Saturday, September 17, 2022

Magic Mountain, January 1979

I have a small batch of 35mm slides featuring Six Flags Magic Mountain, located in beautiful Valencia, California (35 miles north of downtown Los Angeles). You've seen a few of them already, but I finally scanned a few more of them.

Magic Mountain opened in 1971, but by 1979, Six Flags purchased it and the park got its new (improved?) name. I sure loved going to MM right around the time it first opened, it was pretty charming, and had a lot of nice rides suitable for families. Now they concentrate mostly on roller coasters, which isn't a bad thing, but I miss some of the odd old attractions. 

This first photo shows COLOSSUS, which had debuted the previous year, and was the "fastest, largest dual-tracked wooden coaster". According to Wikipedia, Following its first season, it was closed and extensively redone. When it reopened, it was a much smoother ride. I assume that we are seeing Colossus during this period when it was closed.

Here's a nice photo of the Jet Stream, which opened in 1972. It was built by Arrow Development, and was the first flume to use a turntable loading system. It's described as a "family friendly flume ride". Because Magic Mountain was built on a hilly site, the builders incorporated the shape of the landscape for many of the coasters and other rides, which resulted in a much more attractive park compared to others with similar rides.

Here's the Sky Tower, a 385-foot tall observation tower located in the "Samurai Summit" section of MM. The ride opened in 1971, the same year the park opened. The tower was built by Intamin AG, as a Hexagonal Tower. The tower is made of 460-tons of steel, has two-observation decks and a red-paint scheme. The tower was also designed to withstand strong 100 MPH winds. During the 1970s, the tower had a multi-colored rainbow-paint scheme, but was then later repainted to a red-paint scheme.

Sadly, in 2014, the Sky Tower was forced to be closed by the state, due to the safety requirements regarding the ride's elevator. It has been vacant ever since.

Here's a nice shot taken aboard the Metro, a monorail that ran through the park (notice the Galaxy Ferris Wheel in the distance). This monorail ride ran three stations; one at the High Sierra Territory, one at the Colossus County Fair, and one at Samurai Summit. The monorail had been standing but not operating since 2001 and it was announced by Six Flags in 2007 that the ride would have no plans to reopen. The trains were located right next to the former location of Flashback where they sat for 10 years. In 2011, the monorail trains are relocated to Hersheypark. The abandoned track has been taken down in all areas readily visible to parkgoers but sections of track still exist and may be glimpsed in heavily overgrown sections of the park.

I believe that this shot was taken from the Metro, with a view of the Chevron Gran Prix, consisting of gas-powered race cars from 1971 through 1986, and switching to a new turnpike with electric vehicles that was moved to "Bugs Bunny World", finally being demolished in 2008.

And finally, one last late-afternoon look at Colossus!

Stay tuned for more Magic Mountain photos!


Nanook said...

The early days of MM were probably its best - with a really nice mix of rides and experiences.

The Colossus was kinda a turd - a rough one, at that. (And then there was that little 'accident'.... RIP Carol Flores).

Thanks, Major.

JB said...

It's always exciting to see amusement park photos. Especially a place like Magic Mountain with its hilly terrain. These are all excellent photos.

Sounds like a lot of TRE happened here in recent years; like another park we know. Seems like they took out anything and everything that was unique and different: the Monorail, the Gran Prix... the Tower is evidently still there, but unused; it might as well be gone, too.

Does Warner Bros. still have a presence in the (Six Flags) park? I guess it's still a fun place if you like coasters, coasters, and more coasters... and plush toys. I like riding coasters, but it's been a while. I'd probably have to start with the milder, family coasters and work my way up to the more extreme ones.

I always get excited and happy when I see amusement park photos; thanks, Major.

TokyoMagic! said...

Yep, Magic Mountain has experienced a major case of TRE, over the years.

