The late 1990's saw a rise of the "mega coaster", a non-inverting steel roller coaster with an emphasis on speed and smoothness with minimal restraints to help add to the out of control feeling. These coasters were generally two hundred plus feet in height and often featured a combination of steep plunging hills and tight turns.
The coaster arms race of the 1990's saw parks one upping each other
every season with each park building bigger and bigger coasters to draw
the crowds. Six Flags was one of the leaders in this movement
contracting INTAMIN and Bolliger & Mabillard (along with Giovanola and
Morgan) to build mega coasters at their parks around the U.S. and
Of all the manufacturers, the most reliable and the best capacity was offered by B&M who perfected the hyper coaster style with the introduction of Apollo's Chariot at Busch Gardens Williamsburg and Raging Bull at Six Flags Great America. Six Flags had been making big investments at Great Adventure with the "War on Lines" in 1999 and then the introduction of Hurricane Harbor in 2000. A hyper coaster was the next logical addition to the park, and B&M were commissioned to create a custom coaster to fit the bill.
Rumors had the coaster taking the height record which had just been set at Six Flags Magic Mountain at 235 feet only to be broken a few months later by Cedar Point with the 310 foot Millennium Force and then a few months later with the 318 foot Steel Dragon 2000. With all the one-upsmanship, it seemed only logical that Six Flags would push the envelope again to reclaim the crown.
Site preparation was under way at the park and it was obvious a new coaster was coming, but just what kind of a coaster and how big were the secrets known only to a select few. There were rumors of record height and even the name-- Superman: Krypton Coaster. Then the announcement came and finally all the details were revealed. Great Adventure's newest coaster would not be the tallest but it would be exceptionally unique including its name-- NITRO.
Click the Placard Below to View a
Simulated Trip Aboard NITRO:
Land clearing behind the park's maintenance buildings was taking place
and footers were being poured in September of 2000 and could easily be
seen from the patio of Captain Jack's restaurant which had been built as
part of Adventure Rivers.
While the clearing taking place that could be seen from the park looked impressive, there was a lot more going on in the woods along the shores of Prospertown Lake.
Track Layout of Nitro:
The winter of 2000-2001 was particularly cold with the lake remaining
frozen solid for months. The solid layer of ice was filled with
ice fishermen and coaster enthusiasts for most of January and February
each intent on their hobby.
Despite the cold, the construction crews kept working hard to stay on schedule for the spring opening. The structure rising above the trees was impressive, and Prospertown Lake Park offered a great place to watch the progress. When the first of its kind hammerhead turn was completed out on the far edge of the site closest to the lake it made big news across the coaster fan sites.
Spring 2001 finally arrived and the new season started in early April.
To celebrate the opening of Nitro the park hosted a "Survivor" contest
where people could camp out in the park to try and be the first riders.
Survivor was a huge hit show that had just debuted, and the early spring
weather offered a REAL challenge with near freezing temperatures and
rain/sleet/snow mix falling on the campers waiting for the new ride to
The queue for Nitro required running the line behind Captain Jack's (which was renamed Nitro Grill) and the switchbacks were located on the site of the Fantasy Fling (Super Round Up) ride which was moved to the empty ride pad across from the Buccaneer. Fantasy Fling had been placed on that site just two seasons earlier when it was moved to make way for Evolution.
|Nitro has delivered on all counts, providing a reliable, fast smooth ride that has led to its becoming (arguably) the park's most popular roller coaster. Since its debut, Nitro has consistently ranked in the top ten steel roller coasters on enthusiast polls. The free floating sensation of the open seating and the long ride out through the woods and along the water are a winning combination.|
The theme elements of Nitro are minimal, basically taking on an
industrial look with the corrugated metal station building and rivet
logo at the entrance. Originally the queue featured blinking LED lights
set into sidewalks to add kind of a sci-fi or techno look to it.
A sun shade was added above the switchback area to help provide some relief from the heat on the hottest days.
|Nitro has had sponsorship from several companies over the years including A&E Network and Snickers, featuring signage at the ride entrance.|
The queue line originally featured signs giving facts about the ride.
Over time those signs were victims of vandals and eventually removed.
Another aspect of the ride signage that was removed were the signs that
used to be posted along the lift hill railings, letting guests know how
high the ride was in comparison to landmarks like the Space Shuttle, the
Statue of Liberty and Niagara Falls.
The queue line has featured snacks and entertainment through the seasons. The switchback area featured vending machines for cold drinks, and for a while, the queue featured a hot dog stand providing snacks for those who had been waiting for long periods on the line. A DJ booth was also added providing musical entertainment to help pass the time.
Nitro has continued to be a very popular ride after ten seasons.
With the three trains, the crews have managed to set the record among
all the Six Flags parks for highest number of riders of ANY ride in one
year, beating the coasters at Six Flags Magic Mountain which run year
One of the secrets of Nitro's great ride is that it featured the first sets of magnetic brakes on any B&M coaster. The magnetic brakes make stopping the ride smoother than mechanical brakes.
Nitro has delighted millions of riders since it opened and will surely continue to be one of the most popular rides in the park for many seasons to come.