Shock Wave is a classic, steel looping roller coaster added to the Tower section of Six Flags over Texas in 1978. When the ride opened it was the tallest, continuous-circuit coaster in the world. Shock Wave remains one of the few looping coasters with simple lap bars for restraints (as opposed to over-the-shoulder harnesses).
Though it may look tame compared to some of today’s rides, Shock Wave is easily one of the most intense coasters in the world. It produces serious G-forces, both positive and negative. The consecutive loops are circular instead of the ellipticalTechnically modern loops are clothoid-shaped shape used for most loops, producing up to 6 Gs. At the opposite end of the force spectrum, Shock Wave’s multiple hills provide powerful airtime, a rare feature on an inverting coaster.
Shock Wave’s location alongside Interstate 30 reportedly caused a few highway wrecks when it first opened due to distracted drivers.
Shock Wave has thrilled guests of Six Flags over Texas for nearly 40 years, but the ride has essentially outlived the expected operational life for which it was designed. Instead of removing the ride, the park has decided to invest in its historical significance and perform yearly rehabilitation on the ride’s track. That’s why the coaster is occasionally still closed at the beginning of the season with track pieces missing — the work is sometimes too extensive to perform in the 2-month offseason.
Though often credited to Schwarzkopf, Shock Wave was actually designed by Werner Stengel, a prolific German engineer that has worked on multiple modern coasters. Anton Schwarzkopf’s company handled the manufacturing and technical details of the ride.
Shock Wave’s track uses a rigid, four-sided lattice design that minimizes the supports needed due to its inherent strength. The supports are also known for their skinny, toothpick-like look. They taper down to a sphere-shaped end near their base and interlock with a socket in each footer, forming an innovative ball-and-socket connection (similar to La Vibora). Instead of creating a rigid connection between the support and footer, the design allows relative motion reducing stress. The design also results in track that sways more than the average coaster as trains pass by, furthering the illusion of danger. Guy wires attached to various sections of track add stability.
Shock Wave Photos
Shock Wave Trivia
Shock Wave's Sister
The Mindbender at Six Flags over Georgia opened the same year as Shock Wave (1978) with the same track style, train, and feature of 2 vertical loops. As a result, Mindbender and Shock Wave are often called “sister” coasters.
A Colorful Past
Shock Wave has had a number of color schemes over the years. The coaster opened with white track and white supports. In 1980 it was painted dark blue, which faded and was re-painted a lighter blue. Silver track and dark blue supports gave the ride a Dallas Cowboys-inspired theme in the 80s. The park again changed Shock Wave’s color scheme in 1992 to have white track, pink loops, and yellow supports (widely considered its ugliest color scheme). In 1996 the track was painted dark blue and the supports were painted red. Shock Wave was painted its current green and blue colors in 2001.
Shock Wave Stats
|Ride Type:||Steel looping coaster|
|Top Speed:||60 mph|
|Height Requirement:||42 in|
|Flash Pass Enabled:||No|
Where to Sit?
Sit in the back for the most powerful airtime throughout the ride. And try looking out to the side during the loops to literally watch the world turn upside down.