The Guy that Paints Coasters for a Living.

You must have heard of the recent Silver Bullet repaint… One of the main guys behind it all, is Steve Hickey. Steve Hickey has been working for Baynum for a long time now, and is currently Baynum’s Lead Foreman. 

Steve Hickey has been so friendly to let us interview him, and sent us footage and information of projects he worked on. We really appreciate it, and to personally thank him for the great interview, we’d like to dedicate this interview to Derek. As Steve himself stated; ‘Derek, one of my best guys and very close friend was shot and killed’. He also implied; ‘It was one of the darkest days of my life and we miss him very much.’.

A picture of Derek working at Kings Island.
A picture of Derek working at Kings Island.

In memorial of Steve’s good friend and colleague, we thus dedicate our first interview to Derek Garland.


What is the most difficult project you’ve ever worked on?
Hands down X2, many times a coaster will have its unique challenges. That’s what gives it it’s own personality. Due to its overwhelming size, X2 had them all. The end result was worth the effort.X2 & Viper

Which/how many different countries have you worked in?
I have worked in China and Mexico. These projects are some of the best memories of my career. In China we rode bicycles to work just as the locals did. I rode the rice fields that I’m sure no outsiders had ever seen. If the locals did it we did it, including the where-and-what we ate. I worked there under the direction of Chuck Hendricks. Mr Hendricks is now building the Grand Texas Theme Park outside Houston TX.

Is there a difference in color from up close versus where the public can see it from a further distance?
No, but, what the color does do that you don’t think about is effect the expansion of the steel. Dark colors absorb heat and increase expansion. This can be somewhat offset by the the gloss level. Some rides are very sensitive to this and thus it’s a major factor in color selection.

Were you interested in being a professional painter of any sort before getting into this industry? 
I remember being a kid and having to help paint our house. I hated it. Thinking; I don’t know what I will do when I grow up, but, I will not be a painter. How’s that for irony.

What are the different techniques you use when painting a wooden coaster versus a steel coaster?  As I said earlier, each coaster has its own personality. Woodies are no different. Because of their tiered blocked construction they’re not as difficult to access. They do have challenges you don’t see on steel rides. In the high stress areas the board fasteners sometimes break and it may not be manifest until you step on it. Then you know real fast it’s loose. With that said, the carpenters know where these area are and constantly monitor and rebuild these high stress areas. When you visit a theme or thrill park you simply cannot imagine how much effort and money goes into making sure your visit is enjoyable, and above all, safe.

What is your most frequently visited theme park (work)?
This really varies as parks go through cycles and many times a ride will be repainted because it or the area around it is being re-themed. For instance last year I worked in 5 different parks and that’s just my crew. Baynum Painting has other crews they utilize and each has its own specialized skill set that determines what crew will best fit the upcoming project. Many years ago I painted a ride at California’s great America then on to Astroworld in Houston then on to Six Flags in New England.  I remember thinking, working on West Coast, Gulf Coast, and East Coast in the same year was pretty spectacular.

What is your most frequently visited theme park (outside of work)?
Kings Island, Cincinnati Ohio. I live very close to it.

On average how many people work on a paint job for a coaster?
Although it varies depending on the scope of work and the schedule. I have seen as many as 30 men on a Wooden Coaster. Some small flat rides may only require a few.

What is the worst weather to paint in?
That’s a great question. Coatings can be formulated and modified to accommodate almost any environmental condition. For instance a moisture cure urethane designed to be applied in a cold wet environment simply will not cure in a hot dry environment. A traditional urethane would be a better choice in that scenario. Now as for the painters, cold and wet is the worst!BTRAnd when bad weather takes over, it’s time for yet another repaint. Lucky Steve, not everyone gets to climb a Batman Clone! (Batman The Ride, Six Flags Over Texas)

How do parks approach /contact you?
Baynum has a great marketing team and is in contact with their clients continuously.

What are some techniques for painting rides over water?
This is one of the things that gives a ride it’s personality. We have work baskets called ‘Spiders’ that allow us to work from the top down verses from the ground up as you would in a man lift.

What are some techniques for painting rides in thicker vegetation, such as in forests?
We have has some instances where extensive clearing of the vegetation took place. Typically we are limited in working around heavy growth. It must be cut back to allow access.

What are some techniques for painting rides that are tougher to reach due to the terrain?
This would be treated the same as if it were over water. Get the spiders out. HH2 As Steve told us; ‘Getting this equipment to the top of this hill was a real challenge.’ To get the equipment there, he told us; ‘I had to use this 10,000 lb forklift to get this all terrain man lift in place. We have to do some extreme things at times.’   HH

What is the toughest inversion to paint?
That’s a tough call, but, there sure are some fun ones out there to ride.

How do you paint the inside of a wooden coaster’s structure?
We kind of touched on this earlier, on a Woodie you work from the structure itself. The real trick here is fall protection. From a steel structure or a man lift this is very straight forward. On a wood coaster you need literally hundreds of anchor points. Life lines are run vertically in each bay, as we call them. When you climb into a bay, a life line is there waiting for you. This can be very costly and time consuming. Just one of the things you don’t think about when you pay the gate price and enter an amusement park.

