NCL Free At Sea

My Best Single Ride Experience Of 2012

By on 12/23/2012

As 2012 gently glides into the final brake run, a few of my fellow coaster bloggers and myself thought it would be fun to write posts about our best single ride experience of 2012, whether it be a roller coaster, flat ride, dark ride, or any combination of the three. Unfortunately, unlike last year, I didn’t make it out to any new parks in 2012. However, I did finally catch a ride on a roller coaster that has eluded me since it opened ten years ago, Xcelerator at Knott’s Berry Farm. Since some of my favorite features on a roller coaster are speed, height, and a launch, I thought for sure that it would be my uncontested best single ride experience of the year. Sadly, after finally experiencing Kingda Ka last year, it felt a bit underwhelming. Therefore, not only was it not the best, but the best wasn’t even a roller coaster at all.

Lex Luthor Drop of Doom LogoEven though I am known as The Coaster Guy, I have no qualms awarding my best single ride experience of 2012 to Lex Luthor: Drop of Doom, located at Six Flags Magic Mountain. Built by Intamin in 2012, LL:DOD is the tallest and fastest drop ride in the world. Attached to the side of the 415′ tall Superman: Escape from Krypton tower, the LL:DOD gondola drops from 400′ high and reaches 85 MPH during a 5 1/2 second free fall. It’s an incredibly thrilling ride, reaching dizzying heights and unprecedented speeds. If you’re a thrill junkie, you’ll like this ride as well.

After having watched this ride be built over the course of a few months, my first opportunity to ride it came on Media Day. I was part of a contingent of American Coaster Enthusiast (ACE) members who showed up pre-dawn, to fill the seats on the ride while the network news teams filmed their live morning broadcasts. For this ride, I was actually a little nervous to get on – the first time I’ve felt that way in as long as I can remember. I’ve been on plenty of drop towers, including the Big Shot hovering 1,000′ over the Las Vegas strip, but this one was different. I’ve never dropped the equivalent of 40 stories before.

Six Flags Magic Mountain Lex Luthor: Drop of DoomThe seats are actually quite comfortable. The restraint is over the shoulder, but nothing actually touches your upper body. It’s just a way to get the lap tray down to secure you into the seat at the waist. It was cold and foggy on my first ride. I specifically remember thinking on that first trip up that we had to be getting close to the top based on high high we seemed to be. Then I looked over and saw that we weren’t even as high as the top of Goliath’s 255′ lift hill, so we were only about half way there. My mind started racing, and I was thinking to myself “What have I gotten myself into?!?”

As we continued to rise, I’ll never forget what happened next. We suddenly broke through the top of the fog bank and were presented a beautiful blue sky with the sun just starting to come up over the horizon. The entire Santa Clarita Valley was covered with fog and we were looking down on it. Other than the very tops of the surrounding hills, the only other thing poking up through the fog was the Magic Mountain Sky Tower. I can’t even begin to describe how beautiful it was. We only had a few seconds to take it all in because before we knew it we were plunging back towards Earth, punching a hole through the fog as we fell back into the dark and cold.

Six Flags Magic Mountain Lex Luthor: Drop of DoomI rode LL:DOD close to 20 times that day, and I must have logged at least 100 rides total since it opened. I really like the openness of the seats, the views from up top, and that feeling you get in the pit of your stomach as you free fall 40 stories. Even if you’ve been of every other drop ride out there, do yourself a favor and ride this the next time you’re at Six Flags Magic Mountain. It’s a fun experience and you can brag about having been on the tallest drop ride in the world.

Be sure to click on the links below to read what some of my fellow bloggers said was their best single ride experience of 2012.

I fully expect to do more traveling in 2013, and hopefully I’ll end up close to some new parks to visit, and new coasters to experience. In the mean time, let me hear from you. Leave a comment with what you feel was your Best Single Ride Experience in 2012.


The Coaster Critic – 2012 Best Single Ride Experience of the Year

Theme Park Rides – Most Memorable Ride Experience of 2012

Coasterblog – My Single Favorite Ride on a Coaster this Year

Coaster 101 – Best Ride of 2012


  1. Ryan Nelson

    12/24/2012 at 6:16 am

    Hello Kurt,

    I had 2 ride experiences this last year that really were memorable for me. First I was able to visit 4 six flags parks last year while working in different parts of the country SFMM, SFOT, SFFT and SFOG. The two that stood out for me where Goliath at Six Flags over Georgia, the ride has just the most incredible airtime. The other was the New Texas Giant at Six Flags over Texas, the ride is nonstop fun beginning to end.
    So since you have made us choose one the underrated Goliath in Georgia which I did not have high expectations for just blew me away as my best ride in 2012

    • Kurt

      12/24/2012 at 8:23 am

      Those are two of my very favorite coasters! Goliath at SFOG completely surprised me as well. I had to reach down and grasp the grab bar on my first ride as we went over that first hill. It had been a very long time since I had to do that. Nitro was the same way for me at SFGAdv.

