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Ride Profile: Tatsu

By on 02/23/2012

Six Flags Magic Mountain Tatsu

Ride Type: Roller Coaster

Manufacturer: Bolliger & Mabillard
Model/Style: Flying Terrain
Year Built: 2006

Back during the 2004 and 2005 seasons, Six Flags Magic Mountain didn’t build any new roller coasters. However, during the summer of 2005 they broke ground on top of Samurai Summit for something new. People had no clue what it was going to be, but as more trees were cut down, and more land was leveled, they could tell it was going to be something special. On May 13, 2006 Tatsu: Fly at the Speed of Fear opened to the public.

The brainchild of famed Swiss roller coaster manufacturer Bolliger & Mabillard, the same firm that brought Batman: The Ride, The Riddler’s Revenge, and Scream! to Six Flags Magic Mountain, Tatsu is a flying coaster that was custom designed to take advantage of the unique terrain in the middle of the park. It boasts a maximum height of 170′, a 103′ corkscrew, an 80′ tall horseshoe, a 124′ pretzel loop, and a 77′ in-line twist. Add to that a maximum speed of 62 MPH and 3,602′ of track, and you have the tallest, longest, and fastest flying coaster in the world! Tatsu means “flying beast” in Japanese, and they couldn’t have picked a more appropriate name for this ride.

Built for a reputed cost of $21,000,000, Tatsu features three trains, each made up of eight cars. Each car holds four riders, allowing for 32 riders per dispatch. The loading station is a dual-layout configuration, meaning that two trains can be loaded/unloaded simultaneously. With optimum ride operations, there is a continuous flow of people getting on the ride with a theoretical throughput of 1,600 riders per hour.

Here is the entrance to the ride. The park advertises it as being located in Samurai Summit, which fits with the dragon theme, but I consider it to be a part of Rapids Camp Crossing. It’s literally right in front of Roaring Rapids, Katy’s Kettle, and Mining Town Games, which are all part of Rapids Camp Crossing, so you be the judge:

Six Flags Magic Mountain Tatsu

You’ll notice a bank of blue lockers on the right in the above photo. These are for Tatsu riders to use while riding the coaster. While it’s always a good idea to use these while you’re on certain coasters, be careful in the summer. The waits can exceed two hours:

Six Flags Magic Mountain Tatsu

Once you pass underneath the entrance sign, you go right into the queue:

Six Flags Magic Mountain Tatsu

On days with exceptionally long waits, the queue line will be fed through this secret path towards the back of the regular queue:

Six Flags Magic Mountain Tatsu

The path winds behind the snack booth, seen here on the right, and past the vending machines and stairs as it makes its way down the midway towards the back of the park. You can see the holes in the ground where the line stanchions are placed:

Six Flags Magic Mountain Tatsu

Once you get past the initial queue, assuming it’s even being used, you come to the stairs. If they’re running both sides of the station, each stairway goes to a different side. The stairs on the right lead up to the left loading station and the stairs on the left cross under the track as it exits the station and lead up to the right loading station. During the off-season, they’re usually only running one side or the other:

Six Flags Magic Mountain Tatsu

These are the second flight of stairs, the right path above, leading to the loading station:

Six Flags Magic Mountain Tatsu

Once you get to the top of the stairs, you can now see that you are on the left side:

Six Flags Magic Mountain Tatsu

Here is a shot from the top of the stairs, looking towards the back of the station:

Six Flags Magic Mountain Tatsu

The mechanicals on this coaster to rotate the chairs up and down are impressive. Here you can see the vertical yellow arms are retracted, putting the seats in a sitting position for loading and unloading of riders:

Six Flags Magic Mountain Tatsu

When the motors above each car are engaged, a shaft rotates and the yellow arms are extended, which actually rotate the bottoms of the seats backwards, leaving the riders in a face-down position for the duration of the ride:

Six Flags Magic Mountain Tatsu

Here is a close-up of one of the wheel assemblies:

Six Flags Magic Mountain Tatsu

The main ride operator’s workstation is in front of and between the two tracks, giving him visibility over both trains in the station:

