NCL Free At Sea

Ride Profile: Superman Escape From Krypton

By on 04/06/2012

Superman Escape from Krypton logo

Ride Type: Roller Coaster

Manufacturer: Intamin AG
Model/Style: Launched Shuttle Coaster
Year Built: 1996/1997

Superman Escape from Krypton did not begin life with that name. In 1995, Six Flags Magic Mountain did not get any new rides. The reason was because they were focusing their efforts on building their brand new water park, Hurricane Harbor, right next door. With that project successfully launched, they turned their attention to making a very loud statement in 1996. In standard Six Flags fashion, they announced that they were going to build the world’s tallest and fastest roller coaster and Superman: The Escape was born.

Designed by Intamin, Superman Escape from Krypton is a 900′ long dual-track, launched shuttle coaster that goes 100 MPH and climbs a 415′ tower before free falling back down and returning to the station. The ride was built in 1996 at a cost of $20,000,000 and was due to open that Memorial Day weekend. However, technical difficulties prevented that from happening, but the ride did finally open to the public as Superman: The Escape on 15 Mar 1997. The ride remained pretty much untouched until July 2010, when it was closed with no explanation. It was later learned that it was going to undergo a complete refurbishment and reopen with new cars that face backwards, along with the new name of Superman Escape from Krypton.

This first photo is the only one I have of the way Superman used to look. It was taken a few years ago, from the Sky Tower on my cell phone, long before I ever even considered starting this blog. However, it still shows the way the ride used to look. The entrance plaza had the Superman logo in the concrete, but it was very subtle and blended in. The station was made to look like Superman’s “Fortress of Solitude” and had no signage other than a very basic Superman logo. The maintenance area for the two tracks was open on top and exposed to the elements, and the entire track and tower were an extremely bland grey color:

Superman: Escape from Krypton

This was the only sign on the ride and made people question if it was even the entrance:

Superman: Escape from Krypton

During the transformation from Superman: The Escape to Superman Escape from Krypton, they ended up covering the maintenance area. Although it’s not completely sealed and protected from the elements, it does provide much needed shade for those who have to work back there in the hot summer months:

Superman: Escape from Krypton

Another nice change which didn’t require anything more than a little time and paint is the coloring of the plaza logo. This makes a huge visual difference:

Superman: Escape from Krypton

The most noticeable change was the new paint job on the track and tower. Holy cow, it’s gorgeous! This is now giving the Sky Tower a run for its money as the most prominent feature in the park’s skyline. The red top stands out like a beacon for miles. Even the moon looks tiny next to it:

Superman: Escape from Krypton

Bigger and more noticeable, the new Superman Escape from Krypton logo looks great:

Superman: Escape from Krypton

All of the fencing around the plaza area got some new paint as well. Once it was all put together, the entire package came out really nice. The actual entrance is the shadowed area you see directly underneath the sign. The exit path comes out on the righthand side, behind that giant Coke bottle. That’s the same path you will use for the Flash Pass and wheelchair entrance, which I’ll cover later:

Superman: Escape from Krypton

When the refurbished ride opened back up to the public in 2011, the lines were crazy long. It backed out of the building, all the way around the left side of the plaza, and then partially down the hill. If you know the layout of the park, you know that is a seriously long line for this ride:

Superman: Escape from Krypton

When you walk through the entrance, you must choose which side you would like to ride, the right or left. During the off-season and slow days, you won’t have a choice. They’ll block off one of the sides with a trash can and only run one side:

Superman: Escape from Krypton

Once you choose a side, there is a long tunnel making its way down each side of the ride building to the loading area. This is the right side. With the flash, you can see how dirty and grungy the walls are. However, most people don’t ever see that and I’ll explain why shortly. At the very end of this tunnel, where you can see the green glow, is the final staging area before boarding the ride. There is a door on the right, just before getting there, that leads to the exit path outside. This is the Flash Pass entry:

