Twisted Colossus - Can Six Flags Magic Mountain get it together?

Wednesday, May 27, 2015 11:48 AM

So, I couldn't wait to finally get a ride on Twisted Colossus. I had to miss media day and a couple of my friends were the first to ride it and (even though they were on it 7 times in a row, which they said was a little much), they loved it.

So did I. It's really, really, really terrific. Fast, full of surprises, great air and incredibly fun.

Except...it only dueled maybe 1 out of 6 trains out. They were only running 2 of the 3 trains, which makes it nearly impossible to have them duel regarding rider load time with riders stowing their numerous belongings. (Why do people bring backpacks to ride a coaster anyway?)

I spoke to two different supervisors throughout the day after two different rides (the first promising that 3 trains would be running by the end of the day, (as it hasn't even been open a week yet). One blamed being short staffed (which I politely said was the worst possible excuse I could think of in the opening week of a new ride). One said they were keeping the 3rd train out to prevent possible mechanical problems (?!), and one said that the guests do not load fast enough. I mentioned that the operators don't give any sense of urgency while loading the trains and he said, "I don't think it's good to rush the guests". I asked, "Don't you think people might be quicker if they were aware of that and it came down to the both trains racing or not?" He stood by his idea that it wasn't good to rush the guests.

One other frustration. They have a single rider line built, but will not open it until later. They said they feared everyone would misuse the single rider line and it would be really long. Ridiculous. Even in the cue, no one was asking for single riders to fill in gaps. Watching train after train leave the station with single seats open and a 90 minute wait...frustrating.

Why Six Flags, why? You spent millions of dollars on an amazing coaster and you're only giving riders half the experience. A 'High Five' with only one train is not a 'high five'. Don't leave me hanging, bro!

After my last ride, the supervisor I spoke with offered to load me on the next train and he would make sure they dueled. As great as that sounded, I declined, as I didn't want my comments to come across as if I was complaining for the sake of getting a free ride. That wasn't the point. I really only wanted to be heard. (and I'll be back often anyway) I told him I would leave happy, if he would share my comments with his supervisors about how frustrating it is for them to build an amazing coaster and not run it in the way it was designed to. He promised he would. As I left the park just after, the next run I saw, both trains were dueling. It made me smile to think maybe I had something to do with that. I think it was just by chance, as it didn't happen again for the next 5 trains.

But I tried.

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Wednesday, May 27, 2015 1:27 PM

And wasn't this everyone's fear from the beginning? I remember when the ride was announced the lengthy discussions after we realized there would be a pesky timing element to this new style of ride. Hope wasn't high, was it?

Three trains, theoretically, should work. But they've got to run three trains to make it work. Four trains would be the ideal number, really, then one could sit in storage and rotate in and out with others if needed. I have a feeling when the ride was designed they allowed exactly the right amount of track with not much leeway for timing errors or delays. It's a little late, but a solution would be to lengthen the track with another lap or even a helix or two. That would give those in the station (loading that third train) the extra time they need.
I guessed from many on-board videos from media day that there were two trains operating. So train one got a solo ride, then a duel with train two, then train two got a solo ride. (if that makes sense) Ugh, so frustrating.

And there's nothing wrong with asking guests to be on the ball. The notion that it's "not nice" to rush guests is preposterous when the experience depends on timing. And maybe in the end those guests would rather chill and miss the coolest part of the ride, but I know most of us wouldn't. On a visit to Dollywood I rode Mystery Mine, another ride where timing is crucial to keep the multiple cars in their right spots on the course. I was tickled when I heard the platform op say something like "Now, oncoming riders! Y'all have thirty seconds to get in the car, take your seat, and pull your lapbars down so we can come check 'em. Thirty seconds! Do y'all think you can do that for me?" It was a clever, polite, and quite southern way of getting the point across. I'm sure a similar script could be written that Southern Californians would understand!
And Six Flags is no stranger to the locker thing, I can think of many examples around the chain where guests are stopped and asked to use a locker before they get in line. I can't imagine Twisted Colossus allows loose articles like that.

So, CaliMark, I'm sorry for your crappy experience. The good news is that since you visit frequently it might straighten out for you over time. I know that when I make the trip from Ohio I will be unhappier than you are if I don't get a dueling ride.

Keep us posted, I'm curious to see how this turns out.

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Wednesday, May 27, 2015 1:45 PM

...As I expected from the first day the coaster was announced. I am not surprised at all. It's the little things like this that show that a park is paying attention to the details.

If your park is low on staffing, hire or schedule more people to work. If your new ride needs three trains in order to operate as advertised, run all three, and if that is a problem because you are worried that one of the trains might break down, have a fourth one on standby just in case. It's not rocket science.

People see what you have to offer on TV or internet ads. People expect certain details that were insinuated to be true. People expect not to be disappointed. It's. Not. Rocket. Science.

It's great that SFMM actually built such an interesting ride. It looks like a lot of fun, and it will probably help the park get more bodies through the gate.

Now that I've vented, let me ask, would it be possible for the ride to race with just two trains? Can't the first train hold at the breaks until the second train is loaded, and they both climb the lift hills together as designed? Or could they have created the station to load two trains at the same time, and hold the second one back until the first one makes it back to the lift?

Is this a design flaw? I'm not saying it is, I am asking if anyone thinks it is.

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Wednesday, May 27, 2015 1:51 PM

I just read RCMAC's post...

As for rushing guests, Cedar Point manages to do it well. Talk fast on the PA, and with desperation and urgency in your voice, and when people in line see the people in front of them hurrying, and see the staff checking trains quickly, they will understand what is expected of them. It's not rock- well, you know.

