Here’s my official review of Six Flags Great America’s new for 2017 coaster, The Joker.
Joker is a 4D Free Spin coaster manufactured by S&S Worldwide. The ride consists of winged-seat cars navigating a vertical track while doing various flips and beyond 90 degree drops. It also uses track from the company RMC, allowing for an extremely smooth ride. The Joker opened this year for the 2017 season as the 6th 4D Free Spin clone in existence.
In order to review this coaster, I have created 13 different categories that it will be judged on. Some categories are worth 5 points, while others are worth 10. Each coaster begins with a score of 10 points, and has the opportunity to earn up to 100 points total. Yes, that’s a lot, but don’t worry, I’ll do all the math for you.
First up is the height category. Joker is only 120 feet tall, so it isn’t that high up compared to some other rides in the park. That said, you do feel like you are being lifted up further than it looks, which is probably because of the vertical lift hill. For that, I’ll give it a 3 out of 5.
Now is when I would usually talk about the coaster’s drop, but Joker doesn’t really have a normal first drop. Instead, it has two large, beyond 90 degree “raven” drops. I must say, although these are non-traditional, the raven drops are by far some of the coolest drops on a coaster that I’ve experienced. They made the ride for me, which is why I’d give Joker a 9 for its drops.
Next up is the speed category. Joker isn’t really known for its speed. It only goes 38 mph, and focuses more on its many flips and somersaults. You do seem to build up some speed after the first beyond 90 degree drop though, and the out of control flips make the ride feel like it’s travelling faster than it really is. Overall, the speed is average, so I’ll give it a 6.
Now we have the smoothness category. As I stated before, the outstanding company RMC actually created the Joker’s track. If you’ve read my reviews for Goliath or Wicked Cyclone, you already know that I praise RMC’s track for being glossy smooth. Joker might not deliver the same type of thrills as a traditional RMC coaster, but it definitely has the smoothness. 5 out of 5.
Now we have to talk about one of the most important aspects of a coaster: the airtime. You wouldn’t think that Joker is the type of coaster to have an extremely “out-of-your-seat”, airtime filled experience. However, because the constant transition between negative and positive G-forces, I’d say you actually get more ejector-air on this than most coasters. It definitely feels different, but that’s a good thing. 4 out of 5.
Next up is intensity. Now maybe I just got a really good ride on Joker, but I thought it was one of the most intense coasters I’ve ridden to date. The flips were wild, and the g-force transitions were very forceful. It wasn’t a bad intensity either, as there were never any “painful” moments. I really do believe Joker is one of the most intense rides at the park, and is only (ironically) bested by its superhero neighbor and nemesis, Batman: The Ride. Therefor, Joker gets a 9 out of 10 for intensity.
After intensity we have the duration category. Sadly, Joker isn’t the longest of rides. I clocked it at about a minute long, counting the lift hill. It’s not terribly short, but I would like to see S&S create a different model that has a longer ride time. Until then, Joker gets a 2 out of 5 for duration.
Another category that Joker doesn’t excel in is theming. As for most Six Flags coasters, the focus on Joker is thrills, not theming. The most I can say is that the purple and green paint color really stands out, and is a good icon for the Mardi Gras area. I’ll give it a 3 out of 10, and I think that’s being very generous.
Then we have to talk about the restraints. While waiting in the queue for Joker, one of my friends pointed out that Joker’s restraints looked very similar to X-Flight’s. For those of you who don’t know about X-Flight’s restraints, they are essentially the only bad part about the ride. They have these vests that tighten up way too much, and are very uncomfortable. Luckily, although Joker’s looked similar, they weren’t nearly as bad. They definitely could be better, but they’re good enough to receive a 3 out of 5.
Now we have our last major category: the layout. Joker is a clone, which means it’s layout is by no means original. However, that doesn’t mean it’s not good. Even though it’s a shorter ride, I’d say S&S put the right combination of hills and drops into this ride to make it very enjoyable. Although it’s not unique, Joker still gets a 7 out of 10 for its overall fun layout.
After that, we have 3 more small categories to go over. The first is the queue. Although Joker doesn’t have a lot of on-ride theming, the queue does have a considerable amount of things to look at. There are some cool posters showcasing different DC villains, and a bunch of tv screens with the Joker talking to you as you wait. Perhaps the nicest thing about the queue though, is the fact that they have a nice tent covering that provides lots of shade. It definitely makes the wait more tolerable. 4 out of 5.
Now we have to talk about the name. Obviously, Joker isn’t the most original name. Six Flags has used it in a bunch of other attractions at different parks, including the other Joker freespin clones that came to New England and Over Texas this year. I guess it fits good next to Batman, but because it’s kind of overused, I’m going to give it a 2.
Finally, we have the operations category. Now as with all new coasters, you usually expect a big line. We got into the park right at opening, and still dealt with a 30 min line. That said, all the employees did a fantastic job at moving the lines along as efficiently as possible. All the dispatches were very quick and safe, and the fact that they were running 3 trains was nice. The operations really deserve a 5 out of 5.
Well, we’ve finally reached the end of our review. I’ve added up the points, and Joker’s final score is….a 72! That’s a far better score than what I expected to give this before I rode it. Even though it’s a clone, Joker has easily become one of my favorite rides in the park. It’s an intense, different experience that you can’t get anywhere else in Great America. I definitely look forward to riding this again the next time I’m at the park!
Update – New Coaster Grade: 7/10
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