Superman: Escape from Krypton

Because it’s Superman’s ice fortress, they usually keep it ice cold inside, which makes it a great line to wait in during the very hot summer months. This next photo is the final staging area. Riders are funneled into four lanes which feed directly onto the ride once the doors open. You can think of the doors as the air gates. The graphics on the doors tell you how many riders per dispatch. Lane 1 only seats two people. That’s the very back row of the car and is desirable because there are no outside arm guards. Lanes 2, 3, and 4 all seat four people, but the outside riders will have their outside arm restrained by an arm guard. The open door also feeds into the outside exit path and is the wheelchair entry:

Superman: Escape from Krypton

Remember the dirty walls from earlier, but I said most people would never see them? That’s because everything inside the fortress is lit up with an emerald glow. It is meant to be the planet Krypton, full of the green crystal Kryptonite, which is known to be Superman’s only weakness. This is where the name Escape from Krypton comes from:

Superman: Escape from Krypton

This next photo shows the opposite side of the doors from above. The Emergency Exit door was the small blue door you saw in the above photo. The employees use this door to go back and forth between the launch and queue areas. Door #1, right next to it, feeds into the very back row, which only has two seats. The ride launches backwards, so it will actually exit the station to the left from this angle:

Superman: Escape from Krypton

Here you can see how the arm guards are attached to the outside of the restraints:

Superman: Escape from Krypton

This is what the front of one of the cars looks like:

Superman: Escape from Krypton

This is what the front of the other car looks like:

Superman: Escape from Krypton

This is the maintenance area that I pointed out from the aerial photo earlier. You can see that the new covering isn’t much more than a mesh fabric, but I’m sure it keeps the temperatures down quite a bit in this area:

Superman: Escape from Krypton

This is the launch tunnel. The new cars are a bit wider than the old cars, making it possible for people to touch the walls, so that is why the arm guards were added. In the blink of an eye you are shot outside the tunnel and down the 600′ of horizontal track, reaching speeds up to 100 MPH in just 7 seconds:

Superman: Escape from Krypton

The cars move through the use of Linear Synchronous Motors, or LSMs, located along the track. Each motor, when powered with electricity, generates a strong electromagnetic field. The cars have very powerful rare earth magnets mounted underneath them. Each LSM has a very strong attraction to the car’s magnets, pulling the cars towards it. As the car passes over it, the opposite occurs and the magnets repel the LSM, pushing the car away towards the next LSM. The next LSM is powered and the cycle repeats itself. As the car passes each LSM, its speed increases. All of the LSMs are programmed with a very exact timing sequence to allow the car to reach its maximum speed.

If something goes wrong and one of the LSMs doesn’t fire, or the timing of when they fire is off, the car won’t reach it’s maximum speed and it won’t go as far or as high as it should. This following video is an example of a failed launch I happened to capture as they were testing the new cars with water dummies. You’ll hear the car approaching, but it never makes it up the tower due to lack of speed. You’ll see it slowly roll backwards back down the track. They had to winch it back to the LSMs to get it back to the station:

In this next photo, a car had just been launched out of the station. Each pair of the white strips that you see on the track is an LSM. As you can see, it takes a lot of them to get a 5+ ton car up to 100 MPH. My understanding is that the white buildings between the tracks contain all of the electrical equipment necessary to power this ride. I’ve also heard that this ride consumes more power than any other ride in the park, which makes sense since there’s much more than a simple lift hill motor. It also looks like there is a small heat pump located outside each building, so I assume that the insides get very hot and the air conditioning is used to keep everything cool and working properly:

Superman: Escape from Krypton

This is what the track and power stations look like from the ground:

Superman: Escape from Krypton

The white rectangles are the LSMs that the car passes over to pick up speed. You should also note that Superman Escape from Krypton does not run on traditional round roller coaster rails. Instead, the track is basically a steel I-beam, and the car is affixed to the top portion of the beam. This gives the car a jet-like scream as it races down the track:

