This year, Six Flags over Georgia is celebrating 50 years of amusement making. The popular DC Comic themed amusement park is gearing up to open on March 11 and this year includes the opening of a new ride.
In May, JUSTICE LEAGUE: Battle for Metropolis makes its debut. The 4D interactive, action-adventure ride that lets you fight for justice alongside Batman, Wonder Woman and the rest of the crew can be compared to the Men in Black ride at Universal Studios and other similar attractions.
Also among the park's 40 rides and 12 roller coasters are two of the top ranked rides in the country: Mind Bender and Goliath, which have both been recognized by Amusement Today magazine. It all points to a great seasons for Six Flags over Georgia, says amusement park expert, Pete Trabucco.
Trabucco, a frustrated pilot who channeled his love for flying through the air into roller coasters and thrill rides, has visited Six Flags over Georgia and ranks it among the top amusement parks in the country. Here's a look at Trabucco's Thrill Ride Maniacs:
"Six Flags over Georgia is one of my favorite amusement parks. There are several rides that come to mind. I love Goliath. It is one of the first and one of the top megacoasters to come out," Trabucco said.
Mind Bender is small and may not look like much, but Trabucco said it packs a surprising punch. And though it is hard for him to admit, the author of "America's Top Roller Coasters and Amusement Parks," and the forthcoming "A Personal Guide to the best Thrill Rides and Amusement/Water Parks," said he prefers the Great American Scream Machine in Georgia to the Cyclone in his hometown amusement park at Coney Island.
Most amusement parks are in competition with Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio -- the second oldest amusement park and one of the largest amusement parks in the U.S. -- known as the "roller coaster capital of the world" for its five coasters over 200 feet and coasters in every height classification. Lake Compounce in Connecticut is the oldest, continuously operated, amusement park in the nation.
Everyone wants to build the tallest, fastest, best ride in the country, Trabucco said. That trend has put many larger amusement parks on the map, but has hit more than a few smaller parks where it hurts, he said.
"It is really putting the local amusement parks out of business. You can’t compete with $20 to $30 million roller coasters," he said. Some smaller parks are staying in the game by diversifying or modifying rides to attract visitors. Over the years, amusement parks have combined or added water parks or other attractions to their mix. In recent years, in response to the 4D craze, some smaller parks have modified classic rides to give them a 4D effect.
All those million dollar rides brings the thrills, but the thrills come at a cost. You can't pay multi-millions for new rides and not eventually see ticket prices increase, Trabucco said. The big guys, like Six Flags and Cedar Fair, can better absorb the cost of elaborate new rides without passing it on to park visitors.
Even Disney, which has more visitors per year than two to three amusement parks combined, still has to compete, Trabucco said. Of the 150 million people who visit amusement parks each year, about 70 to 80 million are visiting a Disney park. Still, you don't have to go to Disney for a thrilling ride.
Ride makers based in Europe often sell the same rides to various parks with some customizations. They may be called different things, but there are a lot of clones out there, Trabucco said.
Three Six Flags locations (Great America, Texas and New England) will get the new Joker ride while Six Flags Great Adventure and Magic Mountain have a Justice League ride like the one in Georgia.
Roller coaster aficionados should definitely make their way to Georgia to test out Goliath, then head to Chicago for Raging Bull, said Trabucco. But the ultimate, is Millennium Force in Cedar Point. At 300 feet and speeds of 90 miles an hour, it is one of the tallest and fastest roller coasters around.