Nothing reminds you that you’re 40 quite like a trip to Six Flags Magic Mountain. I used to go religiously, in that our church group had an annual field trip to the theme park, but that was back when Goliath was new and Viper was arguably the baddest coaster on the block. And hamburgers cost a nickel, and you had to trek to the line for Ninja uphill, both ways, barefoot, in the snow, with nothing but your own wits to guide you. The park map isn’t too big an improvement, by the way.
My younger brother was with me, whom the wife requested to take her place since she isn’t the roller coaster type. Before the trip, he popped a pill to counteract motion sickness. He offered me one and I declined because uphill, both ways, and I’ll be damned if we didn’t win The Battle of Hoth without the use of dramamine. (Um, we lost Hoth, man. Wait, which side were you on?)
First was The New Revolution, which was The Old Revolution but with VR goggles. Great concept, but I’m not sure the technology is quite there yet. The framerates were too low and caused motion sickness as it was. The motion tracking seemed a little off, and looking around in a virtual environment while The Old Revolution did its thing was already going to be a little disorienting even without a technology gap. When better VR comes in, I’m sure these types of things would be great.
Next on the list was X2. I hadn’t been on the original X and was thus concerned that I couldn’t follow the story in the sequel. Spoiler Alert: There is no story. There’s a lot of EXTREEEEEEME branding around the line, though along with a Monster drink tie-in. When we got on the ride, I turned to my brother and confessed that I was actually nervous about this one. On the second ride of the day, that great epiphany hit me – I’m nowhere near my 20’s, and all the roller coaster technology I’d become familiar with growing up will soon feel like the thrill I had when I first went down a playground slide. VR was one thing. X2 promised to hurl me through a track in angles I’d not experienced before and I honestly wasn’t sure how that was going to work out. “It Had To Be You” interrupted by Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” on the speaker system hyped the climb, as if to get one last Old Man joke in there before the drop. Then controlled turmoil and a semi-obstructed view as I tried to make sure my glasses didn’t fly off. Then it was done and I made it through.
Next was Tatsu, which, while milder than X2 (though what isn’t?), did give a great view of that large loop right before you plunge into it headfirst. At ride’s end, we waited to disembark, granting a few moments to reflect on the life choices that led me here, hanging by a harness on a culturally appropriated metal monster. Brains sufficiently rattled, we had lunch.
Afterwards, we went on the Superman ride, geeking out about Mag-Lev technology and the whoooosh as the car accelerated to 100MPH in 6 seconds. There were discussions about Elon Musk and the Hyperloop along with TV recommendations that I’ll need to catch up on.
Then the obligatory trek to the Batman ride, stopping to take a selfie near the Batmobile. The ride itself wasn’t overtly thrilling and I felt a little guilty that I did it just because I was a fan of the character. Comparing between Superman and Batman, the superhero with the dead Martha lost this day.
We sat down again and looked at Goliath. “I remember what Goliath did to me last time I was here. There’s no point going through that again.”
“Did you black out?”
“No, but I think I knew someone who did. Either way, I didn’t feel well afterwards.”
The last ride we went on was Twisted Colossus, which had been a re-imagining of the iconic wooden coaster which is now more metal than wood. The park built an entire steampunk theme around it, which was really nice. The ride was smooth, with just the right amount of “holy crap” and enough downtime to recover from the first part of the track and anticipate what the second go-round brings. It was a great coaster to end with.
I accept that I’m an old man. I’m sore from yesterday. I’m pretty sure I have bruised shoulder blades but I’m not sure which ride’s safety harness did that. I didn’t ride all the thrill rides and I was ok with that. I was satisfied knowing I could have survived them all if I wanted to, but the brain-wobbling headache wouldn’t be worth that badge of faux honor. I survived X2, it should follow that I could deal with the rest. Maybe when I turn 50, they’ll have a ride called SpaceX2 which uses Magnetic Levitation to shoot you to the edge of space and back. Maybe they’ll finally consolidate Log Jammer and Jet Stream into one extremely long, moderately exciting log flume ride called Jet Log. Maybe they’ll fix VR by then, too.