The roller coaster that once held the title of the world’s tallest and fastest is ending its 36-year reign as the king of wooden coasters. Six Flags Magic Mountain vaguely announced Tuesday that Colossus, the granddaddy of all coasters, would be closing later this summer.
Banners cropped up around the park last week stating the coaster would be closing on August 16. Without giving away too much information, officials at the Southern California theme park released a statement saying that the park would announce exciting future plans at a later date. They also urged guests not to miss their last chance to ride the wooden roller coaster before its closure.
Once hailed as the world’s greatest roller coaster, Colossus was an icon among coasters in the theme park. When it was built in 1978 it made roller coaster history, reaching a maximum speed of 62 miles per hour and peaking at a height of 125 feet. The coaster featured 4,325 feet of twin tracks that could operate simultaneously, six drops (two of them over 100 feet) and 14 hills. Every year the park ran one side of the coaster backwards for Halloween during its Frightfest event. This summer Magic Mountain will run one side of the ride backwards until June 15, before closing the ride for good.
Colossus was designed by San Fernando-based Bernards Construction and cost $7 million to build. It was the first of three wooden coasters that have occupied space in the park. The second, Psyclone, was built in 1991 and torn down in 2007 to make way for the third, Apocalypse: The Ride, which was known as Terminator Salvation from 2009 to 2010.
The coaster’s history is not unspotted. Six month’s after its June 1978 opening Colossus was shut down for a year when a woman was thrown from the train. Upon investigation, the park concluded that the lap bar did not properly lock due to the woman’s size. The park modified the ride and changed the height and weight requirements before reopening it.
The classic coaster even had an acting career. It was featured in movies and television shows in the ’80s and ’90s. The 1983 movie, National Lampoon’s Vacation had Clark W. Griswold on a tireless quest to get to Wally World so he and his family could ride a coaster called Screemy Meemy, portrayed by none other than Colossus. The coaster also graced television screens weekly as the final scene of the intro to the ’90s sitcom Step by Step.
Park officials have not divulged plans for the coaster but fans can only speculate what the future will bring. Roller coaster enthusiasts hope the park will upgrade the ride the way the other Six Flags parks did with its sister coasters. The Texas Giant at Six Flags Over Texas, The Rattler at Six Flags Fiesta Texas and Medusa at Six Flags Mexico were all recently converted to hybrid coasters. The rides’ wooden tracks were replaced with Rocky Mountain Construction’s revolutionary IBox track to provide a smoother ride and give the train the ability to move in different ways that it previously could not.
The closing of Colossus might be the end of an era at Magic Mountain, but it opens the doors for a newer, better ride that coaster fans can appreciate. One thing is certain, the next coaster to fill the space where the legendary coaster stood will have some big shoes to fill.
By Brandi M. Fleeks