Just in time for July 4, Six Flags Magic Mountain has opened their record-breaking 18th roller coaster in the serpentine form of Green Lantern: First Flight. Inspired by the animated direct-to-DVD movie that dares to offer more than just Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively saying the word "fear" for two hours, First Flight is a short and spunky fourth dimension coaster that sends you careening down a completely vertical zigzagging track like a human Plinko chip.
Positive and negative g-forces keep your body in a constant state of confusion, but this X2 Jr. offers no more than three full rotations in the brief 60 seconds that you spend out of the station, and usually fewer.
Green Lantern's cars spin freely on a 360 degree axis, so the biggest determinant of the thrill level is the weight balance of your car -- two riders face forwards, and two back, with another quartet hanging from the other side of the Intamin-designed track. The more balanced the riders' weight, the less terrifying the ride: maximum thrills require major discrepancy in weight distribution, which luck of the draw and vagaries of loading policy will make hard to regularly achieve. Only guests between 4'4" and 6'4" are allowed to ride, and Anaheim-sized riders may have a tough time buckling their restraints.
A pre-show queue takes you on an impressionistic journey aping that of hotshot pilot (and Green Lantern alter ago) Hal Jordan, from Ferris Aircraft through a couple of nicely appointed interior rooms, where you can learn the franchise's cosmic mythos before being randomly thrust and jostled about in a ride vehicle decked out to look like a throwing star.
First Flight is the cornerstone of a newly themed DC Universe area of the park. Though filled with colorful facades boasting deep-cut comic references that hardcore fans will nerd out on, its graphic-heavy, tell-don't-show aesthetic makes it feel that this is not where your favorite heroes make their home, but rather their publicists. Six Flags is in the awkward position of spending enough resources on placemaking and theme to make you wish they spent more. Occasional inspired touches like a phone booth recently vacated by Clark Kent hint at the captivating levels of immersion that could be achieved with the right budget and vision.
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Lantern devotees and diversity fans will be glad to know that the costumed green lanterns available for photo ops come in Hal Jordan white and John Stewart black (Stewart is a recurring character in the Green Lantern universe, for the uninitiated). All of the walkaround characters are unusually attractive for theme park stock, and include a menagerie of colorful stilt walkers, most notably an eminently fuckable satyr whose abs may launch a thousand trips to the gym.
Refuge from the Valencia heat can be found in a couple notable places, including the nearby "My Generation" show which adds buzz-friendly laser lights to a revue of music videos ranging from A-ha to Lady Gaga. Drinkers of any age will have to show a valid ID to get an ice cold beer at the Mooseburger Lodge, where overpriced eats are served amid a trophy room of wisecracking Country Bear factory seconds. The entertainment staff would be wise to schedule more Lodge pop-ins by the park's new a capella/beat boxing group Perfect 6, as their brief presence there demonstrates that sometimes it is nice to hear fresh-scrubbed teens serenading you with Train songs, just maybe not so much for an hour a week on primetime television.
Along with the new Road Runner Express designed for "thrill-seekers in training" and the retooled Superman coaster -- whose new backward configuration offers stunning views of the valley 400 feet beneath you -- Green Lantern caps off Six Flag's oddly obsessive quest to recapture the title of most coasters on the planet. First Flight is a nice, unpredictable addition to an impressive roster of iron that only the color yellow could hate -- but slow loading and brief flight times make it more of a utility infielder than a star player. With such full-meal masterpieces as Tatsu only a short hike away, it's hard to justify spending too much of your day waiting in line for this tasty emerald green snack.