Theme Parks

Six Flags Magic Mountain turning wooden coaster into Twisted Colossus

Twisted Colossus highlights: 2 lift hills, 2 near-vertical drops & 2 inversions

Six Flags Magic Mountain plans to convert a classic wooden coaster into the world’s longest hybrid coaster that adds two barrel roll inversions and a first-of-its-kind in the U.S. “high-five” element.

Dubbed Twisted Colossus, the massive makeover is to transform the now-closed 1978 Colossus racing wooden coaster into a 4,990-foot-long wood-steel hybrid ride with two separate lift hills and a pair of near-vertical drops.

Set to debut at the Valencia amusement park in 2015, the Magic Mountain ride is to be built by Idaho-based Rocky Mountain Construction, which has converted a number of wooden coasters into hybrid rides with looping inversions typically associated with steel coasters.

Twisted Colossus sounds like it could be an epic ride.

Departing from the station, the train will navigate a series of bunny hops before ascending the first of two 121-foot-tall lift hills.

Following an extreme 80-degree drop at 57 mph, riders will travel through a “high five” element where the tandem trains tilt inward 90 degrees, allowing riders to almost touch hands during a dramatic near-miss moment. The “high-five” element was first introduced at China’s Happy Valley theme park with the Dueling Dragon coaster, built by Ohio-based Gravity Group, a rival to Rocky Mountain Construction.

After a double-down drop, Twisted Colossus will pass through the first of two zero-G roll inversions, this one with a brief stall at the top.

Climbing a double-up hill, riders will experience weightlessness on an outward-banked floater before passing through the station again just as a second train on the adjacent track is dispatched.

Traveling side-by-side over the bunny hops again, the dueling trains will ascend the twin lift hills together and descend the 80-degree drops simultaneously before passing through the high-five element at the same time.

Weaving with the track from an earlier part of the journey, the first train will zoom through a second zero-G roll inversion and trim its speed as it climbs another double-up hill before heading back to the station where the passengers will disembark after a three-minute, 40-second journey.

The track will be two colors -- blue and green -- to indicate the two legs of the trip.

In all, riders will experience 18 airtime hills, two lift hills, two 80-degree drops, two zero-G roll inversions and two passes through the high-five element. It’s enough to take your breath away just thinking about it.

All this is possible because Magic Mountain and Rocky Mountain took what seemed like an insurmountable problem -- what to do with an aging wooden coaster -- and turned it into unbridled inspiration that resulted in a one-of-a-kind ride.

Originally built as a dueling racing coaster, Colossus featured tandem 4,325-foot-long tracks where trains raced side-by-side along nearly identical courses.

The new Twisted Colossus dual-lift coaster will require precise timing to dispatch one train every 110 seconds so that riders on both tracks will simultaneously climb the parallel lift hills and navigate the high-five element together.

Much of the existing white wooden structure that has become a landmark at the park over the last 36 years will remain. Indeed, the ride’s overall height and top speed won’t change significantly.

The biggest change is to come at the eastern end of the track farthest from the station, where construction crews are to remove the upper level of track from the horseshoe turnaround segment of the ride. Similarly, the right spur of track departing from the station is also to be demolished.

In addition, Rocky Mountain is to add steel reinforcements at key locations to support the newly added inversions and overbanked turns.

Combining the dueling tracks into a single route will increase the overall ride time from two minutes, 30 seconds to three minutes, 40 seconds.

The nearly 5,000-foot-long Twisted Colossus is being billed as the world’s longest hybrid coaster. But the coaster could have been the world’s longest -- wood, steel or hybrid -- if the entire 8,650-foot-long structure had been incorporated into the new ride. As part of the renovation, more than 3,000 feet of track will be removed from the structure.

At 8,133 feet, Steel Dragon 2000 at Japan's Nagashima Spa Land is the reigning longest coaster in the world. The 7,395-foot-long Beast at Ohio's Kings Island holds the wooden coaster record.

Rocky Mountain Construction first burst onto the coaster scene with the renovation of Texas Giant at Six Flags Over Texas, which added a steel track and overbanked turns to a traditional wooden coaster. The remade Texas Giant went on to win the Amusement Today Golden Ticket Award for best new ride of 2011.

Rocky Mountain has since added inversions to Rattler at Six Flags Fiesta Texas (2013) and Six Flags Mexico's Medusa (2014) while building two new looping wooden coasters: Silver Dollar City's Outlaw Run (2013) and Goliath at Six Flags Great America (2014).

During budget-conscious times, a rehab project such as Twisted Colossus allows a park to renovate an aging ride at a reduced cost while marketing the makeover as a “new” ride.

The ongoing relationship with Rocky Mountain portends good things for other parks in the amusement park chain with aging wooden coasters such as Six Flags Over Georgia (Great American Scream Machine and Georgia Cyclone), Six Flags St. Louis (Screamin’ Eagle and Boss) and Six Flags America (Roar and Wild One).

The $7-million Colossus opened in 1978 as the world's tallest and fastest coaster and the first with two drops exceeding 100 feet. The ride gained pop culture fame as Screemy Meemy in 1983's "National Lampoon's Vacation" with Magic Mountain transformed into Walley World.

As a final farewell, the park hosted a 36-hour Colossus coaster-riding marathon before closing the ride for a nine-month renovation.

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