In that first pic, we can really see how steep that first drop is on Colossus. I've told this story before on my blog, and maybe here on GDB, too....the first time I rode Colossus was within a month of it's grand opening. My grandfather rode it with my brother and me, while the rest of the family "sat out." Prior to riding, my grandfather took his glasses off and put them in his shirt pocket and buttoned the "flap" on the pocket. On that first drop, his glasses flew up and out of the pocket, ripping the button off on their way out.

I had no idea that the observation tower had closed. I know that they had put a MM museum up there. It might have been for the parks 40th anniversary, but not sure. I wonder if they moved the museum to another area in the park. I'm also wondering if the safety situation with the tower's elevators can be fixed. Maybe it's a matter of Six Flags not wanting to spend the money?

I miss this Magic Mountain, so much! Thanks for the great pics, Major!


Growing up my family went to MAGIC MOUNTAIN maybe once every 2-3 years or so. Like TokyoMagic , I really miss the early version of the park. I think the last time I went with my family was the year FREEFALL opened. MAGIC MOUNTAIN was about a 3 hour drive from San Diego then , and we were a Disneyland/Knott’s family. Besides the distance , gangs became a BIG problem when the BIG coasters began to added … so lots of people began to steer clear of the park for safety and it became less family friendly.

That image of the JET STREAM water flume ride reminds me of the signs posted all around the waterway : “By this moment you can bet, we can’t help it if you get wet!!”

Looking forward to more vintage -gang free - MAGIC MOUNTAIN !!

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, I sure remember loving Magic Mountain, it wasn’t all roller coasters, and had areas of real charm. The old Pearl Pagoda! Loved that thing. I remember when Ms. Flores was killed, definitely a tragedy. But as a kid, there was nothing more exciting than riding Colossus.

JB, yes, the use of the hills really sets Magic Mountain apart. One of my favorite roller coasters is the Gold Rusher, which hugs the hills. It’s probably not much more intense than Big Thunder, but it’s a great ride. I’m assuming that features like that tower might be considered too full of potential risk to operate; maybe not. Still, it’s a bummer that it is sitting there unused. I do believe that the Warner Bros. characters are still all over SFMM, they were the last time I went (which was probably seven years ago).

TokyoMagic!, losing my glasses on a roller coaster is one of my nightmares! I always get a “Croakie” to hold my glasses on to my head, and they work great. On one of the more intense ‘coasters, the rider is basically laying down on his/her back looking skyward. I could feel my car keys trying to escape my pocket, and clapped my hand down on them just in time! That would have truly sucked to lose them. “We’ll retrieve your keys after the park closes, you should be driving home by midnight”. Ugh.

Mike Cozart, I miss the little things, such as the wizard and the trolls, Spilliken Corners, and as I said to Nanook, the old Pearl Pagoda and the funicular that you would ride to get up to it. I do remember when gangs would keep people away, and one night there was a huge fight in the parking lot as we walked back to our car (hoping nobody would notice us). Long before most places, MM had metal detectors at the entrance. For a few years we took my niece and nephew to that park, and we always had a fun time.

K. Martinez said...

Love the Metro Monorail shot with The Galaxy in the background.

Pre-Six Flags Magic Mountain was pretty special. It was sold to Six Flags the year those photos were taken, so this is how it looked just before Six Flags influence.

What's great about the Colossus pics is that this is before they reprofiled the track and the double hill was flattened out.

I'm so thrilled to hear you have more MAGIC MOUNTAIN photos on the way. 1979 was like the last year before Six Flags influence affected the park.

Nanook, I agree with you on your comment about Colossus being a turd. First time I rode it I thought it was a badly engineered coaster and too rough.

JB, Warner Bros. IPs still have a major influence on all the Six Flags parks. I love riding coasters, coasters and more coasters, but I also like a balance of attractions and nicely landscaped theme parks.

Again, looking forward to more MAGIC MOUNTAIN! Thanks, Major.

JG said...

I agree, the early MM was a fun place. It wasn’t a patch on Disneyland or even Knotts, but it had its own charm.

I only visited 2 or 3 times, always with my high school group. It was a shorter drive than Disney from our home and could be done in a long day, no need for an expensive overnight, also a smaller park.

