(2001 & 2005 Standing But Not Operating)

Viper was designed by Togo company of Japan, as was the Ultra Twister coaster that had occupied the same site previously.  Togo coasters can be found throughout Japan, but were relatively rare in the United States.  Most of the rides were removed within a few years of installation due to maintenance issues and the roughness of the ride.   The combination of the unconventional track elements and restraint systems made the coasters uncomfortable, and repeat ridership was low.  The lack of sales of Togo coasters and lawsuits brought against the company led to the demise of the company in the early 2000’s.

     
     
     

Viper was added to the park for the 1995 season, utilizing a site that had been sitting vacant for several seasons after the removal of the Ultra Twister in 1989.  The footers for Ultra Twister and a small shed were left on site serving as a reminder that a coaster used to sit there. 

At  one point the site was going to be the new home to one of the Lightnin’ Loops tracks, and run parallel to Rolling Thunder, but the coaster was instead sold to Premier Parks who would go on to purchase Six Flags in the following years.

The site sat vacant with the only attraction in the isolated area between Rolling Thunder and the Great Arena being a remote control boat pond for awhile.     The site was also at one point slated to become the new home to the Swiss Bob ride when it was relocated to make way for the Batman Stunt Arena, but continued to remain vacant when those plans fell through.





   
   
   

 


 

   
   
     



   
   
   
 
 
 
 


Originally, Viper was to have been named "Unforgiven" and themed to the Oscar winning Warner Brothers film starring Clint Eastwood.  Market research showed that the Unforgiven theme was too dark, and the name Viper was chosen instead.  Throughout the Six Flags chain the name Viper was used  for a variety of coasters of all shapes, sizes and types.  The same Viper logo was used repeatedly for all the coasters in the chain, with the three dimensional snake’s head with triangular background found on signs and in some cases actually on the coasters.

With the purchase of Six Flags by Time Warner in 1992, efforts were made throughout the park to bring themed elements to areas that had no discernible look to them.  The vacant Ultra Twister area was a prime example, with sterile concrete and very generic fences and fixtures.  The Best of the West  and the Hernando’s Hideaway sections which been separate theme areas were combined into the Frontier Adventures section.  The vacant coaster site was the perfect spot for the addition of a western themed ride, and the presentation of the ride was as important to the park management as the ride itself.  Prep work began at the end of the 1994 season, clearing the remnants of the Ultra Twister. 

The Viper coaster itself was a prototype which had been built by Togo at their headquarters in Ohio as a demonstration of the company’s new innovations.  The ride introduced a new element called a “dive loop”, which added an inline twist at the top of a vertical loop.  This was combined with the true heartline roll element found on the Ultra Twister style coasters, but in a full circuit design with full sized trains, improving on the capacity of the shuttle style Ultra Twister design.  

The prototype featured the spiral heartline roll track encircled with steel rings, giving the ride a snake like appearance. The small footprint of the coaster made it a good fit for just about any park. When the Six Flags executives saw the ride, they decided to purchase it, but to enhance the snake theme additional rings were added to the lift hill and drop.  A snake like coaster was a good fit for a western themed section of a park, and the empty Ultra Twister site was the right size to fit the compact structure.





The construction of Viper was delayed in the off-season and wasn’t completed until June of 1995. Construction of the coaster structure continued through April and May, and the construction of the elaborate station building and queue line theme elements running right up to the opening of the ride in early June.  The emphasis on theme was clear with the meticulous attention to the southwestern style details.  It served as the perfect transition between the Western themed side of Frontier Adventures and the Spanish style side.











One small structure which had been part of the Ultra Twister’s infrastructure was left in place near the ride entrance, and the steel building was clad in rustic wood siding to fit the theme.  The queue was designed to follow along the sidewalks of a ghost town.   The ghost town buildings were elaborate set pieces with no real structure behind them.  The area between the queue and the sidewalk became a southwestern desert, complete with cacti (both real and faux) and aged western props of all kinds.

The real focal point of Viper’s theme elements was the station building and matching train shed, which were designed to look like a crumbling Spanish Mission, with buttressed walls arched windows and a bell tower complete with a huge bell.  The brand new building was aged to look like it was hundreds of years old along with the weathered ghost town in front of it.  While the building looked old, it actually featured state of the art technology with a special elevator adjacent to the entrance stairs, making the ride handicapped accessible. The placement of the elevator meant guests with disabilities could then wait on the regular queue line.

