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Ride Profile: Roaring Rapids

By on 10/22/2011

Six Flags Magic Mountain Roaring Rapids

Ride Type: Wilderness River Raft Ride

Manufacturer: Intamin AG
Model/Style: River Rapids Ride
Year Built: 1981

When Magic Mountain first opened back in 1971, the Log Jammer flume ride proved to be one of the most popular attractions due to how hot this park can get in the summer. At the end of their first season, they knew they needed to add another water ride quick, and the Jet Stream flume ride was added in 1972. These two rides kept park guests cool for the next nine years, but Roaring Rapids was added in 1981 and it made quite the splash!

In 1979, Six Flags Astroworld, a former Six Flags park that was located in Houston, Texas, partnered with Intamin AG to design a river rapids ride. Thunder River debuted at Astroworld in 1980 as the world’s very first river rapids ride. It was so popular that it was immediately replicated and added to Six Flags Magic Mountain in 1981 as Roaring Rapids, the first river rapids ride on the West coast.

The concept is really quite basic. Riders strap into a large, round ‘raft’ and float through simulated river rapids. The entire course is a large oval circuit with the rapids being generated by large pumps pushing all the water in a clockwise direction. Various obstructions along the path disrupt the flow of the water, creating the rapids. The floating raft twists and turns in the current, occasionally dipping into the water and drenching the raft occupants. The average speed of the ride is approximately 10-12 MPH and it takes about 3:30 minutes to complete the entire ride. No two rides are ever exactly alike.

Roaring Rapids is located in the Rapids Camp Crossing area of the park, directly across the midway from the entrance to Tatsu. The following photo is the entrance to the ride. As you can see, there is a very large queue area and it does fill up on hot days:

Six Flags Magic Mountain Roaring Rapids

Once you get through the main queue, the line splits in two and makes it way up some stairs to the upper deck of the loading station. The wilderness theme is very nice:

Six Flags Magic Mountain Roaring Rapids

Don’t forget to read the rules:

Six Flags Magic Mountain Roaring Rapids

Each raft seats twelve people. Each of the six groups of two share a seatbelt:

Six Flags Magic Mountain Roaring Rapids

The loading/unloading station has multiple operators. The operator on the far side assists with the unloading of the rafts as they return. Once empty, the raft advances to the loading area where an operator on the opposite side helps get people seated with their seatbelts on. That is the opening in the wood fence on the left. A third operator is perched high overhead, keeping an eye on the entire operation:

Six Flags Magic Mountain Roaring Rapids

This is a raft ready that has just advanced to the loading area. Note that every pair of seats shares a single seatbelt:

Six Flags Magic Mountain Roaring Rapids

Many modern river raft rides utilize a lift hill, taking the raft up to an elevated course where it can be subjected to multiple drops, increasing both the thrill of the ride and the likelihood of getting really wet. One of the common complaints about Roaring Rapids is that it does not do this. Once the raft has been loaded, it gently slides down a series of rollers into the river:

Six Flags Magic Mountain Roaring Rapids

Once in the water, the river’s current takes over and you are at the mercy of the course. Another complaint about this particular ride is the lack of theming along the river. There are lots of trees and rocks, making you feel like you’re really out in the wilderness, but that’s it. Other river rapids rides have many more themed elements along the course:

Six Flags Magic Mountain Roaring Rapids

As I mentioned before, the raft will dip under the water at times, drenching the riders. This picture shows one of the final rough spots towards the end of the ride. Notice how the entire leading edge of the raft is under water? The people on that side of the boat are getting absolutely soaked. It’s just as if they’re sitting in the river itself:

Six Flags Magic Mountain Roaring Rapids

After coming around the final bend, everyone finally has a moment to take stock of themselves and see just how wet they really got. Almost everyone in the raft is bound to be at least a little wet. If you’re lucky, you only got a few splashes on you. This picture also shows the crane used to lift the rafts out of the water for maintenance:

Six Flags Magic Mountain Roaring Rapids

Note: The rides operators informed me that raft #15 is the most likely to get everyone soaked. They have a hard time keeping that raft fully inflated, so it tends to ride really low in the water, making it much more susceptible to taking on water during the ride.

