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THRILL IS ENDING FOR OLD COASTERS PSYCLONE, FLASHBACK BOW OUT.

Byline: ALEX DOBUZINSKIS Staff Writer

VALENCIA -- Nearly 16 years ago, Magic Mountain cloned the Cyclone, the famous Coney Island roller coaster.

But the replica wooden coaster's days are numbered, and a steel coaster called Flashback also will be dismantled, Sue Carpenter, a spokeswoman for Six Flags California's Magic Mountain in Valencia said Monday.

``They're both being taken off the park map this year, and it's for future park expansion,'' Carpenter said.

At a park known for extreme rides such as the popular X, the closure of the two coasters, neither of which goes upside down, won't put thrill addicts in a state of withdrawal.

But X, which spins riders backward and forward in their seats even as it completes chilling drops, is also closed. The ride is undergoing routine maintenance and is set to re-open Feb. 3, Carpenter said.

With the pending dismantlement of Psyclone and Flashback, Magic Mountain will have 15 roller coasters. That puts the thrill park behind Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio, which claims the title of ``Roller Coaster Capital of the World'' on its Web site, with a list of 17 coasters.

Six Flags Inc. is going for a more family-friendly atmosphere at its parks, and Magic Mountain is included in that strategy. Carpenter said little about how the removal of the two rides fits in Six Flag's new family-friendly strategy.

``We're always looking to add areas of the park that appeal to a wide audience,'' she said.

Magic Mountain and neighboring Hurricane Harbor were up for sale late last year, but Six Flags reconsidered and will hold onto the two parks.

Flashback, a steel coaster that opened in 1992, has been closed the last couple of years because it's right next to Hurricane Harbor, and the noise it generates interfered with lifeguards, Carpenter said. Over the years, 8.9 million people rode Flashback.

After it's dismantled, Flashback may be re-assembled somewhere else at Magic Mountain, but it won't be operating this year, Carpenter said. Psyclone will be smashed and scrapped within four weeks, she said.

Psyclone opened at Magic Mountain in March 1991, and it has a wooden frame with 11 hills. The structure is made up of Southern pine, unpainted to make it look more natural. Workers spent a combined 40,000 hours building the ride, ridden by 17.1 million people before it closed, Carpenter said.

The ride is based on the legendary Cyclone roller coaster at Coney Island, which has been designated a historic landmark by New York City and the federal government.

The Cyclone will turn 80 years old in June. Astroland, the Coney Island amusement park, is planning a birthday bash for its grand old coaster.

``It really defines Coney Island, because it was built at a period, the heyday of Coney Island roller coasters,'' said historian Charles Denson, author of ``Coney Island: Lost and Found.''

``In the 1920s, they were building them longer, faster,'' he said. ``All the great designers were still around.''

Denson, a California resident who lives half the year at Coney Island, plans to open a small exhibit center under the Cyclone on the same day it turns 80. That kind of love for a coaster has not been shown to Psyclone and Flashback.

``I don't think anyone's going to shed a tear over losing these two coasters,'' said Robert Niles, the Pasadena-based editor of ThemeParkInsider.com.

``Although from reports, people may have shed a tear from riding these two coasters ... they both had a reputation of being a very rough ride,'' he added.

America Coasters Network also calls Flashback a rough ride on its Web site, but it describes it as the world's only ``hairpin drop'' roller coaster, meaning it twists to one side and drops almost vertically, with little lateral movement.

When Psyclone is scrapped, the only wooden roller coaster left at Magic Mountain will be the dual-track Colossus.

Over the years, several roller coasters patterned after the Cyclone have been built in the United States, Europe and Japan. But according to legend, the original Cyclone at Coney Island has the distinction of inducing a man who had been unable to speak for years to utter the words, ``I feel sick.''

alex.dobuzinskis@dailynews.com

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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Jan 23, 2007
Words:703
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