SIX FLAGS DARIEN LAKE
Buffalo, New York (Abbreviation: DL)
Known as Six Flags Darien Lake (1999 to 2006)
and as just Darien Lake (2007 to 2018)
Owned by EPR Properties
Managed by Six Flags Theme Parks
Park News - (5/30/22) A Screamscape reader stopped into Six Flags Darien Lake this week and sent back some pictures from their journey. Overall the reported back that Darien Lake seems to have had made a lot of improvements to the look of the park since last season. They were also very pleased with their ride on Predator… and really, how long has it been since anyone was able to say that?
According to their comments, “The whole ride seems to run smooth and the new section gives an unexpected pop of airtime and a whip around the new track on the turn. It looks like they also redid the track leading into the new section. It also makes a loud whirring noise as it goes over this track. The sound is similar to the sound that B&M rides make.”
Ride of Steel has some new procedures, with riders no longer able to bring loose items into the station. Instead riders have to use new lockers installed at the entrance for their loose items.
They were also happy to see Mind Eraser running with what appears to be a new train, complete with the new more comfortable over-the-shoulder soft restraints that prevent the head-banging the old restraints were known for. They reported no sign of the previous Mind Eraser “frankentrain”. To explain to those not familiar with the park experience from the past few years, previously things had gotten to the point that the single running train on the Mind Eraser was a bizarre combo of cars and parts put together from the park’s Blue and Red trains.
They also spotted two trains sitting at Viper this season after the coaster had also only had one functioning train at a time for the past several years. While Viper was only running one train on their visit, the ride ops confirmed that they would be bringing back two-train operation as needed this season.
As for down rides, they only mentioned that Blast Off (S&S Space Shot) and the Motocoaster were closed, but pretty much everything else was up and running during their visit, including the seldom running Hoot and Holler kiddie coaster.
(5/14/22) Six Flags Darien Lake confirmed with a picture on their Facebook page that the rumored section of Titan Track has been installed onto their Predator wooden roller coaster. Keep in mind that this is just supposed to be a section of track that was replaced, probably 100 to 200 ft in length. While this isn’t much in comparison to the overall length of the ride, if they installed this in an area known to be particularly rough the difference felt when riding over this season should feel like night and day compared to the rest of the ride.
Or at least, that’s the intention, along with creating a section of track that should be more beneficial to the coaster’s maintenance team.
(4/17/22) While it was announced that Darien Lake was closing the park’s Giant Wheel after 38 years of service back in 2020, the wheel itself is just now coming down. A fun fact I didn’t know before, the Giant Wheel was first built for the World’s Fair in Knoxville, Tennessee in 1982 where at the time the Vekoma built wheel was the largest in the world, standing 165 feet tall. After the Fair was over it was purchased and moved to Darien Lake.
(4/14/22) Some possible good news for Predator.
(1/30/22) So is Six Flags Darien Lake planning to remove the Ride of Steel coaster? I’m going to say the jury is still out on that one, despite the park responding to questions in social media saying that they intend to keep it for future guests to enjoy. Of course, as I said before, it was only a long term rumor that the park was thinking about removing it before the 2023 season and guest reactions to the rumor can help sway the park’s decision to keep the ride rather than remove it. At this point though, even if the decision was already made to remove it, I wouldn’t expect the park to admit it this early anyway.
Meanwhile another rumor has also presented itself as another reason for removing the Ride of Steel. In terms of the park’s future plans, the one thing the park apparently does want to work on expanding is their waterpark, which is kinda land-locked. Despite park attendance levels, I’m told that the waterpark section is always a popular one with guests and the best way to expand the waterpark would be in the direction of the back-half of the Ride of Steel coaster.
I’ll add in one very crazy and wild rumor that was also sent in that even I don’t believe quite yet either. According to this wild one, the true owners of the park may only see the future of the property as a water park, and while they may be willing to actually put up some capital to see the waterpark expanded, removing under-performing or high-maintenance rides is also a great way to cut costs. Ride of Steel, while a high-maintenance cost, does currently run with only one train, having purchased a new one a short time back at an estimated cost of $1.4 million. As a cost savings, and a way to free up the land for a proposed waterpark expansion, our source had heard that the owners may have offered the Ride of Steel coaster and new train to Six Flags corporate to take and move to another park as part of their payment compensation for continuing to manage the park.
Hmmm… the rumors are wild indeed and swirling heavily around the future of Darien Lake. Plans within Plans… and as wild as these sound, they are not beyond the realm of impossibility.
(1/22/22) Darien Lake fans… I don’t really have good news for you today. After a disappointing couple of seasons that has seen limited operations of some park attractions and the removal of a few others, it looks like this trend may continue. Keep in mind these are just rumors right now, so things could change, especially as nothing has been removed “YET”, so there may be time to change course if guests let the park know what they want.
That said… we’ve got three rumors… one good and two you aren’t going to like.
Starting with the good news, we’ve heard it said that Predator may be getting some re-tracking work done to it this year. I don’t know if it is happening now, or planned for the near future. According to the rumor however, some of this repair work may be necessary work to fix areas damaged by a small fire. Predator has a reputation for giving very rough and painful rides, so depending on just how extensive the scope of the work is, it could go a long way to improve the ride experience, but no promises.
