Road Warrior

Twisted Colossus begins battle for best coaster of 2015

An artist rendering of the planned Twisted Colossus ride at Six Flags Magic Mountain will feature the Western Hemisphere’s first “High Five” element, and a zero-G roll.
Source: Six Flags Entertainment Corporation

The sun has barely set on the summer of 2014, and theme parks are already racing to claim the title of best new roller coaster of 2015.

The Twisted Colossus may be the ride of the season as Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia, California, morphs its 36-year-old wooden Colossus into a new wood-and-steel hybrid with inversions and a "High Five"-style track where riders in different cars can seemingly reach out toward each other.

The coaster, which officially closed in August, made a big-screen splash as the final destination at the fictional Walley World in "National Lampoon's Vacation" in 1983. The nostalgia factor is a key business decision for the park, said Martin Palicki, editor in chief of InPark Magazine, a trade publication.

By keeping the old coaster's footprint and combining it with the new technology, parents can still take their children to Magic Mountain and talk about when they used to ride the same ride. "They want that sentimentality to pass along," Palicki said. "This is an interesting way to combine the nostalgia for the past."

Rendering of the Twisted Colossus ride at Six Flags Magic Mountain in California will recast the 36-year-old wooden Colossus into a hybrid with a state-of-the-art Iron Horse Track.
Source: Six Flags Entertainment Corporation

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The Twisted Colossus will debut in the spring with 5,000 feet of track featuring overbanked turns, a zero-G roll where track twists 360 degrees and a "Top Gun Stall" inversion where the train slows down upside down.

"It's clearly going to be one of the biggest new rides on the West Coast next year," said Robert Niles, editor of

The combination of wood and steel will give riders "a superslick, smooth feel," Niles said. "I think people will recognize this as a unique feel. They might not know why, but it will feel different."

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Six Flags on Friday also announced new rides for its 17 other parks, including a 3-D interactive dark-ride coaster, Justice League: Battle for Metropolis, which will open at both Six Flags Over Texas and Six Flags St.Louis.

Other parks are just beginning to announce their 2015 plans, Palicki said. Front-runners for the season include the Thunderbird, the country's first launched wing coaster, which will open at Holiday World in Santa Claus, Indiana.

Return of roller coaster wars

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—By CNBC's Amy Langfield. Follow Road Warrior on Twitter at @CNBCtravel.