It used to be that the first thing people entering the parking lot of Six Flags Magic Mountain was the large, white steel structure and coiling red track of Viper, the park's multi-looping sit-down roller coaster. Now, Magic Mountain visitors are greeted by the world's largest lawn ornament, X, which looms in front of Viper.
Lines are rather short nowadays for the once-mighty and ferocious Viper. When it opened, this slithering, steel scream machine broke records for most inverted coaster (with its seven inversions) and tallest and fast looping roller coaster. Located in the park's Baja Ridge section, this behemoth was the first thing park visitors saw up close. Rolling into the parking lot, guests might be greeted by the screams of thrilled riders taking the plunge down the curving, twisting first drop. It was certainly intimidating for the less courageous theme park visitors, though the bolder coaster fanatics salivated with anticipation. These days, however, the lines are much quicker and shorter. Overshadowed by its big neighbor (X), Viper's waits have suddenly fallen well under an hour (most of the time). Of course, that doesn't mean that this serpent has lost its bite. This classic Arrow Dynamics coaster still packs a punch.
Guests waiting in line will, at some point before the stairs up to the second story of the station, be split into three lines, each of which leads to a different division of the train. The right side beckons those who wish to ride in the back. The middle corresponds to the middle of the train, and the left leads to the front of the train. Upon boarding the car, riders pull down on the over-the-shoulder-restraints and the lap bars. As it is Magic Mountain, riders can never be too safe.
After a quick check of the safety equipment, the ride ops give the go ahead to the controller, who pushes the magical green button, setting the train in motion up a seemingly endless lift hill. Unlike some of the newer multi-loopers, Viper immediately beings its ascent right out of its station without any dips or turns. Slowly clanking up the hill, the train methodically lifts riders higher and higher, past a vertical loop that seems hang high in the air. To the left, a grand view of the park presents itself. To the right, slightly ahead, stands the magenta and yellow X.
Eventually, the train crests over the peak of the hill. For just a brief moment, the from car pauses, waiting for the back car to catch up. Then, Viper drops. It's almost a gradual build-up in speed, only in no time, the train is blazing down the track, hitting 70 miles per hour. Leveling out momentarily, the train flies up into the first vertical loop, which stands high above the ground. Coming out, the train makes a gentle, banked U-turn to the left before dropping down a little and navigating two consecutive vertical loops.
Viper puts a break in the action with some mid-course brake runs right after the vertical loops. Winding underneath the first drop, the train slows down mightily as the brakes catch hold, sucking the momentum out from the ride. Then, like a pacing lion unleashed, the train winds down a slow, curving incline, straightening out just in time for the Arrow boomerang, an inversion element also known as a batwing where the train goes through a half corkscrew, dives down, goes up a half loop, and finishes with another half corkscrew to exit in the opposite way it came in. The final two inversions are laid out in perhaps the best part of the ride. Coming out of the Arrow boomerang, the trains make a dipping turn to the right, hugging the ground through two consecutive corkscrews. Riders are pushed against the restraints as the train glides through, literally twirling its occupants through the air. A quick dip to the left, underneath the station, leads to a correcting ascent to the right, where the final brakes catch the train. A final, slow U-turn to the right returns the passengers back to the station, where Viper finally releases them from its powerful, slithering coils.
Downstairs, riders can catch a glimpse at the on-ride photos, showing themselves in their natural, ecstatic (or terrified) glory. Coming out, it's either another ride aboard Viper or onward to explore the rest of Six Flags Magic Mountain.
Six Flags Magic Mountain
April 7, 1990
Multi-looping sit-down coaster
2 minutes 30 seconds
- 3 vertical loops
- Arrow boomerang (batwing)
- Double corkscrews
- PHOTOS -
Photos courtesy of America Coasters Network.
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