I’ve had the distinct privilege of traveling around the world and riding all three of the large Arrow/S&S 4D Coasters. Having lived next to Magic Mountain for many years, I’m very familiar with X2‘s distinct last Raven Turn, but how do the other two compare? Eejanaika and Dinoconda look similar but deliver vastly different ride experiences. Join me as I take a look at all three 4D Coasters, their differences, ride experiences, and learn which one is my favorite.
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Before we dive into each coaster some quick some observations. X2 feels like the prototype coaster. Between it and Eejanaika‘s opening in Japan we notice a large shift in ride layout. Compared to X2, Eejanaika and Dinoconda look quite similar. I was expecting them to be similar ride experiences as well. Riding Dinoconda last, it blew my mind how completely different the coaster managed to feel from Eejenaika and X2, truly making all three different experiences.
The model has evolved slowly as there were about 6 years between the construction of each. X2 (7-car trains) feels drawn out, has less inversions, and finishes with a wonky directional change to get the train back to the station. Eejanaika (5-car trains) is the tallest and longest of the three with a new set of elements inspired by X2. Dinoconda (6-car trains) took these elements and reinvented them in a more compact layout, creating an out-of-control ride experience. Let’s take a look at each in detail!
X2 originally opened as X with an infamous yellow/pink/purple color scheme. The colors weren’t the only eye-catching aspect of the prototype 4D coaster. X was also the first coaster to utilize the “wing” seating configuration. Riders ride in pairs of seats next to either side of the track with no track below or above them. The first set of trains manufactured for X were incredibly heavy and reportedly the wheels had to be swapped out daily. This wasn’t the only problem the ride had. Given the extraordinary ride type and scale of the project, Arrow Dynamics was soon faced with severe financial trouble. Six Flags had to step in to finish the project in house, ultimately delaying X‘s opening to 2002. Even after a brief 5 month run, the coaster closed for the summer of 2002 for further adjustments before reopening on August 13th, 2002.
In 2007, Six Flags Magic Mountain decided to close X for a major refurbishment and relaunch it. The park worked closely alongside S&S, who continued the 4D product line after Arrow Dynamics went under, to introduce new light weight trains. In 2008, X2 reopened with on-board audio, fog and fire effects, as well as a new color scheme. We’d say X2 is still the park’s most impressive coaster despite it running rougher than some of the newer Six Flags Magic Mountain additions.
Let’s take a look at the ride layout for X2! X2 is located on a hill (like almost everything at Six Flags Magic Mountain) meaning the ride’s lift hill is only 53.3m tall, while the first drop is 65.5m tall and reaches a maximum speed of 122.3 km/h. The first inversion on the ride takes place during this drop where riders first face the ground below, before flipping forward and onto their backs facing the sky at the bottom of the drop. The first rendition of this 4D coaster features less inversions, the main one that feels missing is the one on the first Raven Turn. While this element is quite violent in its own right, rides don’t invert again until the hill after. This hill features a backwards flip and is followed by a highly-elevated right turn moving away from the station, which provides a nice scenic breather. As the sheer amount of catwalks indicate, the pacing on X2 allows for some breathers between elements. The scenic turn is followed by a Fly to Lie element, where the track goes from its inverted position to a right-up configuration whilst traversing a hill. The ride’s most intense element follows, which is an Outside Raven Turn in which the direction of the layout corrects itself to make its way back to the station. The ride finishes with another Fly to Lie.
X2 feels like a prototype through and through, especially after riding the new versions. This does come with some tremendous charm. The ride’s banking screams “Arrow” as transitions out of the Elevated Turn and Outside Raven Turn are quite wonky. The coaster’s 1.1km length is made up of only about 7 elements, which are all quite stretched out. There is a good balance between terrifying moments and seconds to catch your breath, making X2 a lot more approachable than the versions of the coaster that followed. The finale of X2 is its biggest flaw. The track rapidly maneuvers from the furthest corner of the ride plot to the brake run below the lift hill, making the directional change particularly jarring and rough. This is especially true for those seated in the last few cars of the 7-car train. The train’s length works well on the majority of this layout, but this last element demonstrates why later versions shortened the train length. The ride easily remains the wildest coaster in the United States, it’s incredible to think there are two even wilder versions out there.
Next up is the 2006 reimagined version of X2: Eejanaika, located at Fuji-Q Highland in Japan. Eejanaika stands 76 meters tall, and is 1,153m long, making it the largest of the three. Eejanaika has some fascinating quirks. It opened with the same trains X used to run, but aware of the problems caused by the original X trains, the trains were shortened to just 5 cars per train despite the ride being larger than X. These trains still didn’t fare too well, and in 2014 (2 years after Dinoconda opened), Fuji-Q installed the newer S&S trains over the course of a few months(Old and new trains operated together for a bit!). Eejanaika leaves the station in the opposite direction of X2, to the right, and features a similar lift and drop. A key difference is that while X2‘s lift hill marks the edge of the ride, for Eejanaika, the lift is the center of the ride plot. The Raven Turn on Eejanaika is rounder, allowing for a backflip on the way down. This means riders invert twice before even making through the first two elements. The straight forward hill on X2 was replaced with a giant Zero-G Roll in which the seats make a complete forwards rotation while the train also completes a full track inversion. Another key difference is that Eejanaika took the breather-moment (large elevated turn) away and replaced it with a high-speed overbank turn that clears the entire queue and station. The Fly to Lie is on Eejanaika as well, but it faces inwards towards the ride’s station. The ride finishes with an Outside Raven Turn that is incredibly smooth as it doesn’t need to change direction much to get back to the brake run. A quick Fly to Lie brings guests to the flat brake run after which perhaps the most terrifying element occurs. As the train rapidly runs across the catwalks, riders are flipped forward facing the steel rushing by just a few feet away. A terrifying ending.
