Let’s talk Joker at Six flags Discovery Kingdom, shall we? To the surprise of some, Roar closed mid-August of 2015 to be turned into California’s second Rocky Mountain Construction Iron Horse coaster. The moment the word officially came out of this conversion, most instantly noted that RMC had never worked with a track layout, or structural layout, of a twisty GCI wooden coaster before, which promised a unique Hybrid Coaster experience. Did it live up to that promise? We’ll discuss that right here in our The Joker Ride Review!
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Before we dive right into the ride experience itself, let’s take a look at what will be happening prior to riding… waiting in line! The park extended the old Roar queue and added several more switchbacks. These switchbacks are covered, which will be much appreciated on hot summer days. Once riders have waited through the switchbacks the line leads to the station, through the giant clown’s mouth. Inside the building, before you get to the stairs, the walls have been painted a bright yellow and purple! Once you get outside, you take the stairs past this wonderfully looking pre-lift to get to the station and to board The Joker!Before we talk about every single little aspect of the ride experience, we advise you watch this POV released by the park!
Before we start talking about the elements, there’s a few things that are pretty important to know: often times times a ride delivers somewhat different experiences in the back versus the front of the train. In the Joker’s case, it makes a HUGE difference. The front offers an entirely different ride experience than the back does. Therefore we’ll be discussing front vs. back throughout the review as well, so you get a general idea of what each end of the train offers.
Let’s start with the station! These drive-wheels right here are like a true tiny launch, creating a lot of speed, even to the point that for the back row there are some lateral forces in the first turn. When the train comes out of that first turn, it has quite some speed. Significantly more than Twisted Colossus has going through its pre-lift, which actually means that the hops in The Joker’s pre-lift have airtime. And that’s particularly true for the first hill! You will be thrown out of your seat no matter what row of the train you’re in. The rest of the pre-lift exists out of small turns and hops, all being significantly more forceful than I first anticipated. The last few hops seem to be better in the front, as the momentum gets lost a bit for the last car right before the lift hill. Nonetheless, this pre-lift is even better than it looks! You then get to the lift-hill. For those riding Twisted Colossus often, this lift-hill will feel very fast, there’s a good amount of speed going up. There’s no catwalk or handrails on the left side of the lift, offering a great view of V2: Vertical Velocity, as well as the rest of the park. Once on top of the lift, you get a quick view of the entrance to the park and rides such as Kong, Cobra and Dare Devil Chaos Coaster before diving down the unique 78 degree drop. The drop is a combination of Twisted Colossus’ drop and any B&M curved drop, combining well-worked-out laterals with awesome airtime. Depending on where in the train you’re seated, it’s a comparable experience to the vertical drop on Superman: Ultimate Flight. Below we’ll discuss the difference between front and back of the train. The front car: not too much ejector air-time, but a very nice bit of floating air-time, followed by high positive G-force moment before heading into the next element. The back car: similar to its brother down south, you’ll be dragged over the crest and instantly swung to the right creating a mix of ejector air-time and lateral forces. The next element is the never-done-before Step Up Under Flip, or as RMC prefers to call it: Upward Roll. This element looks absolutely crazy but doesn’t feel too crazy when you ride it. It’s butter smooth and is basically a crazy fast inversion, as you twist upside down about 270 degrees before you reach the top of the element. The front car: you feel like you’re literally being launched through this element. As you rocket through this element it feels overwhelming and provides a fun combination of positive forces and a touch of laterals. It is, in our opinion, by far the best car to be in for this element. The back car: I found this element to be something different, but nothing spectacular or outstanding in the back car. By the time the back car of the train reaches its forceful moment, you’re already on your way down the curve into the next element. Though this element is definitely a lot of fun, it doesn’t feel as crazy as it looks. The next element may very well by our personal favorite on the ride! The Zero G Stall! This element is a bit taller and longer than Twisted Colossus and freaked us out when we rode it the first time as the head-chopper/ hand-chopper effect is absolutely insane on this element. Besides the structure itself creating enough of a near-hit effect, the ride has a wooden platform built in the structure, and the train passes by insanely closely. If you look at this picture below you’ll see how close the hands of the riders appear to the structure! The element also offers some awesome floater time, as well as some hang time depending on where you’re seated. Below we’ll discuss what the differences between the front and the back of the train are in this element. The front car: though this element is probably the one element that feels similar wherever you are in the train, if you’re looking for hang time, the front of the train is your best bet. The second half of the element features more inverted track than the first half, and when the back of the train is still floating through the first half the front car slows down significantly. After which it quickly transitions out of the inversion. The back car: this element feels as if you’re floating through time and space inverted, which it essentially is. The back rows provide this sensation for a few seconds after which the train transitions out of the inverted section, which is filled with laterals. The back car is then dragged into the next element! Next up is the Breaking Wave Turn. A very fun element that seems to be PERFECT for the older GCI structure below. The element exists out of three sections, the outward bank that levels completely and transitions into the second section, the overbanked turn, and the third section which is a crazy ejector airtime hill! The outward