Six Flags, Mack Rides debut Aquaman: Power Wave, the first in North America
AT: Tim Baldwin
ARLINGTON — Aquaman took his time surfacing in the Lone Star State, but his arrival has flooded Six Flags Over Texas with screams, smiles and laughs. Many attractions have been “years in the making,” but Aquaman: Power Wave has had its own sea of challenges.
Six Flags originally intended for the Mack Rides PowerSplash to open in 2020. Had it opened as planned, it would have been the second such ride in the world.
However, a list of situations pushed the project back, starting with COVID-19. Like numerous theme park projects, construction on several attractions hit pause when the world grappled with what the future may hold. Aquaman: Power Wave was one of them. During this holding period, the management at the time took the opportunity to reassess and address the chain’s initiative to get more people on rides. By adding a turntable to accommodate a second boat, Six Flags could greatly increase its capacity.
This was a solid goal and one that would make great sense for the long-term, but it did require part of the track to be removed, foundation work to be dug and poured, and — most importantly — Mack Rides had to manufacture and supply the intended turntable and second boat. With numerous projects already under fabrication, the German manufacturer had to fit that in. All that meant the ride would be pushed to 2022.
“The redesign had been already done previously as we only had installations with the turntable,” said Maximilian Roeser, head of marketing, Mack Rides. “To install the turntable station was not that complicated but took quite some time to produce, ship and install. The capacity increases massively, and the biggest benefit is the time the ride operators get while loading.”
While the benefits of the decision were there, it did come with challenges.
Northwest Coasters oversaw the construction and installation. “The site was already snug,” said Kevin Messick, president, Northwest Coasters. “To install the turntable, we had to take out three pieces of track, demo the existing concrete and put in the turntable. It was a very tight location because most of the infrastructure was already in. The decision to come back and install the turntable extended the project at least a year.”
The modifications, combined with COVID restrictions and supply chain interruptions admittedly pushed the project back further than what would be desired.
“Any time you shut down a project and come back over a year later, it’s always a challenge. Parts go missing, parts aren’t in the right place — we had three days to get everything out and clean everything up,” said Messick. “The track was in. It’s not designed to be taken out that easily. It was labor intensive, but everyone worked well together.”
Six Flags Over Texas wasted no time rolling it out in 2023. Even with some chilly days in late February, season pass holders were able to enjoy preview rides. The ride made its official debut on March 11, the first day of the park’s spring break calendar. Aquaman: Power Wave opened to a tidal wave of cheers.
Although simple in appearance, the wide stretch of track crosses a retaining pool and is sandwiched between two vertical towers, the tallest of which is 146 feet. Using linear synchronous motors, riders are launched three times, gaining speed on each subsequent launch, eventually reaching 62 mph. These bursts of speed and vertical climbs are thrilling on their own, particularly with a surprising airtime hill positioned in between. But the big moment arrives at the ride’s finale.
Mack Rides has developed an ingenious section of track within the pool that fills in mere seconds so that as the boat plunges from its highest climb, it skims into the pool creating an enormous splash. It’s everything a park wants a spectator draw to be.
“We work with weirs and an elevated pool of water surrounding the track in the splash zone,” said Roeser. “When there should be no splash, the pumps get the water around the track out of the way making it a dry, back-and-forth roller coaster. When the boat is about to splash and decelerate we open the weirs and the water level rises in a matter of seconds.”
“The mechanical side of me was fascinated with how fast that system could push out that water and then pump it back in,” noted Messick. “You have seconds. It’s impressive. That water is also a brake, so the water is a big deal.”
“My favorite part is the massive 90-degree drop and the splashdown at the end,” said Richard Douaihy, park president. “It’s amazing. It’s epic.”
“My favorite thing about this ride is that it gets faster and faster as you go,” said Chris Ozimek, regional marketing director, Six Flags. “I love the airtime moment as you go backward on the big launch. It’s incredible. Most people don’t notice this little hill in the middle, because they look at the towers.”
The top speed is 63 mph.
“Six Flags Over Texas is the first Six Flags park, and we really wanted something unique and different, and that’s how we came around on this ride,” said Ozimek. “It’s the only place in North America that you can ride this. We think it’s not only going to make our current fans excited about the summer, but I also think we’re going to entertain a legion of new fans because of this ride.”
When asked by Amusement Today if he thought other parks would take notice, Ozimek said, “Other parks should take notice because it is a great ride. It exceeds our expectations.”
“This PowerSplash installation will show many parks that a launch coaster and a water/spill ride are a great combination,” said Roeser. “We already know from several installations in Kazachstan, South Korea and the prototype in Belgium that this is a landmark attraction, and many guests will want to ride it.”
In addition to the innovative splash zone, the ride itself also checks and confirms that each restraint is locked, indicating authentication by lights at the ride attendant’s feet on the turntable.
While the park confirmed the ride was operational at the end of last summer, the upcoming fall and winter events became the focus then. However, Six Flags was eager to make it available to guests as early as possible.
“It’s a big ride. We know it has taken a few years, but trust me, it is worth the wait,” Douaihy said.