Roller Coaster Capital: Cedar Point or Magic Mountain?

Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

Cedar Point and Six Flags Magic Mountain have been battling over the coveted title of Roller Coaster Capital of the World for years.

The two parks were tied, with a record 17 roller coasters apiece, until the Six Flags amusement park in Valencia added the Green Lantern coaster this year, besting its Sandusky, Ohio, rival – at least for now.

> Photos: Cedar Point vs. Magic Mountain


Cedar Park fans boast that the ride collection at “America’s Roller Coast” far exceeds any other park and complain that Magic Mountain’s rides are often down for maintenance or mechanical problems. Magic Mountain backers let the numbers do the talking.

> Photos: Top 10 Cedar Point coasters | Top 10 Magic Mountain coasters

After my mid-summer trip across America’s Coaster Belt, I decided to put the debate to a test, pitting Cedar Point and Magic Mountain against each other in a coaster-versus-coaster competition.

The two parks share many nearly identical coasters, several with a few similarities and a couple of wild cards that simply don’t match up. And, of course, Magic Mountain has that one extra coaster.

So with the help of the inimitable Roller Coaster Database, let the showdown begin:

> Identical Coasters

Raptor (Cedar Point) versus Batman The Ride (Six Flags Magic Mountain) - Both Bolliger & Mabillard inverted coasters were built in 1994 at the height of the coaster wars. Raptor is taller, longer and faster. Winner: Raptor. Score: Cedar Point leads 1-0.


Mantis (Cedar Point) versus Riddler’s Revenge (Six Flags Magic Mountain) - The B&M stand-up coasters opened two years apart in the late 1990s. Built in the bigger is better era, the newer Riddler was taller, longer, faster and had more inversions than Mantis. Winner: Riddler’s Revenge. Score: Tied, 1-1.

Cedar Creek Mine Ride (Cedar Point) versus Gold Rusher (Six Flags Magic Mountain) - Built around the same time, both Arrow mine trains are more than 40 years old and have similar track lengths (2,500 feet) and top speeds (40 mph). The taller Gold Rusher hugs the terrain while the hybrid Cedar Creek dips down near a lake. Winner: Cedar Creek Mine Ride. Score: Cedar Point leads 2-1.

Iron Dragon (Cedar Point) versus Ninja (Six Flags Magic Mountain) - The Arrow suspended swinging coasters were built a year apart in the late 1980s. The terrain-hugging Ninja is faster, with every train launched with a spirited “hi-yah!” Winner: Ninja. Score: Tied, 2-2.

Woodstock Express (Cedar Point) versus Road Runner Express (Six Flags Magic Mountain) - The vanilla-flavored Vekoma junior coasters were both built about a decade ago. Woodstock is taller, longer and faster. Winner: Woodstock Express. Score: Cedar Point retakes the lead, 3-2.

> Similar Coasters

Corkscrew (Cedar Point) versus Revolution (Six Flags Magic Mountain) - These two revolutionary rides by rival manufacturers battled in 1976 to become the world’s first looping coaster, with Revolution beating Corkscrew to the title by a week. While Corkscrew features two more inversions, Revolution is taller, longer, faster and first. Winner: Revolution. Score: Tied, 3-3.

Mean Streak (Cedar Point) versus Apocalypse (Six Flags Magic Mountain) - These twisting wooden coasters were built about two decades apart by different manufacturers. Magic Mountain once had a similar coaster (Psyclone) built in the same year (1991) by the same manufacturer (Dinn), which was demolished and replaced by Apocalypse. Mean Streak is bigger, faster and rougher, but Apocalypse is newer, smoother and better. Winner: Apocalypse. Score: Magic Mountain reclaims the lead, 4-3.

Magnum XL-200 (Cedar Point) versus Goliath (Six Flags Magic Mountain) - The built-for-speed inversionless rides known as hyper coasters were built about a decade apart by different manufacturers. Goliath is newer, taller and faster. Winner: Goliath. Score: Magic Mountain leads, 5-3.

Jr. Gemini (Cedar Point) versus Magic Flyer (Six Flags Magic Mountain) - The old kiddie coasters built by different manufacturers have both been in service for decades. While Magic Flyer is older (1946) and has received many more thematic makeovers, Jr. Gemini is taller and features a more complex layout. Winner: Jr. Gemini. Score: Magic Mountain leads 5-4.