Do you paint water rides, and if so, what coat do you use to keep the paint on as long as possible?
Yes, I have painted many water rides. They face a greater challenge than typical rides, and the water and chemicals added are very aggressive from a corrosion standpoint. Further complicating the issue is water rides always have vibrant colors and these are prone to fade quickly due to the chlorine. Although we do have some tricks to help prolong these, water rides will always require a disproportionate amount of maintenance.

Is it tough when painting rides that go over or through another ride?
What makes this so tough is generally park management would like the other ride, or pedestrian area that it goes over, to remain unaffected. Tatsu at Magic Mountain is the best example I can think of. It has not yet been repainted but it’s time is coming. That one will be a real challenge.

What is the tallest you’ve been while painting a ride?
The Eiffel Tower at Kings Island. It’s a 1/3 scale of the real one. I painted the needle on top just for the bragging rights. That was 25 years ago, I leave that kind of thing to the younger guys now. They need their bragging right too.

 Do you also paint scenery on more themed rides?
Personally no, I mentioned each crew has things that they excel in. Baynum has some guys who are real good in this situation.

Do you paint the track or supports of a coaster first?
Personally I like to start at the point where the ride exits the station and make my way around the ride. Logistically this is not always possible. I do try to keep my projects systematic, these things can spread out so much it is easy to get overwhelmed. It also helps me keep track of what is prepped and ready for paint.

What is your favorite ride that you’ve worked on in California?
Although I will never forget X2, my favorite in California is the Giant Dipper at Santa Cruz Beach and Boardwalk. Working in that setting is truly special. I painted it 15 years ago, it was just repainted this past year by Walker Hopkins and his crew. Although I really wanted to be part of that project Walker and his guys did a fantastic job.

What coating process do you use for maximum color lasting?
In general terms polysolixanes and urethanes are the most common. Fluoropolymers are making some advances in the market share but their cost and limited ability to be field applied have kept their use limited.

Do you ride rides before and/or after you paint them? 
The crews love to. I have several vertebrate fused together in my neck as a result of a fall on a wood coaster many years ago, so my coaster riding days are over. The beast at Kings Island was always my favorite. That was also my first coaster to oversee the repainting of.

What Californian parks have you painted for?
Santa Cruz Beach and Boardwalk
Six Flags Discovery kingdom
California’s Great America
Six Flags Magic Mountain
Knott’s Berry Farm
I also got to visit Never Never Land. Baynum painting was scheduled to paint some of the attractions there. It just ‘Never Never’ materialized.

Do you paint rides that are in storage?
This type of repaint is called a ‘Lay Down’. A ride will be dismantled, repainted and reassembled at a new location. We have completed many of these.

Steve did the ‘Lay Down’ for Boomerang (St. Louis), after the original Flashback from Six Flags Over Texas was dismantled, and needed to be repainted.LD2 LD1

What ride would you like to paint the most? (One you have not yet worked on)    The project I want most to be part of is Superman Krypton Coaster at Six Flags Fiesta Texas in San Antonio, TX. The way that ride incorporates itself into the landscape, running parallel to the rock wall and plunging over the rock wall toward the lake below is something special and I want to be part of it. It has so many features that would make it unique. Thus far it has never been repainted, when it is I hope to be there for it.SKC

What is the one park you would like to work in year around?                                        If I had to choose one park to stay at, it would be Fiesta Texas. It sits in an abandoned rock quarry. The lake under Superman Krypton Coaster has the best bass and bluegill fishing you can even dream of. In general I have a fascination with Texas and can definitely see myself calling it home someday. A very very close second would be Magic Mountain. I love the area and the people there.

Do you have any formal training?
I have been trained and certified by NACE (national association of corrosion engineers)  as a level 3 inspector.
I also hope to instruct the NACE inspector program in the future. I should qualify for this privilege in a couple more years.

Additional footage for the interview!


Steve has traveled to almost any major theme park you can think of, he told us the following about the above picture; ‘Chang at Six Flags Louisville KY (former SF Kentucky Kingdom, currently scheduled to reopen this Spring as ‘Kentucky Kingdom’). I painted this ride twice. This is the first repaint. Several years later it was relocated to Six Flags in New Jersey (SF Great Adventure). We removed all the old coating and repainted it to its current green and black, now the Green Lantern.’

Viper AWSteve also worked in the now defunct Astro World, he stated; ‘This goes 20 years back to the Viper at Astro World in Houston TX. We had to climb on and install rigging points on top of this structure. They just didn’t think about how it would be accessed when it was built. I was a young man on this one.’

Steve doesn’t only paint roller-coasters when he works at Amusement parks, he also painted Kuahuea at Six Flags Mexico. The first picture below will show you the crew he worked with while painting the triple S&S tower. (Steve is to be found in the middle of the men). The second picture shows the progress as one of the towers did not yet receive the repaint, and the others did. It also shows some techniques.SFMSFM2

Steve Hickey has worked on many Baynum painting projects, many coasters released in the Baynum video, have been painted by Steve Hickey and crews.

The NEED for a repaint TOP 10

Before we publish a very exciting interview related to this topic, we’ll post a quick list of the CA coasters that need a repaint most badly. The top 10 below is our opinion, though many would agree. If you don’t agree, please comment your top 10 below the article!

