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Superman: Escape from Krypton (originally Superman: The Escape) is a steel shuttle roller coaster built by by Swiss roller coaster firm Intamin at Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia, California. The attraction, themed after Superman, accelarates riders backwards at 100mph towards a vertical 40-story tower, rising upward before plummeting back to the loading station. Once reaching near the apex of the tower, riders are rendered weightless for approximately 6.5 seconds.
Opening in 1997, it was, at one point, the tallest and joint fastest roller coaster in the world and was one of the first two rides to utilize Linear Synchronous Motors (LSM) technology to propel vehicles to top speed. From late 2010 to Spring 2011, the ride was fully refurbished into "Superman: Escape from Krypton" which added new trains that face backwards and was redecorated with a new color scheme.
Superman: The Escape (1997-2010)
The ride originally opened as Superman: The Escape on March 15, 1997. Riders were initially launched forward, facing the tower. The track was painted white and had a statue of Superman at the top of the tower looking down at the riders. The ride was originally going to be named Velocetron, themed after The Man of Steel. It was originally intended to open in summer 1996. That year it was announced as Superman: The Escape, breaking records as the first roller coaster to reach 100 miles per hour (160 km/h). Due to a range of problems with the launch system, its release was delayed.
After its opening, the media claimed Superman to be the fastest roller coaster in the world. However, after the delay, a similar roller coaster known as Tower of Terror, which also has a 100 mph launch opened a month earlier in Austrailia. Superman therefore lost this claim and tied with Tower for the world's fastest roller coaster, however, Superman became the world's first coaster to go over 400ft, therefore becoming the tallest roller coaster at the time. This however has since been surpassed. Because of the intense nature of the attraction, guests have to be at least '54 inches to ride.
Superman: Escape from Krypton (2011-Present)
In July 2010, Superman: The Escape ceased operations and would not reopen until 2011, with hints that there would be improvements made to the ride experience. Park officials quickly denied rumors that it would receive a Bizarro retheming. In June 2004, California State Regulators required the park to modify the seat belts because of an incident on the Superman: Ride of Steel roller coaster at Six Flags New England which had similar restraint systems.
On March 19, 2011, just after 14 years to the day of it's original release, the ride was re-themed and reopened as Superman: Escape from Krypton. Since the riders no longer faced the tower, the Superman statue at the top was removed.
Lex Luthor: Drop of Doom (2012)
In 2012, Lex Luthor: Drop of Doom, a drop-tower attraction themed after Superman's arch-nemesis Lex Luthor, was integrated with the existing Superman: Escape from Krypton tower. The attraction opened in July 2012 after 5 months of construction.
The ride is located at the Samurai Summit section of the park located above park ground. The creators wanted to give guests an overall perspective of being the Man of Steel, from scaling a large, winding hill stumbling upon the Man of Steel's artic fortress then making their way through to fully soaring out into the open air at breakneck speeds."
Towards the entrance, the S-shield of the House of El is imprinted and painted on the ground. The exterior facade resembles the Fortress of Solitude. Once inside, the interior passages are a green-lit crystaline environment "being composed of Kryptonite rock". The queue is also air-conditioned to keep the illusion of being in artic remains of Krypton. When the ride was Superman: The Escape, the queue was lit blue and featured statues of what were presumably Jor-El and Lara Lor Van holding a globe of Krypton along with a Power-Suit on display, but these were since removed after the retheming. Had they gone with the Velocetron theme, the queue would've been modeled as ancient ruins with a giant laser.
Riders then reach a set of doors which only open and close from the loading station on the other side as a safety precaution. The ride car is accelarated out of the station in reverse from 0 to 100 mph within approximately 7 seconds. Riders experience a g-force of 4.5 upon launch. The vehicle then ascends 400+ feet up the tower at a 90 degree angle. Riders directly face downwards stopping near the top experiencing weightlessness for 6.5 seconds before dropping back toward the station. Upon return, riders exit the vehicle and make their way back into the park. The ride experience is very brief as it lasts only about 30 seconds.
LSM system and ride vehicles
The ride's LSM system features magnets along the tracks that fire sequentially when the cars are launched. The portion of magnets facing the station attract the car while the opposite side repels it further accelarating the car with each one. If any one of the magnets misfire, the car will not reach top speed. Upon returning to the station, the magnets fire in reverse acting as a braking system, slowing the car down. There are also magnets placed at the top of the tower that repel the car back down to prevent it from going too high.
Originally, the cars had a simple red and blue color scheme and had three rows of four and one row of three for a total of 15 riders per vehicle. After the ride was refurbished, new streamlined cars were introduced with wider, lower profiles for a more open-air feeling, but only allows 14 riders per vehicle. The new ones are also capable of running backwards or forward unlike the original cars which were built to only run forward. Rumors surfaced that the park had planned to run one side forward and one side backwards giving riders a choice, but this has actually yet to happen.
Courtesy of Sharp Productions.