Friday, July 14, 2017

Freefall at Magic Mountain - 1982

On June 18, 1982, Six Flags Magic Mountain opened their newest ride, Freefall (an Intamin first generation "freefall" drop tower ride). However, the grand opening had originally been announced for a date prior to that.

I had gone to Magic Mountain with friends on that original opening date. When we entered the park, we immediately headed over to Freefall which was located on the far side of the park.

There were employees posted at the ride's entrance who told us that it would open later in the day, but they couldn't say exactly when. We were advised to check back "in a couple hours." Well, we did just that and we were told basically the same thing....that they didn't know for sure when it would open, but to keep checking back. We ended up doing this all day long and at some point, we were told that it would definitely be opening before the park closed. It never did!

When I got home, I wrote a letter to the company, stating my frustration at how our day was spent running back and forth to Freefall to check and see if it had opened yet, but that it never did. They sent the following reply, dated July 11, 1982 and postmarked the following day.

And here is one of the "Courtesy Half Price Rain Checks" that they sent me.

I remember going back fairly soon with the same friends and using these, but they had sent me extras so I had some left over. I used one of the tickets 12 years later in 1994 and I remember the attendant in the ticket booth having to call for a manager because she had never seen one of these before and she didn't know what to do with it. I remember the manager stating that he had also never seen one before, but I guess he could tell it was real, because they accepted it. Now I just have this one ticket remaining and even though I have been back to Magic Mountain since then, I have never tried to use it. It doesn't have an expiration date, but I wonder what their response would be if I tried to use it now....almost 35 years later! I guess I could take the letter along with me and show it to them. They'd probably think I was crazy.

Freefall remained standing until 2008, but there was a period of time between 2005 - 2006 when it was not running. If you are interested in watching some short on-board ride footage, here are a couple video clips:

If anyone is interested in seeing another letter that I received from Magic Mountain from 1978 (with the Trolls and Wizard on the letterhead), you can click here: Vintage Magic Mountain Trip Report from 1978.

And for anyone interested in owning a "Freefall" souvenir from Magic Mountain, this button is currently available on ebay. (This is not my item or auction!)


K. Martinez said...

We had the "Freefall" ride at Marriott's Great America too. It was called "The Edge" and was themed to Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner when the park was owned by Marriott and had the Warner Bros. characters.

The drop didn't bother me at all, but I actually found the "Freefall" to be quite unsettling as it climbed up the tower and then rolled forward at the top and into place before the drop. That creeped me out.

I love the formulaic letter. It definitely is worth keeping just for the iconic letterhead. Nice B&W publicity photo too.

I also love the reactions of the women in the first video. Pretty funny.

Nice post today. Thanks, TM!

TokyoMagic! said...

Thanks, Ken! Freefall's drop didn't bother me either. The thing that bothered me the most about the ride was at the very end when you would be on your back and there would be a horrible jolt to the entire vehicle just as it was swinging back into an upright position. You can really see it in the second video and you can hear one of the guys say, "That's gonna leave a mark!" afterwards. There are actually two visible "jolts" very close together at the end of that video. I remember it being pretty rough on the head and neck.

Major Pepperidge said...

I TOTALLY remember that horrible jolt. Surprisingly violent! Couldn't they have somehow engineered the thing to not do that? My brother refused to ever go on Freefall after the first time, not because of the drop, but because of the jolt. Like you, I didn't mind the drop - it was the waiting for it that was the worst. Now Magic Mountain has another drop ride, it might be the "Lex Luthor"? I haven't been on that one, but DAMN it is loud if you happen to be walking near it when it goes by.

TokyoMagic! said...

Major, You are right, waiting for the drop was pretty bad. That's how Walt Disney World's Tower of Terror is, because they push you forward (unlike all the other versions of the ride) and you know that you are going to drop eventually, but you are just waiting and waiting....and waiting for it! It's the suspense that gets you!

Dan Alexander said...

Six Flags Over Georgia opened Freefall at the same time. I remember people talking about it made me scared to ride it---and seeing what happens after the drop made me never ride it. I was a chicken as a kid!

Snow White Archive said...

Twelve years later! That's awesome that they still accepted the half price rain check.