10.  Jaguar!20131116_123733

9.  Montezooma’s Revenge20131116_123727

8. Goliath – Hard to see, but Goliath is starting to fade a lot, additionally, there are oil marks to be found everywhere, thus part of the structure has black specks. 20131020_151817

7.  Riddler’s Revenge20131103_151108

6. Journey to Atlantisf21a0395-e066-47f4-a774-e7e698d09494

5. Kong20140101_103238

4. Viper20130922_144216

3. Vortexphoto (71)

2. Tatsu20131208_115628

1. Scream! – Needs one very badly. Read our ‘4 ways to bring Scream! back to life’ article here.20130731_111947


Six Flags Magic Mountain Super Bowl Sunday 2014

It was Super Bowl Sunday once again, and of course Magic Mountain was pretty much empty again. The longest line to be found was over at the one train operation of Batman.

The longest line we’ve seen for FT today, and Ninja’s line was entirely empty all day too. Tatsu had a 10 minute wait, which is neat. Apocalypse was a walk on, so was Gold Rusher of course, SEFK hardly had a line, and ran both sides later in the day. All with all a good day to visit the mountain.20140202_120737 20140202_134714

Bugs Bunny World renovations are finally coming along very well, the ground has been cleared for the new kiddie coaster, the Tweety’s Escape has partially been relocated, and the little carousel has been partially dismantled as well. Other than that, the area is fenced, and the Full Throttle construction walls are now used for Bugs Bunny World as well.  20140202_124903 20140202_124922 20140202_130924 20140202_130845 20140202_130949 20140202_162616

In addition to that, the new entrance to BBW is being realized, although we’re not sure what it’s supposed to be…20140202_124823

The Mooseburger Lodge is officially no longer the Mooseburger Lodge, as all signage has been taken away, and the indoor is now pretty much cleared to become…20140202_124713 20140202_124749 20140202_131205 20140202_131215

We also noticed that Magic Flyer’s track was wrapped in plastic, and that it was of course not operating. 20140202_130810

Also, the ‘control-booth’ of the Full Throttle Plaza is going to soon receive a roof. It seems to be maintenance month at MM, after we also noticed new fencing around Ninja’s storage tracks! 20140202_162857

Scrambler and Swashbuckler are still out, we’ve seen parts of Scrambler under scream, and next to Apocalypse. Most Swashbuckler parts are returning to the ride, we don’t expect it to take too long to be come operative again. 20140202_162028

But then at 4’45 the rain kicked in, and around 5 it was pouring, leaving Full Throttle closed, and visitors leaving. We left too, after finally finding out the Cyber Cafe sandwiches are on the dining pass too now! 20140202_165930

Comment anything we missed, or didn’t talk about below!

Premier Rides LIM Catapult Coasters


The first Premier LIM Spaghetti Bowl coasters were the Flight of Fears at both Kings Island and Kings Dominion, which opened on June 18th, 1996.  They were the first coasters to ever use an LIM launch system, speeding riders up from 0 to 54 mph in 4 seconds.  Both rides are indoors, and share the theme of the crash landing of a UFO, similar to Area 51.  Reaching top speeds of 60 mph, the Flight of Fear coasters are the second fastest indoor coasters behind the Rockin’ Roller Coasters in Orlando and Paris.


3 year later, Premier came out with 2 more of the LIM Spaghetti Bowl coasters. Both Joker’s Jinx at Six Flags America and Poltergeist at Six Flags Fiesta Texas opened withing 3 weeks of each other in May of 1999. All rides begin with the namesake LIM launch into, what is known as a spaghetti bowl of track. They all contain the same inversions: A cobra roll, sidewinder, and corkscrew.

Unlike the original Flight of Fears, neither Joker’s Jinx or Poltergeist have a mid course break run. On Joker’s Jinx, where the break run would be placed, there are instead a series of rings that the coaster passes through.54409961

Poltergeist, unlike any of the other coasters, has no mid course scenery or brake run, and just continues as a coaster. Joker’s Jinx also has a faster launch than the other three going 0 to 60 rather than the original 54.  All of the coasters opened with over the shoulder restraints, but were all replaced with lap bars sometime between the 2001 and 2002 seasons after many complains of riders that hit their heads while flying through all twists and turns at high speeds.poltergeist-qLkx

4 Ways to Bring SCREAM! Back to Life.

The almighty SCREAM! opened in April of 2003, and was placed to be an easy money maker after the expensive X. Six Flags had worked with B&M for a while by then, and realized that installing a mirror version of Medusa at Six Flags Great Adventure (now Bizarro) would be a great way to go, since the B&M rides were often opened without many technical difficulties. This was yet another great reason to place it, since both Deja Vu (2001) and X (2001-2002) had many technical difficulties, slowing down operations, and costing the park a lot of money.

But here we are, almost 11 years later and many new coasters have been built since. X has made its reappearance as X2, and Deja Vu left in the Six Flags ride rotation program, and is to be found at Six Flags New England as Goliath. But there is Scream!, slowly fading in the CA sun, in a back corner somewhere in a huge park. 20130825_175711Not to mention that the ride can be seen from parts of the park, the entire parking lot, several local service streets, and the huge Interstate 5. But yet, it looks like a roller-coaster that can be found in a deceased park. Don’t worry, as all of you probably know, it’s still operating, although never with 3 trains. It actually ran only one train for about 12 months in 2012-13. The photo-booth stands vacant, after the on-ride action-photo system was basically ripped out. (Yes, booth, and all equipment is still there, except for the actual cameras).

