Thursday, April 09, 2015

Special Guest Photos - Magic Mountain

Today we are heading north on the I-5 to Valencia, California; that's where Six Flags Magic Mountain is! The photos are from the summer of 1980, and are courtesy of GDB reader (and bon vivant) Ken Martinez. Thanks Ken! Today, Magic Mountain holds the distinction of being the park with the most roller coasters (19) in the USA. And let me tell you, some of them are intense.

Magic Mountain opened in 1971, and it was acquired by Six Flags in 1979.  This first shot was presumably taken from the 38-story Sky Tower. Ken tells us, "You can actually see parts of all four coasters that existed at that time if you look closely; Gold Rusher, Mountain Express, Revolution, and Colossus. The Mountain Express and Colossus you can see in full". 

Next we have a great view of the Colossus, which opened in 1978. At the time, it was the world's tallest and fastest wooden roller coaster (and it had twin tracks). It also featured two drops of over 100 feet. The last time I rode it (about a year ago), they had put the trains on backwards, which was interesting.

And here we are, aboard the Colossus. Wheeee! Colossus closed in 2014, and will be replaced with "Twisted Colossus", a hybrid wood and steel coaster with barrel-roll inversions, a near-vertical drop, and dueling tracks.

Ken says, "(Here is a) classic shot of the Revolution. It was the first modern coaster to feature a vertical loop. It was originally known as 'Great American Revolution' to tie in with the Bicentennial when it first opened in 1976". I still love this ride!

This view was taken from the Revolution, and shows the Sky Tower. As if 38 stories isn't high enough, it is built on a hill that adds even more height. It was closed for a while, but guests can now go to up to the observation level for spectacular views and to see a museum showcasing the park's history.

 THANK YOU once again to Ken Martinez for sharing these great photos with us!


Nanook said...


What great images of MM. I was never a fan of Colossus - it was, frankly, a big, fat turd of a coaster - with its horribly-profiled tracks, the original IAD trains, later replaced with the more comfortable PTC trains installed about the same time sections of the tracks were "re-profiled".

The Revolution, on the other hand, was a very slick design; especially when the original lift chain motor also doubled as the propulsion device to advance the returning trains into the loading station - and then mechanically uncoupled to allow the lift chain to attain a comparatively high speed to move the train up the lift hill at increasing speed. And... those of us with a flair for the derring-do stood-up for (almost) the entire run of the ride. (Obviously not during the loop). I can almost feel the wind rushing across my face, along with the smell of (whatever) weeds and grasses were at home in Valencia.

Thanks, Ken, for the memories.

TokyoMagic! said...

I loved the Magic Mt. of this time period. So much has been ripped out and destroyed in that park since these pics were taken. Who do they think they are, Disney? Knott's? The Mountain Express was a lot of fun. Too bad they didn't just leave it there. The same goes for the Log Jammer, Eagles Flight (Skyway) and the Metro Monorail. We can see one of the Monorail cars at the bottom of that first pic and another one parked backstage on the "spur" track (between the Mountain Express and Colossus). Thanks for sharing these with us, Ken!

TokyoMagic! said...

P.S. Ken, that pic taken while riding Colossus is super cool, but how on earth did you take it without losing your camera?

Monica said...

Fun! There has been a lot of Six Flags talk around our house lately, but we're on the East Coast, so no Magic Mountain for us.

I miss it! The Revolution was one of the first "upside down roller coasters" I ever rode. (Probably the Corkscrew at Knott's before that)

Melissa said...

At first I was all, "That tower isn't safe for people to go up in - look how it's leaning!" Then I remembered the perspective of the photographer.

Patrick Devlin said...

Yeah, good times. I was at UCSB at the time (How old are you?!) and it was just over an hour away. I loved the Gold Rusher. It didn't have any huge drops but I really liked the way it followed the terrain of the hill and ridge it was located on. I guess it was a little bit of a precursor to Big Thunder RR.

Dan said...

Love the shots of the old wooden coaster! It's a fun change of pace from the amazing Disney pictures.

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, I always liked Colossus when I was a kid; I rode it backwards last year and liked it a lot less, since I couldn't anticipate the upcoming turns and found it to be a rough ride. How could you stand up on The Revolution? Doesn't it have those shoulder restraints?

TokyoMagic!, I do miss the MM of my childhood, but (in general) am not as upset about the changes there as I am about the ones at Disneyland. I miss weird little things like the old Pearl Pagoda, and the trolls, though I did like the Log Jammer and the Metro.

TokyoMagic! again, I wondered the same thing! They will take your camera away from you if they see you with one (now).

Monica, I was at MM just last week with my niece and nephew (Spring Break)! Depending on where you are, there should be a Six Flags park not too far away; there's one in New York, Maryland, New Jersey, and Massachusetts. Time to ride a roller coaster.

Melissa, can you imagine it the tower actually WAS at that angle? I would never go up in it.

Patrick, the Gold Rusher is still there, it was perfect for one member of our party who did not like the extreme coasters. And it is still fun! Remember the place along the first lift hill where everybody stuck their gum?

Major Pepperidge said...

Dan, I do have some more vintage Magic Mountain photos, so I'll dig through and scan them one of these days.

K. Martinez said...

Nanook - I was never a fan of Colossus either. I grew up on the Giant Dipper in Santa Cruz which always seemed smooth for a wooden coaster. It also has a fantastic plunge into darkness at the beginning and an exhilarating layout.

Colossus always seemed like rattling and clunky mess to me. I even remember the trains fishtailing on the curves. Bad tech in my opinion. It's like park management only focused on having a record breaking coaster, ignoring the technical quality of the ride. The Revolution is definitely a winner and a classic. My favorite coaster at the Mountain today is the B&M Stand Up "Riddler's Revenge". I love that coaster.

