfire. Everything is suddenly crime-filled. It is theming at a surprising level for a Six Flags park.
The ultra-welcoming Gotham City Park on one side of the wall.
Skid Row on the other side of the wall.
After the switchbacks, you enter the Batcave through the city sewers. A couple flights of stairs and you are in the station. The station is awesome with Batman music playing loudly and a brightly-lit Batman symbol on the ceiling. Directly in front are the gates for each row. On the other side are “security monitors” showing different parts of the ride and queue (although one is curiously playing a HORRIBLY MADE animation of Batman: the Dark Knight from Six Flags New England.)
The station for the original Batman: the Ride
After taking your seat, it is easy to notice if you’re an El Gordo like me that these seats run a bit tighter than any Cedar Fair inverts. After ascending a slow lift, the turning drop to the left provides strong G-forces into the first vertical loop. Immediately following is the first-ever Zero-G Roll and boy, is it SNAPPY! Afterwards, a second vertical loop takes place that feels a bit more round than the first for some reason. The car then swings on its side and speeds around a VERY TIGHT helix that makes your face feel like Jell-O and your legs feel like they are trying to come off. After a soft right-hand turn, the first “flat spin” takes place. For those who don’t know, a flat spin is a corkscrew on the Inverted coaster by Bolliger and Mabillard in which the train once-again SNAPS through the inversion. Next is an over-banked turn to the right and then another flat-spin which SNAPS even harder than the first. Last is a softer left-hand turn and then the brake run. Another interesting thing is that the train parks behind the transfer table instead of on it. This is a quality shared with B&M’s first three stand-up coasters and rectified starting with the coasters they produced the following year in 1993. Also interesting to note is that this Batman no longer runs with any wheel covers. Those are instead sitting on the transfer table. The reason is unknown.
Another view of the train showing the wheel assemblies in the nude.
Overall, this is my third-favorite of the four Batman clones I have ridden. That does NOT mean, however it is a bad coaster. In fact, the opposite is true. The original Batman is insanely smooth and it absolutely HAULS through its layout. The only thing that makes Magic Mountain’s Batman better is a louder roar and better colors and the only thing that makes St. Louis’s Batman better is a louder roar, better colors and a tighter and mirrored (albeit identical) layout. This Batman is still the best-placed (i.e. not just slapped down on some concrete) with its beautiful landscape and it is still a very smooth coaster despite its age. It also still draws huge crowds so expect to wait about 30-45 minutes for it on average. I highly recommend riding this any time you are at Six Flags Great America (or at any Six Flags park except Great Adventure because that one feels like a Vekoma.)