By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
Best Substitute for Actually Dying, then Coming Back to Life: X2
Each seat on Magic Mountain’s X2 is equipped with speakers (à la Space Mountain), and as the ride pulls out of the station, Frank Sinatra croons in your ear, “It had to be you.” Then, Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” comes on, overlapped with yelling from the ruthless drill sergeant in Full Metal Jacket. “Just remember your training, and you’ll survive,” joked my friend Mark, who’s been in the military, as we got onboard.
“What training?” I said, which sounded more like, “What traaaaiiinnneeaaaaghhhohhmysweetjesusgodpleasemakeitstop.”
Each seat spins 360 degrees on its own axis, backward and forward, subject to the whims of gravity. As befits a coaster designed to break all the rules, you leave the station facing backward, fall into a near-vertical drop at 76 mph (just slightly faster than cheetahs can run — they’d do just fine on this ride), then flip about like a piece of flotsam caught in a jet stream. Last year, X was remade into X2. They added sound, fog and, as if that weren’t enough, great balls of fire, which blast as you bottom into a valley, threatening to singe your eyebrows.
Discussion ensued among those of us exiting the ride, guts queasy, equilibrium irrevocably shot, voices hoarse from screaming. “If they’re gonna do fire, they should really do fire. They should set you on fire, then plunge you in water. Or go so fast the wind puts you out.”
“Or send you through razorblades and douse you in alcohol.”
“Or they should just kill you, then bring you back to life.”
“Okay, but where are they gonna put the defibrillators? Or, I know, just run a jolt of electricity through the tracks.”
Or, as a young kid said, staggering off the platform, “That was the ballin’-est-ass fucking shit.”
Best All-Around Roller Coaster: Space Mountain
Besmirched by just enough lore of real-life death, mainly due to stupid people ignoring posted safety warnings, or having surprise seizures and exploding brain aneurysms, Disney’s squeaky-clean Space Mountain has it all. The frisson of possible, though improbable, bodily danger. A sleek, genuinely thrilling ride, fast and twisty enough to wake the butterflies in your stomach but not so frightening that you pass out. And top-notch atmospherics while you cool your heels in line — thrumming and beeping background sounds, spaceship engine parts hanging over the “spaceport” loading dock, icy blue-violet running lights in the walls and ceilings to intimate 2001: A Space Odyssey, Star Trek and Star Wars rolled into one, the future as we used to see it.
A new track was installed in 2003 when the old one became unstable. It’s now as smooth as frozen butter. You hurtle through pitch blackness mottled by a galaxy of shooting stars, asteroids, comets and satellites. Gusts of cold wind make it seem like you’re going faster than you really are. The one drawback? As with the future, the end of the ride comes sooner than you’d like.
Ghost Rider, Xcelerator, Montezooma’s Revenge, the Log Ride and Boomerang: Knott’s Berry Farm, 8039 Beach Blvd., Buena Park.
Tatsu and X2: Six Flags Magic Mountain, 26101 Magic Mountain Pkwy., Valencia.
Splash Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and Space Mountain: Disneyland, 1313 Disneyland Dr., Anaheim.
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