The height of thrills has hit a new level at Six Flags Over Georgia: 242 feet.
That’s the height of SkyScreamer, the tallest ride ever built at Six Flags. Essentially a giant swing set, SkyScreamer takes riders 24 stories into the air and spins them around at 40 mph in a circle 98 feet across.
The view from the top is spectacular, if you can keep your eyes open. If you do, the sight of the Atlanta skyline in the distance or the ground several hundred feet below will impress you. So will the feel of the wind in your face and its whistle in your ears.
“The ride is fun and exciting. But most important, it makes people say, ‘I want to do it again,’ ” Dale Kaetzel, president of Six Flags Over Georgia, said Thursday at the introduction of SkyScreamer. The ride’s restraints are not overly confining, he said, and “the feeling of freedom adds to the next level of thrills. It’s the closest thing to flying.”
A ride on SkyScreamer begins on the ground like any ordinary swing ride. The chairs on the ride hang from the support arms on seemingly ordinary chains. They look hardly strong enough for a ride that reaches such heights and spins so fast. But they are.
The journey begins with the ride slowly and silently lifting 32 riders off the ground. The silence quickly turns to shrieks as the ride rises higher and the swings spin faster. At the top, the swings radiate outward nearly horizontally; that’s when you really feel like you are flying.
“You get to notice something different each time you ride,” Kaetzel said. For example, a windy day’s ride is different from one on a day that’s sunny, clear and calm.
The riders agreed.
“It’s exhilarating, beautiful view, great breeze,” said David Tidwell of Atlanta. A member of American Coaster Enthusiasts, a worldwide club of roller-coaster fans, he said SkyScreamer “ranks up there at the top in terms of thrills.”
Dillon Frazier of Atlanta noted that the ride took the place of Six Flags’ classic Wheelie ride, and he deemed SkyScreamer “a great improvement” with “a great view from the top and great breeze.” He’s a member of themeparkrides.org.
Chris Johnson of Powder Springs, another American Coaster Enthusiast, summed it up: “I loved it.”
SkyScreamer got off to a whimsical debut when Six Flags media representative Emily Murray introduced the ride, then asked the crowd whether they thought they’d only get on SkyScreamer “when pigs fly.”
On that cue, several dozen people in pig costumes paraded through the crowd and onto SkyScreamer for a surreal spin through the sky. Much of the crowd followed them.
You can, too. SkyScreamer opens to the public May 24, but season pass holders can ride it each of the next two weekends.
SkyScreamer by the numbers
242 feet: Height of SkyScreamer, or 24 stories tall
98 feet: Rotation diameter of swings at top of ride
40 mph: Speed the swings reach during the ride
1,158: Number of LED lights on the ride
10,000: Weight in pounds of the sphere that tops the tower of SkyScreamer
If you go: Six Flags Over Georgia
Location: I-20 west of Atlanta outside I-285; follow signs to Six Flags exits
Open: Weekends through May 19; daily May 24-Aug. 11; weekends through Oct. 27. Hours vary.
Price: At the gate: adults, $56.99, children $39.99. But discounts abound; for example, save $20 when you buy tickets online three days in advance.
About the reporter
Tom Kelley is a lifelong amusement park fan and a member of American Coaster Enthusiasts, a roller coaster fan club. He grew up in northern Ohio near Cedar Point, an amusement park on Lake Erie known for its roller coaster collection. Of the 310 roller coasters he has ridden, his favorite is Millennium Force, a 310-foot-tall ride at Cedar Point.