Viper was a ride with several unique elements, but one that was often overlooked was the station configuration.   The station had two blocks, creating separate load and unload positions which meant guests got on and off the train on the same side.   This often caused confusion with disembarking guests stepping out of the wrong side of the train.  In theory the configuration could increase capacity with one train loading while another cycled and then unloaded. However, with the confusion of guests trying to find their stowed articles when their train arrived in a different position than it had left, it often slowed things down.






Another challenge to the crew of Viper was the ride’s unique restraint system that was unlike anything most guests had seen before.   The restraint was a two part system, with a lap bar and independent shoulder harness which had to be lowered.   Often the train would have to be locked and unlocked several times when guests would either set their shoulder harness too high or too low. 
 
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
     
     
Technical Information
Manufacturer: Togo International-  Middletown,Ohio
Ride Model: Heartline Roller Coaster
Description: The world's first standard roller coaster capable of a 360 degree heartline roll.
Opening Date: June 1995
Height: 88.6 feet
Height of Loop: 65 feet
Track Length: 1670 feet
Approximate Ride Time: 144 seconds
Number of Trains: 3
Number of Cars: 4 per train
Riders Per Car: 4 per car
Seating Capacity: 16 riders per train
Restraints: Lap Bars and Shoulder Restraints
Capacity: Approx. 1200 passengers per hour
 
     
     











Like the Ultra Twister before it, Viper suffered a great deal of downtime as prototypical problems were worked out.  Track sections were re-welded on a somewhat regular basis as the stress of the trains on the rails took its toll on the rides joints.  At least twice in the 10 years the ride was at the park sections of track or individual rails were removed and replaced completely as the maintenance crews fought to stay ahead of the ride’s problems.  The coaster's problems led to it remaining closed for the entire 2001 season.




One modification made to the coaster was a series of maintenance access steps.   A ladder was added to access the top of the dive loop, and along the spine of the track additional safety holds were added for easier access to the track for inspections and if necessary to free the trains if they should get stuck in the twist. 

 

 The queue area for Viper became home to a western themed comedy show, which served to entertain the guests in line as well as those passing by.  The show utilized the set pieces of the ghost town as backdrop and props for the show, with a set of steps from the building’s “second floor” where actors could enter and exit the stage area. 

 









     
     
     
     
Click the placard below for video of
VIPER
 
     
     

 

In 1999 when the park declared a “War on Lines” the new Medusa floorless coaster was added just across the bridge, and a part of the Viper’s queue was taken over by the addition of the Rodeo Stampede ride.  Since Viper’s popularity declined the additional queue area was no longer needed to handle the crowds.

 










 

Over the ten short years Viper was at the park, the ride experience got progressively rougher, with ridership diminishing each season.   The ride aged badly, and even with the increase in foot traffic with the addition of the Rodeo Stampede and Medusa in the area, nothing could improve the public opinion of the coaster.  The ride’s photo booth was boarded up since it was no longer used, and its secluded location at the back of the ride made it a target for graffiti and vandalism.  The ghost town sets began to fall apart beyond their intended weathered look, exposing the modern construction materials.   Since the ride was no longer a marquis attraction, its appearance was considered unimportant and it became faded and neglected looking.  

 













   
   




   
   




   




   
   




   
   
   
   
     
 

 
     






     
     


As the 2005 season started Viper never reopened and it quickly became apparent it would not be re-opening as the area was closed off and removal of the ride began.  At first rumors were circulating that it was being moved to another Six Flags park, but it quickly became apparent that the ride was being scrapped as the jagged pieces of crushed steel became visible. 

As the ride was removed over April and May rumors of a replacement swirled.  But, with the opening of Kingda Ka and the Golden Kingdom area of the park that spring, most people dismissed the rumors of another huge new coaster being added in its place until the park presented plans for a new coaster to the Jackson Township Planning Board, and even then many dismissed the replacement for Viper as being something small. 

 












Clearing of Viper’s structure along with the removal of the ghost town queue. The removal of the track from the station was done carefully to preserve the building for the new coaster, though the matching train shed was razed. Everything including the concrete footers were removed and hauled away to create a clean slate for construction to begin.


















   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
     



Towards the end of summer, the announcement was made that the former Viper location was going to become home to a new record breaking wooden roller coaster called El Toro, which was to become the anchor of another entirely new themed area of the park, Plaza del Carnavale. The mission style station building would be re-used as the station for El Toro, but with major reconfiguration of the exit to the opposite side of the building. 




















Viper, which many coaster enthusiasts considered one of the worst coasters ever built is long gone, but its replacement El Toro has proven to be a more than worthy replacement, with most riders ranking it as one of the world’s best roller coasters.