My trip out West to Los Angeles brought me to the state’s largest theme park, Six Flags Magic Mountain. While X2 was a big draw, the co-main event had to be Tatsu. I got off the world’s largest flying coaster in awe of another masterpiece from Bolliger & Mabillard.
Located near the top of Samurai Summit stood Tatsu. The massive 170′ tall, 3,600 foot long red and yellow dragon has redefined what a flying coaster can be. Riders ‘fly’ face down through a high-flying twisted path. Flying roller coasters are becoming more common these days, but for now I think it’s easy to call Tatsu the king. Like all B&M flyers you board trains that look similar to inverted (ski-lift style) trains. Then, after everyone’s secured, the seats fold upward until the riders are facing the ground below in a superman-like position. The climb to the top of the 17-story lift feels like it takes forever. The view at the top is one of the most unnerving things I’ve ever experienced. There you are looking at the tall trees far down below and the only between you and a 15-story plunge are the ride’s trusty harnesses. Any novices dragged onto Tatsu might never forgive their friends.
Tatsu Takes Flight
After the terrifying ascent, Tatsu finally begins its dive. With nothing obstructing your view, the flying experience is unparalleled. The trains climbs back up to do a corkscrew by the Sky Tower 100′ in the air. Then riders are treated to a much tighter loop in the zero-g roll. The super smooth roll is reminiscent of a fighter pilot maneuver. It’s short, but very effective. Next, the train rises again for a banked turn known as a horseshoe. There are a few swooping turns that set the riders up for the coup de grâce.
Tatsu’s Pretzel Loop – The Most Intense Inversion on the Planet
Of course I haven’t even come close to riding every roller coaster on the planet, but one has to wonder if Tatsu’s massive pretzel loop is the world’s most intense inversion. I’d survived the pretzel loop found on the Superman Ultimate Flight clones when I rode the Six Flags Over Georgia installation, but with Tatsu being a much larger coaster, it’s pretzel loop is about 50′ taller. The train basically does an upside down vertical loop. It enters flat track at the very top and begins to dive downward until the riders backs are on the ground. The g-forces at the bottom are insane! The screams from the train during that section have to be some of the loudest in the park. The train exits the intense loop, offers up another quick and smooth loop like the second inversion. This time it’s a 360 degree in-line twist. There are a few more turns and then you hit the station brakes.
Tatsu is easily one of the most impressive roller coasters in the West. And in my opinion, until we can see what Manta will be like, it’s the king of the flying roller coasters. I wavered between an 8.5 and a 9.0 for Tatsu, but I think a 9 is deserving considering the ride’s distinction as one of the world’s few flying terrain coasters. Final Rating – 9.0 (Excellent)
Tatsu is rated ‘IN’ for Intense. It’s a 4 out of 5 on my Thrill Scale for of its ride position, intense g-forces, and height.