Superman: Escape from Krypton

At the end of the horizontal run, the car is at its maximum speed and quickly goes vertical, up to the top the 415′ tower. There is approximately 200′ of vertical track to climb. This stretch of track is called the “Zone of Weightlessness” because once you reach the top you’ll be at zero G’s, or basically weightless, and gravity takes over. You’ll be completely weightless for approximately 6 1/2 seconds as you free fall back down. You will speed back up to 92 MPH while falling, which will carry you all the way back to the station. The car cannot go any higher than you see in the following photo because there is a strip of powerful magnets mounted to the track that will repel the magnets on the car and force it back down. It’s a safety mechanism to prevent the car from going too high. I don’t have a picture of it, but you can also see the back of the massive Superman logo attached to the other side of the tower. It’s internally lit and shines at night for everyone passing on the I-5 freeway below to see:

Superman: Escape from Krypton

As the cars return to the station, the LSMs fire in reverse order slowing the cars back down. In the extremely unlikely situation in which all power is lost after a car has already been launched, the same emergency magnets that are at the top of the tower can be found in the maintenance area on the other side of the loading area, stopping the car abruptly but safely. If you scroll back up to the maintenance area picture, you’ll see the twin rows of magnets built into the track. Here is a car returning after a successful ride:

Superman: Escape from Krypton

Before the new cars arrived, they were using the old cars for testing purposes. You can see in this next photo the 15 seat, forward facing arrangement of the old car. Notice that the four seats across pretty much fit within the yellow track. If you look at the previous photo, you’ll notice that the car is definitely wider and the outside seats actually extend over the yellow track, which is why the arm guards were necessary for protection through the tunnel. There were rumors that the park may one day reintroduce one of the old cars, giving guests the option of riding forward or backwards:

Superman: Escape from Krypton

It’s not still there, but the following ride specifications for Superman: The Escape used to be on display in the Magic of the Mountain Museum. It gives all the details on how the technology works and all the specs for the ride. I really wish all parks would do this for all their rides. Maybe it’s just the geek in me, but I find this very interesting:

Superman: Escape from Krypton

Please keep in mind that these are the specs for the old cars. The specs for the new cars have not been published. I find it funny that they list the capacity at 1,800 riders per hour. With 30 riders per launch, between both cars, that’s 60 launches of each car per hour, or one every minute. I can’t see even the most experienced ride op crew that ever existed pulling that off. I’d be a very happy camper if they were able to get half that throughput, a launch every two minutes. Unfortunately, my experience is usually a few minutes between each launch. If they’re only running one side, you can cut those numbers in half again.

Once back in the station, all riders exit towards the center and make their way through a turnstile as the doors open on the other side to let the next batch of guests in:

Superman: Escape from Krypton

Once through the turnstile, there is a stairway leading down:

Superman: Escape from Krypton

You turn right at the bottom of the stairs and pass underneath the right track. On the other side, you hang another right and back up another flight of stairs:

Superman: Escape from Krypton

Once you’re on the exit path, you’ll notice an alcove on the right where the door for the wheelchair access is. This is the open door you saw in the photo of the queue above:

Superman: Escape from Krypton

Looking back down the exit path, you can see where the last flight of stairs from the ride exit come back up. The wheelchair access alcove is down on the left, just before the stairs. This door is the Flash Pass entrance. This puts you in line at the end of the ice tunnel:

Superman: Escape from Krypton

In another flashback to the ride’s early days, here is one of the uniforms the Superman ride operators would wear. This was on display in the museum as well:

Superman: Escape from Krypton

Another gem I found in the museum was this old concept art for the ride, before they settled on the Superman theme. It was going to be called the Velocetron. With the exception of the multiple corridors down the side, the layout is almost identical to what was built. You enter on the right and choose a side. You then walk down a long corridor to the four lanes that then feed into the ride loading area. You can also see the exit stairs in the middle on the left, leading under the right track then back up on the side of the building, right next to the alcove with the wheelchair entrance:

Superman: Escape from Krypton

What do you think of Superman Escape from Krypton at Six Flags Magic Mountain?. Is it better backwards or forwards?


