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X2 launches at Six Flags Magic Mountain [with video]

By Robert Niles
Published: May 22, 2008 at 3:25 PM
X is back.

More than six years after its initial debut, the troubled 4D roller coaster from Arrow Dynamics is reborn at Six Flags Magic Mountain. Now X2, the coaster features redesigned trains, on-ride audio and couple neat sensory effects. (Think of it as the 4D movie meeting the 4D coaster.)

But how is the ride? That's what I went to Valencia, California this afternoon to find out.

X2 is not a ride for coaster novices. You sit in rotating chairs, mounted on the sides of the track -- chairs that flip you heels over head, and back again, as you move from element to element on the track. As a result, on X2, every seat feels like a front row seat, with nothing blocking your view. But, ultimately, that doesn't matter.

Once your train drops face-first 200 feet from the top of the chain lift, you simply don't have time to stop and enjoy the view at any point on X2. You're flipping, flopping and flying every moment. That soundtrack? The riffs get you pumped on the main lift, and keep you going as you wait to unload. But in between? I'll confess that I didn't notice the music. My brain was a little, uh, preoccupied. With simple things like, oh, staying within my skull.

That's not to say that X2's new effects went completely unnoticed. The cool zone on the final twist slapped me with a frigid blast, an effect that I am sure riders will welcome in the coming Valencia summer heat. Gusts shut down the ride's fire effect and scattered much of the fog at the bottom of the initial drop, though I did enjoy the effect of passing through the mist as we rode into the first of the ride's two raven turns.

So... take a ride with me on X2. (I apologize for the audio not picking up my commentary. Six Flags' mic was mounted too far away to pick me up over the rather loud chain lift and audio track... not to mention the air rushing by at 70 mph.)

Here's a photo gallery, showing you the various elements on X2:

The real test for X2? Uptime. Will X2's lighter trains allow the ride to run multiple trains all summer long, as Six Flags management plans? Today wasn't much of a test. With one train rigged for filming, Magic Mountain could operate only two trains, and there were plenty of delays to accommodate video crews.

X2 remains one stunning ride. If Six Flags' efforts have worked, and X2 can operate near its designed capacity, Magic Mountain might finally have the revolutionary coaster that it envisioned.

Note: Southern California theme park fans might also want to take a look at my recent reviews of The Simpsons Ride, now open at Universal Studios Hollywood, and Toy Story Midway Mania, opening next month at Disney's California Adventure.

Readers' Opinions

From Mike West on May 22, 2008 at 4:40 PM
I can't wait!
As I've said before, X was at one time too much for me. But I've learned to take max G forces much better than I used to.
(Gosh I remember all those years ago passing out on my first freefall ride). So Robert Im dyin to know, was it faster, smoother, better or worst with the new train?
From Robert Niles on May 22, 2008 at 4:49 PM
The ride seemed smoother to me, but, to be fair, it has been so long since I'd ridden the old version that it is tough for me to draw a fair comparison. The very end of the ride knocked me around a bit, but that's partly because I forgot the last twist and relaxed like the ride was over too soon.

I didn't feel like the ride pulled that many G's. (I'll have to look up the specs.) It's more a frenetic, than intense, experience, if that makes any sense.

From Bradley Robertson on May 22, 2008 at 5:07 PM
I never rode X and this the first time I have seen on ride video of X2. I didn't realize that you are basically backwards the entire ride. I always figured it was like a flying coaster that also did flips. After seeing that I'm not sure I would be able to ride it since I have found that on inverted B&Ms I have to ride in front to avoid getting sick. I'm afraid the same thing would happen to me on this regardless of the row. I guess I will hopefully find out next year.
From Deidre Dennis on May 22, 2008 at 5:28 PM
I remember the one and only time I wrote X... last Summer. It was the last ride of the night for us, had to be around 9:45 or 10pm. I don't know if it was because it was night time but this seemed so intense. The very first time you are flipped is something else. I was so scared that I couldn't even scream! At any rate, I'm looking forward to going back this Summer with some relatives who have never been on coasters but are excited to. Hopefully no one will pass out.
From Ryan R on May 22, 2008 at 7:09 PM
Woot! I get to go on Wednesday!!!
From James Rao on May 22, 2008 at 7:40 PM
Wow...that was an impressive looking ride. I did not notice much of the vaunted on-ride effects (it sounds like some of them were off anyway), but I am not sure the ride needs them.

Impressive. Thanks for the report, Robert.

From Marc Ricketts on May 22, 2008 at 9:40 PM
Getting the capacity up is the only thing that needed fixin', so the rest is just bonus fun. Nearly 13 years into his life, this remains the only ride that has ever made my son scream. Can't wait to smugly use my SFDK (cheaper than MM's) pass to ride later this year.
From Joshua Counsil on May 22, 2008 at 11:46 PM
Great report, Rob.
Did anyone find that the seats rotated rather jerkily at parts?
I hope Six Flags has nothing but success with this revamp. Seems the new park manager is very passionate, and this park needs some lovin'.
From Robert Niles on May 23, 2008 at 8:43 AM
Watching the ride from the ground, the seat flips did not look as abrupt as they did on the old X. And until the second raven turn, the ride felt like butter to me. The transition before the second raven was where there was a nasty jerk on the old X, which I didn't feel this time. But, like I said, I relaxed too early and got slammed around at the very end. (You can see it on the tape.) That's what I get for being cocky and thinking that I had the ride memorized. Lesson learned.
From Robert Niles on May 23, 2008 at 11:25 AM
Brady McDonald at the Los Angeles Times website e-mailed me links to his review of X2, as well as Knott's Pony Express, which also debuted yesterday.

FWIW, Knott's didn't send TPI a press invite, so that's why I wasn't at their event yesterday. (I'll get to Pony Express when I visit Knott's as a regular visitor within the next couple weeks.)

From Franki Brock on May 23, 2008 at 11:44 AM
Great report Robert! Thanks!!
From Donna Tolliver-Walker on May 23, 2008 at 4:28 PM
Looks intense! I hope the renovation results in greater reliability, because I'd love for this type of coaster to get popular enough to have one close to me!

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