Everything's taller in Texas, too: Six Flags to add 40-story SkyScreamer

ARLINGTON -- Six Flags Over Texas, which touts a roller coaster with one of the biggest drops in the world, will be able to brag next year about the world's tallest swing ride.

The Texas SkyScreamer will stand nearly as high as the biggest skyscrapers in downtown Fort Worth -- about 40 stories. It will pick up 24 riders on the ground, spin them in open-air swings at speeds of up to 35 mph to an unprecedented height of 400 feet in a 124-foot circle, and bring them back down, the theme park said. Riders will have panoramic views of downtown Fort Worth and Dallas on clear days.

The ride was unveiled Thursday as executives with Grand Prairie-based Six Flags Entertainment Corp., which owns the park, announced plans to improve its 19 parks nationwide. Each park will get a new ride or attraction in the capital improvement plan that will cost Six Flags between $90 million and $100 million. The SkyScreamer will be the first new ride at Six Flags Over Texas since 2008.

"I do have the best job in the world," Jim Reid-Anderson said during a news conference Thursday. "We are really excited about the diverse lineup."

The company did not specify a cost for the Texas SkyScreamer, but Reid-Anderson said it is similar to what the company spent to redo the Texas Giant. In 2011, Six Flags reopened the Texas Giant after spending $10 million to install a steel track and expand the popular wooden roller coaster, which first opened in 1990.

The Texas SkyScreamer, which will be 108 feet taller than the nearby Cowboys Stadium, will be seen from miles away and likely become the Arlington park's newest icon, Reid-Anderson said.

"It's a huge ride and a significant investment," said Steve Martindale, president of Six Flags Over Texas. "It's going to be a spectacular new addition to the park and a new focal point. This ride experience will be unlike any other tower swing ride ever built."

To make room for the ride, the company will take down the Texas Chute Out, a park attraction since 1976, and the Flashback roller coaster, which opened in 1989, after this Labor Day weekend.

Martindale said a great deal of foundation and site work will be completed before passers-by begin to see the steel structure rising. The ride will be built by an Austrian company called Funtime.

The tallest ride at the park now is the 325-foot Superman Tower of Power,

Across Interstate 30, Six Flags Hurricane Harbor will celebrate its 30th anniversary next year by unveiling technology that will transform the Black Hole water slide into the Black Hole of Doom, a 4-D full-sensory thrill ride featuring holographic projections and sound effects, park officials said. The Black Hole is two 500-foot twisting tubes.

"The Black Hole has been a long time favorite at Hurricane Harbor and no doubt the new enhancements will maintain that status for many years to come," Martindale said.

Each year, Six Flags sets aside 9 percent of its revenues for new rides and attractions for the next season.

Reid-Anderson said the company starts planning new rides at least five years out. He wouldn't talk about plans beyond 2013.

"It's like R&D [research and development] in most other companies. This is our future. We've stuck to it and will continue to," Reid-Anderson said.

Six Flags Over Georgia is also adding a SkyScreamer, but it will be 24 stories tall.

Sandra Baker, 817-390-7727

Twitter: @SandraBakerFWST