  1. Donovan Boczko

    04/06/2012 at 9:26 pm

    I love Superman, then and now. But i’m still holding on to that rumor of one side going forwards. The only thing that keeps my hopes up, is the old car is still sitting underneath X2 covered in a tarp. Thanks for the profile, a very interesting read as always.

  2. Victor

    04/06/2012 at 9:31 pm

    I have yet to get a chance to ride it going backwards, the ride for me was very weak back in the mid 2000’s so i never bothered going back on it I’m excited to try it out but my last two trips since the relaunch were spent waiting for Green Lantern and the other just last week it was closed obviously. Looking forward to get my chance though

  3. JJJJ

    04/07/2012 at 12:26 am

    The new ride, going backwards gave me the most intense feeling Ive had in a roller coaster since the first time I tried tatsu.

    It was a very long wait, and the park had already closed, but it was well worth it. Next time I go to the park, this would actually be my first choice of ride.

  4. Damien Nguyen-Tran

    04/07/2012 at 10:52 am

    I will go to superman escape from krypton on summer break including the lex luthor drop ride.

  5. Will

    04/07/2012 at 11:04 am

    EFK is now easily one of the most thrilling experiences in the park. *This* is the ride that should have been built in 1996. Far and away a better experience.

  6. Alex V.

    04/07/2012 at 4:53 pm

    I love thiz ride backwards, it iz a better experience!!

  7. Kyle M.

    04/07/2012 at 10:03 pm

    I have a question, why did SFMM take the Superman figure that was on top of the tower down. I heard that some very high winds knocked it down, but I don’t see how that could happen. I remember reading one of your articles about it, but I wasn’t completely sure.

    Kyle M.

    • Kurt

      04/07/2012 at 10:17 pm

      What I heard was that it was knocked loose during an extremely heavy wind storm and had to be taken down before it fell down. However, since the cars now run backwards, nobody would be able to see it up there anyways. Even though it went to a nice home and has been completely restored, I would have liked to see it on display in the Sky Tower museum.

      • erik

        03/02/2016 at 1:55 pm


  8. Eric

    04/07/2012 at 10:44 pm

    I got to ride the original Superman–The Escape in December 1996. Because it was supposed to open during Memorial Day weekend of 1996, the park sold a lot of season passes. Of course, those who purchased the passes were let down, so the park decided that when Superman was operational, they’d let only the season passholders in to ride. We received a pre-determined date and time, and a ticket to ride it once.

    However, when we arrived at the park, we found out that not only would we get our one promised ride, but that we could ride multiple times and that Ninja and Viper were also open for us as well. It rained the day I went, but they ran those three rides anyway. At the time, they claimed that Superman was running at about 90%, which meant that we’d get to about 90 mph. Going 90 mph with raindrops hitting you in the face was a bit painful. But I’m glad I went and ended up taking four rides on it that evening.

    • Eric

      04/07/2012 at 10:47 pm

      And another thing…Tim Burkhart himself told me that the new cars for Superman–Escape From Krypton are designed to run forward or backward, so at some point, they can run one track going forward, and one track going backwards. My guess is that the seats can somehow be turned around.

  9. Mark

    04/09/2012 at 3:39 pm

    I’ve only been on Superman, once, backwards. It was the LOUDEST ride I’ve ever experienced. I found the decibel level painful. The sound was much more intense than the actual ride. I liked the ride although Xcelerator and Top Thrill Dragster were better. If I ever ride it again I’ll bring earplugs.

  10. Ryan O

    04/09/2012 at 8:35 pm

    Superman has a lot of fond memories for me.
    As a kid, it was always one of my favorite rides. One time it broke down while I was on it, and the car went flying into those emergency brakes behind the station. I also remember finding that it was closed and the sign saying they were doing something special to it, along with the rumors of it going backwards. Then the “sneak peek” days for season passholders, where I got to ride the new Superman a month before it re-opened.
    And now it is still one of my favorite roller coasters. No other ride gives me that exhilarating feeling I get on Superman.