  2. Jaryd

    12/24/2012 at 7:26 am

    This year was the first time I’ve been to magic mountain since I was six, so the best for me was either Tatsu or X2

    • Kurt

      12/24/2012 at 8:27 am

      Those are both excellent rides and hard to choose between.

  3. Pingback: My Single Favorite Ride on a Coaster this Year | Coasterblog

  4. josh

    12/24/2012 at 10:58 am

    last day of frightfest 2012 rode superman no wait at 9:55 (park closed at 10)ran around and rode it again, as we pulled in the station my buddy that was visting from up north yelled to the operator “that was the last train of the night, let’s go one more time”. i was thinking ya right, i’ve said or heard this line x100, never got to go one last time, but the op assistants did a harness check and the security guard standing there said i’ve never seen an operator do this and we were off. 3 rides on superman in less than 5 minutes at closing. good times. 1st ride back row 2nd and 3rd front row

  5. Evan

    12/24/2012 at 12:47 pm

    My most memorable ride experience this year was probably Skyrush. It packed such a punch in it’s complex layout with its loads of airtime and winged seating. I felt it was a perfect ride for Hershey Park. At first, I wasn’t expecting much from the ride but it turned out to be almost as good as El Toro in terms of airtime. Lex Luthor was an excellent addition too and I’m glad we finally have a drop tower! Merry Christmas, Kurt!

    • Kurt

      12/24/2012 at 1:19 pm

      I can’t wait to visit Hersheypark some day. Skyrush looks like a great ride!

  6. Ryan

    12/24/2012 at 12:56 pm

    For me, riding Transformers at Universal Studios Hollywood. Such an amazing and immersive ride. By far the best dark ride in SoCal, better than Radiator Springs Racers!

    • Kurt

      12/24/2012 at 1:21 pm

      USH is not very far from me and I still haven’t gotten over there to ride this yet. Shame on me! This is on my must-do list for 2013.

  7. Misael

    12/24/2012 at 6:50 pm

    Best Single Ride was X-Flight at SF Great America.

    • Kurt

      12/28/2012 at 11:30 pm

      Very much looking forward to riding that some day!

      • Great American Coasters

        12/29/2012 at 11:26 am

        You should just wait until GateKeeper at Cedar Point comes out, instead of riding X-Flight. GateKeeper looks so much better.

  8. Pingback: Most Memorable Ride Experience of 2012 | Theme Park Rides

  9. Eric

    12/25/2012 at 5:22 pm

    I agree with your take on Lex Luthor: Drop of Doom. Not being a fan of drop rides, I was surprised that I really liked it. Hopefully someone with a good camera was able to catch the view of the Sky Tower and the taller coasters sticking out of the fog that day. Also, I’m glad I got to ride with you at least once that day. 🙂

    As for other new-for-2012 rides, I only rode Manta at SeaWorld San Diego. Like Lex Luthor, I was invited to ride with ACE for media day, and before 6 a.m. There were surprising pops of airtime on that ride, and, despite being billed as a family ride, it was rather thrilling with two launches—one at the beginning, and one toward the end of the ride. It’s a fairly long ride as well, and is very nicely themed. That type of ride would be perfect for Magic Mountain.

  10. Ryan O

    12/26/2012 at 8:52 am

    I have to agree, Lex Luthor was my favorite ride from 2012. You know a ride is good when it scares the poo out of you every time you ride it!
    I also love the views you get from up there. Although the one you described from Media Day sounds incredible.

    • Eric

      12/26/2012 at 10:27 am

      One thing that I believe contributed greatly to the view on media day was the fact that it was before sunrise. Once the sun came up, the fog lifted, and things went back to “normal.” If I recall correctly, I got 11 rides that day.

  11. J.D. Walters

    12/26/2012 at 12:36 pm

    I agree with you, Kurt! LLDOD is one TRULY AMAZING experience! I am so very thankful that we finally have a darn great drop ride, but I do still miss Freefall very much… I am seriously craving a trip back to Dorney Park to ride America’s last standing Intamin original again, which I was hoping would be moved from Cedar Point to Knott’s Berry Farm, as Cedar Fair originally planned, but it ended up at DP instead. LLDOD is definitiely up there with El Toro, Nitro, X2 & The Desperado for me, it not being an actual coaster, or not. Definitely an engineering marvel! Happy Holidays!

  12. Casey

    12/26/2012 at 10:15 pm

    Is LL:DOD intense?I have always been terrified to go on it,because,sad to say,drop rides are my weakness,and I have had so many opportunities.It says on the website its a medium thrill ride.Id like to know from a person whos been on it though,on a scale of 1-10.

