No optimism for "Dark Knight" ride

No optimism for "Dark Knight" ride

Posted by Sean Stangland on Tue, 05/20/2008 - 18:46

First things first: If you haven't read Marni Pyke's great story about Field Museum archaeologist Ryan Williams, please do. It's a fun, informative read, and has more than few tips of the fedora to "Indiana Jones" fans.

Now, onto Gurnee, and Six Flags Great America, which hosted a media preview of its new Dark Knight ride today. The Dark Knight Coaster (hereafter TDK) is an indoor ride of the "wild mouse" variety, which means riders don't board a train, like on traditional steel and wooden coasters, but instead board a single car that typically holds 2-4 people. Early pictures and video suggest TDK's cars hold four people. Wild mouse rides are typically tame, depending on sudden small dips and turns for thrills. Theme Park Insider reports the ride will serve 600 guests an hour.

What am I getting at? Basically, that you are going to be waiting a long, long time to ride what is essentially a dressed-up kiddie ride. 600 riders an hour might sound like a decent number, but consider that Raging Bull, arguably the park's best and most popular coaster, serves 1,560 riders an hour, according to Wikipedia. Great America already has a wild mouse coaster, the Rajun Cajun -- and anyone who's waited in line for it on a busy day can tell you that what looks like a 15-minute wait actually takes about 45. So when this much-hyped ride opens, how long will the wait times stretch? Two hours? Three hours? Four hours?

Spolier alert! Here's The Dark Knight Coaster's pre-show,
which I'm fairly certain will be about 300 times cooler than
the ride itself.

Now, I know, I know -- I haven't been on the thing yet. And to be fair to TDK, it is more than just a coaster -- there is a cool pre-show involving a hijacked press conference starring Aaron Eckhart, who plays Gotham City DA Harvey Dent in the upcoming "Dark Knight" movie. The ride itself is in the dark, and packed with special effects. But can I really trust Six Flags Great America -- the place that gave us Deja Vu, the Cajun Cliffhanger, The Edge and Z-Force -- to deliver an indoor thrill ride that even comes close to stuff like Disney's Space Mountain, Rock N' Roller Coaster, or the Indiana Jones Adventure? Reader comments over at The Coaster Critic tell me I shouldn't; some who rode the clone of the attraction at Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey called it one of the worst rides they've ever been on.

But maybe it's not fair to compare Six Flags to Disney -- anyone who's been to both knows Uncle Walt would cry if he saw all the dirty streets, cracking paint and poor theming at Great America -- but it's hard not to when Six Flags clearly intends TDK to be its first big foray into Disney-type attractions.

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