A-Z Coaster of the Week – Revolution

We’re sticking on the West Coast for this weeks A-Z Coaster of the week. For the letter “R”, we’re looking at a coaster that had one of the most important “firsts” in modern coaster history, Revolution at Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia California!

The Revolution at Magic Mountain (Courtesy http://www.thecoasterguy.com/)

Revolution History

Magic Mountain poster from the original construction.

Revolution opened in 1976 at Magic Mountain as the “Great American Revolution” in honor of the bicentennial of Declaration of Independence. The ride broke several records at the time of opening, but by far the most important characteristic of it was that it opened with the first modern roller coaster loop. Thanks to this “first” it’s an American Coaster Enthusiasts Roller Coaster Landmark. The key for making a safe, working, modern loop was the clothoid design developed by Werner Stengel and Anton Schwarzkopf for the ride. (As for what a clothoid loop is and why it’s so important, check out our Coaster101 on how loops work). Interestingly, although it was first, it was the lone modern looping coaster for only about a week, as Corkscrew at Cedar Point, built by Arrow Dynamics, opened seven days later. Some would argue this was the beginning of the roller coaster “arms race” between the two parks (Magic Mountain currently holds the “most coasters” title with 19).

And on-ride photo taken by the media from the opening of the Revolution.

The early days of the Revolution loop (copyright Robin Hall, courtesy TheCoasterGuy.com)

Revolution has been through several iterations in its lifetime. in 1979, three years after its initial opening as Great American Revolution, the ride was renamed “La Revolucion” to now honor the Mexican Revolution (and to fit with the Baja Ridge section of the park). In 1988, the rides name was shortened to simply “Revolution”, and it lasted that way until its 40th anniversary this past year in 2016, when it received a major overhaul, and reopened as the “New Revolution”.

The New Revolution advertisement, before the VR addition was announced.

The New Revolution

Throughout its life the ride has been tweaked. Most notably (or, most annoyingly), the original lap bar restraints that the trains had in 1976 were replaced with over the shoulder restraints in 1992, thanks to state safety laws. However, when the ride closed in late 2015 for a major refurbishment before reopening as “New Revolution”, one of the biggest changes that happened was brand new custom trains were built for it by Six Flags, and they returned to the lap bar restraints. There was much rejoicing among roller coaster fans. Of course, the other major addition to the New Revolution was the addition of VR, one of the first in North America. Although it has some issues (especially with capacity), the VR experience was wholly new and a creative way to rejuvenate the historic ride. And for classic coaster fans, the virtual reality remains optional.

1976 Revolution with the original lap restraints (courtesy RCDB.com)

The over the shoulder restraints from the 90s. (courtesy TheCoasterGuy.com)

Back to lap bar restraints (and VR headsets) following the 2015-2016 refurbishment!

Ride Experience

Although the loop (and today the VR) was the most notable part of the Revolution, that wasn’t the only special thing about it when it opened. It was worlds tallest roller coaster, although this designation only lasted one year when it was surpassed by the first Schwarzkopf Shuttle loop coasters. For one more year after that it maintained the title of the worlds tallest closed circuit coaster, until losing that designation in 1978 (also to another Schwarzkopf and Stengel ride). The ride is also notable for the way it hugs the terrain of the park, hugging the hillside in the center of Magic Mountain, running between thick pine trees (although the foliage is less dense after the addition of Tatsu and recent construction, but hopefully it builds up soon). Compared to modern roller coasters, its also interesting that the loop doesn’t come after a steep initial dive, but rather is in the middle of the ride, preceded and followed by hills and helices. Check out the two PoV rides from CoasterForce, one from New Revolution and one from a few years ago to see the beautiful wooded layout, and how good it looks with the new paint.

Revolution Stats and Facts

  • Type/Category: Tubular steel, sit-down, looping, terrain
  • Location: Six Flags Magic Mountain, Valencia, California
  • Built: 1976, refurbished in 2016
  • Designer/Manufacturer: Werner Stengel and Anton Schwarzkopf
  • Height: 113 feet
  • Speed: 55 mph
  • Length: 3,457 ft
  • Elements: 90 ft tall loop, 144 ft long tunnel, optional VR
  • Known for: The first ever modern vertical loop, terrain hugging layout, Virtual reality overlay

With the new trains, new paint job, and VR, hopefully the New Revolution will be running for many years to come.

Thanks to all of the love it recently received, it seems like this historic coaster should have a nice long life ahead of it. Have you been on Revolution before, either new or old? What did you think? Let us know in the comments, or share your thoughts with us on Facebook or Twitter. Be sure to check back next week when we look at our “S” coaster of the week, and if you missed any past coasters in the series you can find them all here.