Gemini (Cedar Point) versus Colossus (Six Flags Magic Mountain) - The twin-track coasters built in 1978 by different manufacturers have about the same height (125 feet) and top speed (60 mph). While the hybrid Gemini features a wood structure with a steel track, the wooden Colossus has a slightly longer track. Winner: Colossus. Score: Magic Mountain leads 6-4.

> Comparable Coasters

Wicked Twister (Cedar Point) versus Deja Vu (Six Flags Magic Mountain) - The open-ended inverted shuttle coasters were built a year apart by different manufacturers just after the turn of the millennium. While the ubiquitous boomerang design of Deja Vu can be found at numerous parks, the double-twisting U-shaped Wicked Twister is much rarer and more interesting. Winner: Wicked Twister. Score: Magic Mountain leads 6-5.

Top Thrill Dragster (Cedar Point) versus Superman: Escape from Krypton (Six Flags Magic Mountain) - The vastly different Intamin launch coasters, built a few years apart, share two similarities: Both top 400 feet and 100 mph. But as any Cedar Point fan will tell you, Top Thrill Dragster is a little taller and a lot faster. Winner: Top Thrill Dragster. Score: Tied, 6-6.

Wildcat (Cedar Point) versus Canyon Blaster (Six Flags Magic Mountain) - Neither of these standard-issue family coasters, built two decades apart by different manufacturers, will quicken the pulse of any die-hard ride enthusiast. Magic Mountain actually had a similar Schwarzkopf-built coaster called Mountain Express that it removed in the early 1980s. But that was yesterday. The off-the-shelf wild mouse-style Wildcat is taller, longer and faster than Canyon Blaster. Winner: Wildcat. Score: Cedar Point moves ahead 7-6.

Millennium Force (Cedar Point) versus X2 (Six Flags Magic Mountain) - While unconventional, this showdown pits Cedar Point’s top coaster against Magic Mountain’s best. Each ride is unique. Both were built around the same time just after the new millennium by different manufacturers. While the Millennium Force giga coaster is taller, longer and faster, the fourth-dimension X2 with 360-degree rotating seats is more revolutionary. Winner: X2. Score: Tied, 7-7.

Maverick (Cedar Point) versus Green Lantern: First Flight (Six Flags Magic Mountain) - In another unusual match-up, these Intamin-built rides face off in a battle between each park’s newest coaster. While both rides are about the same height (100 feet), Maverick is twice as fast and five times as long. On the other hand, the vertical Green Lantern gives Magic Mountain two cutting-edge, fourth-dimension coasters -- twice as many as any park in the world (and 100% more than Cedar Point). Winner: Maverick. Score: Cedar Point pulls out in front, 8-7.

> Unrelated Coasters

Blue Streak (Cedar Point) versus Viper (Six Flags Magic Mountain) - The final two contests match coasters that have no similarities. But what can you do? In a head-to-head competition, I’d take the classic 1964 Philadelphia Toboggan-built wooden Blue Streak over the dated 1990 looping and corkscrewing steel Viper any day. Winner: Blue Streak. Score: Cedar Point up, 9-7.

Disaster Transport (Cedar Point) versus Scream (Six Flags Magic Mountain) - In the 1980s, Magic Mountain briefly had a steel toboggan coaster called Sarajevo Bobsleds, built by the same manufacturer. While Magic Mountain wisely realized the error of its ways, Cedar Point tried to literally cover up the problem by enclosing its puttering bobsled coaster and adding an aptly appropriate disaster theme. That means my nod goes to the parking-lot-themed, floorless Scream coaster, which was built so quickly in 2003 that Magic Mountain famously refused to even paint over the parking spaces on the pavement below. Winner: Scream. Score: Cedar Point holds onto the lead, 9-8.

Tatsu (Six Flags Magic Mountain) - With one more coaster, the final round naturally goes to Magic Mountain. The flying Tatsu coaster, Japanese for “flying beast,” would be hard to beat anyway, with its 124-foot-tall pretzel loop and 103-foot-tall corkscrew. Winner by default: Tatsu. Final score: Tied, 9-9.

It certainly doesn’t get any closer than that – a hopelessly knotted tie. Clearly, one match-up could have changed the outcome.

To break the draw, Cedar Point fans can argue that their park has a more picturesque waterfront locale and a richer coaster history stretching back to the 1892 Switchback Railway.

But Magic Mountain can point to the cold, hard numbers: 35 inversions, 13 more than any other park in the world and 23 more than Cedar Point. And of course, the most important number of all: 18 coasters, one more than Cedar Point.

We’ll just have to wait for the next coaster to sever the deadlock.