It all started with a dream...

Oh, wait, that's not it. It actually started with the desire of the Newhall Land and Farm company to build a park for their 'master planned community' of Valencia. Too bad they didn't have a master plan to build roads throughout the Santa Clarita Valley, but that's another story. Well, the plans were drawn up, and construction began in 1969, 2 years before the park would open to the public. At the time, no one had any idea what it would become. The park was a combined effort of Sea World and Newhall Land and Farm and cost approximately 20 million dollars. When the park opened on May 29th, 1971, there were 500 employees and 33 attractions. Today, in the height of the summer season, Magic Mountain employs over 3000 people. Some of the rides that opened with the park were:

Gold Rusher, the runaway mine ride
Log Jammer, the log flume ride
The Sky Tower
El Bumpo, a bumper boats ride
Eagle's Flight, a "Skyway" type ride with three stations. One near what is now Colossus, one near what is now Freefall, and a dual station at the top of the hill near the current Laughing Dragon Pizza Company.
The Metro, a monorail type ride
Many others, including some spinning "flat" rides

For the complete listing of MM's rides, from 1971 to the present, please follow this link.

The price to get in in 1971 was a mere $5 for adults, and $3.50 for kids between the ages of 3 and 12. In the pictures below, you can see a scan of a Santa Clarita Preview Night ticket from 1971, as well as a postcard showing an early view of Magic Mountain. Happy 30th Anniversary, Magic Mountain!

One other popular thing that opened with the park was the Showcase theatre, now the Golden Bear Theatre. Over the years, many, many concerts have been held there, from Oingo Boingo to Paula Abdul to REM to Missing Persons to the New Kids on the Block. Although the concerts have been largely scaled down in recent years, the park still has a long history of hosting many great events.

The next year, 1972, Magic Mountain began using their famous trolls as their mascots. For the 1971 season, Magic Mountain had gotten permission from Warner Bros. to use the Looney Tunes characters. A little foreshadowing, as it turns out. The three trolls and the Wizard became a recognizable symbol of Magic Mountain. Bleep, Bloop, King Troll and The Wizard made their home at the park until 1985.

Press here if you'd like to venture to the troll page for a better look at said trolls.

Also in 1972, the powers that be must have been overwhelmed by the success of Log Jammer, because the installed their newest flume adventure, called Jet Stream. Once upon a time, it featured a side-by-side ending drop, with boats alternating on either side. Now it is just one side, and Jet now shares its hillside with Ninja.

1973 saw the park get its second roller coaster, the Mountain Express, a compact steel coaster kind of like a "wild mouse" style coaster like those found at many older, traditional parks. It was similar in the way it had small trains and had a lot of turns. It was not, however, a true "Wild Mouse" coaster. The Mountain Express closed in 1981, and stood on the land once occupied by the Mystic Lake, now Hurricane Harbor, as well as Flashback, which is not moving for the next few years at least. In 1974 the park also installed a new complex of spinning puke rides in what would become (10 years later) Back Street. The new additions were the Himalaya, Electric Rainbow, and Tumble Drum. (Enterprise in 1977). What fun...

Also in that same area, but a year later, the Grand Centennial Railway opened. It took riders on a train journey to Spillikin Corners and back. It was a popular attraction among train enthusiasts who pine for its existence to this day.

Magic Mountain stepped up to the big time in 1976 with the opening of the Great American Revolution (I wonder if there is any significance to the name?). It was the world's first successful 360-degree steel looping coaster. It was and is still a great ride. And there shall not be any griping about shoulder harnesses. Everyone, operators included, hate them. There is no further point to be made. EVERYONE dislikes them. That being said, I will still make a case for Rev being one of the best coasters in the park. When it was built, there was very little in the way of surrounding brush (see picture below). Now, the tracks are surrounded by trees and bushes, which prevents the riders from knowing the track layout beforehand, not to mention the cool feeling shared with Ninja of darting in and around trees at high speeds. Feeling inspired, the folks at Universal filmed a major movie at Magic Mountain with the Revolution as its centerpiece. "Roller coaster" opened in 1977.