I remember a smaller steel coaster called the Gold Rusher and a spinning wheel called the Circus Wheel, also a funicular modeled on Angels Flight,, but other things are kind of vague now. Maybe a boat ride? There was a skyway type ride too, and the Galaxy Wheel was a different take on a Ferris wheel. There were no tickets, just ride on whatever. Disney still had tickets at that time, so the freedom to not hoard “E” tickets was a new experience. I think I rode that Gold Rusher 10x.

Always had a good time, but never felt a need to go back, especially after the big coasters took over. I don’t doubt the thug element either. That might account for some of Disney’s high prices, screening those folks out.

Hearing these stories, I wonder why these parks decay so? What kind of judgment in management makes this seem ok? A mystery to me.

Thanks Major and all for the comments. I have a long day away, but I’m looking forward to reading the comments late tonight.


Dean Finder said...

Was Colossus the coaster used at the end of National Lampoon's Vacation? I know they used MM (and other CA parks) as Wally World.

Also I had no idea that Hersheypark has a monorail. I'm a few hours away but I all ever ride there is the animatronic "factory tour" that feels like an old EPCOT ride.

JB said...

I've never been to MM. The closest I came was when our family was headed for Disneyland in 1975. I could see some of the rides up on the hill to our right as we drove by on the I-5 freeway. I could also see the L.A. Basin ahead of us, and there be Disneyland! So I wasn't too miffed that we bypassed Magic Mountain. Still, I woulda liked to have experienced it, especially back then.

I think the Internet is broken. Out of random curiosity, I Googled "TRE" and "TRE acronym"... Nuthin'. I went through the first 5 pages of results and... Nuthin'! No mention of "They Ruin Everything" at all! (Lots of other TREs mentioned though.) THIS IS OUTRAGEOUS AND UNACCEPTABLE!!! Like I said... Broken.

Sunday Night said...

Some of “This is Spinal Tap” was filmed there.
I saw the band Los Lobos there around 1984. Fantastic concert.
I went to Magic Mountain pretty early on (maybe 1972?) Unfortunately, it didn’t impress.

Nanook said...

"But as a kid, there was nothing more exciting than riding Colossus". Please bear with me while I make my point - which hopefully, isn't an 'idiotic one'...

Many years ago in a film class, we had just finished looking at a film (don't remember the title), and the professor was asking folks opinions about it. Naturally, there was some disagreement. When he pointedly asked a very knowledgable student [he attended film screenings in the LA area, and thru those events, I knew who he was] what he would say to the individual who disagreed with him, he simply remarked: "You need to see more films-!" So... I would say to your 'kid self' - "You need to ride more roller coasters-!"

Anonymous said...

Glad I had the chance to ride the Colossus before they smoothed it out. Old wood coasters were always a bit rough. Compared to the Cyclone Racer in Long Beach and the Scenic Racer in Melbourne, AU, it seemed a similar experience. The Cyclone was so good we paid to stay on and ride it again. KS

Melissa said...

The Colossus is very pretty. Looks like the skeleton of some strange beast. I had such a bad time on a rough wooden coaster at Canada's Wonderland that I've pretty much sworn off them unless a particular one has a reputation for being mild. I thought my teeth were going to break, they got banged together so much.

Major Pepperidge said...

K. Martinez, I had the feeling that you would like these! I only have a small number of remaining slides in this lot, unfortunately. Vintage slides from Magic Mountain don’t seem to be that easy to come by! I don’t remember how much MM changed after Six Flags acquired it - did they change it a lot, fairly quickly? Or did it take a while, I lived through it, but it was a while ago! Gosh, I don’t remember thinking that Colossus was a turd, but admit that I did not have a lot of roller coaster experience at that time.

JG, there was a period where I went to Magic Mountain kind of a lot, it was where my friends wanted to go, and from where I lived it wasn’t that far away. We always had a good time, and while I personally still held Disneyland in the #1 spot, my friends were all about the thrills. Jeez, was there a Sky Ride? It wouldn’t surprise me, and yet, I don’t remember one at that park. Like you, I wonder why management sometimes allows a park to get so worn and torn. Peeling paint, rust, broken-down rides, how can this be an acceptable business model?

