VALENCIA >> There's something about the click, click, click, then clack, clack, clack of a rickety wooden roller coaster that keeps Rosie Salazar returning to Colossus.
“It's my favorite ride,” the 59-year-old El Monte resident said as she and several members of her family made their way into Six Flags Magic Mountain on Wednesday. “These are the old fabulous roller coasters we grew up with. These days, the kids want to be upside down and fly.”
So when Salazar and other Colossus fans heard that the ride would end its run at the end of summer, the news was, well, nothing short of colossal. A vague statement by Six Flags Magic Mountain on Tuesday left many speculating on social media and blog sites about what will happen to the gigantic coaster and its iconic frame seen in movies, television, and visible by motorists from the 5 Freeway in the Santa Clarita Valley.
With its cross-hatched wooden frame, slow rhythmic ascent, dramatic pause at its 100 foot peak, and 62 mph dive into a curve, Colossus remains a favorite among coaster riders far and wide, said Kurt Dahlin, a Castaic resident behind TheCoasterGuy.com.
“I'm not sure it's ending,” Dahlin said. “I think it's going to be getting a new chapter, and that's what all the speculation is about.”
He said comments on his blog about Colossus varied.
“The older people are very nostalgic about it all, and other people say its time has come,” Dahlin said. “The younger generation wants the more thrilling rides. I would be very surprised if they closed a ride like Colossus, unless they make it up with new technology.”
Dahlin said a similar wooden roller coaster at Six Flags Over Texas was retrofitted with steel. The hybrid coaster is now smoother and more popular, he said.
“Magic Mountain has had its ups and owns over the years,” Dahlin said. “You hear people who don't like it, but I'm not in that camp at all. They have a great collection and the most coasters in the world.”
Once billed as the tallest in the world, Colossus opened in 1978. It features two identical side-by-side tracks, is 13 stories tall and offers a pair of drops greater than 100 feet, according to Magic Mountain.
An accident in which a young woman died on the ride just after it opened prompted its closure for a year, and the trains were replaced, among other adjustments.
Park officials would not elaborate on why it was being shut down, but banners around the theme park in Valencia announced its end to visitors.
“Colossus, the king of wooden coasters, ends its 36-year reign on August 16,” according to Tuesday's statement from the park. “Six Flags Magic Mountain will announce exciting future plans for the park we think our guests will love at a later date.”
The coaster was designed by Bernards Construction, based in the city of San Fernando. It cost $7 million to build.
One side of the ride is currently running backward and the other side was not operating Wednesday. The backwards run will last until June 15, and it will resume running forward until it shuts down.
When Colossus opened, its height, length and speed landed it on the historical map of greatest wooden coasters, said David Lipnicky, spokesman for the Texas based American Coasters Enthusiasts. The nonprofit organization of 5,000 members from 16 countries was also founded in 1978. Colossus, said Lipnicky, is one of 211 wooden roller coasters worldwide. The oldest one still running is Leap-The-Dips in Lakemonth Park in Altoona, Pa. It was built in 1902.
But technology has changed and so has Colossus, which Lipnicky and others said is not the same ride that opened more than three decades ago. That the park is ending its run doesn't surprise him, he added. Giant wooden coasters cost money to maintain and may not be as popular.
“It's a lot more tamer than in 1978,” he said. “It's far less exciting. It's also running different trains. The whole ride experience is different.
“A lot of your biggest coasters after a few decades do show wear and tear,” he added. “Wear and tear costs a lot of money. We do hate to see wooden coasters go away, but on the other hand, we like our parks to stay in business. The public will probably enjoy whatever comes after it.”
Still, Lipnicky agreed there is something special about a wooden coaster such as Colossus.
“It's been a much loved ride and beloved coaster,” he said. “While Revolution put Magic Mountain on the map, it's tough to see Revolution from the highway. With Colossus, it is so mammoth and so recognizable, it's just very iconic.”
Patrons at the park Wednesday agreed that they would miss the bumps, jerks and rickety sounds.
Pat Chambers, a tourist from Australia who calls himself a coaster junkie, said Colossus is his second favorite ride behind X2, which dives, flips and twists while spinning.
Stilll, “I'm not a wooden coaster fan,” he said. “I have to feel like I'm flying.”
Maria Callero, 22, of Chula Vista disagreed.
“I think it's sad they want to change it,” she said. “The new rides are too harsh.”
Follow Susan Abram on Twitter: @sabramLA