Let’s move on to the way we can actually fix the problems, and how the park could treat SCREAM! better.

  1. Repaint – Agreed or disagreed, it’s insane that one of the most visible, and open rides from anywhere in the area, especially the parking lot, looks like it will fall apart at any given time. The ride is 11 years old, and has not received a single paint job in it’s life. Wouldn’t be such a big deal if it weren’t out in the open, on a concrete (former parking lot) block. But since it is, the fact that it looks so faded is a shame. The ride was up for a repaint in 2008, almost desperate for a repaint in 2010, and far beyond a repaint in 2014. The current state of this roller-coaster is sad. You could ask almost any visitor, or theme-park enthusiast, and they will definitely agree that SCREAM! needs a repaint. Then comes in the color, was it smart to color the 150 ft. giant violet, blue, and yellow in the first place? We think not. Yes, it looks great, for the first year, but looks at least twice as old if not maintained well, and since this ride is definitely not maintained well, compared to some other rides in the park, this color scheme should go. We we’re thinking of something that wouldn’t look half as bad faded. Black supports, or very dark blue supports will just look a bit rough when faded, but not as bland as the violet used now. The track could be gray, which would hardly be noticed when faded. Just think of Batman’s colors from 1994-2010, the gray still looked alright after 16 years.
    After all the fading the track still looks great. You can get away with gray and black fading.
    After all the fading the track still looks great. You can get away with gray and black fading.

    Or the park could go with something more attractive, something like yellow and orange track colors. (Think Dominator at Kings Dominion). When faded it will still not look as bad, since a light-yellow can look great too.

    Would definitely look fresh!
    Would definitely look fresh!

    This all depends on eventual re-theming, or landscaping, re-profiling, or non of them all. In conclusion, SCREAM! has a lovely color scheme, but due to the fact that it’s out in the sun, and the park doesn’t maintain it too well, the paint will fade soon, look awful, and asks for a different, more durable color scheme. Comment your repaint ideas below.

  2. Landscaping – Ever seen the picture Six Flags Magic Mountain uses on their website? Yes, those trees happen to be behind a mirrored Interlocking Corkscrews.
    This picture is used on the official park website.
    This picture is used on the official park website.

    In case you didn’t notice, it’s a picture of Medusa (now Bizarro) at Six Flags Great Adventure. Medusa/Bizarro actually happens to be built on the edge of a forest, over grass, surrounded by trees. The photo was simply color-edited, to look like Scream!. The wonderful landscaping of Medusa/Bizarro adds to the ride experience, as everything seems to be neatly maintained. In fact, it’s the exact opposite of what Scream! has. Let’s face it, who has not noticed the huge fading parking lot while riding Scream!? We normally don’t use this terminology, but it looks ‘cheap’. Although we aren’t construction builders, drilling out some of the previous parking lot, and replacing it with dirt, and then trees, doesn’t seem too hard. This could easily be part of a re-profiling, or re-theming of the ride. Even planters in the helix, or under the Cobra Roll would look good. But sadly enough, the entire plaza, and currently the ride, station, line, etc… looks like it’s the all new ‘Depression Zone’. A big faded, gray blob that seems to have sucked the life out of the area is what we first think of. But that can be easily fixed by planting some flowers all over the plaza, in line, and around the pathways leading to Scream!. The big plaza in front of the line should be having a circular planter similar to Riddler’s Revenge’s plaza. This planter could immediately host a new ride sign, that is 3D, and sticks out on a pole while rotating. Talking about an awesome new entrance! Additionally, trees are very essential for a ride’s look, so any way in which trees or plants, or anything else could be placed, would greatly benefit Scream!. Although this might be seen as something other than landscaping, a big ‘pool’ under the ride could bring it back to life as well, any ride over water is generally a hit with the public. In conclusion, Scream! needs some landscaping done, which can be done in many different ways, and even the slightest change would be greatly appreciated by guests, and theme-park enthusiasts. There are so many things that one could do to better Scream!’s landscaping right now, that we can’t even get close to going through all options, therefore we’d like you to comment your ideas below!

    These are all the trees that are to be found, and the plaza looks very sad as you may seem, not to mention everything that's not in the picture!
    These are all the trees that are to be found, and the plaza looks very sad as you may see, not to mention everything that’s not in the picture!
  3. Re-Theme – Let’s say that a re-theming finds place, but Scream! is to keep its current name. Different kinds of theming could apply to a roller-coaster with the broad name; Scream!. Let’s use one specific color example in this argument. Let’s say that Scream! got the new planter in front of the entrance with an awesome new sign, and a color scheme that’s yellow (track) with very dark blue (supports). The fences surrounding the ride should get a new color, preferably dark blue. In addition to that, the station building should become entirely dark blue from the outside, with yellow on the inside, including the Flash Pass entrance that needs new walls, and roofing. In addition to the basic repaints around the ride, the big billboards with the screaming faces have to be replaced with something more permanent, that won’t fade as quickly. This could be a general logo, sign, or series of signs that will brand the new theming. Scream!’s line and station don’t have TVs at this moment, so that needs to be placed in then, and an appropriate new soundtrack would be great for the entrance plaza. Through out the ride, the park could place tunnels, with LED lighting it. Perhaps, to make it all even more spectacular, the park could enclose the Interlocking Corkscrews, and have an indoor part to the ride too. All mixed with a fresh color, fresh light package, fresh logo, fresh signs, fresh line, fresh plaza, fresh music, and fresh everything else, Scream! could be one of the most popular coasters around. Because, other than the looks, it’s a great ride, and any other park in the universe would take good care of it, and would promote it as a star attraction. Could you imagine the lines for it, if it were to be located at Knott’s, or California’s Great America? Comment your thoughts of a new theme to Scream!, below.

