Here at Mantality, we like a challenge. To experience the extreme, the tough, the demanding, the things that push us to our limit and take us to a place where our minds didn’t think was possible; a higher plane of existence. There is a place where records are routinely broken, where people reach heights they never thought possible, where people scream with excitement at what they are experiencing and that place is located about an hour north of Los Angeles at Six Flags Magic Mountain; the roller coaster capital of the world. #TeamMantality writer Mikey Jones revels in sharing his experience.
Before I get into that adrenaline rush of a day at Six Flags Magic Mountain, I just want to set the scene so to speak and provide a little bit of context for the trip I was on. Zach and I had spent over a year planning a trip to UFC 200; the biggest MMA event to date. Being huge fans of the sport and with many a year before UFC 300, 200 was a must for me and my partner in crime. When we priced up flights, it was literally half the price to fly out a week or so earlier than we had originally planned and almost instantly we decided to spend some time in California before the fights in Vegas. L.A. and San Francisco were the places we decided to visit. Having been to many theme parks over the years, Six Flags Magic Mountain was somewhere we simply could not miss. The park is the roller coaster capital of the world with nineteen hair raising structures making the skyline quite a sight to behold.
On our first full day of the trip, we were in Los Angeles, The City of Angels. Magic Mountain is about an hour’s drive North of Venice Beach, the bohemian paradise in which we were staying. Being on the trip of a lifetime, it made sense to travel in style and we couldn’t have asked for more than the red convertible Mustang we were driving around. We named her ‘Griggsy’ after that footballer who caught fire. Having been to L.A. before, I knew all about the crazy traffic there, but luckily for us we were driving away from the city. We left Venice beach about 8am and for the next hour or so it was smooth sailing across to Valencia, the home Six Flags Magic Mountain, whilst the traffic heading the other way barely moved. It was decided that breakfast at Denny’s was a good idea before a long day of walking and riding rollercoasters. You can’t really go wrong with Denny’s; it’s good value food that never leaves you hungry. For not much more than $10 our ‘lumberjack slams’ came on two plates, they were that big! We couldn’t finish them, but man they were good. We paid the bill and took Griggsy another 5 minutes down the highway until we reached the Magic Mountain car park, sadly we couldn’t take her in the park with us. Quite a few of the rollercoasters were tall enough for her to watch us from the car park, so I reckon she had a great day too.
Zach had looked into into buying front of the line flash passes for the day, which at $45 each wasn’t bad, especially when taking into account that it could be a while before either of us would be there again. The park opened at half past ten and as soon as we were through the turn styles, we sprinted to the flash pass desk and grabbed two of the passes. With the pancakes we had eaten earlier on working their magic, we sprinted to the cable car which took you up ‘the mountain’ in the centre of the park to where many of the rollercoasters were. From there it was another run down to Superman: Escape from Krypton. There was no queue and we walked straight on, Zach was particularly excited about this one and it was easy to see why; you were shot up 415 feet in the air and fell back to earth at 100 miles per hour! If the coffees I had earlier didn’t wake me up, then this coaster certainly did. As we were shot backwards, the entire car of people were going ballistic and only stopped when we came back down. I looked over at Zach just as the ride finished and he was smiling ear to ear, still coming to terms with what we had just experienced. It turns out Superman is much scarier in real life than he is in the films. After that, we headed over to Twisted Colossus, the world’s longest hybrid roller coaster; new technology and steel tracks had been combined with the original wooden coaster. This was the ride I had been looking forward to the most and it certainly did not disappoint. It is the best roller coaster I have ever been on. I don’t say that lightly either, it was just that good! There were two tracks, side by side and I assumed you’d have to queue up for each track as they looked to be very different. I found out I was wrong about half way through the ride. After the thrills of the first track, you somehow ended up on the second track… my mind was blown. I thought the ride was over and that we’d have to get off. I wasn’t expecting to go around again straight away! The second track featured a ‘top gun’ inversion, whereby you slow down whilst you’re upside down. The coaster as a whole was unbelievably good, with more airtime than I’ve ever experienced before and some really tight and unexpected twists and turns. It’s the most fun I’ve had on a roller coaster and the chorus of laughter and screams from myself, Zach and the others on the ride, were testament to just how amazing Twisted Colossus truly is.
After we had sorted out our E-number filled drinks, we decided to ride the park’s newest coaster, The New Revolution. The original revolution had been given a new paint job and riders now had a virtual reality headset to wear as they rode the coaster. Our flash passes didn’t cover this ride as it was brand new. The line was… long. 2 hours long. But we both figured it was worth the wait as we didn’t know when we would be coming back to the park. 2 hours passed and we were on the coaster. By this point we needed a refill on our drinks and the California sun was starting to take its toll. We had the virtual reality headsets given to us as we sat down and they were absolutely roasting. Sun and high-tech headgear aren’t the best mix. We put on the headsets and away we went. It was a strange experience to say the least. The coaster was good one and the head sets gave it that factor of unpredictability, you didn’t know what was coming next. Whether it was a loop, or a dive or a sharp turn, you genuinely didn’t have a clue where you were heading. On the screen of the head sets, you were in the middle of a battle between alien space ships and good ol’ military fighter jets. It was an experience worth having and a very surreal one to say the least.