1978--Colossus. When it opened, it was the fastest, largest dual-tracked wooden coaster, period. It was quite a ride from what I am told. After its first season, it was closed and extensively redone. When it reopened, many enthusiasts cried "foul" but it was still a great ride. People just didn't have bruises like before. A further modification was made in 1991. At that time, the camel hump before the last, or 3rd, turn was replaced by a block brake. Though it decreased the speed of the ride after this particular brake, it did allow 3 trains to run per side at a time, greatly increasing capacity. And until you get to the block brake, it is still the same great ride. The first drop is still damn good. Some Colossus stats:
  • First Drop--115 feet
  • Second Drop--105 feet
  • Third Drop--70 feet
  • Speed--Over 50 MPH
  • 1,036,041 board-feet of lumber to construct it
  • "B-Side" is longer by 3 feet
  • First generation Colossus trains were 3 rows deep rather than 2.
  • Trains ran backwards for a few years one on side in the mid-80's. However, until the late 1990's this kind of ride was no longer possible due to the newer ride system in place, as well as different trains. Then someone decided to try a Psyclone train with the coach bolted on backwards, and voilá can run backwards again when they want to.
Colossus at night

While Colossus was being built, another movie was filmed at Magic Mountain. Part of the movie was even filmed on the yet-to-be-finished Colossus structure. The movie was KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park. It is shown sometimes on cable, and if you have a chance, watch it. It is hilarious. Those of you who want to see the old Magic Pagoda will be very interested in the movie as well. Magic Mountain used to be quite a popular movie and TV backdrop during the late 70's and 80's. You may remember some of the following that were filmed there at one time or another:
  • National Lampoon's Vacation--The classic with Chevy Chase going to Wally World. Ride the Whipper Snapper!
  • The Bionic Woman--See Lindsay Wagner throw a stuffed bear at an Eagles Flight car and knock someone out of it!
  • The A-Team--As usual with this show, lots of stuff gets shot up, but no one gets hurt.
  • Simon and Simon--If anyone has this on tape, please email me. I would love to have a copy
Of course there were others, but those stood out in my memory.

Fast forward to 1981, for seemingly all that happened in 1980 was the addition of the rather fun Buccaneer. Other than that, however, there wasn't too much to brag about. But in 1981, Magic Mountain introduced a ride that was on the West coast for the first time--Roaring Rapids (it was developed with the infamous Intamin A.G. in conjunction with Six Flags AstroWorld; AstroWorld's version opened the year before in 1980). Along with Rapids came the completion of the midway near Spillikin Corners to link with the Revolution area. Finally a complete circuit could be made around the park. As for Rapids, it still stands as a very impressive ride, though it is not perhaps all it could have been. It was originally designed as a dual-sided station, but only one was fully developed. All that exists of the possible second side is a few supports and some imagination. Rapids uses some huge pumps to circulate water. Each pump (there are 2) can circulate 88,500 gallons per minute. The Rapids reservoir can hold 1.5 million gallons of water. One of the least impressive things about Roaring Rapids was the introduction of guide boards to help eliminate jam ups. Overall, though, it is still the best water ride in the park. A good example of what the evolution of Rapids has brought is the Congo River Rapids of Busch Gardens Tampa. It is Rapids updated. It features no guide boards, and has the dual sides on the station. It uses water jets to position the rafts in to either side of the dock. In any case, Rapids is still a good ride.