    This is what the walls surrounding the lines, station, and transfers looks like. Yes indeed, it's up for an overhaul!
    This is what the walls surrounding the lines, station, and transfers looks like. Yes indeed, it’s up for an overhaul!
  4. Re-Profile – Many of you know the Bizarro make-overs. They were extremely popular, and the rides received attention as if they were brand new. But what most of you are not aware of, is that neither Bizarro is still complete. The Bizarro re-profile sounds awesome to us too, but knowing Six Flags Magic Mountain, this is not the way to go. Because SFMM would need something, low cost and durable. Bizarro at Six Flags Great Adventure no longer has the on-board audio installed, and the fog effects hardly work. Bizarro at Six Flags New England no longer has the popular flame throwers, and the onboard audio is mall functioning to say the least. Both rides came with new light effects, flame throwers, on-board audio, and fog effects. Let’s cut to the options for Scream!. We’ll be pairing it with the color schemes we came up with earlier, so the first colors would be black and gray. For the black and gray theme, MM would not have to re-profile the ride too much, as it could be aircraft related. A new name would be appropriate, but the parking lot it rusher over would make perfect sense, and thus wouldn’t have to be replaced. In addition to that, the station building could simply be painted all gray, and the trains could be made black, gray and red for a more aircraft related look. Since the station already looks like a hangar, only a new soundtrack would be necessary, and perhaps some new signs around the ride relating to the aircraft theme. Few air-traffic control towers could be placed around the ride. For example in the helix, or in the Cobra Roll.20130731_111947 Some simple, empty hangar buildings could be placed around the track, perhaps serving as fly-throughs or tunnels, and the ride would be pretty much re-profiled. A nice set of LED lights would do to light it up at night, and the catwalk lights could be similar to runway lights. The line would stay the same other than the new colors, the entrance plaza could have some sort of aircraft on display, and the exit path won’t look as bad as it does now since it fits the theme. Bring back the on-ride cameras as you could advertise it as a new ride experience, and you’re pretty much set. If it were to be yellow and dark blue, like we mentioned before, the park would have to put a lot more work into it. This is because the soft look of the new colors would be very energetic, and it would easily look unfinished if it’s not heavily themed. Besides the repaint, a lot of landscaping seems necessary, and an appropriate name which could be a hard one with a park full of coasters already. When we think of it after all, the black and gray aircraft themed re-profiling seems to be the easiest, most durable, and most creative way to go. Luckily Six Flags Magic Mountain doesn’t have anything themed like that yet. Please comment your ideas of a re-profile below!

    Part of the station can be seen, which would look great when gray, track would thus also work with the new colors, and  the runway concrete is already there right under neath!
    Part of the station can be seen, which would look great when gray, track would thus also work with the new colors, and the runway concrete is already there right under neath!

After these 4 ‘easy’ ways to give Scream! a fair chance again, we would definitely like to see something among these lines to happen. Perhaps when the rumored Iron Colossus is being constructed the park could close off the entire area and give Scream! some real love, it definitely deserves it! Please comment your thoughts below!

Throwback Thursday — Pandemonium

In 2008 Six Flags Discovery Kingdom finally filled the old ZONGA spot, and placed a family thrill coaster. Pandemonium.tonyhawksbigspin

The ride opened as Tony Hawk’s Big Spin in 2008, this was during the period in which Six Flags had the rights to the Tony Hawk brand. There were 4 Gerstlauer spinning coasters with this name, although the one at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom was special. Rather than placing permanent footers, the park placed a ride with a base structure on the concrete space it was occupying. The most significant difference between the other 3 and the DK one, was the model. As where Six Flags Over Texas, Fiesta Texas, and St. Louis placed the Gerstlauer Spinning Coaster Model 420/4 (Extended), Discovery Kingdom placed a more compact spinning coaster, with higher speeds. They placed the Gerstlauer Spinning Coaster Model 380/4.100_1029_280

The funny thing is that they used the other model in their promotional video.bigspin

The compact model was a huge hit with the public, and received the general theming that all the other ‘Tony Hawk Big Spin’s’ had too. This excluding a skate-board ramp, but including the videos in line, similar station building, and entrance including a jumbotron screen.christmas_season_2008_068_429

