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Seat Belts Added To Both Goliath And Full Throttle

By on 11/24/2013

When Six Flags Magic Mountain opened their gate yesterday, riders on both Goliath and Full Throttle got an unexpected surprise – seat belts! Both roller coasters only had lap bars as their restraint devices prior to that, and neither ride has ever had any instances of the lap bars failing or guests being able to get free of the lap bars, at least to my knowledge. The reason for the new addition is still unclear.

Full Throttle, designed by Premier Rides and only open since June 22nd, boasts the world’s tallest vertical loop at 160′ tall. Despite this incredible inversion, the coaster was able to safely secure riders with a combination lap bar and shin bar, keeping the rider in a sitting position and unable to come out of the seat. I stopped by the park today to get a firsthand look at the new seat belts, but the line was  long and wasn’t moving very fast. I didn’t have much time in the park, so unfortunately I wasn’t able to see them myself:

Full Throttle Roller Coaster

Goliath is a hypercoaster designed by Giovanola and opened in February 2000. It does not have any inversions but stands at 235′ tall and reaches speeds up to 85 MPH. After almost 14 years of operation, it also has no incidents on record related to the lap bar restraints. I tried getting on it as well, but the line was backed up to the entrance:

Goliath roller coaster

Since I couldn’t get on the ride to see the new seat belts before I had to leave, I decided to do the next best thing. I went up the Flash Pass entrance and took pictures from the exit side of the coaster. They’re not the best, but they’ll have to do for now.

The seat belts used are what you would find on most Intamin rides, like Lex Luthor: Drop of Doom or Superman: Escape from Krypton. One side is a fixed length and the other side is adjustable with a bright red tab on the end. Each seat has its own seat belt:

Goliath Seat Belts

Once you sit down, you need to secure your own seat belt. Here is a rider securing her seat belt, with the red tab visible at the end of the longer adjustable side:

Goliath Seat Belts

This is what a properly secured seat belt should look like:

Goliath Seat Belts

Once your seat belt is secure, you are asked not to lower the lap bar. The ride operators need to check your seat belt and will lower the lap bar for you. If someone locks their lap bar before their seat belt is checked, they need to raise all the lap bars and start over:

Goliath Seat Belts

There is some speculation that the reason for the new seat belts is because of an accidental death earlier this year at Six Flags Over Texas, where a woman was ejected from her seat during a ride on the New Texas Giant. She was a larger woman and her body shape may have played a factor by not letting the lap bar properly secure the solid mass of her body. As her weight shifted during the ride, the lap bar may no longer have been in contact with her body and not far enough down to keep her in her seat. The theory is that a seat belt acting as a secondary restraint may have saved her life.

Another benefit of using seat belts is that it makes it easier for the park to determine if someone is too large for a ride. In the past, if they could get the lap bar to catch at least one notch, it was considered safe. With modern hydraulic lap bars, you don’t even get a click. But, if a seat belt can’t be secured, you may be told you are too big to ride:

Goliath Seat Belts

With the adjustable side of seat belt extended all the way out, this woman was able to secure it, so she was given the green light and allowed to ride:

Goliath Seat Belts

After realizing that these seat belts were slowing down dispatch times, I decided to do some (very unscientific) research to see by how much. I headed over to Full Throttle and sat at a table to time the launches. I started the timer right as a train was launched. On each subsequent launch, I hit the Lap button, giving me the time between launches but keeping the overall timer going. I timed ten consecutive launches and kept a log:

Full Throttle Dispatch Times

After ten launches, the average dispatch time was 2:22.7 minutes. At that rate, there are only 25.2 launches per hour. At 18 riders per launch, that’s only 454 riders per hour. The actual time of the ride from launch to final brake run is only 0:52 seconds, so each rider is now spending more time on the train AFTER the ride is over than they are during the actual ride itself. Does anyone know of any other coasters where that is the norm?

