View Mobile Site

Ask the Expert

Signal Photos


Recalling Colossus’ first ride, in the front car


Posted: June 29, 2014 2:00 a.m.
Updated: June 29, 2014 2:00 a.m.
Omer Murray, left, and his son Steve, right, wait for a trip down Colossus at Six Flags Magic Mountain. Omer Murray, left, and his son Steve, right, wait for a trip down Colossus at Six Flags Magic Mountain.
Omer Murray, left, and his son Steve, right, wait for a trip down Colossus at Six Flags Magic Mountain.

My son and I were the first riders of Colossus on opening day, 36 years ago.

After reading the story of Colossus closing after 36 years, my son called to remind me that, when he was 9, he and I were the first riders of Colossus, first car and front seats, on its opening day – and we rode for free.

At the time, I worked as a driver for the long-gone Valencia Trucking Company, a subsidiary of the defunct Lustro Plastics Corp.

I delivered freight almost daily to Magic Mountain's loading dock, so I got to know the receiving manager. He and I would go out and watch the construction as Colossus took shape: a gigantic flat area covered in asphalt slowly grew to great heights. I watched the testing prior to opening.

I recall the on-site construction manager for the builder, Bernards Brothers, telling me that they were using bags of cement for testing and telling of one run where several of the bags flew out. He said they needed to redo their restraint system.

I was unsure if I would ever ride it.

The receiving manager told me of the opening day, a Thursday, and he offered to get me in for free. He told me I could just drive my rig in and come into the park through his office. I brought my 9 year old son with me.

Although I did not have a delivery for Magic Mountain that day, I drove my rig in and backed into receiving. The two of us exited the receiving area, directly into a large open area just in front of the entrance to Colossus.

As we got there, we heard a massive roar. We looked up a rise, toward the front of the park, and saw hundreds of people, all running at top speed toward Colossus.

We were about 100 ft. closer to the beginning of the empty entrance line to Colossus. We ran like mad to be first.

My son and I sat in the front seat of the first car on the first day. Then we came back around and rode in the rear and on and on.

As we left, I jokingly said to the receiving manager, “Well, how about my wife and kid and some of the other drivers coming over?”

He surprised me when he said I could bring as many as I could get in my 40-foot trailer. He suggested I bring them in on Saturday.

I passed the word. My dispatcher, Bob, drivers, Ken and Gary, and their families and some of the employees of Lustro Plastics, as well as my wife and son, piled into the freight trailer. There were about 30 of us that came in with the collusion of the receiving dock manager.

Driving to the dock was terrifying. This was before cell phones, so there was no possibility to communicate with those in my trailer if something had gone wrong.

I told everyone to sit down and brace against the front bulkhead, and I closed and locked the rear roll-up door – the only way in or out in an emergency.

I gingerly drove the 2-plus mile ride from the freight yard to the receiving dock, probably no faster than 10 miles per hour. There were some 10-plus sharp turns and a bridge and then up the narrow and curvy ranch road to the receiving dock. I was sweating bullets the entire time.

Finally, the security gate. And the guard is new! What do I do now?

He gives me a quick look and waves me through. I was waiting for SWAT to drag me out of the cab.

I backed my trailer into the dock and went looking for the receiving manager. He was gone for the day!

What now? I was worried! One of the receiving employees said, “We know why you are here. It's cool, go have fun.”

I opened the rear roll-up door and out came a herd of people; visualize a tour bus stopping at a McD's and you have the picture.

We all exited the receiving area into the large open area by the entrance to Colossus. We got there just as the park opened and, again, we heard the massive roar.

We looked up the rise, toward the front of the park, and saw hundreds of people, all running at top speed toward Colossus; it was like the stampede of a herd of cattle in an old western.

All of us ran like crazy to be first. My wife and son and I sat in the first two seats of the first car, and the rest of my group filled that first car. And we all got in for free!

I cannot remember how many times we rode, but we went home exhausted.

My son later reminded me that, when he was in high school, he worked at Magic Mountain, working the crow's nest on Colossus: His job was to stop the ride if someone tried to stand up on the first drop.

In retrospect, I am not sure which was the greater rush: the thrill of sneaking in all those people or being first on Colossus. Both were great fun and incredible memories for the two of us.

It is wonderful to reminisce about some of the things I was able to do along with my son. I will never forget them, and I know he will remember those special times.


Commenting not available.
Commenting is not available.


Powered By
Morris Technology
Please wait ...