Tony Hawk’s Big Spin/ Pandemonium had a length of 1,351 ft, was 53 ft tall, and had a drop of 27 ft. Which is actually the exacts same length as the 3 other TH’s BS’s. But the one at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom was 5 ft taller, although also having a 27 ft drop. Due to the compact structure of the DK model, and the many blocks on it, the capacity was almost doubled. DK had a great capacity of about 1,400 guests per hour (same as Scream! at Magic Mountain), which is phenomenal for a ride with 4 person-vehicles. The other models could only rush through 720 passengers per hour. A ride onTHBS/Pandemonium took about 1 minute and 50 seconds, in which multiple drops, helices, and ‘wild-mouse’ like elements were to be found. The ride could operate 8 vehicles at once, which means that with a good crew, 7-8 would be used. Although often only 5-6 trains would be operating.dbspinningcoaster380websn9

The line to the ride passed by almost the entire ride structure, before taking a ramp up to the actual station. The line had a little set of switchbacks near the entrance of the line, that was hardly ever filled, part of the line was covered and entertained guests with TV screens. That same part of the line was used for Zonga, and is currently being used for Superman Ultimate Flight. The ride that replaced it, and is now operative in the same spot.e-sm

In late 2010, Six Flags began the process of removing licensed theming from attractions. They terminated several licenses including their license with Thomas the Tank Engine and Tony Hawk. Tony Hawk’s Big Spin was renamed and rethemed to Big Spin, then Pandemonium. Thus it operated as Pandemonium in it’s last season at the park. The theming was hardly touched besides the branding of Tony Hawk. Signage and billboards were also changed for the ‘transformation’. When Six Flags Discovery Kingdom announced their new Superman Ultimate Flight in 2011, it became clear that Pandemonium would be scrapped for the 2012 season.DSC_0390

Rumors quickly made clear that in Mexico Six Flags was clearing land already, and was working on some sort of expansion. Although nothing was placed in Six Flags Mexico, and the Pandemonium track was in storage for 2012. In august of 2012 Six Flags finally announced the introduction of The Joker at Six Flags Mexico for the 2013 season. The former Pandemonium would be totally repainted and rethemed, to become one of the most popular rides in the Mexican Six Flags park. The Joker includes tunnels, scenery objects and some pyrotechnic effects, mainly fog. The line is mainly switchbacks, ’til an attendant sends visitors through the ‘Fun House’ with moving walls, twisting tunnels and dark-walkthrough effects, to get to the actual ride station. The opening was celebrated on big scale, and almost a year after opening, some of the park’s longest lines are still to be found at this ride.The-Joker-rollercoasters-33897308-960-638

Tatsu Quiz

Up, up, and away… are you ready to take flight on Tatsu? Let’s find out!

[slickquiz id=17]


Proud of your score? Comment it below! And see how others did!

How to Take the Yesterday out of Tomorrowland


When Walt Disney first envisioned Tomorrowland, he saw a futuristic paradise…in 1986.  Unfortunately, 1986 has come and gone, and we still don’t have commercial space travel or interactive houses, but we still do have the “futuristic” Tomorrowland, circa 1986.  Here at CCK, we have many ideas on how to update Tomorrowland, but it all has to start with an updated version of the area’s centerpiece, Space Mountain.  When Space Mountain opened in Anaheim, it was a one of a kind experience, but now, with all new coaster technology, the ride itself has gotten for lack of a better term, lousy.  This is not the case, however, for its equivalent in Paris.  smmt

Space Mountain: Mission 2 opened as Space Mountain De la Terre à la Lune in 1995.  It was based off of Jules Vern’s novel “From Earth to the Moon”, and was supposed to portray a futuristic way of space travel.  Riders would enter the dome and step onto an open walkway, where they could actually see the coaster and track.  Riders then would board trains and would be placed into a giant cannon and launched into a dangerous asteroid field.  After narrowly dodging asteroids and space age mining technology, riders would finally reach the moon (with smiling face as seen in the 1902 Melies film “A Trip to the Moon”), and see Jules Vern safely landed their as well, before returning to earth.  The  was the first Space Mountain to feature  synchronized on board audio track (SOBAT). 

In 2005, the ride received a futuristic make over, and became Space Mountain: Mission 2.  This is what we’d like an updated Space Mountain to be like.  The ride now goes beyond the moon, but even further to a Supernova at the edge of the universe.  The track remained the same, but the theming got a futuristic update, and new sequences were added.


  The original smiling moon was changed to a large supernova, the cannon launch went from the bottom of the cannon, instead of the top, and a new SOBAT soundtrack was added.  The queue was also updated, by replacing the original open walkway with a hallway featuring pictures of cosmic phenomena such as comets and asteroid fields.  The original Victorian soundtrack that was played in the queue was replaced by space like radio messages.  A new ending was added to the ride, where riders enter a red worm hole known as the Hypergate, before slowing down and heading to the station.  The custom Vekoma track begins with a 0 to 40 mph launch, followed by a few twists and turns around asteroids before hitting the first inversion, a sidewinder, which begins like a traditional loop, but then twists out at the top and continues on.  The ride then hits its second launch, a few more twists and turns around space, and then goes through a corkscrew.  The ride then heads to the top of the dome, where riders see the supernova, and then drop into the final inversion, a Tongue, an inversion that only Space Mountain: Mission 2 contains, before going through the Hypergate, and heading back to the station.smmt2

  Here at CCK, we like aspects of both the original and updated Space Mountain in Paris.  For the line, we love the open walkway, in which patrons can view the track and coaster.  We also love the track layout, and because it is Vekoma, believe that there could be modified version to fit into our Space Mountain structure, to lessen the cost.  This ride would definitely up the anty for thrill seekers to come ride at Disneyland.