I did a Full Throttle capacity analysis a few months ago, prior to the ride opening. I predicted that the ride would eventually settle around 500-600 riders per hour. With these new seat belts, it appears to be even worse than that.

The other theory for the new seat belts is that it is a new California law, requiring all roller coasters with only lap bars to be retrofitted with seat belts as a backup. I personally don’t buy into this theory. I think it’s a proactive move on Six Flags’ part to give their customers additional piece of mind that their rides are safe. It’s possible that it’s also now required by their insurance company due to the recent death in Texas. Several of us are looking into the real reason and hope to have answers soon.

In addition to these two rides, Six Flags also just installed new seat belts on Superman: Ultimate Flight up at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom. You can read more about that and see some pictures over at the Great American Thrills web site.

I want to hear from you. Have any of you experienced any of the new seat belts yet? What are your thoughts? Does anyone know of any other existing coasters getting seat belts?

35 Comments

  1. Rhett

    11/24/2013 at 9:44 pm

    Six Flags Over Texas is my “home park” and I was completely stunned when the woman was killed after being ejected from the Giant this past summer. They closed the coaster down for a few months after that to conduct the investigation and retrofit the trains with seat belts identical to the ones pictured above for Goliath. I rode it last month for the first time since its reopening, and even with the belts in place the ride is still just as fun and it still delivers the airtime.

    • The Coaster Guy

      11/24/2013 at 10:25 pm

      Since SFOT is your home park, do you happen to know if Titan has gotten seat belts, or if there is any talk about it?

      • Rhett

        11/25/2013 at 3:15 pm

        When I went to Fright Fest there weren’t any belts on Titan yet, but after reading this I won’t be surprised if they’ve changed that by the time I get to go back for Holiday In The Park.

      • Kenzie

        07/13/2015 at 1:16 am

        Yes someone told me that they added seat belts on Titan

      • Kenzie

        07/28/2015 at 1:17 am

        Yes I rode Goliath for the first time I did experienced seat belts

      • Kenzie

        07/28/2015 at 1:19 am

        Yes I rode Goliath for the first time I did experience seat belts

  2. Eric

    11/24/2013 at 9:49 pm

    I’ve mentioned this elsewhere, but I wonder if other lap bar-only rides will get seatbelts. Gold Rusher and Colossus come to mind, though with Colossus rumored to be undergoing a major transformation in the next couple of years, maybe they’ll hold off on it.

    Like you, I also disagree that this is a new California law. If that were the case, then many coasters would also be getting seatbelts, and I don’t see that happening.

    It’s time for me to take a run out to the park and see this for myself. The last time I was out there was in early September. I still need to process my 2014 pass anyway, so that’s a good excuse to go.

  3. JIMMY TOVAR

    11/25/2013 at 6:19 am

    Bravo for Six Flags. I would rather wait a few more minutes and have peace of mind that my kids/family will ride these rides safely and not be sorry. Thanks for the update Kurt.

    • James

      11/25/2013 at 11:09 pm

      You’re telling me you didn’t have peace of mind the previous trips to the parks when you put your kids and family on the rides? If you not, why would you let them ride at all?

      Let’s get this straight: these rides and their restraints are as safe as can be, and the issue here is not aimed at the safety of kids/family, as ALL moderately sized kids and adults have fit safely into Goliath without a problem, determined by the ride operating for almost 14 years without a single restraint fatality.

      The issue with the Texas Giant death, and the reason for installing the seat belts on these rides, is overweight people that don’t belong on the ride to begin with. That is what these safety belts are for. It’s making it easier for ride operators to determine that a person of considerable size does not belong on the ride if the seatbelt doesn’t fit around their waist.

      IMO the parks could have installed MUCH better quality safety belts (retractable insert) and green light computer check systems (ie Matterhorn/Indiana Jones) on the cars to make it easier for the ride-ops to determine that the belts are secure, but alas, as we are all very used to, Six Flags went the dirt cheap route and now capacity is going to forever pay for it.

