A review of the New Texas Giant at Six Flags Over Texas

Six Flags Over Texas is celebrating their 50th anniversary in a big way. The park spent $10 million remodeling their massive wooden roller coaster Texas Giant. The twenty-one year old coaster had gotten rough over the years. So, Six Flags brought in Rocky Mountain Construction for a first-ever transformation that involved replacing the ride’s wooden track with steel track.

The new track not only allows for a smoother ride, but it also allowed the designers to incorporate some thrilling new elements. The New Texas Giant, boasts highly banked turns taken at more than 90 degrees and a taller and steeper first drop. I was lucky enough to make the trip to Texas for the ride’s opening day last week. Anticipation certainly ran high as the wait was reported to have reached 4 hours. Thankfully, the riders that I spoke to were thoroughly satisfied when they returned to the station as they claimed that the wait was well worth it.

The experience begins as you board one of the three trains that are themed to look like 1961 Cadillac DeVilles. In true Texas fashion, the hood of the front car is complete with a custom-made cattle horn. After the relatively quiet climb to the top of the 15-story tall lift hill, you are treated to a smooth and exhilarating ride that’s packed with numerous air time hills. Air time refers to moments when you are briefly lifted out of your seat. The lengthy ride finishes with the train racing through three tunnels that feature fog and special LED effects.

Guests were shocked at how smooth the Texas Giant had become and were excited that their rough ride was not only ride-able again, but actually the park’s main attraction. I gave the New Texas Giant a rare 10 out of 10 and I placed it at 6th in my top ten list. I highly recommend this roller coaster and I hope that this is only the beginning of such transformations.

Six Flags’ Texas Giant to reopen after a $10 million upgrade

One of largest wooden roller coasters in the U.S. is getting a massive $10 million dollar makeover. Aging wooden roller coasters often undergo rehab projects where the ride’s rickety, old track is replaced with new lumber to create a more comfortable and enjoyable experience. Texas Giant’s transformation goes way beyond a standard rehab project. It will be reborn as the first wooden roller coaster to have its wooden rails completely replaced with steel rails.

When Texas Giant reopens during Six Flags Over Texas‘ 50th season next year, it will be as a steel coaster with a wooden support structure. It should offer a pretty unique experience thanks to a transformation almost akin to switching genders. While there have been steel roller coasters built with wooden supports, to my knowledge there haven’t been any that were first built as wooden coasters.

Texas Giant will return in 2011 with some exciting new elements. The first drop has been extended 10 feet higher and its angle of descent will set a record. The 79-degree drop will be the steepest of any wooden coaster in the World. The ride’s layout will also include a record-breaking bank of 95-degrees. The other most notable upgrade will be the new trains themed after 1961 Cadillac Devilles. To top off the ride with some Texas flavor, the trains will be adorned with custom made cattle horns.

Hopefully, Texas Giant’s “Six Million Dollar Man”-like renovation pays off for Six Flags. The company has transitioned from building lots of big new rides to renovating and updating older rides with new themes and special effects. If Texas Giant’s upgrade proves successful, I’d hope to see other aging, rough wooden roller coasters get a steel track overhaul as well. I’m looking forward to getting down to Arlington, Texas next year and taking the all new Texas Giant for a spin. It looks to be one of the most exciting stories in the theme park industry in 2011.%Poll-56849%

Six Flags theme parks re-theme rides for 2011

While theme parks around the world add more rides, more shows and more dining options for guests in 2011, there’s one thing you will find less of at Six Flags parks next year: character.

Six Flags plans to re-theme many of its rides in a cost-cutting measure.

Evel Knievel, Tony Hawk, Thomas the Tank Engine and The Wiggles are among the losers in the deal as Six Flags unravels some licensing agreements.

As the Los Angeles Times reports:

  • The Tony Hawk Big Spin ride at Six Flags St. Louis, Six Flags Fiesta Texas, Six Flags Discovery Kingdom and Six Flags Over Texas will be rethemed as the Big Spin, without the famous skateboarder’s name or likeness.
  • At Six Flags St. Louis, a wooden coaster named the Evil Knievel will renamed American Thunder.
  • Thomas the Tank Engine will disappear from Thomas Town kiddie lands at Six Flags America (which just opened its Thomas Town this June), Six Flags Magic Mountain, Six Flags Discovery Kingdom, Six Flags New England and Six Flags Over Georgia.
  • The Wiggles will no longer sing at the Wiggles World children’s areas at Six Flags Great Adventure, Six Flags Great America, Great Escape, Six Flags New England and Six Flags Fiesta Texas, where five rides have already been stripped of the kid’s band theming.

Despite the re-themed rides, characters from the Looney Tunes, DC Comics and Hanna-Barbera will remain at the parks.

[Image credit: Flickr user bravo!]