Quite often rides with low capacity and high thrills are a focal point of carnival and park midways, drawing more spectators than riders. When installed in parks often these limited ridership attractions are offered for an additional fee to offset the operating costs.
|For the 2001 season,
Six Flags Great Adventure added a portable Sling Shot ride as an upcharge attraction. The ride was located in front of the
theater building. The portable ride manufactured by Funtime Thrill Rides
featured a spring-loaded launch high into the air, and drew big crowds to watch the brave
riders take to the sky.
For the 2003 season, the portable Sling Shot was replaced by ErUPtion, a park model S&S Sky Sling ride which offered the same kind of thrills but with higher capacity. The model of ride suffered several design flaws which meant that it didn't last long, and was removed after the 2010 season.
|The start of the 2011 season
at the park saw the ErUPtion replaced with a park model Sling Shot by
Funtime which was larger
and permanently mounted to footers rather than being mounted
on a trailer. The two 177 foot support towers, launch base, and spring
accumulator were all set around a landscaped ride site making the new
installation look much more significant than the trucked-in model.
The installation of the Sling Shot II took several months as the park's efforts were primarily focused on getting the nearby Green Lantern standup coaster opened. At the 2011 season premiere, wooden fencing surrounded the old ErUPtion site and by mid June footer forms were being assembled. The ride's first steel pieces went vertical by July 4th and by July 25th the ride was in operation.
|Six Flags Great
Adventure's installation of a permanent Funtime Sling Shot came at the
start of a string of purchases by Six Flags with that ride manufacturer.
In 2011, Great Adventure's Sling Shot was purchased along with two Star
Flyers (SkyScreamers) for their parks in St. Louis and at Discovery
Kingdom. The following year Great Adventure would get their own
Star Flyer as well as similar rides at Fiesta Texas and LaRonde.
Magic Mountain would also get a Sling Shot in 2012 although it was a
different model. In 2013, two Star Flyers were added to Six Flags
Over Georgia and Six Flags Over Texas. In addition, a
trailer-mounted Sling Shot was added to Fiesta Texas and a permanent
model (just like Great Adventure's) was added to Mexico. In 2014,
Six Flags New England received a Star Flyer, followed by Mexico in 2015,
Six Flags America in 2017, and Darien Lake in 2019. The Over Texas and New England Star
Flyers were larger towers reaching over 400 feet tall.
|The striking orange
and yellow color scheme really highlighted the attraction and drew riders and
spectators to the section of the park at the top of the Boardwalk games area.
Spotlights illuminated the ride's two towers and the rider capsule was
accented with multicolor blinking LED lights which added to the kinetic
vibe of the ride.
The rider capsule had seating which was much more open than the original Sling Shot which was a ball like cage around the riders. The new seating was unobstructive, and the attachment points on the sides allowed the car to freely turn as it bounced up and down on the spring loaded cables.
The summary of the ride below, which is included in Funtime's Sling Shot Amusement Ride Operation Manual, highlights the ride experience.
SLING SHOT DESCRIPTION
The SLING SHOT is a high thrill amusement ride designed by Funtime Handels Gesmbh.
The SLING SHOT incorporates two towers ranging in height from 36m (120 feet) to 75m (250 feet) and up to 40m (130 feet) apart. The rider capsule is securely fastened to the ground in a central location between the two towers. Attached to each side of the rider capsule are two independent non-rotating 8 mm steel cables. Also attached to the side of the rider capsule is a swivel fitting and universal joint, this allows the rider capsule to rotate without twisting the steel ride cable. Each steel cable passes over a pulley at the top of the tower, two on each side. The steel cables then pass through a cable guide on the face of the tower, a deflection pulley at the base of the tower and finally through a pulley on the top of the spring machine. From this point the cables run through the pulleys of the spring machine up to a pulley at the top of the spring machine but on the opposite side to the entry cable. The cables then continue to the opposite tower via the deflection pulley at the base of the tower and up through the cable guides, over the tower top pulleys and finally to a connection on the opposite side of the gondola.
The rider capsule is attached to the loading platform via a release mechanism. This release mechanism is a combination of an automatic safety latch and an electro-magnet.
After the riders have been safely harnessed into their seats, the operator activates the Launch Cycle of the spring machine. When the spring machine has tensioned the springs to a predetermined length the capsule is ready to be released. After a final safety check, the operator then activates the Magnet release button on the control panel, which releases the electro-magnet and allows the rider capsule and it’s passengers to be propelled in a vertical trajectory.
The scale of the ride is so dramatic that the riders can experience up to 5G’s for a brief moment on take-off, (depending on their weight), and shortly after, weightlessness, as the rider capsule nears the apex of the trajectory. The rider experiences acceleration, the rush of wind, weightlessness and a very exciting “ground rush” as gravity takes effect and the rider capsule falls towards the ground. This fall is arrested at approximately 15m (50 feet) from the ground by the spring mechanism in the spring machine, which again propels the rider capsule vertically, but this time to a reduced altitude.
After the riders have experienced approximately 4 bounces the oscillations subside to the point where the rider capsule can be lowered via the operator pressing the down button on the control panel. During the initial lowering sequence the spring machine selects normal lowering speed, 4m (17 feet) before the ground the spring machine automatically selects a slower lowering speed. Once the slower lowering speed has been activated the operator controls the descent via foot controls. The capsule is then guided into locating holes whilst the operator is standing behind the capsule. The locating holes ensure that the capsule is returned to its correct position on top of the release mechanism. The riders are then disconnected from their harnesses and disembark the launching area.
|Tickets for the Sling Shot cost $25 per rider in 2011 and the following year saw a two for $40 offer with an additional discount for season pass holders. Tickets could be purchased from the nearby Extreme Attractions booth which also offered tickets for the Great American Road Race go-karts next door.|
|Outside of the screams of its riders and the oohs and aahs from onlookers, the operation of the Sling Shot ride did not generate much sound. The stretching and compressing of the ride's springs, the movement of the cables through the pulley system, and the oscillation of the ride capsule all occurred in near silence. It was the visual of guests being shot vertically towards the clouds which was the selling point of the Sling Shot.|
|The Sling Shot operated for four seasons before receiving a sign to identify the ride's name. Oddly, in 2015 four large Sling Shot signs were added all at once. Two were located on a ride support building towards the rear of the ride's site and one along the metal fencing in front of the ride. In addition, a canvas banner helped to hype the attraction with key stats including "Over 200 Feet Up," "Over 60 MPH," "4.5G Launch," and "Extreme Thrill."|
|Over the years, three rides have been installed in front of the simulator theater, all offering a similar thrill experience. Each time, the ride has upped the fun level of its predecessor. Needless to say, the current Sling Shot (aka Sling Shot II) is the latest and greatest of this type of unique attraction at Six Flags Great Adventure.|
|Original Spotlight: September 23, 2021. GAH Reference#: PAID-2011-001|