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  • Scott R. Craig /

    Guests at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom amusement park in Vallejo take a superhero-style flying spin recently on the Superman Ultimate Flight ride. The duration is short but the thrills are plentiful.

  • Scott R. Craig /

    Guests at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom amusement park in Vallejo take a superhero-style flying spin recently on the Superman Ultimate Flight ride.

Up in the air -- it's the new Superman Ultimate Flight at Six Flags

Published: Sunday, Jul. 15, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 1H

What is the most fun and adventure you've had in under a minute? If you are having trouble answering, Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in Vallejo has your remedy.

Discovery Kingdom, 50 miles west of Sacramento, opened its newest roller coaster, Superman Ultimate Flight, two weeks ago just in time for the summer crowds. The superhero-themed ride has the tallest upside-down feature west of the Mississippi and launches at 62 mph.

"Superman Ultimate Flight definitely pushes the envelope in the thrill category," said Dale Kaetzel, Six Flags Discovery Kingdom's park president. "This ride will, no doubt, be the 'must-experience' attraction in Northern California."

The ride lasts 60 seconds and launches you from 0 to 62 mph up a 150-foot vertical tower. As you crest the tower, you come to a "heartline" roll, basically a barrel roll centered on your heart, and you ride through it at a much slower pace.

As passengers come out of the inversion, they face a nearly vertical dive into a non- inverting loop – one that looks like a traditional loop except the track twists to keep riders from being upside down, a unique element for California coasters.

From the top of the loop, you dive back into the loading station, passing it, coasting up the first tower to burn off speed and then back into the station so you can start to catch your breath. All this in 60 seconds, and with only a lap bar holding you in.

Only a lap bar keeping you in?

Yes, Premier Rides has designed a pull-back lap-bar system that goes around your legs and holds onto your ankles.

Elliott Fong of American Coaster Enthusiasts was among the first to ride this coaster.

"The restraint system is extremely comfortable and there was only a lap bar, which allows you to see the world whiz by as fast as possible," he said.

Several locations on Superman Ultimate Flight make you feel like you're leaving your seat, and the free feeling with the lap-bar restraint system is amazing – and terrifying at the same time. The last looping coaster to use only a lap bar in Northern California was Greased Lightnin' at California's Great America in 2002.

For this ride to perform, it requires the latest technology.

Powerful electromagnets in the loading station called LSMs, for linear synchronous motors, push the train during the launches and brake the train when the ride is over.

The magnets can reach temperatures of 400 degrees and are cooled by 12 fans.

The ride's combination of speed and upside-down features might make you feel a little like Superman performing the ultimate flight.


Where: Six Flags Discovery Kingdom, Vallejo

When: Daily through Aug. 19;

weekends from then through Oct. 28.

Park entry: $37.99-$54.99

Ride Time: 60 seconds

Manufacturer: Premier Rides

Passenger height restriction: Minimum 54 inches

Speed: 62 mph

Track length: 863 feet

Passengers: 12 – six per car, one train

For more information on park times and attractions:

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