Thursday, November 12, 2009

A Blast From The Past - Our Magnum Finale'

This week we conclude our look back over the first twenty years of Magnum XL200. We hope you have enjoyed it.

Editor's Note: Don't forget to check out Part 1 and Part 2!

Anyone who stayed overnight that first weekend found snow on the ground when they arrived at the park the next morning. It didn’t last long according to Hward Gillooly, but it certainly was a different way to see Cedar Point. The reaction from riders was the same, and it turned out to be a great way to open the 1989 season for the park.

They set record attendance for the season. Almost everyone left smiling, except those grumbling that the park needed to be closer to their house so they could get more rides on Magnum XL-200.

The long climb up the 439 feet of track encompassing the lift hill allows plenty of time to take in the sights around the ride. The islands are easily visible and at night you can see the lights from Cleveland. With the steepest drop of its day, riding in the back launches you over the top of the lift hill.

Back in 1989, the drop seemed to last forever. Climbing up the parabola for the second hill, some have called it the world’s biggest speed bump. When it opened in 1989, the Magnum XL-200 had two of the four tallest hills on all the rest of the roller coasters in the country.

It was announced in June at CoasterMania that Magnum had given nearly forty million rides during its twenty years of operation. If you have been a Cedar Point regular, you might remember that CoasterMania first started off as Magnum Mania in 1989. By 1992, the name was changed to Coastermania, because true to Kinzel’s words (from 1989,) “Coasters are what the public wants and what brings them back. If it takes creating seven more of the next fifteen years, that’s certainly what we will do.” Continuing on to today, now with seventeen, Cedar Point has more roller coasters than any other park in the world.

Coastermania attendees in 1992 saw a terrifying site during the morning ERT on Magnum. Sections of red track were lying inside the restricted area. “Stop the train! You can’t change Magnum” became the topic of the day. Later that evening in the ballroom, Jim Colvin addressed that burning question. “We have experienced some wheel wear issues,” he said, “And we are replacing two sections of track. We didn’t want to start doing this before CoasterMania in case of any problems that would set us behind. We will start on it Monday morning.”

Ron Toomer also remembers that modification, “The engineers had put in a straight section of track, probably just to fill space. This modification allowed for a smoother transition.” After the night ERT on Mean Streak concluded, changing the Magnum-XL-200 was a non-issue.

Another issue concerning Magnum was that it was sinking. According to the park, after Sandcastle Suites opened in 1990, a paved path was built behind the beach between Breakers and the new hotel. Probably in 1998 Lake Erie experienced high levels over the winter and some winter storms tore up the path and it couldn't be used that season.

Since many of Magnum’s footer are directly behind that path, the rumor started that Magnum was sinking. Coaster message boards picked up on that and the rumor spread like a wildfire, and some times you still here it talked about today. The coaster was never in any danger, and the first hyper coaster is still 205 feet tall.

So there you have it, the history of the first roller coaster to break the 200 foot barrier. Credited with changing the skyline of parks worldwide, in some opinions the Magnum XL-200 is still one of the best steel coasters today. Now, most major parks have a coaster the size of Magnum, and some used to have one nearly that tall but with loops that have been replaced.

The Magnum XL-200 still stands tall in opinions, memories, and photographs. The descriptions and conversations condense down to one thing: you have either ridden it, or you haven’t. If you rode it many years ago, you remember how it almost took your breathe away the first time. If you haven’t, you still have a great classic coaster to look forward too when you get to the Point. Here’s to another twenty years for Magnum.

We would like to thank Bryan Edwards, Robin Innes, Dick Kinzel, and most of all, Ron Toomer for making this project possible.