Indoor Batman coaster opens at Great Adventure

May 15, 2008 6:57:26 PM PDT
With crazed laughter ringing in their ears, Gotham's first visitors gathered on a vandalized subway platform to board a runaway car. With Batman on the lookout, they had nothing to fear - or maybe just enough to make it fun.

Six Flags Great Adventure unveiled its new Batman-themed indoor roller coaster to the public Thursday.

The Dark Knight ride features hairpin turns, sudden drops into darkness and video from the latest Batman movie, set for release in July.

Riders reach up to 30 miles per hour on the "wild mouse"-style ride, housed in a 70-foot building.

"That was better than Nitro," said Austin Reess, 10, comparing the ride to the park's 230-foot roller coaster. "You go up and down more. And there's no light to see where you're going."

His brother Dane, 7, wearing an oversized Batman shirt past his knees, nodded vigorously but didn't have the same frame of reference as his older brother.

"It's his first coaster," said his mother, Diana Reess of Lakehurst. "He might be primed now for the big stuff."

Park president Mark Kane said the new ride is aimed at families like the Reesses - in between the park's themed children's areas and the massive rides aimed at thrill-seekers.

The $7.5 million ride is the Jackson park's first new coaster in two years. The same coaster premieres next week at Six Flags Great America north of Chicago.

The ride is part of the company's plan to emphasize stories and characters in its rides, much like Disney theme parks.

The novelty and suspense of a dark coaster - surrounded here by graffiti-covered walls and 3-D billboards - seemed to be enough to impress even more experienced enthusiasts.

"I ride coasters for the surprises," said Steve O'Donnell, who has taken more than 1,000 runs on Nitro over the past 25 years.

"In the dark they can sneak stuff up on you. They tease you with a little light," he said. "The surprise factor is really great."

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.) AP-NY-05-15-08 1454EDT