Six Flags Magic Mountain Tatsu

Have you ever noticed in promotional pictures of Tatsu that the name of the park is always clearly visible on the car the actors are riding in? I always thought that was Photoshopped in or something because I never actually saw it on any car I had been on. You probably didn’t notice it in the above photo, but look closely on the second car and you’ll see it. I’m guessing this is because they need to mount the cameras to the lead car in order to shoot the car behind it. Just a fun little bit of trivia:

Six Flags Magic Mountain Tatsu

With both trains out of the station, you can clearly see the exit. Riders on both sides disembark the trains towards the middle of the station and exit down the stairs. You can also see the small valleys in the ground where the trains rotate:

Six Flags Magic Mountain Tatsu

Once the train is dispatched, it starts to make its way up the lift hill. The riders are now face-down and there is nothing but the restraints between them and the ground:

Six Flags Magic Mountain Tatsu

As you can imagine, emergency evacuations would be difficult if a train were to stop on the lift hill. If you look through the chain-link fence on this next photo, you’ll see a shiny silver platform. That platform can actually be moved up the hill and placed under a stuck train, allowing riders to be safely removed from the ride and placed on the stairway:

Six Flags Magic Mountain Tatsu

From the ground, you get a much better sense of how high these people really are:

Six Flags Magic Mountain Tatsu

You must have a lot of faith in the restraint system on any flying coaster:

Six Flags Magic Mountain Tatsu

Once you make it over the lift hill, your flying adventure begins. However, you aren’t necessarily always flying. You do get a few moments on your back as well:

Six Flags Magic Mountain Tatsu

At 124′, this is the world’s largest pretzel loop.

Six Flags Magic Mountain Tatsu

Here’s the train hitting the little dip as they are entering the pretzel loop:

Six Flags Magic Mountain Tatsu

Once you are in the loop and start diving head-first towards the ground, the pressure is very intense. You are completely pinned to the back of your seat:

Six Flags Magic Mountain Tatsu

Just as soon as you come out of the pretzel loop and try catching your breath, you are immediately fed into a 77′ in-line twist:

Six Flags Magic Mountain Tatsu

Second only to the Sky Tower, this has got to be one of the most common pictures I see of Six Flags Magic Mountain. This is the scene from the Six Flags Plaza, where everyone first enters the park. You have the fountain, a bit of Revolution, the world’s first modern looping steel coaster, and of course Tatsu towering high overhead. You can also see the in-line twist leading into the sweeping fan curve:

Six Flags Magic Mountain Tatsu

It’s hard to get good photos of Tatsu because the people on the ride are typically facing down and the sun is overhead, so it makes for some very dark photos. However, you have a great aerial view of the plaza when you make this turn:

Six Flags Magic Mountain Tatsu

Here is a train just coming out of the final curve and heading into the brake run. Due to the unique positioning of this ride on a 100′ hill, there is actually an elevation change of 263′ throughout the duration of the ride:

Six Flags Magic Mountain Tatsu

I hate to be critical, but the Tatsu staff have got to be some of the slowest ride operators in the park. With a two train operation running on only one side of the station, they should be able to get a train loaded and dispatched before the other train gets back to the station. However, you will almost always find yourself in the stacked position, waiting for the train in the station to be dispatched before your train can enter and unload. This is a very uncomfortable position if you aren’t moving, so to just sit like this for several minutes is not very enjoyable:

Six Flags Magic Mountain Tatsu

In the above photo, you can just make out part of the maintenance shed in the background. This next photo is an aerial view of that shed and the transfer track. Notice all the black marks on the ground? This is where the trains sit in the stacked position, like in the photo above. As kids sit here, waiting, all kinds of nasty things come out of their mouth; spit, gum, vomit, etc. When you get stopped for several minutes right above where someone just got sick, it’s another not so enjoyable moment, especially on a hot day. The black marks are where the park scrubs all the nasty stuff away, and the paint goes with it. It also clearly shows how the track splits to feed both sides of the station:

Six Flags Magic Mountain Tatsu

This is the inside of the maintenance shed, not that there’s much to see:

Six Flags Magic Mountain Tatsu

Once the riders disembark the ride, these are the stairs they come down to exit:

Six Flags Magic Mountain Tatsu

At the bottom of the stairs is where you’ll find the photo booth from the on-ride photo:

