Six Flags Magic Mountain

Contributions By: Devin Olson

Last Update: January 3, 2013

In the beginning, La Marcus Thompson created the roller coaster... Then Arrow Dynamics said, "Let there be steel coasters"; and there were steel coasters. Arrow Dynamics saw that the steel coasters were good; and Arrow Dynamics separated the inverting steel coasters from the 200-foot-plus steel coasters. Arrow Dynamics called the inverting rides looping coasters, and the 200-foot-plus rides they called hyper-coasters. And the new innovations and thrills came, forty years since Matterhorn Bobsleds at Disneyland started it all and a decade after Magnum XL-200 popularized new limits on thrills at Cedar Point. It was time for a new innovation to leave the world in disbelief once again. It was the year 2001, and a new type of roller coaster thrills that only the pioneers at Arrow Dynamics could pull off with the new millennium was going to come. A mysterious new technology had been in development for years that would combine the hyper-coaster and the looping coaster, the inverted coaster and the non-inverted coaster, the flat ride and the roller coaster... If one thing was certain, it was that this ride would be nothing like the world had seen before. On December 24th, 2001, Six Flags Magic Mountain finally introduced Arrow's next-generation thrill ride to the world, a ride designed to put the X in 'extreme'.

Like Arrow Dynamics, Six Flags Magic Mountain was no stranger to innovation. For a park that had the first steel vertical loop in the world; first linear-synchronous-motor-launched

coaster; first suspended, inverted, and hyper coasters on the West Coast; and five world-record-breakers for height, speed, and inversions; it may have seemed like nothing could top what had already been done. But this, this was something that would blow all past innovations away. The technology that would bring it to life was mysterious like the coaster's name X, and had been developed at Arrow's Clearfield, Utah plant after years of planning. Arrow dubbed the new coaster type 'Fourth Dimension' for an added axis of thrills. The real difference between X and every coaster that went before were its trains. In short, riders sit on either side of the track and their seats rotate vertically, the rotation made possible by another set of wheels traveling along an extra pair of rails that rotates the seating as the gap between the two pairs of rails widens. This way, riders' vertical position is irrelevant to whether the track is upside-down or right-side-up, allowing for the track to be inverted and non-inverted at times and for riders to travel backwards and forwards all while the train moves along at speeds up to seventy-six miles per hour.

X's pronounced yellow and pink track on yellow supports loops and flips through the single most unconventional layout ever seen on a mega-sized coaster. Four half-inversions invert and revert the train during a double-out and back 3,610-foot long layout including an inside-half-loop dubbed an 'Inside Raven Turn' by the park, a half-zero-g-roll, and an outside-half-loop named the 'Outside Raven Turn.' The rotation of the trains combined with the action of the track itself makes for
memorable moments such as a first 215-foot near-vertical plunge during which riders dive head-first towards the ground, the first 'Raven Turn' where seats rotate into a 'flying' position, and the half-zero-g-roll in which the cars rotate 180 vertical degrees while the track does a horizontal 180. Back flips, front flips, upward, and downward inversions leave riders unsure of what exactly to expect next. It came as no surprise when this complex new prototype experienced several months of delays from Six Flags Magic Mountain's original planned debut in the spring of 2001. It did, however, finally open on December 24th as a Christmas gift to anxious season pass holders, with the official public debut arriving on January 12th of the next year. Following the debuts of Deja Vu and Goliath Jr. by several months, X gave the park bragging rights for seventeen coaster tracks at the time - more than any other theme park in the world - and the marketing name 'The Xtreme Park.'

Then in 2007, Six Flags Magic Mountain announced that X was going to be taken to the second power. They said that the ride would be completely revamped into totally new experience. X would receive a new color scheme, special effects around the, new trains with an on-board audio system, and a new name: X2. X2 reopened on May 24, 2008, looking “xtremely” different. What once was a bright pink and yellow coaster transformed into a red and black superstructure.

Once the thrill-eager enter Six Flags Magic Mountain, they head left and make their way towards the park's 1990 Arrow Dynamics extreme looper: Viper. Some might choose to warm up on the older coaster's red tracks before conquering the newer extremity, but others enter the line for X2 and pass by Viper's boomerang inversion on the way through the line's switchbacks. Future riders head towards the lift hill's structure: five black towers holding up the red-colored track and a long, reinforced gap in the middle over the transfer track area. Once they find themselves in the futuristic station, visitors make their choice of which side to board; far-side riders walking over a bridge across the loading area.
When it's their turn, the next group of twenty-eight thrill seekers steps onto the concrete loading platform and loads onto pairs of blue-colored seats directly above on either side of the track. Sitting back in the reclined seats, riders pull black butterfly-style restraints over their shoulders and lock them together with a safety belt, then get ready to ride. The twenty-foot-wide train moves out of the station backwards, rounding a U-turn to passengers' right, and moving onto the lift hill. On their backs, riders are taken on a relaxing trip up to a 175-foot elevation. The real fun is about to begin.

Instead of getting right to the drop, the track dips and then rises. The seats rotate forward while the plunge begins, meaning that seats are now completely upside-down while the track heads 215 feet for the ground at an eighty-eight-point-five-degree angle. The skydiving experience lasts for a few seconds, and then the track pulls out into a misty trench while the seats rotate again so that thrill seekers are now on their backs as four g's of force press down on them. Seats gradually tip forward as the track ascends 180 degrees through the first half-loop so that riders find themselves flying superhero-style at the top, plunging forward towards the ground. The red track pulls out and heads up a hill while the rotation of the seats perform a 180-degree back flip, and the crest of the hill brings about a pop of airtime. Dipping a short ways, the track heads into the far turnaround with riders on their backs below the track. With the station down below just ahead, the track completes its only banked curve and third turnaround element.

After the turnaround, the track drops just shy of ground level again and pulls up into the half-zero-g-roll. While the track twists horizontally through the element, the seats rotate in a front flip meaning that when the train dives down from the twist, the track and riders will be reverted, laying them on their backs again. Also, fire “boosters” on the sides of the track flame upwards as the trains execute the element. Now, it's time for the second half-loop turnaround, this time taken on the outside of the track. The train climbs to the top of the element as the seats rotate forwards again and riders find themselves being pulled down into another trench in a 180-degree dive while they keep level in their seats. Finally, the track begins another half-roll while the seats rotate through one last back flip, leaving riders staring up at the sky and lift hill towering above as they glide into the final brake run. With a slight curve to riders' left, the track winds back up in the station after two minutes and twenty seconds of ride time.

X2 will always have a place in roller coaster history for the major leap in technology that it brought about. No other ride in the history of the coaster has ever taken such a completely unconventional approach to delivering thrills, and that is part of what helps to make X2 a true extreme ride.

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