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  13. Noah V

    09/23/2012 at 9:31 pm

    I was at Six Flags MM today and well on the 1st lift on Apocalypse, if you look to your right where all the old carts and boats from previous ride are, you will notice the superman statue that was on then old superman ride. To be honest , I got really excited when I saw it cause I know no one would ever really notice it, so I felt so cool xD

    • Kurt

      09/24/2012 at 10:20 am

      Not to burst your bubble, Noah, but that isn’t the Superman statue from the ride. I’m pretty sure that was the small statue that was on top of the Superman gift shop called Hero Haven, located next to the old Laughing Dragon Pizza restaurant. You can see what became of the statue from the ride here:

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  15. Sean

    02/03/2013 at 11:33 pm

    Hey Coasterguy,

    You said that there were rumors that SFMM may be placing a forward train back on, so that people could choose whether to ride it BW or FW, is that why one of the old superman the escape trains is still stored below X2, ever since it got transformed?

    • The Coaster Guy

      02/03/2013 at 11:46 pm

      That’s what I heard as a rumor. But I’ve also heard that the new cars can run forward and backward, so if that’s the case, then it would make more sense for them to just turn one of those around than use an old car.

      • Sean

        02/05/2013 at 8:48 pm

        Ok, thank you, yes I could imagine them not placing an old one back on while they have wonderful brand new trains. Do you know what they use the other one (stored under X2) for? Or will it leave eventually?

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  25. Andrew

    07/10/2013 at 2:25 am

    Wow I was so excited when Kyle asked about the whereabouts of the statue, for I too had seen it behind Apocalypse. Then I saw that it was the gift shops… Then I saw the article… And I have to ask how big is that thing? It’s looks huge next to those trees!

  26. Rosie

    02/24/2014 at 12:43 pm

    Never did find the entrance to this ride, mistakenly thought it’d be by Drop of Doom. Where’s it at

    • The Coaster Guy

      02/28/2014 at 10:37 pm

      The entrance to Superman is up on top of the hill. If you’re standing in front of the Ninja entrance, just start walking away from the Sky Tower and you’ll walk straight to it. Just look for the giant white Fortress of Solitude.

  27. enoc garcia

    03/15/2015 at 9:52 am

    Wow superman was actually my firts coaster that i got on it was on 8th grade day, really scared but i did it, now it goes backwards is a different experiences is amazing now i just bot scarry for me, always be my favorite ride.

  28. Jorge Hernandez

    06/02/2015 at 4:13 pm

    i had this question for a long time, i want to know why they only use one side, the lines are very long and i was hopping that you may know the answer.

    • Jorge Hernandez

      06/02/2015 at 4:14 pm

      why they only run one side?

    • The Coaster Guy

      06/02/2015 at 10:20 pm

      There are a number of reasons they’ll only run one side. The other side may have a mechanical issue, they may not have enough staff to run it, or it could be due for a scheduled service. It’s also possible they just don’t want to. There’s no way of knowing for sure.

  29. Phil

    04/25/2016 at 1:39 am

    You say “…once you reach the top you’ll be at zero G’s, or basically weightless, and gravity takes over…”

    This seems to be a pretty common misconception about this ride.
    Your sensation of gravity depends on your acceleration, not your altitude or velocity. During the entire time you are vertical you are in continuous freefall, accelerating downward at 9.8 m/s^2 **even when you’re going up** so you are weightless during that entire time.

    • LeeneyBailey

      09/14/2016 at 1:04 am

      That was when it was still facing forwards.. .

      I loved it like 500x more the original way… used to be my favorite ride of all times. Now it is meh… the old way just felt like flying, touching the sky, etc…

  30. Ryan

    03/15/2017 at 10:03 pm

    Is it true that the original plan for the ride was to stop at the top and hold you there for a couple seconds and drop you back down?

    • The Coaster Guy

      03/15/2017 at 10:54 pm

      I don’t believe so. I think that was just a wild fantasy somebody thought up and started a rumor.

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