For my first ever theme park trip to Texas, I had my sights set on the newly reborn Texas Giant. I hadn’t ridden theoriginal, but from what I’d heard it had become yet another rough, aging woodie like the ones that are taking up space at parks across the country. Over the past year and a half, Six Flags Over Texas has been giving it the old “Six Million Dollar Man”-like overhaul. Okay, if you’re too young to get that reference, maybe it was a Wolverine-like upgrade. Anyway, Rocky Mountain Construction replaced the ride’s wooden rails with their own steel IB (i-box) track in hopes of turning making it super smooth and enjoyable once again. This means that the new Giant is technically a steel coaster, even though it’s layout is more akin to a woodie. But, was the hybrid experiment successful?
Six Flags has found success in this new era of ride renovations and remixes. We’ve had X2 and the Bizarros at Six Flags New England and Six Flags Great Adventure. However, Texas Giant’s reboot was on a whole new scale. From the redesigned track with a steeper first drop and over-banked turns that made my jaw drop to the new Cadillac-themed trains complete with an actual longhorn on the hood, Six Flags definitely gets an A for effort. There are even nice touches like the comfy bucket seats, the hilarious chicken coop for waiting guests that decide not to brave the Giant, and an oil tower in the middle of the ride.
For my first ride on this monster, I boarded in what a ride op told me was the best seat in the house. I sat in the back of the very last car in the right seat. The atmosphere on opening day was electric. With a 4-hour wait and applause with every returning train, the Giant was nearing the popularity of the neighboring Dallas Cowboys, at least for a day. As we rolled out of the station a loud car horn sounded a few times. We took a right turn and began a smooth, long climb up the 153-foot lift hill in our black Cadillac-themed coaster train. I enjoyed the view until the front of the train crested the drop pulling myself and the other riders in the back down the 79-degree plunge that felt a good bit longer than it looked. The airtime was great and if I had a top ten first drops list, it’d likely be a contender.
The Giant Layout
The train rocketed back up providing a pop of air over a small hill and we raced into the first banked turns. Coming out of the turn, we dropped and experienced another great moment of airtime. During this first section of the ride the train climbed a few hills, did heavily banked turns at the top, and dropped with ridiculous, often times ejector air. The banked turn that looked so crazy during construction is fun, but not as intense as I thought it might be. I didn’t really feel like I was beyond 90-degrees and or like I was going to get dumped out of the train. The banked turns are still cool elements and more adventurous than simply cresting the hills on flatter track.
The first half was long and an adventure all on its own, but the Giant wasn’t done. After a few more fun and surpsingly airtime-packed hills we zoomed by the station on our way to the first tunnel. The three tunnels (or covered sections) were pretty dark with colored lights on the ceiling and a mist. The hills, and yes, more airtime continued as we flew through each of the tunnels. Finally, the unrelenting Giant returned us to the station. The train immediately erupted in applause as the excited and surprised riders were in awe of the new form that their aging, old woodie had taken.
There wasn’t a wasted foot of track as the thrills were almost non-stop. All the while, the ride was very smooth. I can’t say that I was shocked by how smooth it was as it is steel. For me, the smoothness was kind of expected, but for locals who’d been punished by the twenty-something year old Giant, the silky smooth ride was remarkable.
Too Much of a Good Thing?
On my two rides on the Texas Giant (my second ride was in the third car) I got ejector, not floater airtime on nearly all of the ride’s many hills. The ride ops stapled me in pretty good with the big, thick lap bars, so really even though I was being lifted pretty forcefully it was more of a back and forth battle with my thighs being pressed tightly up against the lapbar. Obviously, Rocky Mountain Construction locked in on making sure that the new Texas Giant was packed with airtime. I have to say that they were very successful. Maybe, almost too successful. This is going to sound weird, but the hills and airtime moments were coming so rapid fire, that it was almost overkill.
In an odd way the airtime happened so much, that it was hard for me to appreciate the moments. I’d be like: “Wow! Now that was a real pop of air there.” And, before I could finish thinking it, up we go again. I think I’d actually prefer airtime moments spaced out a bit more. One thing that makes El Toro’s final hill so memorable and special is that it’s not preceded by another super forceful ejector air moment and there’s not one after. El Toro’s got air all over, but that hill is a great unforgettable moment. Hours after riding Texas Giant, I’m not sure I can name a favorite part aside from getting yanked down that large, steep first drop when I sat in the back.
How does the Texas Giant measure up?
It’s an all-around fun roller coaster that’ll knock the socks off park guests for years to come. It offers a world-class ride and its much longer than your average ride. Overall, that $10 million dollar renovation was worth ever penny in my opinion. So, as I mention the airtime overkill, realize that I’m talking about an AMAZING roller coaster. I just have to judge it against other AMAZING roller coasters. Keep in mind also that I’m huge on terrain coasters and while the Giant has a long and varied ride, terrain isn’t really a factor. The new Texas Giant has landed tied at 6th on my Top Ten Roller Coasters list. If you find yourself anywhere near Dallas get over to Six Flags Over Texas immediately. The Texas Giant is a thrilling airtime adventure with more exciting moments than what some park’s entire lineups can offer. The new version lived up to the hype and then some. Final Rating – 10 (Superior)