Comment your thoughts, agreements, ideas, etc. below! Let’s see how Disney could go about upgrading ‘Tomorrowland’ to actually become ‘Tomorrow’!

California Adventure Trip Report

We arrived at the park around 10 and received a three hour tour having to do with the physics behind California Screamin’, Goofy’s Sky School, and Tower of Terror.  After the tour concluded at 1, we headed over to Condor Flats to get a Fast Pass for Soarin’ Over California, which had us return in about an hour. 20140125_183439 We ate lunch at the Taste Pilot’s Grill next door.  The food was mediocre and overpriced, but that is what people expect at a large Amusement Park like California Adventure.  If you want a truly memorable meal at the Disneyland Resort, stick to their fancy dining restaurants, Blue Bayou our Carthay Circle, and don’t worry about the price, the food is outstanding.  Soarin’ was fantastic, as always, and, has a new added element from the Disney Pixar film Planes, in which, before the safety spiel, where the names of the cities are flying by, a character follows by zooming by with the name.  We then headed up the road to Grizzly River Run. 20140125_143514 This is one of our favorite rapids rides in California, due to both its high splashing rapids, and its 2 drops, the only rapid ride in California to have drops.  20140125_134904This ride does get crowded, so unless you don’t mind waiting in about a 20 minute line, head towards it early in the day, or once it gets darker out.20140125_143401We headed over to Cars Land after GRR, but due to its short line, made a stop at Ariel’s Undersea Adventure.  Although this ride doesn’t bring any thrill factor to the table, it is still a traditional Disney style dark ride that is quite enjoyable, plus, due to its vehicles constant movement, there is never a line over 10 minutes.  Once we reached Cars Land, we immediately headed to the Single Rider Line of Radiator Springs Racers (fastest way to get through the lines if you don’t mind splitting up your party). 20140125_151253 We made it to the front of the line quickly, but, unfortunately due to a child exiting before the exit platform, the emergency shut down was hit, and our 25 minute wait became an hour by the time the whole system was re booted. 20140125_152316 Although the long wait, this is one of the premier new attractions at the Disneyland Resort, featuring both a well done inside dark ride, and a high paced family fun racing finale.  We then made the cut across Bugs World into Hollywoodland, and got Fast Passes for our favorite ride in the park, The Twilight Zone: Tower of Terror.20140125_173708  We then rode Screamin’.  This ride is definitely one of the Disneyland Resort’s finest coasters, and, due to its constant running of 5 trains, it features a dispatch time of about 36 seconds per train.20140125_172923

Our only complaint of this ride was that both times we rode, we got the same train (orange) and the on board audio didn’t work.  We headed back to ToT, and as we remembered, it still remains the best ride at California Adventure. This ride features Disneyland-esque theming, as well as amazing drop sequences, that have riders completely up, off their seats at each drop.20140125_181323 20140125_181336We ended the night with a personal favorite, Monster’s Inc. Mike and Sulley to the Rescue.  This ride has a fantastic, immersive theming of being in the Monstropolis Transit Association, and although the ride once again, doesn’t have any thrill factor, it is a great way to relax and catch your breath after a long day of thrills. We finished the night by checking out Buena Vista Street at night for the first time.  It is a fantastic addition to the park, that is a ton better than the old entrance to the park.

Sierra Sidewinder Repaint, and Silver Bullet Repaint UPDATE

Steve Hickey and his ProCoat got another part of Silver Bullet repainted, they sent us the following picture. Only to imagine how hard it is to repaint Silver Bullet from a cherry picker over the water!image (6)

As we went to DCA yesterday, we had to stop at Knott’s real quick to pick something up, and we decided to run in to take some pictures of the fresh paint on Sierra Sidewinder! 20140125_200118 20140125_200201 20140125_200212

We also took some pictures of the progress on Silver Bullet. Which looked absolutely amazing! The helix, loop, and lift-hill are done, and the red looks so bright, the ride looks brand new! 20140125_200020 20140125_200010 20140125_200006 20140125_195945 20140125_195918

Silver Bullet Repaint!

As many of you by now know, Silver Bullet and Sierra Sidewinder are undergoing repaints! We have worked with the crew painting the ride, and they sent in some pictures of their progress. Photo credits go to Steve Hickey and his crew of ProCoat painters.

Since this crew is mainly working in the dark, due to the operations of the park during the day, most pictures seen below will be taken at night. There is currently one train operational on Silver Bullet, it seems like the park found this the perfect time to refurbish one of the trains, so it won’t only look great once the paintjob is done, it will also run fantastically smooth!

Below you’ll see the machines used while painting Silver Bullet, at this moment mostly red has been painted, but expect more repaint pics soon. The lift hill is close to being done.

image It’s hard for the paint crew to maneuver over the lake to paint the beast, but so far they’re doing a great job! Notice the fresh red paint, rather than the faded red.

image (5) The working lights light up the area well, notice the red support on the left, and the first red paint on the track near by, doesn’t it look great?

image (4) Notice the crane in between all the track.image (3) By daylight you can see how great the track is actually looking already!image (2) The lift-hill is pretty much done already, since it’s mostly red.image (1)We’ll soon have more Silver Bullet repaint pictures for you! Stay tuned!

