According to this article, it's a permanent
Fiesta Texas' famed Rattler is going silent
The Rattler won't be rolling any more after Aug. 5.
Six Flags Fiesta Texas announced Monday that its landmark wooden roller coaster — once billed as the fastest and tallest wooden coaster in the world — will carry its last rider that day.
What, if anything, will replace the 20-year-old ride was not something Fiesta Texas officials would discuss Monday.
“All I can say is, it will be going away on Aug. 5,” park spokeswoman Sydne Purvis said. “That's all I can tell you.”
The ride, a nearly mile-long, 180-foot-high structure of Douglas fir tracks and southern yellow pine supports, is one of Fiesta Texas' signature features. It was the park's only adult roller coaster when it opened in March 1992.
So highly anticipated was the ride when the park opened that visitors waited in line for as many as three hours to take their seats and then got back in line for another turn. It has won thousands of fans over the years.
“It's one of the few coasters that literally scared me,” said David Lipnicky, public relations director for American Coaster Enthusiasts and a Grand Prairie resident who was there when the ride began and has come back for more thrills every year since. “That original, first drop was the single best (coaster) element I've ever experienced.”
But the Rattler's bite was a bit too hard, according to some of the park's guests.
The 166-foot drop after the ride started and the curves that pulled riders with up to 3.5 G's of gravitational force were blamed for a variety of neck, back and shoulder injuries that led to lawsuits by dozens of riders.
Park signs warned riders that the Rattler was “an aggressive, high-speed, physically demanding” attraction that might not be best for pregnant women and people with heart, spine or back problems.
By the 1994 season, the ride was toned down. Its top speed went from 73 mph to 65 mph, and its first drop was shortened.
At the time, Fiesta Texas officials denied that the changes were the result of allegations in the lawsuits. In 1998, the park reached settlements worth $3.54 million in lawsuits representing 27 plaintiffs.
Purvis said the lawsuits have long been resolved and had no bearing on the closing of the ride.
She said the park wanted the Rattler's many fans to know when it would be closing so they had time to ride it one more time.
“It's kind of the end of an era,” she said.
Howard Gillooly, the preservation director for the coaster enthusiasts organization, said it's always sad to see a wooden coaster close, and he predicted that fans would make a trip to San Antonio to take one last ride on the Rattler before it's gone.
Wooden coasters are being replaced by steel coasters in the amusement park industry but have not disappeared altogether, industry officials said. Richard Munch, a member of the National Roller Coaster Museum and Archives board and a founder of the coaster enthusiasts organization, said wooden coasters have not been easy to maintain in the Texas heat. But they continue to be built in Northern states and in other parts of the world, including China, he said.
The most recent census by the Roller Coaster DataBase showed that the United States had 113 wooden coasters and 509 steel coasters.
Munch was surprised by Monday's announcement because he believed the Rattler was in line for refurbishment. He and Lipnicky said they hope Six Flags replaces the ride with another coaster or something that provides the same kind of thrills the Rattler did.
Even after the Rattler was toned down, fans still thought it was an exciting ride.
“It was a wooden coaster, and it was a pretty long ride — one of the longest coasters I've ever been on,” said Andrew Cobb, a Texas State University student who grew up in San Antonio. “I'll miss it.”