Six Flags New England has been firmly planted on coaster enthusiasts' must-do lists ever since the turn of the millennium when the park opened Superman: Ride of Steel (which was re-themed and renamed Bizarro in 2009). It was ranked the best steel coaster on earth by pretty much everyone at the time and still holds that title for lots of people.
And what's not to love? It's 20+ stories tall, smooth, fast, has a great layout, a tunnel at the bottom of the first drop, and an absolutely ridiculous amount of airtime (notice the hair in the next photo!).
Six Flags New England is also home to an absolute classic wooden coaster called Thunderbolt. It's been giving great, old-school rides since 1941. A visit to the park isn't complete without a spin or two on T-bolt.
Near the front of the park, there's another wood structure. It used to be a 1983 Bill Cobb-designed coaster called Cyclone.
But those stacks of wood that once held up Cyclone's rails have been replaced with a new kind of steel track called "I-box" track, sometimes referred to as "Iron Horse" track. This allowed the designers to go nuts with the layout, since the steel track is capable of doing things that wood track isn't really cut out for. It is a brand new coaster, completely unlike what was there before, but using much of the pre-existing structure from the old wood coaster. So what used to look like this:
Now looks like this:
Cyclone became Wicked Cyclone - and if you've ever been to Massachusetts, you know how utterly perfect that name is!
Notice that the new ride is much lower to the ground than the old one. With the exception of the first drop (which was raised several feet), most of Wicked Cyclone's antics happen fairly near the ground. This creates a non-stop maelstrom of speedy maneuvers without so much as a moment to catch your breath.
The party gets started with a very steep first drop and a big overbanked turnaround taken at a pretty good clip. The first inversion happens right after that - something that Rocky Mountain Construction (the designers of the coaster) calls a "200 degree stall." It works like this: you race up a hill, minding your own business, when the track just turns over for no apparent reason, then even after it hits 180 degrees, it keeps going a wee bit more until you're at 200 degrees, upside-down but leaning a little. That's the "200 degree" part.
The "stall" part comes from the fact that once the track rolls over, it just freaking stays there. For a seemingly long time. And the train slows down a bit, so you're no longer stuck to your seat by gravitational forces, you're just hanging. It's weird.
That turnaround leads to a nifty double-down (a single drop turned into two with a flat spot in the middle).
Why would you do a double-down rather than just a single, longer drop? Because AIRTIME. Wicked Cyclone trumps the twice-as-big Bizarro on the other side of the park in the airtime game by cramming in air-filled elements in damn near every inch of the ride. A double-down gives you TWO moments of airtime where a single drop would've only given you one. Oh, and speaking of airtime, things are about to get freaky.
It should come as no surprise that the hill in the foreground of the above picture would be full of airtime. What's wicked, though, (sorry) is that hill in the middle of the lower turn where the train happens to be in the photo. Unlike both of the turns that sandwich it, this turn is banked the opposite way. Yes, toward the outside. Needless to say, riders are practically hurled toward the outside structure, providing not just airtime, but sideways-angled airtime in the midst of a wooden latticework tunnel. Even if you know it's coming, this bit of tricky track still creates a blissful yet profanity-laden response from nearly everyone on the train.
A fairly standard zero-g roll follows, then a turn full of banked bunny hops (see above photo), then a little something that the engineers are calling a "double reverse banked airtime hill." Riiiiight. That's the kind of moniker that makes engineers giddy and marketing people cringe, because nobody without a slide rule in their pocket knows what that means. Because it's hard to remember and because I have to look it up every time I want to mention it and because one ridiculous-sounding name deserves another, I'm just going to refer to it as the "boogaloo-shingaling" from now on. "BS" for short. There aren't any pictures of it because it's buried in the structure and pretty much impossible to see from anywhere other than the front seat of the ride itself. In a nutshell, this is what happens: you go up a small hill and at the top, there's airtime. While you're doing this, the track tips first to one side, then the other. The effect is supposed to be that while you're in the air, the train does a little boogaloo-shingaling under your butt. I say "supposed to" because the design of the trains is such that your body is pretty firmly attached to the seat with thigh-hugging lap bars and shin guards to hold your legs in place. The side-to-side action happens TO you, not UNDER you and in my opinion it's the one element on the ride that doesn't really work as expected, even though it's still giggle-inducing and hella fun.
Immediately after the BS maneuver, there's another zero-g roll directly under the first one and ludicrously low to the ground. It's almost like you could reach up and touch the grass.
More angled bunnies around the next turn and you're back in the station again with the sound of dazed riders wondering aloud what just happened. True to the name, Wicked Cyclone is a whirlwind of forces (sorry) with speed, airtime, and some wicked maneuvers (again, sorry).
While some folks will always miss the classic wooden Cobb masterpiece that once stood in this spot (and rightly so), the fact remains that the coaster that rose from its ashes is really, really good. It is quite a spectacular addition to an already impressive lineup of coasters at Six Flags New England. Wicked, indeed.