1982--Hmmm, what can I say. In a word, Freefall. At once a great ride and a pain in the ass. At the time, it was certainly cutting edge, if not strictly a "roller coaster." It began what I considered the Golden Age of commercials for Magic Mountain. This included such gems as the Z-Force commercial, the Viper commercial, the Shockwave commercial, the Barbie and Ken commercial, and many many others. At the time, we were going for attitude, and we had some memorable commercials. Nowadays it is all family stuff, but oh well. The one for Freefall went like this: an army plane was flying overhead and inside the plane are guys suiting up to jump. The plane drones, the tension builds, and then on the outside you see a Freefall car being pushed out of the plane. If you don't remember it, and don't think it sounds very funny or creative, all I can say is you should see it. It is definitely a visual bit. As for the ride itself, it is a great thrill. The ascent up the tower is fast and fun, and the drop is cool, if a little short. It is a great intimidator. People who like roller coasters sometimes balk at Freefall, but the ride itself is mostly bark, with little bite. Or maybe I'm jaded from being on it so many times. A cool tip for the next time you ride any Freefall, look down. It makes it more interesting. Sure, the coin trick is OK, but then you may swallow your coin upon re-entry. Better to just look down. One other bit of advice--Freefall is NOT known for reliability. If you don't mind sometimes getting a panoramic view of the park for a few minutes at the top of the tower, enjoy your ride!

1983--Another banner year as Magic adds Swashbuckler (formerly Yo-Yo). OK, you can breathe again.

The following year, 1984, had 2 unique things going for it. First of all, riders were invited to try Colossus backwards if they so desired. Hey, if you have 2 sides, why not? The other thing? The Sarajevo Bobsleds were erected (heh, heh). The bobsleds now operate at another Six Flags park, but I'm not sure which one. I believe it is at Six Flags over Texas, but that might be another bobsled ride. Some people have said it is at the Chicago park. It was an OK ride, I suppose. I never rode it. It was probably a better idea than a ride. "Experience a real bobsled ride without the ice and snow!" Anyway, it was less than 2 years before the bobsleds made their exit, and there was little fanfare as I recall. And if I'd know what was going to take the place of the bobsleds, I would have called for a quicker demise than it got.

Bugs Bunny logo

In 1985, Children's World was re-themed as Bugs Bunny World, because Magic Mountain ditched the Trolls for Warner Bros. characters. Apparently they were about 11 years early in getting the characters, however. Actually, let me explain. If you have been to Disneyland, was there any doubt what the Disney characters were? Probably not. They walked around a lot, and had their faces plastered everywhere. That's because they sold merchandise and made people happy. Our characters were really under used until this summer, however. Not only are Warner Bros. characters popular, but they also have the Tiny Toons, Anamaniacs, and others to add to the mix. Anyway, 1996 brought a lot more characters to the park and that is a good thing. Also that year, the Grand Centennial Railroad ceased operations.

The coolest of the cool rides was installed in 1986. I don't care what kind of mechanics nightmare this ride supposedly was, it was damn cool. Of course I mean Shockwave. Elsewhere on this site soon you can link to my Shockwave shrine. Remember what it was like in 1986, to hear that Magic Mountain had a stand-up, looping roller coaster?

In the location of the station of the old Grand Centennial Station, Magic Mountain installed the Z-Force in 1987. The Z-Force, also known by its generic name "Looping Starship" was a lot like Buccaneer in the shape of a fighter plane. The one big difference was that it made a complete revolution, turning riders upside down twice during the ride. The best part of the ride for me was the stall before you actually completed the loop. Usually you would stall and almost go over, only to come back down and make your revolution going the other direction. It was quite the cool ride, and didn't occupy a lot of space. Unfortunately, the space it did occupy was to become Batman the Ride in 1994. Because of this, Z-Force was removed in late 1993.

Along with Z-Force came Back Street, a re-theming of the area surrounding Z-Force. Spinning flat rides were renamed Turbo (Electric Rainbow), Subway (Himalaya), and Reactor (Enterprise). The dance club was re-themed as well, and located near Reactor. After Hours, as it was now called (formerly Decibels), for one summer even stayed open later than the rest of the park during the summer. It, along with Back Street, would stay open an additional 2 hours as a place for locals to hang out. It didn't last long. In many ways, I miss Z-Force and Back Street, and even After Hours. But it is a different time now, and I don't think things would be the same as they were then. When I first started, it was fun to work the After Hours/Back Street area, where the "cool" people were. It's a different ball game now, though, and I think the time has past.

