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Superman 2.0 Is A Gutsy Adventure

3_16_Superman_WD__0185I don’t care how old you are – when you’re invited to Six Flags Magic Mountain free of charge you go. 

Even if you’re deathly frightened of roller coasters, the sights and sounds of the theme park are worth an afternoon.  


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On Wednesday, a handful of members from the KHTS crew gleefully traveled to Magic Mountain to ride Superman backwards. Dubbed Superman: Escape from Krypton, the ride renewed every validation I had as a kid growing up regarding the park’s ability to leave you unhinged, speechless and spellbound.  

“There’s a truly gut-wrenching, weightless pause at the top,” said park president Bonnie Rabjohn.  

She was right. To quote my roller coaster as we shot up to infinity: “Ahhhh.”

Growing up, I was lured carrot and stick into Magic Mountain whenever it opened a new ride. Batman: I was there. Riddler’s Revenge: Did it. Superman: Check. Goliath: Duh.  

3_16_Superman_WD__0274
Cristina Pentecostes (left) and Amy Pugliese (right) are 415 feet in the air.

Then, I stopped going – and probably at the worst time as well, since Magic Mountain was just beginning an improbable run of developing certifiably insane thrill wagons. I’m talking about “X,” Déjà vu and Tatsu – all incomprehensible in scope and mandatory for enthusiasts.

I’d get to them eventually, but a college education irrationally prevented those endlessly satisfying days at Six Flags.

Yet, I’m ashamed. Despite my affection for the park, at college up in Northern California, I refrained from referencing my local connection with Bugs Bunny and the gang.  

Typical conversation:  

3_16_Superman_WD__0196Girl At Party: “Where are you from?”
Me: “Valencia.”
Girl At Party: “Where’s that?”
Me: “In Santa Clarita.”
Girl At Party: “Where’s that?”
Me: “Like north of Los Angeles a little.”
Girl At Party: “OK. What’s there?”
Me: “Do I have to say?”
Girl At Party: “Come on.”
Me: “Magic Mountain.”
Girl At Party: “That’s so cool! You live on Magic Mountain?”
Me: “Sure. I live on Magic Mountain.”  

And so it went. Obviously, I was a fool, not only in neglecting to list the numerous attractions specific to the Santa Clarita Valley, but also downplaying my affection for my favorite theme park.  

This was, in retrospect, ridiculous. In all of my conversations in college regarding my hometown, everyone spoke wistfully of the park, either recounting a joyful experience or regretting they’d never been. Turns out I was the only one shying away from discussing the world’s most impressive theme park. After Wednesday, I can’t understand why I refused to talk about this destination. Now I just feel privileged to be so close.  

3_16_Superman_WD__0367This spring, in addition to Superman: Escape from Krypton, Magic Mountain will open Roadrunner Express in Bugs Bunny World and the Green Lantern roller coaster.  

The new rides will bring the parks’ total to 18 – the most on the planet.  

As Rabjohn detailed Magic Mountain’s history, from the Revolution’s debut 35 years ago to Superman’s backwards ambition, our anticipation grew.  

“I can tell you we’re going to stun the world once again,” she said.  

“Stun” is a good word. So is “flabbergast.” Since you’re riding backwards, when you reach the top – after traveling more than 100 miles per hour, mind you – there’s a moment of sheer astonishment. You’re looking straight down at zero grade; you can see the configuration of the track, bar by bar; the collective scream initiated at takeoff is still hanging in the air; a passenger behind you says something along the lines of, “I feel like I’m floating.” In those six seconds of weightlessness, which are the longest seconds you’ll ever experience, you think your car is stuck. You begin to think you might never get down.  

But suddenly, you are. And your hair looks goofy.

Here's a video of KHTS afternoon drive host Barry McKeever and Magic Mountain General Manager Tim Burkhardt going for a ride:

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Photos by Will Davison