The Machines took over part of Magic Mountain today, luring about 100 people to “Terminator Salvation: The Ride,” the newest roller coaster at the park.
Convoys of riders were brought deep into the park by shuttles draped with camouflage netting, each commandeered by a soldier from the Resistance. The growing crowd included “Terminator Salvation” movie stars Jadagrace and Michael Papajohn as well as Academy Award-winning screenwriter Diablo Cody, who has been Tweeting about the ride for the last month.
Park President Jay Thomas stepped behind a podium made up of stacked tires and more camouflage, flanked by troops in fatigues looking very somber.
“We never rest on our laurels,” Thomas said, “today at Six Flags Magic Mountain we are once again reinventing the wooden coaster. This coaster, with a loading station fly-through tunnel, the first on-board audio on a wooden roller coaster, props from the “Terminator Salvation” movie itself and a pre-show produced with stars from the movie will make us the thrill park of the summer.”
Thomas introduced Tim Burkhardt, general manager of the park, pointing out that Burkhardt has worked on every ride since the 1979 launch of Colossus.
“This is not the first time I’ve stood before you saying this is the best and the greatest thing we’ve ever done,” he said, grinning. “But this is the best, greatest thing we’ve ever done!”
The ride, created by Great Coasters International, Inc., features five belly-flopping hills and six high-speed banked turns over 2,850 feet of track unlike any coaster in operation today while preserving the nostalgic look and feel of a classic “woodie.”
Burkhardt credited the around-the-clock work by construction teams and design staff for creating the immersive experience of the ride.
“I’ve been peppered for months with people asking me how you tie a wooden coaster into the post-apocalyptic works of Terminator, but you’ll figure that out as soon as you get into the ride.”
Just as he finished, loudspeakers blasted a warning: “Attention soldiers and citizens alike. We have no way of knowing the exact location of the harvesters…” before fireworks blew up cannons near the entrance to the ride.
The queue for the ride takes riders through a maze of construction (intended) with rough lumber and chicken-wire fencing to depict the battle fought. Shade is sparse, but in keeping with the theme. Riders then enter a shed with several TV screens where they are brought up to speed on the catastrophe outside. Scenes featuring Terminator Salvation stars Common and Moon Bloodgood with footage of Magic Mountain mixed in (the Skytower figures prominently) flash by, with Bloodgood giving her location as just north of Valencia.
Perhaps the best line of the morning: City Manager Ken Pulskamp saying in frustration, “Why don’t they ever say Santa Clarita?”
The line then moves to a room with a line of Machines suspended near another bank of screens, then through another chamber clearly marked as the final shaded stop. (The enclosures will serve to cool off park patrons during the summer days where temperatures are soaring over the 100s.)
Then the crowd is thrust outside to board Millennium Flyer cars for the high-speed trip on the coaster.
Dozens of kids from the SCV Boys and Girls Club were along for the ride, shepherded by the club’s head honcho, Jim Ventress.
“It was awesome,” he gasped, after taking his first go-round on the ride. “And it’s fast, the banks are, I mean look at these banks, you’re sideways. That’s the big thing, it was fast (catching his breath). On a scale of 1 to 10, for a wooden roller coaster, I’m giving it a 10.”
Terminator Salvation: The Ride is the 16th coaster at Magic Mountain. It is 100 feet at its tallest point and features more than half a mile of steel track. It takes 760 riders per hour on two 24-passenger trains at 52 mph for a two-minute ride.