Located at Six Flags Great Adventure, El Toro is in my opinion the greatest wooden coaster on the planet, it is an absolute masterpiece of modern engineering that turns the much loved wooden coaster into something truly incredible.
First a bit of history before I start gushing over perfection. El Toro was the last coaster built by Six Flags during their era of excess. This era brought the World the coaster legends Kingda Ka, Tatsu and X, as well as countless highly regarded Inverted, Floorless, Hyper and Flying coasters.
El Toro is an Intamin Prefabricated Wooden Coaster, this means the track is laser cut in a factory and then delivered to the park and assembled much more like a steel coaster would be. Intamin to date have only built 4 prefabs, with El Toro being the 3rd and the only one in the US.
Both of those previous facts make El Toro’s very existence seem rather unbelievable. What if Six Flags had ended their spending spree 1 coaster earlier? What if Six Flags hadn’t taken the risk and added such a rare and untested coaster model? It’s obvious isn’t it? We wouldn’t be blessed with wooden perfection and the World would be a much sadder place.
Other than making construction much easier what are the other benefits of these prefabs from the point of view of a park? Well it’s not the cost that’s for sure. A prefab of this size is easily equal to the cost of a similar sized steel monster, if not more. In theory, prefabs require much less day to day maintanence than a traditional wooden coaster, but still much more than a steel one, further adding to the mystery of El Toro’s existence.
While not fantastic from a park’s perspective, the prefab technology is amazing from a riders. The precision cut track sections offer 2 major advantages over traditional woodies in terms of ride experience. The first being the coasters are much smoother, as smooth as steel in most cases. The other, the more important, is thanks to the track construction prefabs are able to handle much greater positive and negative forces than a traditional woodie. In El Toro’s case this means one thing only, ejector airtime at it’s finest.
Yeah you heard me right, El Toro has the greatest ejector airtime on Earth. While Skyrush may deliver slightly more, it almost goes too far in it’s approach and turns being ejected into a test of endurance. I still love Skyrush to pieces, mostly for said brutality, but I prefer El Toro’s slightly less aggressive but still absolutely insane approach to launching you into orbit.
Now join me as we climb aboard the bull and discover why it’s the greatest wooden coaster ever built, just try your best not to be thrown off…
After making your way through El Toro’s rather uninspired queueline, you eventually ascend stairs into a well themed station building. This station building was recycled from Viper, a Togo Looper that used to sit where part of El Toro does today.
It’s here where you and 35 other lucky riders board the amazing Intamin prefab train. These trains are incredibly open and feature Intamin’s fantastic T bar restraints, the perfect combination for the airtime filled madness that is coming.
Restaints locked and clear all cars. Enjoy your ride on El Toroooooooooooo…
After taking a left hand turnaround to get things pointing in the right direction, you find yourself looking up at El Toro’s massive lift hill. You won’t have long to regret your life decisions here though because soon you are hauling up the structure thanks to the always fantastic cable lift hill.
And here’s where things get really crazy…
I’m a sucker for amazing first drops on coasters and El Toro’s might just be the best in the World. Thanks to the momentum created by the cable lift hill and the insane length (you can thank the prefab tech again for that) of the trains, taking El Toro’s near 200 foot 76 degree drop in the back car almost shouldn’t be legal. You are ejected so violently into that drop that you’ll find yourself questioning if this is real life. One of the strongest elements on a coaster ever and we have only just started.
Now for something I wasn’t expecting. Once again thanks to the wonders of the prefab, El Toro is able to hit you with seriously strong positive Gs as you bottom out at the base of the World’s greatest first drop.
Here comes the first airtime hill and Christ are you in for something special. The greatest ejector air on Earth sustained for a sickening amount of time. You’ll have enough time to turn to your neighbouring rider, exchange a look of true fear, shout something offensive, wish it was over, wish it wouldn’t end, while all 36 of you and the train are taking off and the upstop wheels are quite literally screaming.
You liked that didn’t you? Let’s do it again then! More crushing positves at the base of the first airtime hill, followed immediately and violently by more thigh crushing sustained ejector air over the equally as insane second airtime hill.
We’ve run out of room now, let’s turn this bull around. It’s here where El Toro calms down a bit but it’s far from boring. You’re treated to a decent blend of floater air, laterals and positives in a turnaround manoeuvre that starts and ends with large hills.
Next up is a speed hill that provides yet another enjoyable moment of floater airtime, before things pick up again in spectacular fashion.
If you thought El Toro was insane before, which it was was, you haven’t seen anything yet. It’s now time to experience the infamous Rolling Thunder hill. Named after the wooden coaster this element used to pass over, this airtime hill isn’t as sustained as the previous 2 but is 10 times more aggressive. If Skyrush didn’t exist this would be the strongest pop of ejector ever created, it is quite literally the definition of too much.
There’s no time to catch your breath after that brutality though, you now enter the so-called bucking bronco portion of El Toro. This is a series of intense low to the ground turns designed to viciously throw you about. Some coaster snobs consider prefabs to not be real woodies because they are “too smooth” and “only focus on airtime”, I feel the bucking bronco section was added to El Toro to shake some sense into them, it’s fast, it’s fun and the perfect ending to a fantastic coaster.
It’s almost law for the whole train to burst into applause as you re-enter the station, on some coasters this act feels forced, on El Toro it feels earned.
Hands down my favourite sensation in the coaster World is ejector airtime and for that alone you can’t do any better than El Toro. While I’d listen to the argument that El Toro is JUST airtime and nothing else, when the moments of airtime are the best you’ll ever experience can this truly be considered such a bad thing?