One of the biggest ride openings in Magic Mountain history occurred in 1988 with the debut of Ninja-The Black Belt of Roller Coasters™. Everything about this ride was cool. First of all, it was the first suspended coaster on the West coast. Secondly, it had a cool name. It had a cool slogan. It had a cool logo. It had a cool layout. Everyone's big complaint, though, was that it was too short. Maybe, but at least while you are on the ride there is no lag time. There is always movement. And the sensation of being in the first coach and darting around all of the trees and water of Jet Stream is very cool. Ninja also has the distinction of being pretty much the same ride as it was when it opened in 1988. Only the wheels have really changed. It still runs fast and loose in the hot summer months, and provides an excellent ride. No brakes until you hit the end of the ride. It really is a good coaster, and one that will hopefully be around a while. I just wish people could find it better. It is at the top of the hill by Skytower; really.

Tidal Wave opened in 1989 to rather large crowds (but not Ninja-sized crowds), despite having a rather lackluster premise in my opinion. You go up in a large boat, turn around, and splash down, displacing large amounts of water on the spectators on the exit bridge. No show building up top, no real theming, no story. Just get wet because it is 110 degrees outside. Some people can be talked into anything.

Wow—not only was 1989 the first year for Tidal Wave, it was the end of Condor (Condor made its debut in the fall of 1988, which, yes, is an unusual time to put in an attraction). What was Condor, you ask? Think of Scrambler. Think of Scrambler with a giant pole stuck in the middle of it (110 ft. or so). Think of the ride going up said pole and swinging away. Sound fun? It wasn't. It was in the space now held by Baja Oasis and Speedy Cheese the Bugs Bunny World Mouse-Ride-For-People-Too-Small-To-Go-On-Viper. Condor has since been to 2 different Six Flags parks. It has apparently found a permanent home at SFGA, near Chicago. Bye bye Condor, hello Viper.

1990 was the debut of definitely my favorite current Magic Mountain ride, Viper. It held and broke a lot of records when it opened and I think still has the record for longest steel looper (or is it largest? whatever). It has several cool features:
  • a 188 foot drop
  • speed up to 70 MPH
  • 3 "teardrop loops"
  • a boomerang turn that puts you upside down twice
  • a double corkscrew for another 2 times of being upside down
All told, you are turned upside down 7 times, and get a really cool and long ride up the lift, which in turn gives you a excellent view of part of the park from above. Yes, some modifications have been made to the ride, but I still think it runs well. And it may have the quickest line in the park for a major attraction, for it has the highest capacity of any of our coasters (except Colossus if it is running 3 trains per side). Some of the modifications were:
  • structural supports on the support columns around the hard left turn right after the 1st loop
  • scarf, or trim brakes, after the first loop and after the boomerang
  • re-profile of the first drop; evening out the sudden "jerk" to the left
Of course, the ride was better without the scarfs, but it's done now, and I don't think the ride suffered too much because of it. I know some people will disagree, but once the changes have been made, it is a little late to whine. If you insist on pining away for the good 'ol days, however, do it in the corner. I'll be riding Ninja and Viper.

Magic Mountain, already in the habit of adding a new attraction every year, decided to add another roller coaster to complement the recent Viper in 1991. The choice this time was for a wood coaster, or more specifically a Coney Island Cyclone replica called Psyclone. Also added with Psyclone was the re-theming of Spillikin Corners to Cyclone Bay, though for the most part it was only a cosmetic makeover. Much earlier, some of the shops that made Spillikin Corners Spillikin Corners had already been removed. The Glass Blower had been replaced by the Shooting Gallery, and the Candy Kitchen viewing area was no longer home to displays of candy making. Actually it was still made for people in the viewing area, but it wasn't structured like before. Anyway, Cyclone Bay was born, and that corner of the park had some life again. In between the removal of Shockwave and the addition of Psyclone this corner of the park could have been called Ghost Town. With Psyclone, back came the crowds. It was interesting to have a new wooden coaster in the park. When it opened, it was one of my favorites. The double-dip drop was great, and I liked the banked turns and hills. Having only 2 trains made for some long lines, but that was a minor complaint. After adding Ninja, Viper, and Psyclone in 4 years, the park was getting a seriously good collection of rides. As the years have gone on, Psyclone's image has faded somewhat. Late on operating days riders can often walk on the ride without waiting and get numerous re-rides because the trains need 17 riders before the train can be dispatched (if you really care why, email me). The ride itself is not what it was when it opened. Right after it comes out of its winter rehab it is still a great ride, but the summer business just kills it. Near the end of the summer season it can be really rough. However, there are those that like it that way and hate it when it is smooth. A matter of taste, I guess. I prefer it fast, smooth, and without te scarf brakes, but some like it rough.

