Construction photo tour of Magic Mountain's new 'Terminator Salvation' coaster
By Robert NilesThis is for west coast Theme Park Insider readers who voted against Dollywood's Thunderhead in the Best Ride in America tournament yesterday: This summer, Six Flags Magic Mountain will give you the chance to see what you've been missing.
Published: March 22, 2009 at 1:25 PM
Like Thunderhead, Magic Mountain's new GCI wooden roller coaster Terminator Salvation will feature a station fly-through, as well as other airtime elements that have made Dollywood's coaster a favorite... among those who've made their way to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee to ride it.
Magic Mountain General Manager Tim Burkhart took me through a private walk-through Terminator Salvation's construction site this morning. I found it amazing that Magic Mountain plans to open the ride to the press on May 21, with its public debut the next day. SeaWorld Orlando's Manta is complete and running tests in advance of its opening the same weekend. But, today, two months before opening, much of Terminator Salvation remains timbers lying on a bare concrete slab.
And what a slab it is - more than 1600 cubic yards of concrete, pouring which certainly made this a more labor-intensive construction project that filling a few dozen concrete holes, then driving steel support pillars into them, as one typically does for steel coasters.
Terminator Salvation stands of the site of the former Psyclone. To make way for the new entrance to the Terminator's themed queue, Magic Mountain demolished a former arcade which had stood on the site of the old glass blower's shop in Cyclone Bay.
This shot looks out from the coaster toward what will be the queue entrance. The two slabs on the far side of the bridge will support to the ride's entrance arch.
Once in the queue, visitors who walk under the track and into the ride, where they will switchback before entering the first of two themed pre-show buildings.
Burkhart stands in the middle of what will become the queue and pre-show area. Burkhart said that Terminator will be Magic Mountain's most elaborately themed ride, with Terminator props created by the film's prop designer.
The theme will be that riders are joining with the Resistance, pursued by Terminator designers who want to use human beings (such as, well, you) as the "raw material" for a new generation of Terminators.
Once through the second pre-show room, visitors will enter the loading station, which will be located to the left in this view. To the right, you can see Terminator's 100-foot main hill, which is "nearly" topped out, according to to Burkhart. Here's a view to the left, where the load station will stand in the foreground.
Continuing to the left, here is a view of the remainder of the ride track, within which will stand those pre-show rooms.
Why a woodie for a SciFi theme? Burkhart said that after the park took down Psyclone, it wanted to replace it with a world-class woodie, and the GCI model fit that bill.
"We took a look, and just didn't feel that there was anything really new and compelling out there with steel that we hadn't done before," Burkhart said.
Burkhart wouldn't give up what on-ride special effects riders can expect on Terminator Salvation ("I don't want to go through the X2 tunnel thing again.") But I can reveal that rumors of an on-ride audio system are true.
One potential pitfall? Capacity. Terminator will run with two trains and an 800-person hourly capacity. That will mean multi-hour waits during the ride's premier summer.
Burkhart said the ride will feature Millennium Flyer trains, modified with bolted-on fixtures to give them a "Mad Max"-style feel. The idea is that you are riding in a makeshift Resistance vehicle, trying to escape from the pursuing Terminators. Given that concept, the rougher ride of a woodie might actually fit the theme better than smooth, slick steel. We'll see.
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