It has gained a reputation as one of the roughest rides a roller coaster has to offer.  This offseason, the Predator at Darien Lake got a long-overdue upgrade.

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Predator is the second oldest coaster at Six Flags Darien Lake, and its 32-plus years in operation have taken their toll on the old girl.  The coaster was designed by Curtis D. Summers.  The "Out and Back" style ride was built by the Dinn Corporation and opened to the public on May 25, 1990, and became a fixture of Western New York summers.

But through the years, the ride developed a reputation.  A reputation for being rough on its riders.  So much so, that Six Flags opted to undergo a major re-tracking of the ride back in 2006.  Then in 2010, Darien Lake purchased 12 new train cars from an amusement park in Indiana.  The new cars replaced the Predator's original PTC trailer-style trains which had a reputation for being rough on the guests.

All of these updates haven't helped much, as after the last time I rode predator back in 2019, I was sore for two days.

But, this winter, it was revealed that the first major change to the track was happening in over 15 years.  Darien Lake announced that approximately 1/10, or 300 feet of the Predator track was going to be replaced with a new steel track from Great Coasters International.

The new "Titan Track" is a new weld-free steel track; that aims to provide the smoothest experience possible on a long-lasting track.

Well, this past weekend I was out at Darien Lake.  I asked the rest of my crew if they wanted to go test out the new track on Predator.  I got a robust "NO" from all of them. So being the coaster nut that I am, proceeded to go check out what had been done.

A visual inspection of the ride from the ground level didn't reveal much, so I made my way through the entrance and up to the queue.   There weren't many people in line, so I only had to wait for two cycles to get on.  Still no sign of the new track, but I did notice plush new headrests had been added to the seats. The train pulled out of the station, and down a short hill, before banking right and heading up the lift hill.  As I looked down at the wooden structure to my left, I could see it like a lighthouse gleaming in the night.  There it was!  The new steel "Titan Track"!

Credit - Nik Rivers
Close up of the new "Titan Track" on Predator

The train made its way up the lift, and down the first drop.  The rush of the speed and the vibration of the wood kicked in.  Could this still be the same old Predator?  Up the second incline, around the 180-degree turn, and back towards the station.  Now the new track and the new wood below it were in sight.  As the train made its way down the second hill, we crossed over the transition and onto the new track, and instantly it was like the train was skating on ice.  The noise was gone.  The vibration was gone.  We seemed to pick up speed.  And then, in a blink of an eye, the 300-foot section of steel "Titan Track" was gone, and all of the old Predator came rushing back.

All in all, the new track is an AMAZING 300-foot experience.  If the folks at Six Flags can get the ride to 50% new "Titan Track", the Predator would again be a top coaster.

But for now, it's only 300 feet of the way there.

Predator @ Six Flags Darien Lake

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