Compared to X2, Eejanaika is incredibly exciting because every inch of the ride matters. X2 feels like highlight elements with some filler moments to piece the highlights together. Eejanaika‘s trains are smaller, the ride is larger and longer, but the coaster travels at the same speed as Dinoconda. You get to take in every element and inversion without a chance to catch your breathe. While the surroundings of this park are stunning, the ride plot itself is rather flat and unexciting. The seating was also quite complicated, unlike Dinoconda and X2 where the butterfly harnesses are accompanied by a quick belt between the two, Eejanaika has two additional full-body seatbelts underneath the normal harness configuration, making boarding a timely process. Like all three of these coasters, Eejanaika is terrifying and over the top, but the smoothness of the ride experience and the drawn out elements make it quite an enjoyable coaster with a great finale.
The third installation was the 2012 addition of Dinoconda to China Dinosaursland in Changzhou (a few hours outside of Shanghai). Dinoconda is the mid-size of the three, with 6-car trains, 69m in height and a track length of 1,050m. This time around, they got it exactly right. From a distance, Dinoconda‘s layout looks identical to Eejanaika‘s, however after riding Dinoconda the rides differences become clear. While the lineup of elements is the same, the elements on Dinoconda are more compact, lower to the ground, and paced ferociously. In the image below you will notice that the train leaves the station to the right to enter the lift hill just like Eejanaika. The major difference seen on this 3rd installation is that the overbank turn crosses over the lift hill and brake run, rather than circumnavigating it. The first drop has an X2 snappiness to it, with a longer train and shorter drop than Eejanaika. The Raven Turn is much more oblong on Dinoconda, and the trains navigate the element at the same top speed (126 km/h) as the larger version seen on Eejanaika. Dinoconda‘s drop and Raven Turn inversions feel like a quicker snappier versions of the ones found on Eejanaika. Dinoconda‘s Zero-G Roll is fast and intense, but the coaster’s best moment is the overbanked turn over the station that has more of a top hat shape to it (see image below for visuals, compare it to Eejanaika). This top hat is taken at great speed and feels out of control with riders facing the lift hill. This top hat turn provides a moment of ejector air time not seen on the other two installations. Dinocoda‘s Fly to Lie faces towards the ride’s lift-hill, like Eejanaika, and while the Outside Raven Turn is quite similar, the return to the station faces the opposite direction of Eejanaika and provides some interaction with the lift hill structure right next to it. Another change can be seen in Dinoconda‘s brake run. Unlike the relatively flat brake runs seen on X2 and Eejanaika, Dinoconda‘s starts out quite high and slopes back into the station. This sloped brake run acts as a bonus backwards drop with the trains traversing the catwalks at an alarming rate as there are no magnetic brakes ’til right before the transfer track. Coming in that hot makes this an equally as unique finale!
The overall presentation of Dinoconda is the best of the three. The ride is situated in a lush forest made up of real and fake vegetation. The ride’s terrifying dinosaur-snake hybrid theme brought a gorgeous entrance/marquee as well as temple-themed station. The queue features uniquely Chinese switchbacks that are lined with benches, which is wonderful for questionable Asian operations and dispatches. The queue is shaded and right below the ride’s layout, providing great views of the coaster. The sheer intensity and ferociousness of the final installation is the perfect marriage of the sometimes-too-snappy X2 moments, and the large sprawling layout of Eejanaika.
Now you know about the three coaster’s ride experiences, you can tell that they’re all quite different. While I have ridden X2 infinitely more and we awarded the coaster with a Crystal Crown in 2020, I have to say that the third time was the charm. Since Dinoconda maintains the same speed as Eejanaika but has longer trains, is smaller, shorter and has tighter elements, the coaster’s pacing is outstanding and the experience overwhelming. Dinoconda‘s lush jungle theme, gorgeous entrance, queue, and station only further help it to take the title of best 4D coaster. It is probably the most intense roller coaster I have ever ridden, and one I can not wait to travel to again. You can’t go wrong with any of the Arrow/S&S 4D coasters, all three are out of this world good.
Thank you for joining us around the world to check out the rare 4D coasters. Have you ridden any? Which ones? Let us know in the comments! If you like our content and are looking to support our website, consider shopping on Shop Coaster Kings! If you want to join the conversation, be part of the Coaster Kings Discord server!