bank didn’t deliver too much air, and is rather a nice twisted piece of track before you enter a crazy transition into the overbanked turn. The transition is a lateral masterpiece and, depending of your position in the train, can really throw you around! The overbanked turn doesn’t feel like anything spectacular but is a very smooth fun turn that dives into the next hill. This element offers an awesome quick look at Lake Chabot in the first section, V2 in the second section, and rest of the ride in the third section. The third section, as mentioned above, is the crazy ejector airtime hill! The elevation going up is minimal, creating that out-of-your seat effect all the way through the element. On the way down this hill you’re in ejector wonderland. This is the first true ejector moment for every car of the train. This element as a whole is very different depending on your position in the train, which we’ll discuss below. The front car: if you’re looking for some lateral craziness, the front car gives you just that. You’re being rocketed into the outward banked hill and through the transition into the overbanked turn. The airtime hill gives a ‘pop’ effect, rather than being swung out of your seat through the entirety of the hill. The back car: if you’re looking for speed, and pure out-of-your-seat ejector than the back of the train gives you the best experience. Throughout the entirety of the element you’ll be dragged around, delivering a very nice (dare I say forceful) overbanked turn, and an ejector filled hill into the next element. The Breaking Wave Turn’s structure is home to huge ‘HA HA HA!’ letters, a very nice touch to the look of the ride! After the Breaking Wave Turn the train navigates through another airtime filled hill that is slightly outward banked and is ejector-filled, marking the second complete out-of-your-seat moment for all rides. In addition to which there’s a crazy head chopper effect in that hill! This hill is followed by probably the least impressive element on the ride, a large turn. It does allow riders to catch their breath for a second without killing pacing. The next element on the other hand is one of the most exciting elements on the ride! The Asian Camelback! A giant hill with a dip on top! This element is another airtime machine. With little pops of airtime during the peaks of the element, and major ejector all the way down the bigger drop. Let’s talk front car: the front car doesn’t delivers as much air as the back, but you’re thrown out of your seat like no other in the first hill. The second hill is a bit bland and you won’t really get any airtime ’til you’re on your way back down again. The back car: the first half of the element isn’t that intense, but the second half, is entirely air. You’ll be swung out of your seat and remain out of your seat ’til you hit the tiny lateral curve leading into the next main element. After a slight lateral touch in a low-to-the-ground turn, the train enters another highly-anticipated element. A dive-like element. This element wasn’t outstandingly forceful but a very fun transition into the next element. The dive has a quick incline and decline combined with an overbanked peak in the center. The front car: you’re rushed into the element, and it’s a solid continuously paced experience. The back car: The first half feels just like the front, though the second half is a nice rush as you quickly drop into the next element. Next up: the Zero G Roll… which is more of a hang-time roll than anything. If you go in expecting a weightless rush throughout the element than you may be a tad disappointed. If you go in expecting a head-chopper filled hang-time experience, you’ll love it! And interestingly enough we love the Zero G Roll the way it is. With it being slower than anticipated it creates an aspect that the ride didn’t completely have yet, and that its brother down south (Twisted Colossus) lacks: hang time. In addition, it’s hard to describe but once you’re riding it, you’ll realize that there’s a ton of head-chopper effects throughout this particular element, as the Zero G Roll is closely navigating the structure. The experience is similar throughout the entirety of the train. The Zero G Roll is followed by a quick turn banking a tad more than 90 degrees, which in the front of the train rushes you through the first half, and the back of the train pulls you through the second half of the turn. And then there’s the recurring theme of EJECTOR airtime. The next hill perfectly compliments the ride with some final airtime love. The front of the train has that nice ‘pop’ of airtime swinging you out of your seat, and the back of the train is just filled with ejector, leaving riders out of their seat all the way through the element. Exactly the type of airtime California needed for a long time, and is always welcomed! That last hill is not particularly airtime filled as it leads into the brake run, but has some nice lateral forces as the train has quite some speed coming into the brakes. Which results in the front car creating the most intense lateral experience in this element as well. But in general it doesn’t quite stand out.
Overall, the back is definitely the most intense. If you’re looking to be whipped around and have zero time to breathe, then the back car is going to be your favorite. If you don’t mind a few slow moments and care less about the constant ejector airtime, then the front car is a very fun experience. I personally advise you check out both ends of the train, as this ride delivers completely different experiences when it comes to the front and the back, though I will add we enjoyed the ride most riding in the back of the train. After riders exit the ride, they will walk through the new gift store where they can view their on-ride photo and purchase it. These photos are taken as the train comes out of the Zero G Stall. For those who are wondering: The Joker has lockers available right next to gift store. The gift store is dubbed: “The Funhouse Shop” and adds some much appreciated color to the plaza!
Check out Sean from California Coaster Kings riding The Joker!
That was it for this Ride Review! I highly encourage everyone to visit Six Flags Discovery Kingdom soon! Not only is the park a wonderful theme park destination, but they also happen to have one of California’s very best roller coasters! “Is it better than Twisted Colossus?” you may ask. Well we answered that question in our detailed Twisted Colossus vs. The Joker article!
Thank you for reading this Ride Review! The Joker Media Day Report is also LIVE!