VALENCIA >> Thousands of Colossus fans are expected to line up at Six Flags Magic Mountain on Saturday for one last ride on the massive, iconic wooden roller coaster, which is scheduled to be shut down for good this weekend.
But at least one group of Colossus lovers have put their foot down to say, not so fast.
A Save Colossus rally will be held Saturday morning outside Magic Mountain, with members hoping to garner enough support from people to encourage park managers to keep the coaster intact and open. Members will wear shirts that read “Don't touch the wood!”
“What we want to do is make our word known and encourage people to grab a sticker or magnet and show their support,” said Donald Patti, a member of the group Save Colossus. The group has collected more than 300 signatures on its petition at SaveColossus.com. “We want (members of the public) to sign the petition, then go to guest relations and say ‘Hey, I'm disappointed you're closing Colossus.”
With its cross-hatched wooden frame, slow rhythmic ascent, dramatic pause at its 100-foot peak, and 62 mph dive, Colossus was once billed as the fastest and tallest in the world. The wooden coaster opened in 1978 and features two identical side-by-side tracks. Its height, length and speed landed it on the historical map of greatest wooden coasters, a spokesman for the Texas-based American Coasters Enthusiasts has said. Colossus, according to the organization, is one of 211 wooden roller coasters worldwide.
An announcement of Colossus' closure came in June, when Magic Mountain management sent out a statement that its final days were approaching but didn't explain what would happen to it. Coaster enthusiasts offered much speculation on social media and blog sites, guessing the tracks on Colossus would be retrofitted with steel.
“What we haven't been able to do is get a clear picture of what Six Flags plans to do with the ride,” Patti said. “The worst scenario is they are planning to demolish the ride.”
Magic Mountain spokeswoman Sue Carpenter said formal plans will be announced Aug. 28.
Patti, 43, once worked at Magic Mountain as a ride operator as a youth, said members of his group also nominated Colossus to receive historic landmark designation with the National Register of Historic Places.
“We feel it deserves historic designation,” Patti said. “Colossus has been involved quite a bit in Hollywood, and that involvement has built a cult and icon status.”
Among its appearances was in the film “National Lampoon's Vacation.” Viewers saw it as part of Walley World, the fictional amusement park that became the obsessive quest of Clark Griswold, played by Chevy Chase. It was also seen on episodes of “Doogie Howser, M.D.,” “Knight Rider,” “Wonder Woman,” and “The A-Team.”
“It also has an historic role in coaster engineering,” Patti said. “It's a masterpiece from that standpoint.”
The coaster was built by Bernards Construction, based in San Fernando. It cost $7 million to build.
Carpenter said a possible 6,000 riders will go on Colossus on Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Although Saturday is its official last day, Colossus will be open Sunday to season pass holders only and employees, she said.
Asked if she had received the SaveColossus.com petition or if the group's interest will affect the decision to shut the ride down, Carpenter offered a simple reply: “No and no.”
The Save Colossus rally will be held from 9 to 11:30 a.m. Saturday in front of the park, 26101 Magic Mountain Parkway, Valencia. For more information, go to SaveColossus.com.