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It’s a bird. It’s a plane. It’s … Superman, the roller coaster!
I thought I was more than ready to handle this thrill ride, given that I once worked at a comic book store in San Jose. I’d spent a good portion of my childhood reading Superman comics, and I never even broke a sweat while witnessing the Man of Steel saving Lois Lane, Metropolis and/or the universe on a regular basis. I’d weathered the best that evil mastermind Lex Luthor could deliver, so I figured there was no way Six Flags Discovery Kingdom could come up with anything that would rattle me.
Then I saw it. It was, after all, impossible to miss — standing about 150 feet tall and shining brilliantly in the sunlight. Trust me when I tell you that there wasn’t a single thing about it that said “Clark Kent.” Instead, the new ride, which opened June 30 at the wonderfully diverse theme park in Vallejo, looked like a beast worthy of the title “Superman: Ultimate Flight.”
It seemed to mock me from afar, as I pulled into the parking lot, reminding me that it had been several years since I’d ridden a marquee coaster. Perhaps, I thought to myself, I should have found an easier, softer way to mark my reintroduction to thrill rides.
However, it was too late to turn back. Representatives from Six Flags met me as I entered the park and whisked me off to the front of the line, acting as if they were doing me a favor by expediting my dance with the Man of Steel. In a way, I guess, they
were — because you might not be reading this story now if I’d had the time to rethink the endeavor. A couple of close-up views of the coaster, going at speeds that seemed to approach a bazillion miles per hour, got me thinking that catching the dolphin show would’ve been a very good alternative.
The Six Flags folks had a plan, as dastardly as anything ol’ Lex Luthor ever came up with, and soon had me strapped into the coaster — in the very front of the coaster, I should add. I gulped. And then I was gone.
Ever wonder what it might be like to sit on the hood of a Lamborghini cruising along on Highway 101? Now add in ridiculous twists and turns, rolls and loops, and you get a sense of what I was experiencing. Oh, and did I mention that the coaster travels both forward and in reverse? What an awesome rush!
Zooming at speeds of 64 mph, I did feel a little like Superman — more powerful than a locomotive, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.
It was an intoxicating experience, arguably the most exhilarating 60 seconds of my year. I breathed a sigh of relief, however, when it was over, and the next rider got the opportunity to feel what it was like to be Superman. I was on my way to see the dolphins.
After all, the world needs Jimmy Olsens, too.
Read Jim Harrington’s Concert Blog at http://blogs.mercurynews.com/aei/category/concerts. Follow him at Twitter.com/jimthecritic.