      Let’s not even talk about when they decide to send an empty train and have to buckle EVERY SINGLE BELT on their own before they send out the trains. Ugh. What a headache.

      • The Coaster Guy

        11/26/2013 at 12:02 am

        I really like the retractable belts that you mention and I think they’re a much better way to go on amusement rides. A quick glance at a control panel and you can instantly tell if all belts are locked and secure. However, I wouldn’t expect to find those installed as a quickie retrofit. I think the park did an ok job given the circumstances. However, if seat belts are going to be the new standard going forward, then I would expect to see the retractable/sensored belts on all new roller coasters in the future.

      • bob

        11/26/2013 at 3:22 pm

        Good comment James.

        • Casey

          11/27/2013 at 1:49 pm

          I believe Full Throttle has the green light system as well.

          • The Coaster Guy

            12/01/2013 at 11:46 pm

            He’s referring to a computerized seat belt system, where the ride ops can look at a panel of lights to see if all the seat belts are properly buckled. The green lights on the side of the Full Throttle trains are to indicate if the lap bars are properly secure. They don’t have anything to do with the seat belts.

      • Ron

        08/06/2014 at 12:20 am

        You can not take the fat/heavy people out of a bunch of coaster riders and tell them that they cant ride. Its against the law to DO THAT. The coaster designers should make the seats bigger for everybody to ride. Not just for the small size.

        • The Coaster Guy

          08/06/2014 at 6:14 am

          Not that I disagree with you, but where do you draw the line? Should they be big enough for the 300 pounders? 500, 700, 1000 lbs? Is that realistic? When you say “everybody,” what exactly do you mean?

      • Charlotte

        05/23/2016 at 5:49 am

        Roller coaster restraints have failed multiple times and they will fail again. Accidents are few and far between but the ride operators barely check restraints it’s more a quick tap on each bar, I like the idea of seat belts especially with the rides coming out faster, taller, longer with more inversions. All theme parks should have them.

  4. Gregg

    11/25/2013 at 11:00 am

    I think it’s ridiculous. As you mentioned, Goliath has been open for almost 14 years and has no incidents where the lap bar has come into question. The Premier rides are designed the way they are for a reason. Seatbelts are totally unnecessary.

    This is definitely a reaction to the New TX Giant incident. While on one hand I don’t blame them because the public perception will now be that they are taking proactive steps to prevent this from happening again, on the other hand it’s kind of saying that the ride hasn’t been safe for 14 years (which isn’t the case AT ALL).

    If they are going to have these new operating procedures then they will need to start staffing more ride ops since it’s quite obvious dispatch times are going to be negatively impacted.

  5. Kevin

    11/25/2013 at 4:53 pm

    Have any of you ridden them with the seatbelts yet? Do they have to be very tight or can you let them stay a little loose around you? Is airtime affected by them?

  6. JJJJ

    11/25/2013 at 4:58 pm

    ….this page may have the worst picture Ive seen all week

    • The Coaster Guy

      11/25/2013 at 5:13 pm

      Really? That’s odd considering that they were taken from 25′ away on the other side of the exit.

      • JJJ

        12/01/2013 at 10:59 pm

        I mean the content, not the quality.

        • The Coaster Guy

          12/01/2013 at 11:48 pm

          The content I wrote? Or are you referring to the picture of the seat belt digging into the heavy set woman?

  7. Billy

    11/25/2013 at 5:19 pm

    I was going to ask…comfort-wise, how are the seatbelts on Full Throttle? I was among the group that found out (and shared) about the seatbelts up our way at SFDK. When I rode, 2 of my rides gave a pinching feeling and some general discomfort. I learned quickly to reposition the buckle after having my stomach pinched between my belt, seatbelt, and lapbar. The other sensation I felt was when the ride op pulled my belt snug (don’t be surprised if this happens your way) and had the belt digging into my thighs on the vertical drop.

