How Great American Scream Machine gives Six Flags riders a new thrill

For a LIMITED TIME Six Flags Over Georgia will be operating the Great American Scream Machine facing backwards! Get to the park and enjoy the ride!

You would think that it would be hard to impress anyone who has been on 743 different roller coasters.

Yet, Carol and Scott Holmes were still pumped to take the two-minute ride on the Great American Scream Machine at Six Flags Over Georgia. The reason was simple — on this trip, they would be facing backward.

The Great American Scream Machine is running with riders facing backward at Six Flags Over Georgia for a limited time. Here the train is climbing up the first hill, with the front of the train facing downward. TOM KELLEY / TKELLEY@AJC.COM
The Great American Scream Machine is running with riders facing backward at Six Flags Over Georgia for a limited time. Here the train is climbing up the first hill, with the front of the train facing downward. TOM KELLEY / TKELLEY@AJC.COM

“It gives you a different perspective,” said Scott Holmes, who along with his wife, writes for NewsPlusNotes.com, which covers the amusement park industry. “When you’re riding backward, you see where you have been instead of where you’re going. It’s a lot of fun. It makes it fresh. When you’re going up the lift hill, you don’t know when you’ll hit the top.”

Until you do. Then, there’s that drop.

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The Holmeses, who live in Marion, Ind., are roller coaster enthusiasts. They live to ride.

On Wednesday, the two visited Six Flags Over Georgia for a special media day to ride the wooden Scream Machine, which opened in 1973.

At the time, it was considered part of the 1970s roller coaster renaissance. It helped put Six Flags Over Georgia on the list of must-see parks.

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Related: Watch AJC reporters ride the Scream Machine

In 1974, the Guinness Book of World Records recognized it as the world’s tallest and longest roller coaster, at 105 feet tall and 3,800 feet of track.

AJC reporters Tom Kelley and Kelly Audette prepare to ride the Great American Scream Machine facing backward at Six Flags Over Georgia on Wednesday. CONTRIBUTED BY NELSON HOBBS / MIDWAY MAYHEM
AJC reporters Tom Kelley and Kelly Audette prepare to ride the Great American Scream Machine facing backward at Six Flags Over Georgia on Wednesday. CONTRIBUTED BY NELSON HOBBS / MIDWAY MAYHEM

Carol Holmes said going backward adds a new vantage point to see the rest of the Austell park and surrounding community.

Gene Petriello, a spokesman for Six Flags Over Georgia, Hurricane Harbor and Six Flags White Water, said the ride will go with riders facing backward for the foreseeable future.

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In the 1990s, it went backward. “It was very popular, so we decided to bring it back this year,” he said.

Last year, more than 550,000 people rode the Scream Machine. That number includes people who rode it more than once.

“It’s a popular ride for sure,” he said.

Here’s what you get:

An unsuspecting drop down nearly 10 stories backward.

Speeds of 57 mph around tight curves backward.

More than 3,800 feet of track racing along the banks of the Chattahoochee River backward.

The Great American Scream Machine is running with riders facing backward at Six Flags Over Georgia for a limited time. Here the train is at the end of the ride, approaching the brake run. TOM KELLEY / TKELLEY@AJC.COM
The Great American Scream Machine is running with riders facing backward at Six Flags Over Georgia for a limited time. Here the train is at the end of the ride, approaching the brake run. TOM KELLEY / TKELLEY@AJC.COM

The park is also gearing up for a new ride that opens in May — the Twisted Cyclone.

The Twisted Cyclone is replacing the wooden, weathered skeleton of what was once the Georgia Cyclone, which opened in 1990.

The Twisted Cyclone, which will be made of wood and steel, is expected to open this Memorial Day weekend. The bright-blue steel track will provide for a smoother, sturdier and more thrilling ride experience.

SCREAM MACHINE FACTS

The Great American Scream Machine is one of the iconic rides at Six Flags Over Georgia:

When it opened in 1973, the Scream Machine was a key piece of the 1970s roller coaster renaissance. It put Six Flags Over Georgia on the thrill-ride map.

In 1974, the Guinness Book of World Records recognized it as the world’s tallest and longest roller coaster, at 105 feet tall and 3,800 feet of track.

The coaster last ran backward in the early 1990s.

About 9 million riders have enjoyed a spin on the classic wooden coaster.

BACKWARD TO THE FUTURE

The Scream Machine is not the only coaster to take riders backward at Six Flags:

Batman the Ride operated with rearward-facing seats for part of the 2015 season.

DejaVu took its riders facing forward through three loops, then pulled them up a vertical spike. After a dramatic pause, the train made a reverse trip backward on the same track. The ride operated from 2001 until 2007.

Viper launched riders forward along a straight track, through a loop and up a steep ramp until it lost momentum. The train then repeated the trip backward. Viper operated from 1995 until 2001.

IF YOU GO

Six Flags Over Georgia is west of Atlanta on I-20 outside of I-285 (275 Riverside Parkway, Austell). Open weekends through May 13 (plus daily April 2-6 for spring break); daily May 19 through Aug. 5; and most weekends afterward through Jan. 6, 2019. Hours vary; check website for details. General admission is $69.99 at the gate, $49.99 for children under 48 inches, but discounts are available online at sixflags.com/overgeorgia. Children 2 and younger are admitted free. For more information: 770-739-3400, sixflags.com/overgeorgia.

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