California is home to a wide variety of different coasters, including about a dozen that feature some form of backwards motion. In the tradition of this series, we will be ranking the top five coasters with excellent backwards sections and elements, not just the coaster as a whole. As a result coasters with a brief or uneventful backwards section may not be included. With that in mind, let’s begin.
5. Superman: Escape From Krypton
This revolutionary coaster opened under the name of Superman: The Escape in 1997, and shattered records in height and speed. It also pioneered the technology for magnetic launched coasters with a Linear Synchronous Motor (LSM) launch forward up the tower at 100 miles per hour. In 2011 however, the ride was refurbished to feature a backwards launch up the massive tower and given its current namesake, providing riders with a whole new thrilling experience. About half of this brief ride is a backwards section including an incredible 100 mile per hour launch out of a tunnel, a powerful ascent up the tower, and some excellent zero G moments as the car peaks. Considering this ride’s record setting nature, the proportionally large backwards section, and the punch it packs in the said section, it would be a poor choice to exclude Superman: Escape From Krypton.
4. Montezooma’s Revenge
The now-rare Schwarzkopf Shuttle Loop model gives validity to the expression “less is more”. The layout feature two spikes on either side of a very circular loop. That’s it. It’s simple but so well executed. After a forward Fly-Wheel launch into the wonderfully forced loop, the train goes up a 148 foot tall spike. This is where the backwards section starts, beginning with the backwards descent before pulling out back into the loop, seemingly even more forceful this time around. The train then shoots back through the station before rocketing up the the smaller spike, before falling back into the station. The forcefulness and execution behind the simple elements, in addition to how rare this excellent model has become, puts Montezooma’s Revenge on the number four spot.
3. Revenge of the Mummy
Premier Rides launch coasters have a reputation of having backwards sections, and Revenge of the Mummy at Universal Studios Hollywood is no exception. Using similar technology to that pioneered by Intamin on Superman: The Escape, the roller coaster section begins with a brisk launch into the darkness. The trains maneuvers some twists and turns before coming up to a wall with scarab beetles, after the switch track has switched position, the train rolls backwards back into the darkness. This section is pretty lengthy in comparison to the rest of the ride and features some excellent and unexpected hills and turns in pitch blackness. The fact that the backwards section is such an important part of the ride in all of its pitch black maneuvers and elements, secures it the number three spot on our list.
2. Superman: Ultimate Flight
Superman: Ultimate Flight, although now a heavily cloned model, was a very unique coaster when it opened in 2012, much in part to its unusual sequence of launches. The first, mildest, launch sends the train about a third up the vertical ascent before featuring some sweet floater time followed by a backwards free fall into a backwards launch through the station, up the other side and into the non inverting loop before the train stalls on a horizontal bank. The ride continues rolling forward again, back through the station, up the ascent, into the heart-line roll, and eventually into the non inverting loop. The ride concludes going a quarter up the ascent, featuring equally awesome floater before falling back into the station. The interesting mix of forward and backwards elements in combination with the variety of forces throughout makes Superman: Ultimate Flight a sure spot on this list.
X2 is one of the most intense coasters on the planet, and as a result, delivers a breathtaking ride experience. As the train rolls out of the station backwards with the individual seats rocking back and forth, it becomes apparent that the ride does not adhere to your traditional pitch roll and yaw. The backwards ascent up the lift hill provides a stunning view of the park and surrounding mountainous landscape, and also builds tension for the upcoming thrills. When the train reaches the top, the seats are flipped to face straight down during the drop before turning riders on their backs once again with no sense of direction. After the massive first Raven Turn, the train dives down and runs through a giant hill, as the seats rotate backwards 360 degrees, a deliriously disorienting maneuver. After the pace slows slightly in the huge turn, the train is flipped back on top of the track, and once again the seats rotate so riders are traveling backwards, the riders drop slightly while passing by two massive flamethrowers before entering the last Raven Turn. The seats rotate as the the train is flipped back above the track into the brake run, concluding an insane ride experience. X2’s intensity comes largely from the backwards movement of the ride. Noting that one of the best coasters in the world owes much of its success to its range of motion, X2 tops our list.
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THIS WEEK’S UPDATES TO CHECK OUT:
- Six Flags Magic Mountain and New Revolution Update
- Knott’s Berry Farm Update
- The Joker Update (Six Flags Discovery Kingdom)