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Ride Profile: Lex Luthor Drop of Doom

By on 12/08/2013

After a phenomenal 2011 season with three new roller coasters…well ok, more like two and a half with Green Lantern: First Flight, Road Runner Express, and the refurbished Superman: Escape from Krypton, Six Flags Magic Mountain took a break from adding any more roller coasters in 2012. However, that didn’t stop them from breaking another world record with a brand new flat ride called Lex Luthor: Drop of Doom. At 400′ tall, it’s the tallest drop ride in the world!

Attached to the side of the massive 415′ tall Superman: Escape from Krypton tower, Lex Luthor: Drop of Doom was designed by Intamin Amusement Rides. Considering that the Superman roller coaster was also designed by Intamin, it made sense that they’d be the one to engineer another record-breaking ride to hang off the side of it.

The Drop of Doom queue was built into the former Boardwalk Arcade building, located in the Colossus County Fair section of the park and close to the base of the Superman tower. It was designed to be the world headquarters for LexCorp, the company that Lex Luthor uses as a front to finance his criminal empire:

Lex Luthor: Drop of Doom

Upon entering the building, you walk right into permanent switchbacks. There are posters all over the walls promoting LexCorp, its products, and its famous founder. It’s also very well air conditioned and feels great during the summertime:

Lex Luthor: Drop of Doom

There are also several very cool looking blueprint-like posters on LexCorp’s military products:

Lex Luthor: Drop of Doom

The focal point of the room is a large LexCorp Power Armor suit on display near the middle of the queue. It’s the same suit that Lex Luthor dons in order to do battle with Superman:

Lex Luthor: Drop of Doom

Some of the office building theming elements are very realistic. On the back wall of the queue building is an elevator. When I first saw it, I immediately thought it was for handicap access. But half a second later it occurred to me that this was a one-story building and the ride loads from the ground level outside. It definitely sucked me in:

Lex Luthor: Drop of Doom

As you’re waiting in line, you will hear periodic announcements as if you really were waiting in the lobby of the LexCorp world headquarters. They’re quite funny, so listen closely if you haven’t paid attention to them in the past.

The queue eventually leads to a small hallway in the back corner labeled Secured Access:

Lex Luthor: Drop of Doom

There is a door in this short hallway labeled Research & Development. This is the Flash Pass entrance. When busy, there will be a Flash Pass employee stationed here to merge Flash Pass users into the line:

Lex Luthor: Drop of Doom

Here’s the Flash Pass entrance from the outside, located on the right side of the building:

Lex Luthor: Drop of Doom

As you go around the corner, there’s another short hallway leading to a backdoor:

Lex Luthor: Drop of Doom

Once outside, a short covered path to the right leads right to the loading area:

Lex Luthor: Drop of Doom

There are two gondolas that seat eight people each, one on each side of the tower. The employee in the yellow shirt above will gather people in groups of eight and move them into a staging area for the next ride.

The couple you see in this next picture are waiting with others in the staging area for the gondola on this side of the tower. The empty path to their left leads around the back of the ride to the staging area for the gondola on the other side of the tower. The short path in front of me is the single rider line. Just wait by the chain and they’ll slip you into the next group that has an opening. Both sides empty to the middle of the ride and exit down the path you see coming from the right side of this next photo:

Lex Luthor: Drop of Doom

This is the gondola on the far side of the tower. You are secured using a tray-style lap bar that comes down from overhead and is secured with a seat belt, but the over-the-shoulder bars do not touch or restrain you in any way. There is a gate on both sides of the ride. Riders enter on the far side and exit on the near side, heading down the exit path you saw in the previous photo:

Lex Luthor: Drop of Doom

The gondolas are lifted to the top of the tower by means of a catch car. The catch car latches onto the gondola, hoists it to the top of the tower, and then drops it. In this next photo, the catch car is just about to latch onto the gondola by hooking onto the pointy piece on top of the gondola:

Lex Luthor: Drop of Doom

The large cage on top of the gondola can be used to transport maintenance workers up to the top of the tower. I’m sure this is an appreciated benefit after years of always having to walk up the tower stairs.

