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Colossus 1978-2014

Historic roller coaster hosts public for one last night after more than three decades of thrills

Posted: August 16, 2014 10:17 p.m.
Updated: August 16, 2014 10:17 p.m.

Park guests ride Colossus for the last time, after a nearly two-hour wait for a ride on the last day of operation for the 36-year-old coaster on Saturday. Signal photo by Katharine Lotze

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Is this the end of the line for Colossus?

Even while rumors swirled about Six Flags Magic Mountain’s future plans for the site, droves of people waited in line for up to two hours Saturday — which also happened to be National Roller Coaster Day — for one last chance to ride the iconic, 36-year-old wooden roller coaster on its final day of operation.

Although speculation centered on a possible future upgrade for Colossus, fans will have to wait until Aug. 28, when Magic Mountain President Bonnie Rabjohn will make an official announcement about what will come next, via a video press release.

About an hour before the park closed, more than 6,000 people had waited in line for a ride on Colossus, many of them coming from out of state to ride the giant one final time, park spokeswoman Sue Carpenter said.

Park officials threw a big farewell party for the big guy, handing out Colossus commemorative buttons and awarding trivia contest prizes.

“People are very sentimental about it,” Carpenter said. “The stories that I’ve heard today — oh my gosh. One family drove here from Phoenix, starting out at 4:30 this morning. There’s a couple who spent their honeymoon here. The first ride they went on was Colossus.”

Riders cheered and raised their hands at the start of the 2-minute ride, then chanted “farewell Colossus” when they got off.

Standing near the back of the line, Manny Oropeza of Oxnard said he had ridden Colossus at least 200 times over the years.

“Yeah, it’s sad to see it go,” he said.

Tom Jones was there on Colossus’ opening day 36 years ago. He remembered how it towered over the park’s other coasters back in the day. It was the biggest, scariest thing around — until the park’s steel coasters like X2 came along, Jones said.

“It was just by sheer coincidence that my brother-in-law invited me here today — I had no idea they were closing it down,” he said. “I’ve been on it when they had it going backwards. Today, I’m here with my daughter, so that she can experience it.

“It’s a rough ride, and it’s made that way,” Jones added. “It’s made to be noisy, to give you that thrill. This was the best ride ever when I first went on it. It’s good to get back on this old thing.”

Ojai resident Annette Ewing brought friends from out of town to experience Colossus before it closes.

“It’s a great ride,” she said. “It’s fast; it’s got that big drop. It’s got everything you want in a big coaster.”

When she came to the park two weeks ago, the line for Colossus was much shorter, Ewing said.

“Until they announced they were closing it, people weren’t really riding it. They were going to the other coasters, but once they announced it was closing, everybody wanted to ride it one last time.”

Earlier in the day, four members of the Save Colossus! campaign, which launched an online petition drive in a bid to preserve the ride, stood at Magic Mountain Parkway and the Old Road, waving signs and chanting.

“I first rode it when I was 7 years old,” said Montana resident and Save Colossus! co-founder Matt Glumac. “It is an important piece of roller coaster and Six Flags history, so I came out here to help.”

Contributing Signal writer Alexa Ferrante added to this story.

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