Long before the Six Flags roller coaster makeover era (with its fire effects and on-board audio), amusement parks have needed an inexpensive way to give their stale rides a fresh, new spin. I’m not sure when it started, but someone decided it would be a good idea to simply turn the trains around to provide a new experience.

Mr Freeze Reverse Blast - Six Flags Roller CoasterIt’s been going on for years. Just a few months ago, Six Flags St. Louis & Six Flags Over Texas turned their Mr. Freeze roller coaster trains around to add a new wrinkle to those rides. Also, in 2011, Six Flags Magic Mountain transformed Superman The Escape into Superman Escape from Krypton by turning its cars too.

Backwards Airtime

Rebel Yell Backwards - Courtesy of CoasterImageMy first encounter with a backwards facing ride was on Kings Dominion’s Rebel Yell. The wooden racing roller coaster was almost twenty years old when the park made one of the tracks run backwards trains, while the other kept the trains facing forward. It was effective in providing a different experience. You got an interesting view (of that sorry coaster Hypersonic XLC) going up the lift hill backwards and you couldn’t see exactly when you were going to reach the top. It’s been years, and once Cedar Fair took over the park the trains were turned forward again, but I remember experiencing some very solid first drop airtime in the last car of the backwards facing trains.

Backwards Inversions

Backwards inversions are actually pretty common thanks to the shuttle loopers out there. After you’ve traversed their loopy courses forwards, you experience vertical loops and quite often boomerangs (two inversions) backwards. I like backwards loops as they always feel a little odd and unnatural.

I give backwards coaster riding a thumbs up. What’s your take? Do you like riding coasters backwards? Chime in below and vote in this poll. Image 2 courtesy of Coaster Image.[poll id=”75″]

15 Responses

  1. SolarPlexus

    Really, I feel like going backwards on a roller-coaster is truly only effective if it was designed that way. I felt that Thunder Road and Rebel Yell going backward was just OK. But White Lightenin and King Cobra were AWESOME on their return trip (As are Vekoma's shuttle coasters like Carolina Cobra).

  2. DRU

    This is a tough one. I would have to say yes and no. Yes to steel for all, yes to wood for the younger riders. No to backwards woodies for me now that i'm in my 40's. I can barley handle the older woodies facing forward without getting a crick in my neck or back. The only backwards coasters I've ridden were all in NJ. An old shuttle on the pier at Wildwood. Also at Great Adventure. Rolling Thunder used to race with one train facing backwards back in the day. Also the first "LIM" launchers I ever rode the now defunct prototype double shuttle coaster Batman and Robin the Chiller. I loved those coasters but the wait was always really slow due to the one train only shuttle design.
    There must be something to the backwards thing though, I was surprised to see the shuttle coaster Aftershock win the the top prize on the Hang em High episode of Insane Coaster Wars the other night. [cool to see you on the show] I usually avoid shuttle coasters due to the extra wait time.
    I always thought the that those steel Inverted Impulse roller coasters like Wicked Twister at Cedar Point looked very cool due to the multi launches thru the station. It looks like flying thru the station would seem very fast. I look forward to trying it later this month. {if the line is not long}

  3. Dru

    I forgot about my first looping steel coaster Lighting loops at Great Adventure. Fun when I was young.

  4. @mattmcirvin

    The backwards half of a Vekoma Boomerang ride is actually the less-scary (and therefore less-thrilling) half. But it's OK, I guess.

    • @mattmcirvin

      …One thing I will say for Boomerangs re backwardsness is that being pulled *up the lift hill* backwards, looking the whole time at the drop you're about to experience, is wonderfully unnerving. It's probably the best thing about those rides. I've never ridden a Giant Inverted Boomerang (though SFNE has one now); it'd probably be even better there.

      • Mike M.

        I've ridden Deja Vu when it was at SFMM and I have to agree. Being pulled backwards straight up and then dropped is definitely the best part of the ride, especially in the last seat.

  5. Gearhart

    as long as I don’t get an unexpected jolt from some unseen headbanging moment or random rough spot, I love it. Everything seems more thrilling when you can’t see what’s coming up next.

  6. Prof.BAM

    Thunderation @ Silver Dollar City. that was the second best ride of the day (behind Wildfire!!!)

  7. Matt

    I love riding loops backwards. It feels so unnatural and strange and disorienting. Cobra rolls backwards also feel very strange. But riding woodies backwards sounds strange. I never have ridden a woodie backwards, but I would assume it would be rougher than forwards and would feel almost too strange. I would love to try it though, because I would love to try a full-circuit coaster backwards! And going up a lift hill backwards and dropping down backwards (unlike boomerang lifts) would be awesome!

  8. Bud

    I guess it really depends on the type of roller coaster. Being on Mr. Freeze when it launched forward, there was no enjoyment really when the train went backwards. However when it launched backwards, I sat in the back of the train but first to launch out of the tunnel, and that one inversion delivered massive air time/hang time, or whatever you would consider that upside-down hanging feeling. It literally almost made me nauseous. And out of all of my coasters, I would say that backwards is only really worth it if there is an inversion involved, or if it has many twists and turns that can catch you off guard.

  9. Dillon

    Going backwards on a cobra roll, like on a Vekoma boomerang, is quite disorienting, yet very fun at the same time. Overall, I do enjoy backwards coasters, but I prefer forwards on most occasions.

  10. Surya

    I don't really care for going backwards. I've only experienced it on boomerangs though, and as those aren't the smoothest rides, and you can't see where you're going, it's hard to know how to prepare for the jerks you're about to experience.

  11. Quil

    I'm not sure if this is just limited to the shuttle coasters that I have ridden, but cobra rolls seem to shake you around more when you are going through them backwards.

  12. gnadfly

    Riding backwards is over rated. Takes away the anticipation aspect. You just stare at the rail as to where you’ve been. As an older rider I just tense up my torso muscles throughout the whole ride.

    Let’s do an experiment. Visualize yourself looking at the first big drop of your favorite rollercoaster. Now turn yourself around. See? I can even feel my hair blowing around less.


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