1992 was the year Magic Mountain went for a three-peat and put in another coaster. This time they opted for the oft-traveled Intamin "Space Diver," renamed Flashback for Magic Mountain. This ride had already been at 2 Six Flags parks before ours, and I wish someone else would be subjected to it now. This ride makes it clear why B&M left Intamin to form their own company. You can see B&M touches in Flashback. Take a good look at it and Batman and you can see many similarities. However, while Flashback looks like a great deal of fun until you ride it, B&M rides ARE a great deal of fun, even after you ride it. Anyway, Flashback had a cool design but didn't execute well. First of all, it has very steep, short drops designed to make you feel like you are "diving" down in a plane, and it had an ending 540 upward spiral. But because of the shoulder harnesses, riders are subjected to a lot of head banging. My solution? Remove the shoulder harnesses. I bet it is a totally different ride without them. And when I ride, I don't see why shoulder restraints are necessary anyway. As for its fate, it is here to stay for a while since the entrance was just moved to accommodate Hurricane Harbor expansion. Look for it to be around a couple of more years at least.

In 1993, Magic Mountain enters the Time Warner era full time and the focus changes from roller coaster park to family park. A lot of money is used to improve the look of the park and emphasize the total experience and some good changes are made. The new ride for the year was Yosemite Sam Sierra Falls. It is a water park water ride that has 2 twisting tubes that you slide down in using a raft. Not much product there, but it is fun if there is no line. It has low capacity, so expect long lines if it is crowded and hot (read: any summer day). Also that year there was re-theming and High Sierra Territory was born. The Showcase Theatre became Golden Bear Theater, the Animal Star Theatre was created in Bugs Bunny World, and of course the B.F.T. was born (Big Fake Tree). The emphasis on theming would continue into 1994. Magic Mountain was adding what 2 other Six Flags parks already had--Batman The Ride.

Batman the Ride (BTR) is an inverted coaster, meaning the usual coaster protocol is reversed. The track is overhead, and the cars are below it. The trains travel on the outside of the loops, and people have their legs sticking out. Perhaps the best, and most overused, way to describe an inverted coaster is like a ski lift. Your legs dangle, but you sit in a seat, not on a bench. The shoulder harness comes down over you and attaches to a seat belt buckle located between your legs on the horn of your seat (much like the "horn" on a saddle). Despite what you might think, the seat belt does NOT hold the shoulder harness in place; it locks on its own. The seat belt's main purpose is to ensure the shoulder harness is down far enough. Once it is in the buckle, it is wise to keep it there because on BTR, everything gets twisted and flies around, so it wouldn't be surprising if it smacked you during the ride if it was left undone. That being said, BTR is an excellent ride with excellent themeing. It was cool to see the whole area re-themed to a "Gotham" atmosphere, even if the "backlot" part is unnecessary. As a whole, it is very impressive, and people seem to like it. Not many of our rides have this much themeing, but it really is pulled off well at Batman. The coaster itself is a fine piece of B&M work, surpassed nowadays by Montu and Alpengeist, but still a fast and furious ride. Waits still really haven't gone down for this ride yet, but maybe with Superman they will. Batman is only capable of running 2 trains, but at 32 riders per train and a quick cycle time, the line moves fairly fast (it's just long!).