Dean Finder, I don’t think I’ve seen National Lampoon’s Vacation, believe it or not. I know I’ve caught bits and pieces of it on TV, but have never seen the whole thing. Wasn’t there a TV movie starring KISS that was filmed at Magic Mountain? Maybe I hallucinated the whole thing.

JB, I am definitely glad that I experienced Magic Mountain in those early years, unlike so many of the parks that we see on GDB and elsewhere. I can be one of those snooty people that can claim that I saw it before it was TRE’d! By the way, I think that TokyoMagic! should get all the credit for TRE, and should also make lots of money because of it.

Sunday Night, wow, Los Lobos, that’s an actual good band! I thought only cheesy bands played at MM. The Monkees were playing there on one of my visits, but it was only Davy Jones and Micky Dolenz. It’s been a while since I’ve seen “This is Spinal Tap”, but I can imagine Spinal Tap playing to tiny audiences at MM!

Nanook, as I said to K. Martinez, I did not have a lot of roller coaster experience, especially in the early ‘70s. I probably had mostly been on the Disney “mountains”, and maybe a few others. I did ride Colossus many times, presumably after they fixed whatever issues it had, because I thought it was fun, and really liked it when they put the trains on backwards. That was quite an experience.

KS, I think one of the roughest, most painful roller coasters that I personally experienced was “Ghost Rider” at Knott’s Berry Farm. I’m not sure I ever need to go on that one again, it’s a very harsh wooden coaster. To be honest I don’t even know if it’s still there!

Melissa, yes, I totally believe that you’ve been on a bone-breaking wooden roller coaster! I can’t say I have sworn them all off, but if I ever ride one, I’m going to just assume that I will need to brace myself for some pummeling.

TokyoMagic! said...

JB, you Googled TRE.....ha, ha!

I think that TokyoMagic! should get all the credit for TRE, and should also make lots of money because of it.

Oh boy, I can't wait for all of that cold hard cash to start rolling in! ;-)

Dean Finder, yes, Colossus was used in the film Vacation, as "The Screemy Meemy" roller coaster. The family also ride's Magic Mountain's "Revolution" coaster, in the film. Here's the clip where they ride Colossus:

Major, you are correct. Colossus was also seen in the made-for-television film, KISS Meets The Phantom of the Park.

Melissa and Major, I didn't break any teeth on "Ghost Rider" at Knott's, but it did seem like I could feel my brain rattling around inside my skull. (And a friend of mine broke her tailbone while riding.) I vowed never to go on it again, but then they redid the track in 2016, and also got new vehicles. When it reopened, I was told by multiple people that it was no longer rough, so I gave it a try. It was much smoother. Supposedly when it first opened in 1998, it was a smoother ride and got rough over time. I wonder if that will happen again. Don't wooden roller coasters change over time from "settling"?

Anonymous said...

Major....there WAS a Sky Ride as JG mentions. It ran the length of the MM North-South along the ridge-line of MM for the best aerial views. KS

TokyoMagic! said...

KS, I meant to mention that, but forgot! Not only did Magic Mountain have a Sky Ride, it originally had two! They were called the Eagles Flight. There was the longer route that ran along the hilltops from the Sky Tower area, over to the area near Colossus. Then there was a shorter route that ran from the Sky Tower area down to the area near the "El Bumpo" bumper boats ride. That shorter route was the first one to be removed and I think that lower station was replaced by the water arena where they would have dolphin and high diving shows.

I remember an article in the Los Angeles Times, in 1978, about a newlywed couple who were "honeymooning" at Magic Mountain. Other riders on the Eagles Flight supposedly saw the man swinging the bucket that he and his wife were riding in, which caused it to fall. He was killed and his wife was paralyzed. Here's a little bit of the story and also a photo that shows the longer sky ride route, taken from a bucket that was traveling on the shorter sky ride route: