'Bizarre' changes win coaster fifth Golden Ticket
By Katelyn Gendron
Reminder Assistant Editor
AGAWAM -- The "bizarre" changes to Six Flags New England's Superman: Ride of Steel paid off last week when the coaster won its fifth Golden Ticket Award for Best Steel Coaster.
The 12th annual awards, sponsored by Amusement Today, a trade publication, recognize the "best of the best" in leisure entertainment. The publication asks international industry experts and theme park enthusiasts to rate the best in 25 categories including Best Amusement Park; Best Water Park; Best Halloween Event; Best Landscaping; and Friendliest Staff.
"Bizarro is king and still champ," Tim Baldwin, of Amusement Today, said. "Six Flags took an already amazing coaster and made it better ... something the coaster community didn't think was possible. The incredible drops and the airtime combined with all the great special effects has taken the experience to a whole new level."
The transformation from Superman: Ride of Steel to Bizarro took place earlier this year with the addition of new coaster cabs including on-audio, flamethrowers, a "cool zone" and a fresh paint job, now purple and blue.
Six Flags New England's Park President Larry Litton explained the changes to the coaster were not to appease Amusement Today or the American Coaster Enthusiasts (ACE).
"We changed the ride because as great as it was, we still felt the experience could be improved," he said. "We were actually very concerned about what the reaction would be from the coaster enthusiasts. When you take a ride that has already been voted best in the world four times [in 2003, 2006, 2007 and 2008] and change it there is risk. But with great risk comes great reward, and the reaction to the transformation of Superman to Bizarro has been phenomenal."
Litton noted other areas within the park such as Wiggles World and Thomas Town have been "highly praised within the industry" but none compare to Bizarro.
"I don't think there is any ride in our system that is so well known and has become so much a part of a park's identity as Bizarro has here in New England," he said. "People literally come from all over the world to ride this amazing roller coaster."
When asked how the park plans to keep the ride at the top of the heap for the 2010 Golden Ticket Awards, Litton replied park personnel must ensure the ride is operational.
"Everyone in the park is incredibly proud to have Bizarro at our park, and we all do everything we can to make sure every guest that wants to has the opportunity to experience it," he added.
Coaster enthusiasts will have the chance to hitch a ride on Bizarro when the park opens for the 2010 season on April 10.