Now for the bad news… rumor is that Mind Eraser might have to sit closed for the entire 2022 season. According to the reports the coaster is in need of new trains, and while the park was looking to invest in some new style Vekoma trains with the more comfortable restraint system, this was apparently canceled from this year’s budget, possibly leaving Mind Eraser inoperable. From the sound of things, they’ll be looking into options of how to keep it running with the current trains for one more season if possible. Sometimes parks can cannibalize parts from two trains to make one good one, but without knowing the condition of the existing trains, this may not be possible.
Bad news item number two may come at the end of 2022 (or even later), as we are hearing that the park’s owners were “talking about” removing Ride of Steel. It’s hard to imagine the park being ready to remove this coaster after it only just opened in 1999 and is still the park’s third newest coaster.
If all the rumors are true, I’m sorry to say that this is a lot of potential bad news all lumped together. Well… bad news for everyone except Gene Staples, who will be reviving the former Fantasy Island park down the road. Gene has to be viewing the slow decay of his closest rival park with a smile, as it can only help his endeavors to open his new Niagara Amusement Park & Splash World project.
Now before everyone starts to take this out on “Six Flags” and blaming them for ruining to park, you have to remember that this is technically not a “true” Six Flags theme park. Six Flags does not OWN the Darien Lake property in any way. Back in the late ‘90s, the last time the park was known as Six Flags Darien Lake, it was owned by Six Flags, but following the first departure of Six Flags, the property was eventually sold to a REIT group called CNL Lifestyle Properties, who then resold the park to another similar company called EPR Properties who began contracting out the job of managing the park to other existing theme park companies. You may recall that at first Darien Lake was being run by Herschend Family Entertainment for a short time under a management contract for CNL shortly before the sale of the property to EPR Properties. While Six Flags took on the latest contract to run the park, when it comes to the park budget, especially for new capital projects, the cash is to come from the park owners and not Six Flags. After all, why would Six Flags spend money to buy a new coaster for a park they don’t even own? So this leaves Six Flags in the difficult position of running a park within someone else’s budget parameters, as their goal is still make a profit with the park for the EPR Properties (the park’s true owner) so that Six Flags also gets paid. I don’t know the terms of the deal, and if it is some kind of profit sharing agreement, or if Six Flags only gets paid what’s left after a minimum payment threshold is reached for EPR. Either way, Six Flags is just here to run the park, and while they can suggest and ask for budget requests to make improvements, the final say on all of that comes from the park owners, who clearly do not appear to be interested in investing in the park right now.
2022 - Wahoo Wave - (5/2/22) Six Flags Darien Lake has announced that their new Wahoo Wave waterpark will be ready for guests on Memorial Day Weekend.
(3/2/22) Six Flags Darien Lake is focused on their waterpark this season, and will finally rename the former Splashtown waterpark as another Six Flags Hurricane Harbor. A new waterslide is also finally coming to the park this year called Wahoo Wave. Of course, all of this was announced back in 2019… intended for the 2020 season, but due to delays caused by the pandemic these projects were all put on hold, but will finally be realized for the 2022 season.
(8/29/19) Six Flags Darien Lake will be adding a new waterslide for 2020 called Wahoo Wave, where sliders in 4-person rafts will climb six-stories and take a 30 foot plunge down straight into a giant wall element where they will spiral and stall out before falling back down once again to finish the adventure.
2022 - Predator Retrack / Titan Track? - (4/14/22) If you saw the post last week about how GCI is preparing to install a few hundred feet of their new Titan Track on a mystery coaster, we may now have a lead on the location…. Darien Lake’s Predator.
The location shouldn't come as a surprise as GCI’s own Clair Hain confirmed his intention to install Titan Track on Predator back in late 2020. The park soon denied it, as theme park’s social media is always quick to do, and that seemed to be the end of it at the time. After all COVID was causing chaos throughout the world, so even if Titan Track was planned for Predator at the time, the project could have easily been canceled. Or maybe just pushed back…
(11/8/20) Would you believe that Predator at Six Flags Darien Lake is getting an upgrade? According to an article about GCI and their new “Titan Track”, a hybrid track system they previewed at an IAAPA private event in 2019, GCI owner Clair Hain confirmed that he plans to install the new Titan Track system onto the Predator wooden coaster at Six Flags Darien Lake.
No timeline was given, and COVID-19 has thrown everything into chaos, but after a proof of concept test by installing a section of Titan Track onto White Lightning at Fun Spot America in Orlando back in August GCI is ready to begin pushing their new track system and will being to advertise it to their markets around the world.
It is entirely possible that Predator may only be trying to smooth out the rough spots with sections of Titan Track, rather than go for a full replacement at this time. Six Flags did the same thing with The Rattler at Fiesta Texas, adding a test section of RMC’s “Topper Track” to a troublesome section of the ride the same year that RMC opened The New Texas Giant a few hours north at Six Flags over Texas. It wasn’t long before they decided to convert The Rattler into Iron Rattler with a full Hybrid conversion instead. Since it would be unlike someone like Clair Hain to totally slip and leak Six Flags’ plans for Predator in an interview, I’d have to say that his comments may indeed be more of a proof of concept test for Six Flags to evaluate how a section or two Titan Track works on one of their actual coasters that is in need of a future update.
Since Six Flags Darien Lake did not actually open in 2020 at all, GCI could arrive to begin work on Predator at any time, if they haven’t already. So just something for the local fans to keep an eye out for over the winter months.