1995 was a off year for Magic Mountain attraction-wise. No new rides were opened. Instead, the focus from Six Flags was to build a water park next door. Hurricane Harbor (what a clever name...) opened just a tad late in June of '95. Not working there, nor frequenting there, I don't have a lot of info on the park, but here are the rides:
  • Taboo Tower--the tall complex of 3 speed slides most obvious from the toll gate to the parks. I'm told they're fun.
  • Tiki Falls--a complex of 3 slides, 2 of which are in the dark
  • Lightening Falls--a complex of 3 open-air slides
  • Lost Temple Rapids--a family raft ride, meaning up to 4 people can ride in the raft at a time. Very fun, but a little short.
  • Wave pool. 10 minutes off, 5 minutes on. Not too deep.
  • Lazy River. Travel around the park on a raft. Personal fave, though I'd like a little faster current
  • 2 activity pools, one for kids, and one for bigger kids.
  • The usual attractions like shops, food, and lawn chairs
I like the park, despite the noise from Flashback, and the themeing is done very well.

1996 was the year Superman was to open. It was built and hyped, but the fickle new technology they were using didn't cooperate fully, and continued tweaking has led to numerous delays. The problem now in lay man's terms ('cuz that's what I understand) is that it doesn't go fast enough. It was billed at 100 M.P.H., and they want to open it at that. It is a really fun ride, even at 94 M.P.H., so when it does open it will probably command big lines. The season pass holders who have been on it seem impressed with it, but who knows what the enthusiasts will say. As for myself, I didn't think much of it as it was being built, but after riding it, I was really impressed, especially with the acceleration. Just don't expect too much. What you see is what you get--it is a 30 second ride. And that is fairly plain to see so if you wait for more than an hour there better be no talking like "That's it?"

Also opening in 1996 was Dive Devil. It is a skycoaster by SkyFun1. It is a fun thrill the first time, and probably more suited to the name Superman than the other ride. What are you gonna do? It is an extra charge to ride it, be forewarned. Luckily, it didn't cost me anything to fly ;-). There's a 300 ft. flavor in Florida that is awesome. Puts out 153 ft. one to shame. and by the way, IT IS NOT A BUNGEE JUMP!! Sorry, I had to get that out of my system.

1997 — Well, on March 15th, 1997, about 10 months late, Superman was opened to the public. There's not much I can say about it that hasn't been said by someone else. You go up a 41-story tower very fast, and come down very fast. And it has lived up to its promise of being an Intamin ride by breaking down a lot. You'll know if it breaks down on you; you'll end up in the holding area behind the station wondering what stopped you. It's not a bad ride, but I hate the noise.

Also opening at Magic Mountain in 1997 was a new Ice Cream Parlor in the Main Gate area, a re-theming of the Main Gate (repainting mostly), and a brand-new Center Ring games area. Finally, 2 new stores opened. The Anamaniacs store, located near Valencia Falls, took over a building that has house half a dozen stores in the last five years. Previous to the Anamaniacs, it was the Warner Bros. Kids Club store. Now it is marked by a new landmark out from:a replica of the Warner Bros. Studio water tower that stands on the Warner Lot. Also built was Totally Tweety, a store featuring, you guessed it, Tweety merchandise. It took over the old Sierra Sand Creature Store near the Big Fake Tree in the High Sierra Territory.

Hurricane Harbor also expanded in 1997, and had a good season. They added a new speed slide tower, bigger that the one it is located next to, Taboo Tower. Black Snake Summit has five speed slides coming off of it, 4 enclosed and one drop-out-style slide, only steeper. They also added a new activity pool with a water basketball court, and five small slides that dump into the new pool. This new area is called Reptile Ridge. Finally, along the far edge of the park near Colossus. a six lane racing slide was installed. Similar to Blizzard Beach's Toboggan Run, riders slide down face first in one of six side-by-side lanes, racing to the finish. And although I did not personally ride the new additions, those I know who did said they added a lot to the park. It felt to them more complete. Sounds like a good deal, and I hope they have more planned in the near future.

Little did I know how exciting 1998 would be. I thought the addition of a new B&M Stand-Up coaster (The Riddler's Revenger) would be the big news, but the biggest news was the acquisition of the Six Flags chain by Premier Parks. And in September 1998, after just over 10 years, I left the company to pursue other interests. More soon, with info on 1998-2000 (including the new Bugs Bunny World, Goliath, Deja Vu, and X)!

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