Monday, May 17, 2021

IPM talks to SFGAm Park President Hank Salemi on riding coasters backwards

InPark Magazine spoke with Six Flags Great America Park President Hank Salemi on the park’s interesting promotion of running select roller coasters backwards for a limited time this season. The park started with Batman The Ride Backwards at the start of the season. This marked the first time an inverted coaster (and incidentally, the first one ever built) operated with guests riding faced backwards.

Where did the idea come from to run coasters backwards that typically haven’t been run that way?

We are always looking for unique and innovative ways to give our guests a new ride experience. Our team of engineers came up with this fantastic idea of taking the BATMAN The Ride rollercoaster, the first of its kind in the world, and running it in reverse to again become the first of its kind to go backwards.

Hank Salemi, Park President of Six Flags Great America
Hank Salemi, Park President of Six Flags Great America

Why did you decide to “change out” which ride was running backwards throughout the season?

We wanted to give our guests an opportunity to visit the park several times over the course of the season to experience all three [editor’s note: Viper is currently running backwards, and one side of The American Eagle will be set to run backwards later this season], we also didn’t want to take away the traditional ride experience from all of these attractions at the same time.

What were some of the challenges you had to overcome with turning Batman around?

One of the biggest challenges was determining if this was a ride experience people would be interested in. We did some testing late last season where we had members of our staff experience the attraction both forward and backward, we then had them fill out surveys which compared the two experiences. Ultimately we determined this would be something our guests would love!

Is this a promotion you would like to continue in the future?

There is no doubt we will continue to look at opportunities for us to offer an innovative new ride experience on some of our classic rides and attractions.

ViperBackwards_KeyartHave you found it has positively impacted repeat attendance so far?

Absolutely, offering a backward ride experience for a limited time has made our season more dynamic, giving our guests a reason to visit more than once throughout the course of our season.

 

Related Stories/Media

Video of Batman backwards

Photos of Batman backwards

Batman backwards announcement

 

 

Martin Palicki
Martin Palicki owns and publishes InPark Magazine. Started in 2004, InPark Magazine provides owners and operators the perspective from "in"side the "park." Martin has also written for publications like Sound & Communications, Lighting & Sound America, Attractions Management and others. Martin has been featured in Time Magazine, CNN.com and Folio. Martin lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA.

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