    • Eric

      12/26/2012 at 11:45 pm

      It’s really not that intense. As I said before, I don’t really care for drop rides because of that feeling in the pit of your stomach as you fall. For me at least, Lex Luthor doesn’t give that to me. It’s just five-seconds’ worth of floating airtime all the way down. All you can do is give it a try. The worst thing is that you won’t like it and won’t have to ride it again. I was expecting that, but was pleasantly surprised. Now I try to ride it a couple of times per visit depending on the line, which actually moves faster than you’d think. They have a system that works. Riders are split into groups of eight before even getting on, then sent to one side or the other. As the group that just came down leaves, the next group goes right in. The restraint is a simple lap bar held in place with an over the shoulder harness that doesn’t even make contact with your shoulders (as shown in Kurt’s report above).

      • Casey

        12/27/2012 at 7:58 pm

        Thanks Eric,Five seconds doesn’t seem too long.maybe i’ll have the guts to ride it next time I go. 🙂

    • Great American Coasters

      12/27/2012 at 12:58 pm

      On scale of 1-10 I would give Lex Luthor Drop of Doom a 10 out of 10. It’s a great ride. After new years will be the best time to ride it, because this ride gets crowded. I waited 45 mins yesterday. Drop of Doom is worth the wait. It’s really not a scary ride.

  13. Great American Coasters

    12/27/2012 at 12:49 pm

    My favorite ride at Magic Mountain is Lex Luthor Drop of Doom, but my favorite ride ever would have to be Top Thrill Dragster at Cedar Point. I like how Top Thrill Dragster has lap bars instead of the Intamin shoulder harness like TTD’s bigger version Kingda Ka.

  14. Alex C.

    12/28/2012 at 5:06 pm

    I’m planning to go Sunday and there’s a chance it will rain so would the park be closed if it rains?

    • Great American Coasters

      12/28/2012 at 5:15 pm

      Light rain the park will not close, but some rides will be. If it rains hard before the park opens, then the park will be closed.

    • Kurt

      12/28/2012 at 11:32 pm

      Like GAC said, it has to rain really hard for SFMM not to open. It’s been known to happen, but it’s pretty rare. I don’t think the forecast is calling for that heavy of rains this weekend, so it will likely be open.

  15. Andrew

    12/28/2012 at 9:43 pm

    I wonder how early Gold pass holders will be allowed in starting in 2013.

    • Great American Coasters

      12/28/2012 at 10:33 pm

      I think its an hour before the park opens. I’m not 100% sure, but thats what I heard.

      • Kurt

        12/28/2012 at 11:35 pm

        An hour would be amazing, but that would really surprise me if that were the case. I’m expecting it to be more along the lines of what they do for Discover card holders; 5-10 minutes before the main gates open. An hour before would require them to staff everything up an hour sooner. 5-10 minutes means the rides will still open at the same time, but you’ll be first in line.

  16. Jamal Shama

    12/28/2012 at 10:38 pm

    Transformers ride at Universal Studios is by far the best ride I rode this year! That should be #1 on your list for 2013 Kurt! But as far as traditional rides, I’m with you Kurt Lex Luthor: Drop of Doom is the best! I rode it like 10 times this year, it’s the King of all Drop Rides! Some other favorites: X2 and Tatsu! And I do miss Deja Vu, I wish they could’ve kept that ride. There’s a version of that ride called Aftershock at Silverwood Theme Park in Idaho. It won Best Hanging Coaster for 2012 on the Travel Channel’s Insane Coasters! If you haven’t seen that show before, you should check it out!

    • Kurt

      01/01/2013 at 9:43 pm

      As fate would have it, I was a rider during the filming of Insane Coaster Wars: World Domination for both Tatsu and X2 not long ago. Look for it this coming summer.

      • Jamal Shama

        01/31/2013 at 10:03 pm

        Cool I will! Finally maybe a West Coast Park can win! They mostly show East Coast parks and the West Coast doesn’t get shown! Maybe we can win won for the West Coast! So far I’ve only seen Madusa from Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in Vallejo,CA.

  17. Pingback: Highlights In 2012 « Coasterblog

  18. Tyler

    03/06/2013 at 8:22 pm

    I’ve grown up going to this park and Knott’s Berry Farm (which is ok compared to SFMM) and this is my favorite non-coaster! On the day I went we went twice in a row, and both times were really AWESOME! The airtime was nice and “floaty”, while the brakes were actually smooth. The smooth brakes took me by suprise though, as I’ve been on one other Intamin drop ride before (Drop Zone at California’s Great Adventure) and the brakes hurt A LOT!

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