Here is a close-up of the catch car just getting ready to latch onto the large bolt at the top of the gondola:

Lex Luthor: Drop of Doom

The primary ride operator’s station is located right next to the front gondola. There is a secondary ride operator’s station located next to the other gondola that must be manned for safety:

Lex Luthor: Drop of Doom

Each catch car is connected to two heavy-duty steel cables, which are what move them up and down the tower. All four cables are wrapped around a massive drum located inside the base of the tower, which is controlled by a very large electric motor. The cables go up through the middle of the tower structure, through a couple of pulleys, and then down the outside of the tower where they connect to the catch cars.

The catch cars never actually drop. Their movement up and down is controlled by the drum and motor. When the cable is all the way out, like you see in this next photo, that means the catch cars are at the base of the tower. When dispatched, the motor will spin the drum and the cables will start to wrap around it, pulling the catch cars and gondolas full of riders all the way to the top of the tower, where the gondolas will be dropped. The motor then reverses the direction of the drum, letting the cable out and slowly lowering the catch cars back down, where they will reconnect with the gondolas for the next ride. With a 400′ tower, and cable needed to go up and down, that’s over 800′ of cable times 4. That’s a lot of steel cable:

Lex Luthor: Drop of Doom

I’m a little fuzzy on the technical details on the track, but the gondolas basically ride along a sophisticated rail system. I call it sophisticated because the entire tower actually sways quite a bit when the Superman cars are operating, but it doesn’t affect the operation of Drop of Doom one bit. Braking is controlled through magnetic brakes, which start slowing you down about 80% down the drop and are incredibly smooth. The gondola then gently glides the rest of the way back down to the ground:

Lex Luthor: Drop of Doom

Once loaded and secure, both gates are locked and the riders are ready for liftoff:

Lex Luthor: Drop of Doom

Here you can clearly see the catch car lifting the gondola up the tower:

Lex Luthor: Drop of Doom

Zoomed in photos don’t always give the best perspective. From a distance you get a much better idea of just how little you are compared to the superman tower and how high it really is:

Lex Luthor: Drop of Doom

At 400′ up in the air, you not only have a beautiful view of the park, but also the entire Santa Clarita Valley. The white strips you see along the lower portion of the rail are part of the magnetic braking system. Even though it looks lime it starts almost halfway down, you don’t feel any slowing until much lower:

Lex Luthor: Drop of Doom

From the Sky Tower, you can clearly see the cables coming up through the middle of the tower, rolling over a couple of pulleys, and then attaching to the catch cars. Once you reach the top, like these riders have, you will hear a recorded message about how insignificant your life is and then you’re dropped:

Lex Luthor: Drop of Doom

If you’re lucky, the Superman cars will hit the top of the tower while you’re up there and you’ll really get a thrill. The tower can sway something like a foot either direction, and it’s a very uneasy feeling the first time you experience it because you don’t expect to move left and right while you’re on this ride.

Lex Luthor: Drop of Doom

Once dropped, gravity takes over and you free fall for five seconds at 85 MPH. It’s quite a rush! Notice the catch cars stay behind and will be slowly lowered back down while the next group of riders are loaded up:

Lex Luthor: Drop of Doom

Once you get close to the bottom, the brakes will have slowed you all the way down and you gently glide back down to the ground. Notice there is no catch car attached to the gondola:

Lex Luthor: Drop of Doom

This is the exit path, located between the queue building and the Daily Planet gift shop. This is also how you will get to the single rider line that I pointed out above:

Lex Luthor: Drop of Doom

Here’s a video of me riding it on media day, along with some aerial footage from the park:

What do you think of the ride? Have you been brave enough to ride it yet?

24 Comments

  1. Andrew

    12/08/2013 at 11:59 pm

    I have to admit, when Six Flags announced this, I thought they would go off the cheap end and make every part of this ride extremely cheap. Boy was I ever wrong. My last visit I rode Lex Luthor for the first time, and was extremely impressed! This ride is definantly a favorite!
    Btw, do you kn

    • Andrew

      12/09/2013 at 12:04 am

      Btw, do you know where the speakers for the recording are located? Because last time I went, I was with my buddies hanging out next to the Ben and Jerry’s by Colossus, and I was able to hear the recording all the way from down there! Has anyone else experienced this?
      Also, Me and a couple of friends are probably gonna go on Saturday for the toy drive. Anything I should know before-hand?

