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The Joker's Jinx (Six Flags America)

Just One Bad Day

Credit: Six Flags America

Linda Hutcheon notes that, "effective games, like theme parks and rituals, must eschew the metafictional or the self-reflexive" and this notion is echoed by Jenny Nicholson, a media critic and theme park YouTuber, in her deep dive of Star Wars Land (Hutcheon 136). In said video, she describes Disneyland's strength in immersion can be attributed how they take care to ensure a parkgoer's sightlines do not get disrupted by the unrelated sections of the park around it — something she believes other parks like Universal Studios slacks on, given that you can see sights such as Homer Simpson's head from the Hogwarts themed area (Nicholson 20:48-21:12).

Joker's Jinx at Six Flags America, located in the Gotham City section, follows this flaw as from its waiting area, a guest can clearly see Wonder Woman: Lasso of Truth not too far away (Gretzky 1:35). Immersion and thus avoiding the metafictional isn't Gotham City's top aim; instead it reminds you constantly that you are in a theme park. When you ride Joker's Jinx or go through its waiting area, you are not experiencing Joker as a character but rather you are experiencing a steel roller coaster with a Joker-themed coat of paint.

It is not unfair to say that Joker's Jinx barely adapts the Joker as a character, given that the ride is extremely similar to Flight of Fear in King's Dominion which opened to the public three years prior. It is likely that Flight of Fear was adapted to become an outdoor rollercoaster, Joker's Jinx, because of the launch at the beginning of the ride. Guests are shot from 0mph to 60mph at the very beginning before being driven through many twists and turns but never a drop. Joker's intensity and zany character are communicated through how this coaster never gives its riders a break even from the very start. The main difference between the two coasters, besides Joker's Jinx being an outdoor coaster, is that Joker's Jinx has guests pass through multiple rings instead of having a mid-course brake run. This change allows the coaster to never have a significant slowdown period — again, likely to communicate Joker's intensity. That and the track and supports being recolored to green and purple (so as to match Joker's theme palette) are the only key decisions made that actively went into making this ride an adaptation of the Joker as a character.

Joker's Jinx exhibits the same folly as countless other theme park rides themed after characters. They don't usually begin in their designs to be based around the character. Instead, the character is an afterthought, being slapped onto a pre-existing ride so as to lure in their fans.

As such, Joker's Jinx hardly breaks new ground or shows much in the progression of Joker as a character throughout the ages. All one can note is how in the waiting area, the sculpture of him most closeWindow()ly resembles Neal Adams' depiction of him from 1973, but Joker's Jinx doesn't properly communicate that same return to his more homicidal nature. The high speed and frequency of twists and inversions might resemble that, but the bright colors feel much more kid-like — like his older iterations post the Comic Code. It is ultimately a clash of visions, feeling the most aimless in Joker's development by various adapters.

Joker's Jinx is not an exploration of the Joker; it is merely the exploitation of him as a cultural icon.

Works Cited

Nicholson, Jenny. "Star Wars Land: An Excruciatingly In-Depth Prequel." Youtube, commentary by Jenny Nicholson, 17 Sep. 2019, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dYy6V_ZVSU8.

CoasterForce. "Joker's Jinx front seat on-ride HD POV Six Flags America." Youtube, 28 Dec. 2012, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K9kFkOM-zAA.

Coaster Studios. "Flight of Fear Pivothead POV Kings Dominion." Youtube, shot by Taylor Bybee, 27 Jun. 2016, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ep8e51rd_oE.

Gretzky Dog and Friends. "Gotham City at Six Flags America." Youtube, 11 Aug. 2019, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uMP2y_a2vc8&disable_polymer=1.