    I know Full Throttle also has a moment where you’re lifted out of your seat and curious as to what you or any other riders experienced down that way.

    • The Coaster Guy

      11/25/2013 at 11:52 pm

      I haven’t been on FT with the seat belts yet, but I’ll let you know in a couple of days.

    • The Coaster Guy

      12/01/2013 at 11:49 pm

      I couldn’t even tell I was wearing a seat belt once the ride started.

  8. Andrew

    11/25/2013 at 11:56 pm

    Aw man I rode Full Throttle only once and I thought that part of the awesomeness of it was that you were actually pretty open. As to now “feeling safe”? Come on. I understand not trusting them, it’s a phobia. But the Seatbelts changing that? Seriously? I felt safe with just the lap bars. I’m actually really disappointed that they added Seatbelts.
    Btw Kurt, a while ago you mentioned Hurricane Harbor updates. I’m sure by now it’s closed, but that’d actually be really cool.

    • The Coaster Guy

      11/26/2013 at 12:05 am

      I’m pretty sure the seat belts are being required by Six Flags’ insurance company. People are just assuming that the company is installing them to make people feel safer on the rides. I don’t think Six Flags would spend the money to retrofit their existing roller coasters with seat belts if they didn’t have to.

    • The Coaster Guy

      11/26/2013 at 12:06 am

      Oh, and I do have a Hurricane Harbor overview on my to-do list for the off-season, so keep checking back. 🙂

  9. Michael Mountain

    11/26/2013 at 9:37 am

    I have a feeling that revolution will not get rid of the otsr any time soon do to the new six flags policy.:(

    • Scott C

      11/26/2013 at 1:58 pm

      Maybe they could get rid of them, and put seat belts in instead. I refuse to ride Revolution, as it is too much of a head banger.

      • Andrew

        12/05/2013 at 7:36 pm

        Oh I agree. The head banging is horrible. It’s a fun ride, but it hurts too much to enjoy it. They really have to fix that if they want to keep the first loop in the world around… I can usually walk on so if they don’t change that the ride will have to be removed. I also think if they want that ride to get a bit more attention, they should advertise a bit more that it was the first loop.

  10. Marcia

    11/29/2013 at 6:33 am

    I don’t quite get why the seat belts got put on in the first place since it’s not like somebody fell out of either Goliath or Full Throttle or some other reason that ‘makes sense’. It had to have cost the park money….:P
    Besides, I’m sure they both felt ‘safe’ before anyways, right? (I thought Apollo’s Chariot felt plenty safe and it doesn’t have seat belts, just the lap bar.)

    • The Coaster Guy

      11/29/2013 at 7:01 am

      When there are accidents like the recent death at Six Flags Over Texas, it usually costs companies (or rather their insurance companies) a lot of money to settle the lawsuit it brings, even if the park wasn’t found negligent or at fault in any way. In order to try and prevent similar payouts in the future, their insurance company may mandate that they add seat belts as a backup restraint. If they don’t do it, the insurance company could jack their premiums way up. Therefore, it’s less expensive for them to add seat belts then pay higher insurance premiums. There’s also the added benefit of public perception that the rides are a lot safer now with seat belts. I’m not saying that’s what is happening here, because I don’t know for sure, but it would make a lot of sense.

      • Marcia

        11/29/2013 at 9:04 am

        Oh, ok! That makes sense.:) Thanks for the explanation.

  11. Sarah

    08/31/2014 at 9:44 am

    I don’t see anything wrong with taking extra safety precautions. What’s 2 minutes if it saves a life. Also we have so many overweight people in the us it seems unfair & almost discriminatory to not allow them to ride due to weight. In the sueing culture we have here I’m sure they took that into consideration as well. I’m 5’3 130 lbs & have felt very unsecured in many newer rides with only over the shoulder style safety restraints almost wishing a 2nd belt was there. But in any case where something seriously goes wrong im sure a 2nd seatbelt isn’t going to help that much. ; )

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