September 3rd, 2010

Two-Face... FOREVER!!!

The strange, tragic, meta history of Six Flags America's Two-Face roller coaster

When the Six Flags America opened in the Maryland town of Largo about ten years ago, seventeen-year-old me was the happiest fanboy in the world. Not because there was a mega-park within a half hour from my house (take THAT, two hour drive to Paramount's Kings Dominion!), but because they actually had Batman-themed rides.

No, better than that: they had a Two-Face roller coaster.

Can you imagine? Harvey! The biggest Batman villain no one cared about, getting his own ride! With his glorious visage right up there and everything! More than the coaster itself, I actually really liked the drawing (by Eduardo Baretto, from the looks of it?), which actually hung over the entrance for the ride itself.

But what actually made it Two-Face-themed was how riders would be suspended from harnesses to face one another as the coaster would take you through a series of loops to the end, then come back by going backwards.

Apparently it's hardly a radical gimmick, as even Wikipedia has dubbed the design "a standard Vekoma Invertigo roller coaster." Even at the time, I recall that many considered it one of the weaker coasters at Six Flags. But of course, it was my favorite (metal) coaster, and it seems there were other people championing it too.

Here's a video from one such fan of the Two-Face in action, set to music that almost certainly won't invoke memories of the worst version of the character to date!

Some of you may be curious about the video's title, which goes out of the way to celebrate the fact that it's "one of the safest coasters ever!!" With two exclamation points and everything! Why would someone put together what is essentially a propaganda piece for a roller coaster?

Well, because in a meta twist that I doubt many people actually realized, the Two-Face became synonymous with breakdowns, accidents, and failure after an accident that caused two people to go to the hospital, and twelve others to need medical attention.

No, wait, it gets better.

To quote Wikipedia, with added emphasis on my behalf: "On October 6, 2007, the ride malfunctioned causing the cars to become stuck on the lift. Once the train became dislodged, the hydraulic line was severed and hydraulic fluid was sprayed onto multiple riders. "

The Two-Face ride was shut down... due to an incident... in which people were sprayed with chemicals.

You can't make this shit up. Nor, for that matter, did anybody see anything whatever-is-the-better-word-than-just-misusing-"ironic" about the situation.

Now, the actual story from Fox 5 News used as source for the wikipedia article seems to be down, and this official-sounding account from Theme Park Insider sounds less Fox-sensationalistic, saying that the hydraulic fluid merely leaked rather than sprayed. But either way...

After that, the ride's reputation was stained beyond repair. Even today, people share stories about how dangerous the Two-Face was (or wasn't), with videos like the above still singing its praises, while YouTube commenters like "bonerboy4321" shares the following:

i herd that some 1 died in this ride in the 6 flags in maryland because it got stuck it was up side down and the some women died because of to mutch blood in the head and today the ride is hut down

So there you go.

Photo by "rablat5" on flickr.

"Two-Face: The Flip Side" was torn down at the end of the 2007 season, its parts supposedly purchased by a park in Brazil--around Sao Paulo, it seems--that wanted to maintain its anonymity. My guess is that they'd want to disguise anything Two-Face related (and thus special and awesome), making it just another "standard Vekoma Invertigo roller coaster," albeit one with a history of malfunctioning and chemical-spraying/leaking. No matter what, the Two-Face coaster is gone forever.

I'm not sure how I feel about this. On one hand, it was awesome to see Harvey get featured in such a big way, the character getting exposed to people in ways he never was before THE DARK KNIGHT came out. It was also a pretty fun ride, even though I almost threw up that on last time in 2004. So I'm sad to think that it's gone.

On the other hand, it's Harvey we're talking about here. Nothing good ever comes to him for long. In a way, it's extremely fitting that the short period of glory for his namesake roller coaster was cut short due to a breakdown and a chemical spill, injuring innocents in the process, and resulting in him being taken down entirely.

Even in amusement-park-ride form, It Sucks to be Harvey Dent.