Next up was Goliath, a 235 foot tall hyper coaster, which reached speeds of 85 miles per hour. The crazy coasters just kept coming and coming. This is one of the coasters that you can see from the highway because of just how tall it is and no doubt Griggsy was watching as Zach and I screamed as we went down the 255-foot drop, which takes you underground and shoots you out again. We re-emerged from the ground and into some 4.5G mayhem as we looped round tight corners after another drop. Complete madness. After this, we decided to take a break from roller coasters and go on a drop tower instead; the world’s second tallest drop tower to be precise. Dropping riders from 400 feet up, Lex Luthor: Drop of Doom is no joke. This ride was the most frightening of the day in my opinion. When you were strapped in, we just kept rising higher and higher, for what seemed like an eternity. We could see for miles, I even kept an eye out for Griggsy, but the cars looked like ants from the top of the tower. I was holding on to my shoulder harness as tight as I could, you’d be mad not to! Then Lex Luthor started speaking, he was talking about changing us forever. He laughed and that’s when we plummeted to the ground. I don’t think I’ve ever sworn so much as I did in the time it took for us to fall 400 feet back down to earth. I was swearing, Zach was shouting and everyone on board was free falling at 85 miles an hour. I could feel the adrenaline pumping as I placed my feet back on solid ground; that drop made some of the coasters seem fairly tame in comparison. I had a new found appreciation for land after that experience!
It was now about 6pm and Zach and myself had probably drunk a year’s worth of E-numbers but there were still coasters to be taking on. We headed to the D.C universe corner of the park, which housed The Riddler’s Revenge, Batman: The Ride and The Green Lantern. Riddler’s revenge is the tallest, longest and fastest roller coaster of its kind was the first standing coaster that we had ever experienced. It was very odd to be stood up whilst going through loops and corkscrews but I really enjoyed it. After that, we wandered over to Batman, a hanging coaster, which really surprised me. In all honesty, it didn’t look as big and foreboding as some of the other coasters we had been on already. Well, that age-old saying of ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ was right again, Batman was awesome. There were so many twists and turns in such a small space… they were relentless. Zach really enjoyed it and if rollercoasters had feelings, I would have apologised to Batman for underestimating it. It was one of my favourites of the day! The Green Lantern divided our opinions, I thought it was great and laughed the whole way round, but Zach found it to be pretty painful. Green Lantern had a completely vertical track and seats that were rotating the entire time, sometimes even 360 degrees! This was complete sensory overload for me, as I could not make heads or tails of what had just happened, but I knew I had enjoyed it. Zach liked it, but said his arms were killing him. It reminded him of The Ultimate back home at Lightwater Valley. At least it was sunny in California, it could have been worse, he could have gotten bruises whilst it was raining back in Yorkshire instead.
The day was coming to a close, but we still had three rides on our list, Tatsu, Viper and Apocalypse. We decided to ride Tatsu first as it began at the top of ‘the mountain’ in the middle of the park and finished at the bottom, where the other two rides were. Named after a mythical dragon, Tatsu was an incredible experience. It’s a flying coaster, so you lay face down the entire time, like Air at Alton Towers. Tatsu was much larger than Air though, with a 263 foot elevation as we zoomed around the through the trees around the mountain, it really did feel as though we were flying. The crux of the ride was a zero gravity loop and we were flipped from lying face down, to being on our backs. Zach and I could not believe the adrenaline rush we got during that loop and as we left the vehicle, I could not stop beaming. Tatsu was my second favourite ride of the day after Twisted Colossus and I still smile to myself when I think about it now. It makes my journey to work every weekday a lot more tolerable. Once we reached the base of the mountain, it was time for our penultimate ride of the day; The Viper. We were apprehensive about riding this veteran steel coaster as YouTube had told us just how many people had left with bruises. However, we rolled up our sleeves, bit the bullet and rode this injury machine of online folklore. After 7 inversions and 70 miles per hour speeds, we emerged unscathed. Success! You could tell it had been open for a while, but the old school coaster was a lot of fun. Having been on so many amazing coasters during the day, Zach had ridden his last. The E-numbers had caught up to him and he was coastered-out. I braved the wooden Apocalypse by myself to close out our day at the park. I have a soft spot for wooden roller coasters and the rickety charm that they have. Apocalypse was no different, as it rattled the whole time as I sped around the track, hurtling around corners and plunging down the drops that I could not see as the sun had set. It was a great way to finish the day and Apocalypse is most likely my favourite wooden coaster. Gwazi was closed down in Florida last year and other wooden coasters have been sacrificed for their steel children, but Apocalypse keeps the classic spirit of rollercoasters alive in the 21st century.
The clock struck closing time and both me and Zach had an incredible time as we tackled the thrills Magic Mountain had to offer. It’s hard to believe the collection of roller coasters they have there, it’s a thrill seeker’s dream. Zach and I however, were both disappointed that we did not get to ride X2, the world’s first 5-D roller coaster as it was closed for maintenance. ‘Next time’ we both thought as we wandered past it on our way out of the park. It was such a fun-filled day that the loss of X2 from our itinerary really wasn’t an issue as we had so much to experience whilst we were there. It was at this point we realised that apart from Zach and his ice cream, we hadn’t eaten all day! You know what they say, time and roller coasters fly when you’re having fun. We headed back to Griggsy and fired up her V8 engine. Our time at Six Flags Magic Mountain was over for now, but our time in the USA was only just beginning. So began our drive back to Los Angeles, stopping at Walmart for some well overdue food. As we drove away, the skyline of roller coasters stood tall until they disappeared beyond the horizon, standing tall in the blackness of a Californian summer’s night.