That old adage holds true with the new Full Throttle roller coaster at Six Flags Magic Mountain: Looks can be deceiving.
From the ground, you ask yourself: What’s the big deal? It seems like nothing more than a combination of two aging Knott's Berry Farm rides: The 1978 Montezooma's Revenge shuttle looper and the 2002 Xcelerator top-hat coaster.
When you see riders screaming with delight through the world's tallest vertical loop and over the ingenious top-hat element you think: This might be alright. Even if it's just a trio of gimmicks: big loop into tunnel launch into a top-hat element. Whoop-de-do.
And then you ride Full Throttle and there's only one reaction: Wow.
The deceptively pedestrian-looking triple-launch coaster at the Valencia amusement park packs a fistful of powerful punches and delivers a heavy helping of thrills in a compact package.
Silky smooth and whisper quiet, Full Throttle starts with a 70-mph, rocket-fast launch into a 160-foot-tall loop that’s much bigger than it looks from the ground.
The train seems to almost stall at the top of the loop — delivering a dose of fall-out-of-your-seat hang time that defines the Full Throttle experience. Indeed, during preview runs on Friday a few trains failed to navigate the loop, rolling slowly and safely back into the station.
Without any over-the-shoulder restraints, it takes a few rides to trust the snug lap bar will hold you in place with your arms high in the air. But there’s nothing like the sensation of dangling upside down with your arms outstretched and the Earth 16 stories below.
Diving into an Immelmann turn, the train decelerates rapidly to a halt for an instant inside the old monorail tunnel before launching backward into the twisting element and accelerating again through the tunnel.
The fog and audio special effects weren't working during the test-and-adjust period, but I'm told riders will hear Ozzy Osbourne scream "All aboard" with a maniacally laugh from his song "Crazy Train" as the coaster blasts out of the tunnel.
In a one-of-a-kind element I've never seen before, the track traces the outside of the loop in an up-and-over top-hat element that gets its name from the Abe Lincoln-like stovepipe hat shape. The hang time at the top leaves riders trying to expel breathless screams. In less than a minute, the thrilling ride is over.
If I have one complaint about the new Premier Rides coaster it’s that the brakes kick in just as the train is descending the top hat, depriving riders of a wild run out at breakneck speeds.
Despite the creative license taken in the marketing campaign, Full Throttle's two trains will never pass each other in the dual-loop top-hat element.
People will tell you the back seats offer the best air time, but I recommend the front row for that signature fall-out-of-your-seat Full Throttle experience.
I must admit I had low expectations for Full Throttle, but Magic Mountain's newest roller coaster is a book you shouldn’t judge by its cover.
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