At the end of the ride, the rafts are lifted back up to the loading station via a pair of conveyor belts:

Six Flags Magic Mountain Roaring Rapids

Once back in the station, the riders exit the raft on the side opposite from where they entered. They then use a small bridge to cross back over the ride to the exit stairs:

Six Flags Magic Mountain Roaring Rapids

These are the stairs that lead from the ride’s exit back down to the midway. Although functional, it’s disappointing to see the stairs change styles halfway down. I suspect that at some time the lower part of the wood stairs had to be replaced and they did so with steel stairs. At the very minimum, they should have at least painted them the same color so they better blend together. This just tells me that nobody cares about aesthetics:

Six Flags Magic Mountain Roaring Rapids

This is an aerial shot, looking down from the Sky Tower. You can see a couple of rafts making their way up the conveyor belts, back to the loading station. I believe the main body of water in the middle is the reservoir for all the water used in the ride. The channel in the trees in the top part of the picture is where the upper part of the course runs. You can make out part of the river towards the upper-left corner:

Six Flags Magic Mountain Roaring Rapids

During the colder months of winter, this ride is closed down and drained. This allows them to inspect the entire ride, make any necessary repairs, and recondition the rafts if needed. This next picture is almost identical to the previous photo, except the ride has been drained. Take note that the rubber belts have been removed from the return lift:

Six Flags Magic Mountain Roaring Rapids

Here is a great aerial view of the entire ride from not long after it was built. It’s easy to see everything because none of the landscaping was mature yet:

Six Flags Magic Mountain Roaring Rapids

Image © Dan Goodsell

As a fun way of finishing this profile, here is the actual tv commercial that Six Flags ran when Roaring Rapids made its debut in 1981:

24 Comments

  1. Donovan Boczko

    10/22/2011 at 9:14 pm

    Love these ride profiles. Keep ’em up! You know which one would be cool to see? The Metro, ever since it has closed I have always been so interested in it, and would love to know its history! Anyway great stuff, keep up the good work.

    • Kurt

      10/23/2011 at 8:10 am

      Thank you very much for the feedback. I appreciate it. I’ll definitely be doing a profile on the Metro, however I’m still trying to dig up some old info and photos on it. The profiles I’ve done so far have been easy because they haven’t changed much since they were first introduced. Keep an eye on the site because I plan on putting the profiles out more frequently.

      ~K~

      • Brady

        10/23/2011 at 5:49 pm

        Does anyone have a video of the Metro, more specifically a POV?

  2. Ryan O

    10/22/2011 at 10:30 pm

    It’s amazing how much the trees have grown all over the park. It doesn’t even look like the same ride as the ’81 commercial!

    • Kurt

      10/23/2011 at 8:13 am

      The more historical photos I dig up, the more I am amazed at how mature the park has become. Wait until you see the photo of Revolution I just got from the original press release the park put out. It looks massive and sticks out like a sore thumb. You can barely even see it today.

      ~K~

  3. Kyle

    10/23/2011 at 11:29 pm

    I was just wondering if you heard the rumors about Six Flags Magic Mountain taking out Log Jammer or Jet Stream in the upcoming years.

    • Kurt

      10/24/2011 at 7:09 am

      Although nothing official has been announced yet, it sounds like Log Jammer will be shutting down in the very near future. The maintenance costs have gotten too high and the park no longer needs two flume rides with everything else it has to offer. I suspect it will sit there for awhile and not be removed until after the 2012 season. Look for something new and exciting to fill all that space of the front side of the mountain in 2013.

      ~K~

      • Kyle

        10/24/2011 at 4:06 pm

        First of all thank you for replying, and what do you see that could go in the Log Jammer spot, if they were to get rid of this fantastic ride. I could see them adding an AquaTrax and make it go through the tunnel that the Metro went through. So that they wouldn’t have to drain and get rid of the pond, and plus it would add another coaster to there already fantastic line up of coasters. Or I could see them putting some type of launch coaster there, also making it go through the tunnel, since almost every other Six Flags theme park has at least two launch coasters, when Six Flags Magic Mountain only has one (Superman: Escape from Krypton).

        Your fan,
        Kyle M.

  4. JJJ

    11/05/2011 at 1:23 pm

    Six flags needs more water rides, not less.

    • Kurt

      11/05/2011 at 8:52 pm

      I’m not sure if there is any truth to it or not, but I’ve heard that they really aren’t as interested in the water rides as much any more because Hurricane Harbor is right next door. They’d rather sell more tickets to that if people want to cool off on hot days. Unfortunately, that doesn’t help those who are in the theme park. I went to Six Flags Great America a couple of months ago. One ticket gets you into both the theme park and Hurricane Harbor. You can cool down in the pools and then go ride some coasters. It was pretty neat.

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  7. Haley

    03/12/2012 at 9:28 pm

    Hey, I love the roaring rapids, If they take out the log jammer, hopefully they would add a launching ride because it sounds cooler. I think they need more water rides regardless of the water park across the street, c’mon who cares what if i dont want to pay to go cool off at a separate water park for more money when i can ride water rides. Least they have the aqua man.

  8. Izzy

    04/13/2012 at 9:45 am

    I always enjoy going on this water ride. I should note the the first queue area originally had shades and water mists. Feels so good when riding Roaring Rapids after waiting in line on a hot day.

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  16. mugnezz

    01/10/2013 at 1:09 pm

    the stairs are being replaced after they were demolished by mistake in the erection of the pylon tatsu…

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  18. Rosie

    02/24/2014 at 11:42 am

    I really like your aerial views of the ride, gives a unique perspective of how they really look

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