Throwback Thursday–Magic Pagoda and Crazy Barrels

Magic Pagoda was a walk through attraction at Six Flags Magic Mountain, open from 1975 until 1984.  The attraction was located on top of Samurai Summit, between the Sky Tower and Ninja, where The Willoughby’s Resurrected maze stands today.  The best description of this attraction would be a Fun House wit Chinese undertones, thanks to its location in the park.  Park patrons would enter to be greeted by a Buddha welcoming them, and then progressed through the attractions features, such as a hall of mirrors, a strobe light room, and disappearing chambers.  It was advertised as a current technological marvel at the time, but was more used as a way to get out of the summer heat for a while.  It closed in 1984, due too its lack of attendance and expensive maintenance.  There were also rumors that a fire erupted inside, and there weren’t any clear exit routes, which was a major safety hazard.  After its closing, the top part of the building in which it stood became a snack shop, which is why there is still an eating area there today, however that was removed, and the space is now strictly used for Willoughby’s Resurrected during Fright Fest.

magic pagoda

Crazy Barrels was an Intamin Drunken Barrel model flat ride located in Colossus County Fair, between where the old Monorail station and where the Johnny Rockets is located today, across from Center Ring Games.  It opened with the park in 1971 and closed 18 years later in 1989.  The ride was similar to a teacup ride, with the exception of you rode in a barrel, and, the whole ride platform rose up and tilted, so riders spun on an angle instead of flat on the ground.  This ride was replaced with a laser tag style game called laser maze, in which players would shoot at robots which closed a few years later.crazy barrels

Flight Deck Repaint!

As many of you by now know, Flight Deck is receiving a new color! 

The color scheme will be made up of silver supports, and a red track. We’re glad to see the new repaint. And we’ll soon have more pictures for you. At this point only the Zero-G-Roll has been repainted, not a single support has. We do though find it interesting that the new color of Flight Deck is the 49ers color, and the track happens to be seen from the new stadium, and shared parking lot. More on this soon.1017304_211841652334804_235104677_n

Welcome Back X2

20140119_144415As most of you (if not all) already knew, X2 reopened this weekend after approximately 5 months of repairs due to the lift cable breaking. Here at California Coaster Kings, we got to ride it 4 times this past weekend, and for the most part we were very pleased, Our first time, on Sunday, only one train (#2) was operational, which lead to a 2 hour line, however, the ride was well worth it, being one of our smoothest rides, and with extremely audible on board audio. A fair warning, however, many X2 ride ops are cracking down on the loose article rules, and thus requiring riders to purchase lockers, with a locker attendant standing by to “help” patrons, as well as make sure people are not just placing loose articles near lockers to avoid the fee. On Monday, we rode three times. We arrived early for Tatsu ERT, and planned ahead, and headed down the hill early to reach X2 before the park opened.  We waited only about 10 minutes and were boarded on the first and second rows of train #2 again. Once again the ride ran extremely smooth and ran 2 trains, however the audio only worked on one, with static coming through the other. We headed back to X2 around 2 o’clock and waited about a half hour twice.  We rode both trains; the train #2 actually had the soundtrack from the drop and rest of the ride come in once on the exit platform, and the audio on train #3, however very loud in the station, was barely audible on ride. The third and fourth times were also somewhat rougher, however still as good if not better than X2 last summer before closing. All in all we are glad to see the only fifth dimensional coaster in the world, that offers thrills that are Xtreme to the second power, back, and we look forward to many more great years on it.


Six Flags Magic Mountain Park Update 1/20/14

We went two days in a row, and since we couldn’t do a photo-update of yesterday, we’re doing one right now.

First off, X2 was running 2 trains, without fire, and malfunctioning music, but still great that it’s open again! Additionally they make you pay for lockers now, even if you have just purchased a souvenir bottle, so we highly recommend you to either not buy a souvenir cup, and live off of free water, or buy one after riding X2. We find it ridiculous that the park tries to sell you these around every corner, and thus forces you to pay additionally to store it. Even Six Flags Discovery Kingdom, which makes you use lockers for EVERYTHING, allows cups in the ride station for free. It’s time for SFMM to also install a special cup cabinet in every station (especially X2) that almost all other Six Flags parks have in use. More on X2’s actual operations tomorrow. (Below you’ll see the new chain motor, nice shade of red!)20140119_135726 20140119_144415 20140119_150035

Let’s move on to Bugs Bunny World! The new entrance is being realized, the carrot club theater is being restored, and Tweety’s Escape is being relocated next to Road Runner!20140120_140646 20140120_140632 20140120_140252 20140120_140204

Additionally, they’re replacing the Canyon Blaster Background, and the tea-cups ride is currently down for maintenance too! 20140120_140449 20140120_140427 20140120_140409

Last but definitely not least, the old Mooseburger Lodge building is being cleared out! We didn’t realize how much available space there actually is, and how great this could look as a sports bar!20140120_140741 20140120_140818