Last edited by LostKause, Wednesday, May 27, 2015 1:51 PM
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Wednesday, May 27, 2015 1:55 PM

It really needs to be running all 3 trains so that as soon as the station is empty, the next train can come in. They've got 3 trains at the ride, and a 4th on the way. I'm sure they've got a good reason to not run the 3rd beyond staffing, but they're not likely to speak much about why.

It's possible to Race with only 2, but the problem is that you've now got all that time where there's no train to load. So when the first train comes back the second can't duel because there's not a train ready while it's on the green side. And then it's in the station while the 4th train is on the blue side. Theoretically they could duel again after that, but that requires pretty exact timing.

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Wednesday, May 27, 2015 2:30 PM

LostKause said:

As for rushing guests, Cedar Point manages to do it well.

I'd guess you havent been there in a while....
:-)

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Wednesday, May 27, 2015 2:31 PM

Would adding a set of brakes before the second lift hill work? I realize this would dissipate the train's momentum, but it'll be worth it for the sake of dueling. Or perhaps a mechanism at the lift hill top to hold the train? I agree with LostKrause, it's not "rocket science".

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Wednesday, May 27, 2015 2:59 PM

Rather than rushing guests (which I think it a horrible idea), I'd lean more towards building attractions that don't require park employees to be barking instructions at visitors.

If timing is crucial to the attraction, you don't build it so that the timing has to be hurried. No one wants to be pressured to perform their guestly duties at a certain level.

"I had no idea I was going to be tested today!"

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Wednesday, May 27, 2015 3:07 PM

Even better - if you have to bark orders at visitors, just have Patrick Warburton do it.

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Wednesday, May 27, 2015 3:20 PM

Now that you mention it, RCMAC, the last time I was there was on a Halloweekends Friday a few years ago. It was busy, and I didn't get to do much. I don't recall the spielers rushing people along, and I didn't get to ride Magnum, which is a ride that I imagine when thinking of hurrying guests into their seats..

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Wednesday, May 27, 2015 3:29 PM

This is more recent than a few years. He's referring to this year. They've hired an outside firm that's established all kind of crazy rules and procedures now - like doing the visual scans, not checking restraints until all guests are seated, then checking restraints has to be done in order, and they can't double back, plus the red dots they have to stand on.

It's definitely different procedure from years gone by.

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Wednesday, May 27, 2015 3:41 PM

Yeah...I don't get the visual scan nonsense. It's an awful lot of effort for literally no added safety. I mean seriously, who is going to be crawling along the track of Titan several stories in the air just outside of the station? ;)

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Wednesday, May 27, 2015 3:46 PM

Really? Mabe something happened that caused them to think it was a good idea to get an outside company to tell them how to check restraints and dispatch trains? Strange.

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Wednesday, May 27, 2015 3:46 PM

Out at the park today. They are running 3 trains, and they're synching about 75 percent. Ride ops are hustling, and the capacity on this ride is great. The problem is, there is no room for error. Someone can't fit, restraints not lock properly, there goes your duel. Timing is getting better day by day though. Today is the best I've see so far. But yes, 3 trains is a must.

Side note, I'm going to nickname this ride baby Toro. Holy moly!

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Wednesday, May 27, 2015 3:53 PM

Offhand, the best system that "rushes" guests into loading and securing restraints is MiB.

"C'mon, time's a wastin'..."

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Wednesday, May 27, 2015 3:55 PM

John Knotts said:

The problem is, there is no room for error. Someone can't fit, restraints not lock properly, there goes your duel.

"Welcome to Twisted Colossus! For the courtesy of other guests and ensuring the best ride experience please don't be overweight, handicapped or otherwise restricted in your boarding capabilities."

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Wednesday, May 27, 2015 4:04 PM

You do know these coasters need to be broken in? They have only been running them for a couple of weeks. I can't speak for this coaster but i know in wicked cyclones case Alan Schilke said it will take about a month before they can swap out the steel wheels for urethane ones as soon as the paint wears off where the wheels track.

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Wednesday, May 27, 2015 4:24 PM

Not sure what that has to do with anything.

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Wednesday, May 27, 2015 5:07 PM

NTG opened with 3 trains and only uses 2 now. I'm not sure how they thought they were going to get 3 trains on there at a time. It does have an MCBR, but lift/course time is not that long. If they're checking super fast, they can dispatch right as the previous train is swooping past the station and under the lift, but that only saves, like, 20 seconds and it rarely happens.

I don't think rushing guests in station is the correct choice, but I think extra staff and useful policies would help tremendously. Having a dedicated grouper on the platform (maybe even double them up as the fast pass checker if the merge point is in the correct place), a greeter who can check restraint fit, and free lockers near rides would all result in faster load times without rushing the guest.

Or you could be like Disney and just build things to run like clockwork and blast trains through. (I was frightened by how fast the trains on RnRC move through the station...oh yeah, they also don't check your restraints somehow).

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Wednesday, May 27, 2015 6:10 PM

RCMAC said:

The notion that it's "not nice" to rush guests is preposterous when the experience depends on timing. And maybe in the end those guests would rather chill and miss the coolest part of the ride, but I know most of us wouldn't.

If the "us" you're referring to is enthusiasts, then I agree. If you're speaking of the general population of guests, then I honestly don't think they care. If it's between being rushed around just to have another train next to you a few times and taking your good old time, I bet 95% choose to keep moving at a leisurely pace.

I also think that you can't judge anything by the first few weeks of operation.

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