Six Flags Magic Mountain Tatsu

Once you pass the photo booth, you’ll exit the station underneath where the track enters the station, giving you a great view of the ride and the pretzel loop:

Six Flags Magic Mountain Tatsu

An aerial view of the loading station shows where the track splits and enters the station above and exits the station below. You can see the entrance stairs in the lower-right corner of the station. The concrete path coming out the top of the station and looping down the right-hand side is the exit:

Six Flags Magic Mountain Tatsu

No matter where you look at the park from, Tatsu dominates the skyline. This next shot was taken while in line for X2. That little white circle is the ‘one-loop-wonder’ known as Revolution. Tatsu is massive! Check out the pretzel loop from here:

Six Flags Magic Mountain Tatsu

Here is a nice aerial of the entire ride, as seen using Bing maps:

Six Flags Magic Mountain Tatsu

Image © Microsoft Bing

Lastly, this is a video I put together showing the entire ride from start to finish:

22 Comments

  1. caleb

    02/24/2012 at 6:07 pm

    I’ve only had to wait past the snack shack thing once, and that was the summer of 2006. (2 1/2 hour wait)
    Also, when the ride first opened, there was a Tatsu gift shop right next to the photo booth

  2. Eric

    02/24/2012 at 11:35 pm

    Of the half dozen or so B&M flyers in the world, none has a pretzel loop as big as Tatsu’s. For me, the g forces are incredibly strong, rivaling those in Goliath’s “helix of death” but affecting the body in a slightly different way. One of my favorite parts of this ride is the view at the very top of the lift hill. I also like how steep that hill is—it has to be 45°, which is pretty steep for a coaster.

  3. Zac

    02/25/2012 at 8:19 am

    best place to get my six flags information! i love how when you show tatsu going near the plaza you can see revolution completing its famous loop. just comes to show you have advanced we have gotten within 40 years. (:

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  5. Chase

    04/09/2012 at 5:14 pm

    The reason that Tatsu takes so long to load is because of the restraint system. We go as fast as we can, but we have to be safe about it. It is very easy to trip while checking the leg flaps and slip and fall in the valleys. Even after that, some seats require us to re-check them because they don’t always go all the way into the latch. One thing that annoys me in the station is the black support poles for the roof. They are placed right in my path when I check restraints. I either have to slowly walk on their inside or run around their outside.

    • Will P

      03/17/2013 at 7:14 pm

      Interesting, have you raised concern over this? If not, you should, if it’s effecting yours and other ride operators ability tofuly fully inspect that all is safe? And have the ride managers taken action to change it? I’d Love to ride Tatsu, but I’d also Love to know I would not be falling out of it, and ending up on top of Revolution, Ninja, or Jet stream riders.

      • auggie

        05/10/2014 at 9:17 am

        as chase said they have to re-check it, and they know if they have to re-check it, so it very unlikely to fall out

    • dude

      07/18/2014 at 3:33 pm

      it actually takes the same amount of time as any other ride. its just that the ride is only like 1:40 long (including lift and the last 4 blocks). it takes about 2:20 until the ride op says “all clear” on any coaster. on tatsu, it takes about 7-8 seconds to tilt and dispatch. my point is, your only waiting there because the ride time is so short.

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  12. M. Smith

    06/04/2013 at 3:26 pm

    Is there a specific weight limit on Tatsu? I am about 300 lbs, and yes I do fit on it just fine, but I’m wondering if 300 lbs against that restraint is anything to be concerned about. Any thoughts?

    Thanks

    • The Coaster Guy

      06/04/2013 at 3:40 pm

      I’m guessing there’s a size limit but not a weight limit. As long as they can safely close and secure the restraint, you should be fine. If there was a weight limit, they’d need a way to weigh people on the spot, and they don’t have that. Any ride ops out there that can confirm this?

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  14. Logan Shalit

    06/28/2013 at 1:06 pm

    Slight Error: on the picture of Tatsu’s pretzel loop, it says 175 feet

    • The Coaster Guy

      06/28/2013 at 1:33 pm

      Huh…nobody’s ever caught that before. I wonder where I got that from? Thanks for the heads up.

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