Local News

Saturday, Aug 09 2014 04:00 PM

Riders say goodbye to colossal So Cal coaster

  1. 1 of 6

    By Felix Adamo / The Californian

    The Colossus roller coaster at Six Flags Magic Mountain is set to close Aug. 16.

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  2. 2 of 6

    By Felix Adamo / The Californian

    Ron and Carson Quinzon were on hand to ride Six Flags Magic Mountain's Colossus before it closes Aug. 16.

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  3. 3 of 6

    By Felix Adamo / The Californian

    The line was fairly short on Wednesday morning for those waiting to ride the Colossus roller coaster at Six Flags Magic Mountain.

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  4. 4 of 6

    By Felix Adamo / The Californian

    The Bakersfield Californian's James Burger (in the front car) takes one last ride on the Colossus roller coaster at Six Flags Magic Mountain. The famous coaster is set to close Aug. 16.

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  5. 5 of 6

    By Contributed photo

    Michael Mountain, 15, of Bakersfield, left, and Nick Inglis take one of their more than 300 rides on the Colossus during a 33-hour marathon event held earlier this week at Six Flags Magic Mountain. Contributed photo.

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  6. 6 of 6

    Michael Mountain, 15, of Bakersfield holds a piece of Colossus, his prize for finishing a 33-hour marathon ride on the legendary roller coaster. Contributed photo.

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BY JAMES BURGER Californian staff writer jburger@bakersfield.com

Colossus' first drop is people's favorite.

If the clunky, clattery wooden roller coaster ever becomes seductive, it is at the moment the car clanks free of the chain lift and eases gently over the crest of the first hill.

Related Info

COLOSSUS -- BY THE NUMBERS

Top speed : 62 mph

Elevation: Nearly 13 stories

Length: 8,500 feet

Introduced: June 1978

Capacity: 24 riders

Required minimum height of riders: 4 feet

Source: Magic Mountain

You look almost straight down for a long, anticipatory moment.

It's just enough time to realize nothing on the planet can stop you from going over the edge.

Then you are pressed up against the lap bar, your gut is leaping into your throat and the rushing wind of your fall is whipping the moisture from the corners of your eyes.

The G-force of the second hill slams you back into your seat before you can put another thought together and you are swept into the bone-rattling romance of Colossus.

"It never gets old," rider Edward Antonio of Glendale said Wednesday, "even though it's old."

What once was the tallest, fastest roller-coaster in the world when it opened in 1978 will be closed by next Sunday to make way for a new, still-secret project.

You have until Six Flags Magic Mountain closes at 9 p.m. on Saturday to say farewell.

The pristine white paint that made Colossus shine to travelers on Interstate 5 decades ago is now chipped and stained.

One of its two tracks is closed.

The sweeping logos on the front of its passenger cars have seen better days.

And it has become a "warmup" for the Valencia park's other coasters -- ribbons of acrobatic steel that now loom over Colossus.

Antonio and three friends rode Colossus, Six Flags Magic Mountain's legendary wooden roller coaster, on what was a muggy mid-week morning.

Ani Mard of Glendale said it is the scruffy, lived-in feel of the ride that makes it great -- even now.

"I like it. It gives it character," she said.

Should it be closed?

"Keep it going," said another Glendale rider, Derick Balaian.

Connie Lujan, a spokesperson for Six Flags Magic Mountain, said the response to the closure of Colossus has been strong and support for the old coaster passionate.

She won't say what's coming next -- that's a secret that will be revealed to the public on Aug. 28.

But the Los Angeles Times has reported about speculation the coaster could be converted into a steel-wood hybrid.

Lujan said people have flocked to ride the big coaster one last time and the park has been working to give Colossus an honorable send-off.

The news that Colossus is closing was sad for Ron Quinzon of Sacramento, who rode Colossus this week with his 10-year-old son, Carson.

Quinzon said they love "the old herky-jerky feel" of wooden coasters and are sad to see such a big one disappear.

"My favorite coasters are wood coasters," Carson said, "and this is my favorite one."

Michael Mountain, however, is looking forward to the future.

On Monday and Tuesday, the Bakersfield teen rode Colossus for a marathon 33 hours, making that first drop more than 300 times with six other adventurers.

Mountain said the experience, riding through the heat and cold with only 15-minute breaks, was life-altering.

He wasn't talking about his hallucinations that the moon was a disco ball.

"It's really opened my eyes to what I want to do with my life," Mountain said. "I want to be an engineer."

The realization came as the thrills of the ride faded to the background and he began to see the elegant beauty of the structure's design.

When the Northridge earthquake hit in 1994, Mountain said, "nothing was damaged on that ride. It was a really beautifully engineered ride."

Colossus takes riders over six drops and 14 hills at a top speed of around 62 mph. Its two biggest drops are both comfortably above the 100-foot-tall mark -- the height record the ride broke when it opened.

Mountain said the first drop, the little hill after the second drop and the camelback humps at the end of Colossus are his favorite parts of the coaster.

It was the first coaster he rode, Mountain said, and he hates to say farewell.

"I'm sad that it's gone," he said. "But I know, from a lot of different sources -- I know big things are being planned for it."

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