TokyoMagic! - I love that Magic Mountain has a lot of coasters all over the mountain like giant colorful spaghetti noodles tossed about the landscape, but I do lament the loss of attractions like the Log Jammer, Galaxy (Intamin Wheel), Eagles Flight and Metro Monorail. I was definitely saddened by the loss of Log Jammer for another coaster. Do you remember Spillikin' Corners, the Grand Centennial Railroad, Magic Pagoda and Trollywood? I sure do.

As for the camera shot on Colossus, that was over thirty years ago. I honestly can't remember. Perhaps I had the camera strap around my neck.

Monica - The first upside coaster I rode was the "Turn of the Century" (custom Arrow corkscrew)at Marriott's Great America when it opened in March 1976. Shortly after that, I rode The Revolution at Magic Mountain and the Corkscrew at Knott's. Glad you enjoyed these.

Melissa - The photographer was a leaner. He was actually a lot leaner back then.

Patrick Devlin - I love Magic Mountain's original coaster too. I always viewed the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad layout as sort of a rip off of the Arrow mine trains that populated the theme parks in the early days, the first being at Six Flags Over Texas. They all had multiple lifts, short drops and lots of curves in their layout which Big Thunder would borrow from heavily. Glad you enjoyed these.

K. Martinez said...

Major - The Revolution didn't have shoulder restraints in the early years.

Dan - Glad you enjoyed these. As much as I love Disneyland, I enjoy a break away from the subject once in a while.

K. Martinez said...

Major - I forgot to ask. Since you were at Magic Mountain last week, how did the Twisted Colossus profile look?

Is it still aesthetically pleasing? I've seen the other hybrid coasters "New Texas Giant" and "Iron Rattler" online and they look absolutely wild in appearance and ride.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Ken and Major for the splendid photos.

I visited MM about four times between, I think, 1973 and 77. I never saw the Colossus, except from the highway.

I think the Gold Rusher and the log flume (name?) were my favorites.

Sad to hear the monorail, skyway and the funicular are gone. Those were fun little rides in their way. I definitely would not want to climb that hill today without the funicular.

Anyway, thanks for the view back.


Major Pepperidge said...

K. Martinez, Twisted Colossus was too incomplete, there were large chunks missing, at this point it actually looked kind of small (or "not tall", anyway). I am sure it will be cool when it is done, however.

JG, I think the funicular was actually operating last week. We passed the station, and it looked like somebody was in one of the trains. None of the teenagers in our group was remotely interested, though, so we kept on walking. I wanted to ride it!

Nanook said...


As Ken pointed out - there were no shoulder restraints back in the "halcyon days" before 'common sense' was no longer "taught" as a part of growing up. Intamin clearly had a winning design with the Revolution.


The Giant Dipper was (and is) a true gem among coasters. And (arguably) with the exceptions of the Jack Rabbit & Thunderbolt (both at Kennywood), the best start of any coaster. I'm not so certain the folks at Magic Mountain weren't sold 'a bill of goods' with Colossus. Sure they wanted to break the current record for "whatever", but the design was horribly-flawed; and unfortunately MM and one guest paid dearly for those "errors".

Monica said...

I forgot to mention we also recently purchased season passes for Six Flags New England. We plan to take the kids out of school & go one day next week. My 12 year old son has been telling us about all the roller coasters here (and at every Six Flags park). They are changing the big wooden roller coaster here too.

We're hoping to be able to visit the parks in New York & maybe New Jersey this year too.

K. Martinez said...

Nanook - Speaking of restraints, our Anton Schwarzkopf Intamin Speedracer "Willard's Whizzer" at Marriott's Great America up here didn't have lap bars or seat belts during it's first year of operation (1976). There were no restraints whatsoever. The safety depended entirely on the assumption the rider would stay seated during the course of the train's run. Needless to say that didn't last very long and seat belts were installed shortly after, reducing the five train operation to three trains operating at once.

Monica - I read that the old "Riverside Cyclone" was being transformed into the "Wicked Cyclone" in the same manner as Colossus. From what I've seen, it looks great.

Melissa said...

Monica, there's also Darien Lake and Canada's Wonderland. Darien Lake isn't a Six Flags park anymore, but it still has pretty good coasters.

TokyoMagic! said...

Ken, I do remember Spilikin' Corners, Trollywood, the Grand Centennial Railroad and the Magic Pagoda funhouse, as well as the park's version of "Autopia".....all of which have been ripped out. I love the rollercoasters, but I also like the more leisurely rides too (I guess I like all of it!), so it frustrates me to see everything become a thrill ride.

Major, I posted a pic a while back showing how Revolution didn't have anything more than a lap bar. Not only did it not have shoulder didn't even have headrests in those early years. Here is that post: 1978 Magic Mountain Trip Report

K. Martinez said...

TokyoMagic! - I love the leisurely stuff too! Just wish they could keep some of those classics and add new stuff instead of the usual rip-out and replace. The Log Jammer removal really bummed me out. That was one of the original 1971 attractions along with Gold Rusher. For what? Another looping coaster?

Anonymous said...

Hi Major, glad to hear the funicular wasn't demolished. From the tone of the conversation, I was afraid that's what happened.

I remember how amazed I was to see it as a teenager. What a great idea. Then later, I got to ride the real one on Bunker Hill in LA. Still no opportunity to ride the Swiss ones in the Alps.

Saw a movie recently where the murder attempt occurred in the funicular station with the hero dangling over thousands of feet of empty space. Can't remember the title.

Thanks again.