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.”

—Gendy Alimurung

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