Why Not Take A Free Spin in 4D?


4D coasters are nothing new.  X2 from Arrow Dynamics opened at Six Flags Magic Mountain in 2002 and operates with a controlled spin.  Then came Intamin’s ZacSpin, on which the seats spin freely.  This was improved upon when S&S Worldwide, the successor to Arrow, developed a free spin coaster which has been installed at five Six Flags parks.  It’s known as The Joker at Six Flags Great Adventure, Six Flags Great America, Six Flags Over Texas and Six Flags New England.  At Six Flags Fiesta Texas it’s known as Batman: the Ride.  (Don’t ask!  It seems that every Six Flags park must have a coaster named Batman.)

Photo by Bobbie Butterfield

I haven’t ridden X2 or any of the ZacSpins but I’ve ridden The Joker at Six Flags Great Adventure (pictured) and Batman: The Ride at Six Flags Fiesta Texas.  This is undoubtedly one of the craziest coasters I’ve ever ridden; it’s totally chaotic.  Because the seats spin freely, no two rides are exactly the same so that the ride experience is unpredictable.   Riders will find themselves head over heels repeatedly and there’s even some nice hang time.  One of the variables that figure into the ride is weight distribution.  When I rode the installation at Fiesta Texas I thought omigod, this is insanely intense, more so than the installation at Great Adventure.  Then I realized that it wasn’t the coaster; it was the weight distribution.  On The Joker I’d always ridden four to a vehicle whereas on Batman there were two other riders facing me while the seat next to me was empty.  The two riders across from me were literally throwing their weight around; their combined weight was enough to flip me over in ways I’d never imagined.  The novelty was remarkable.

Photo by Bobbie Butterfield

What’s your take? Have you ever ridden an S&S 4D free fly coaster and if so, what did you think of it?


Hi! I took up roller coasters late in life, 7 years ago at the age of 59 and am trying to make up for lost time. Most of my favorite coasters were made by Intamin and lately, Rocky Mountain Construction. I love Hersheypark not only because it's the sweetest place on earth but because the three major coasters are Intamins. In real life I work in the legal profession.


  1. I rode Joker at SFGA, and was unimpressed. I know every ride is different, but my seat only inverted once when I rode. I also found it, let’s say, “uncomfortable for masculine riders.” When my friend and I got off, our general reaction was “that was it? We waited an hour for that?” It wasn’t a crowded day, so the long wait was a function of slow operations, not popularity, but I expect slow ops in a ride’s first season.

    • Now that is really odd for your seat to invert only once. One of those rare anomalies. I was just watching a RPOV of myself on Joker to try to gauge how many times the seat flipped over during that ride but b/c it was shot with a wrist-mounted GoPro, the camera was too close for me to get a good reading – although judging by my reaction, I would guess between 4 and 6 times. I don’t love this ride but do find it refreshingly different.

  2. I have yet to ride any 4D coasters. I would say that X2 is something of a bucket list item for me as I haven’t been to Magic Mountain since I was a child. I’ve heard plenty of bad things about Zac Spins (though I suppose it’s mostly Green Lantern) and have heard mostly good things about the new S&S versions. X2 itself has a very interesting story what with the Arrow bankruptcy, the replacement of its trains, and all the other changes made making what it is now. Hoping to get to Six Flags Great American this season and if I do I’ll certainly give Joker a try.

  3. X2 (and Dinoconda in China) are on my bucket list too, they look incredible! I got a solid 4-5 flips on Batman @ SFFT, but my Joker @ SFGAm is worthless (0-2 flips on any given ride) . Too irregular and super low capacity/riders per hour; in my mind these have become overgrown carnival rides. And my park is adding a Giant Larson Loop for 2018……yecch!

    • I don’t know why I get flipped over as often as I do but that’s the way it is. Larson Giant Loop? Oh no! And the park will undoubtedly advertise it as a roller coaster despite the fact that it doesn’t coast; that’s what SFGAD did. Park personnel don’t seem to have any concern for accuracy. Lake Compounce describes Phobia Phear – the same ride as Tempesto, Electric Eel et al. – as having a cobra roll at the top. I actually emailed the PR person at the park to tell her that that is not a cobra roll and they might wish to revise their description of the ride. Nearly a year later their website still says it’s a cobra roll, lol.

  4. I rode it many times at Great Adventure in late December. It was definitely fun, but not worth a long wait. We walked on all day and night, xmas coastering is awesome! Although the random spinning is very cool for a different ride each time I did experience some rides with a ton of spins, but only a couple of spins one one of the rides.
    This ride makes me want to try X2 even more. The predetermined rotations on X2 look to me to be perfection.
    I look forward to riding Joker again if the line isn’t too long or I’m with someone who has not tried it yet I would suffer an hour wait.


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