Ride Type: Roller Coaster
Manufacturer: Vekoma Rides Manufacturing
Model/Style: Junior Coaster
Year Built: 2011 (at SFMM)
On May 28, 2011 Six Flags Magic Mountain officially opened the Road Runner Express roller coaster. Built by Vekoma Rides Manufacturing, Road Runner Express is a small, family roller coaster located in Bugs Bunny World. Although you would never know by looking at it, this is this particular coaster’s second lease on life.
Road Runner Express was originally installed in the Jazzland theme park in New Orleans back in 2000 and was known as Rex’s Rail Runner. When Six Flags took over the park in 2002, the name of the park became Six Flags New Orleans and the coaster was renamed to Road Runner Express. In 2005, Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans head on and the entire park was flooded. Buried under 6-8′ of dirty sludge, virtually everything in the park was destroyed. The park was able to eventually salvage two of the roller coasters. Batman: The Ride was sent to Six Flags Fiesta Texas in 2007 and became Goliath. Road Runner Express was removed in 2009 and sent to Six Flags Magic Mountain.
The roller coaster was completely refurbished and given a red and black paint scheme. In 2010, the park started to clear away some land in the Cyclone Bay section in the back of the park for the new coaster and announced that it would be known as Mr Six’s Dance Coaster. Mr. Six was the elderly, yet surprisingly spry, dancing mascot of the Six Flags chain at the time. For unknown reasons, the prep work was abruptly halted and the ride sat in pieces behind the Apocalypse roller coaster for quite some time.
After toying with the idea of changing the name of the ride to Little Flash, themed to a kid-friendly version of The Flash, the park made an announcement in early 2011 that the coaster would officially be called Road Runner Express and would be built on the former site of Yosemite Sam Sierra Falls in Bugs Bunny World. After a few months of construction, and a couple of unexpected delays, the ride officially opened on 28 May 2011. The ride sits on a pretty sizable chunk of real estate within the park. This is what you see as you approach the ride today:
The only piece of Yosemite Sam Sierra Falls that was saved was a small structure that now serves as the queue area for Road Runner Express:
Just to the right of the queue area is the new ride station. The red stairs are the exit:
I’m not exactly sure what is in this next building, but it’s been here for years. It’s across the way from the ride, so it doesn’t house any of the ride equipment. It might be something like an electrical substation for the area. Regardless, they painted it up really nice and it blends in well with the entire theme of the area:
There is a lot of land in the area that this ride was built in. The park did a really nice job of landscaping it, but there is seldom any people in it and I wouldn’t be surprised to see additional rides added to this area at some point in the future to draw in more traffic:
For a kids ride, they did a superb job at theming the entire ride to the Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote. As you approach the queue building, you see some funny ACME ads:
The queue building is just a series of switchbacks:
This is how Wile E. Coyote will build and use the Rocketsled to catch the Road Runner:
The line from the queue building eventually leads over to the ride station:
The ride operator’s panel is located in the blue corner of the loading station. Here you can see how the track exits the loading station and heads up the lift hill:
Unlike many roller coasters that use a large chain to drag the coaster train up the lift hill, Road Runner Express uses a series of friction tires to do the job. A thin metal fin that runs along the underside of the train feeds between each pair of tires. The tires spin in opposite directions, forcing the train up the hill as they firmly pinch the metal fin:
There is one train that consists of eight cars, each seating two kids comfortably. It gets a little snug with one adult and one kid. With a very low 36″ height requirement, this is a great roller coaster for younger kids to start migrating to bigger coasters. The maximum height of the lift hill is 28′, but usually feels like 280′ to the younger kids:
The park did a nice job of adding additional theming elements inside the ride as well:
The ride lasts 0:45 seconds, has a max speed of 21 MPH, and handles 720 riders/hr:
There is a total of 679′ of track with lots of twists and turns that kids love:
This particular type of roller coaster is often times called a roller skater because the cars are designed to look like roller skates. From the front, you can see the “shoe laces” as well as the giant black bumper that is used as a brake on traditional roller skates:
Since the coaster was originally going to be Mr. Six’s Dance Coaster, the “shoe” theme on the cars would have been perfect. After changing the name to Road Runner Express, the shoe theme became a challenge. However, the park had the perfect solution by making the roller skates “rocket powered”, just like Wile E. Coyote often wears when trying to chase down the Road Runner. This was very clever, in my opinion:
Note: In both of the preceding photos, you can see the fin that runs along the underside of the cars. You can even see it entering a set of the friction wheels in the second photo.
In this next photo, you can really tell how the cars look like roller skates from the side. If you look close, you’ll even see the little rockets the park added on the side of each car:
Here are some more of the theming elements you will see around the ride:
You have to look closely at everything or you will miss some of the details:
One of the main scenes is the Road Runner stopping for some free bird seed, with lots of wired TNT just behind him:
If you follow the wires up to the top of the nearby rock, you will see Wile E. Coyote leaning on the plunger, hoping to finally blow the Road Runner up:
Speaking of blowing things up, I figured I’d leave you with an image of what looks like the aftermath of a bomb exploding. This next picture was essentially taken in the exact same place as the very first picture above. This was taken during the demolition of Yosemite Sam Sierra Falls, the ride that was removed to make way for Road Runner Express. The Yosemite Sam building you see on the left is what was saved and used as the queue building for Road Runner Express. Pretty big difference, huh?