      • Logan Shalit

        12/09/2013 at 2:28 pm

        Yes I have. I am pretty sure that there are speakers at the top of the ride (probably not the best idea to put speakers on an 85 mph drop ride) and the sound makes it way down to the ground.

        • Andrew

          12/09/2013 at 3:49 pm

          Well, let me rephrase my question. Are the speakers attached to the gondola or the tower?

      • The Coaster Guy

        12/09/2013 at 7:02 pm

        The speakers are at the top of the tower and project outward. You can’t really hear them at the base of the tower, but you can as you get farther away. For example, you can hear them really well from the employee parking lot, which is quite a distance away. Sound is a funny thing.

      • Rusty

        12/16/2013 at 12:47 pm

        Funny how I’ve heard it while walking to my car in the parking lot.

  2. Marcia

    12/09/2013 at 6:12 am

    I loved reading this.:) Lots of details! That elevator really looks real.
    I think it looks like lots of ‘freaky’ fun, too.:) I can’t wait till next year to try the one similar that the park’s putting in at Great Adventure.;) (I bet I will have to ride alone though…:P Oh well!:))

    • Dane. P

      12/11/2013 at 4:32 pm

      that’s going to be terrifying, i don’t know how they are going to attache it, because kingda ka’s supports are very different.

      • Marcia

        12/11/2013 at 4:52 pm

        I was wondering the same thing ’cause it doesn’t look like there’s a place for the drop tower to attach to…and, Kingda Ka’s supports don’t look like they could hold Kingda Ka AND the drop tower.:P Maybe the drop tower will have its own ‘separate’ supports attached to the actual Kingda Ka ones? I guess I’ll have to wait an agonizing few more months!:)

  3. nikki

    12/09/2013 at 11:31 am

    Did they add cameras to the ride

    • The Coaster Guy

      12/09/2013 at 11:44 am

      No. The camera mounts you see in some of the photos are from media day. I took those the day before it opened to the public.

  4. erik

    12/09/2013 at 7:31 pm

    awesome!!!!!! thanks!

  5. Angel

    12/09/2013 at 10:07 pm

    Lex is definitey one of my favorites at the park.

    The station roof for Full Throttle is gone now, I think construction may begin very soon?

    • Andrew

      12/10/2013 at 12:20 am

      Oh gosh I hope not! I’m going this Saturday! Full Throttle is the best and I’ve only been on it once!

      • Andrew

        12/11/2013 at 12:01 am

        Is there an official date set for construction?

        • Angel

          12/11/2013 at 8:07 pm

          No, I just think they will start soon. Maybe next week, who knows

          • Andrew

            12/14/2013 at 8:52 pm

            I went today. There is already a semi-roof up. It wasn’t a full on building or even like Screams but it worked. I almost wonder if they did it over night. However it is much better than the temporary tent.

  6. Brenden

    12/10/2013 at 6:05 pm

    I tought of a question, adn would love to hear your input. Will our extreme rides (X2, Tatsu ect.) be considered weak in a few decades, or have coasters hit their peak?

  7. Ezra

    12/10/2013 at 7:40 pm

    I had a blast riding this with you Kurt. Especially when we were at the top and you said we were stuck. I believed you until the moment we started to drop. I got on it twice more and those rides were just as good. Thank you for the great fun.

  8. Anonymous

    12/17/2013 at 3:04 pm

    The brakes are definitely not magnetic

    • me

      07/09/2014 at 8:18 pm

      yeah they are

  9. Justin

    12/29/2013 at 9:36 pm

    I was there and found the ride extreme, exciting, and insane. Way better than Supreme Scream.

  10. Rosie

    02/24/2014 at 12:17 pm

    the queue area inside is cool, as for the drop ride, I was more nervous going up then coming down. it’s hard to hear the announcements when you’ve got people talking screaming or listening to the roar of superman next to it.

  11. me

    07/07/2014 at 11:35 am

    when are you going to post full throttle ride profile

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