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November 15
1978 - Southern Pacific Saugus depot closes; later moved & used as SCV Historical Society museum [story]


It took a supervillain to get the title back, but Six Flags Magic Mountain is back on top.

“In 2011, we said we are going big and we did and delivered,” said Park President Bonnie Rabjohn. “Well, today in 2012, we are going even bigger. We have recaptured the crown as the Top Thrill Park in the World.”

Dropping in and stealing the power of Superman: Escape from Krypton tower, “Lex Luthor: Drop of Doom” was introduced at the park Friday morning. Lex Luthor, staying true to his villainous tradition, is now taking the battle to Superman in the sky.

The ride stands at a world-record height of 400 feet and carries passengers slowly alongside the attached track of the Superman: Escape from Krypton tower and freefalls to the ground, reaching a top speed of 85 mph in seconds.

On hand to kick off the new addition to the park’s collection of thrill rides was Los Angeles Kings Stanley Cup Champion Dustin Penner and actor Michael Rosenbaum, who played Lex Luthor for 10 years on the CW’s television show “Smallville.”

Lex Luthor’s Drop of Doom (at left) drops for the first time, battling with the Superman ride (at right) on Friday afternoon at Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia. Photo: Stephen K. Peeples.

“When they told me about the ride I was excited, you never have a villain ride, it’s always Superman or Flash or some super hero,” Rosenbaum said. “On my way (to Magic Mountain) I told my brother that I was nervous. He asked why and I told him it’s a 400-foot drop and we are going to be the guinea pigs. Yet after I went on it a few times I just wanted to go on more and more.”

Passengers followed Rosenbaum’s example and couldn’t wait to get on the new world-record ride. Passengers enter LexCorp, and get a view into the inner workings and mind of Lex Luthor himself as they await their turn to “drop.” On display in the center of LexCorp is the suit that Lex Luthor has worn countless times in his efforts to defeat the Man of Steel.

One of the first riders to take on the “Drop of Doom” was Chris Murray, assistant regional rep of the American Coaster Enthusiasts of Southern California. Arriving at the park at 4:30 a.m., Murray was able to ride six times before noon and was getting ready to get in line again for a seventh.

“We were able to ride in the dark and again in the early morning and there was a marine layer in so the ride went higher than the clouds and we couldn’t see the park below,” Murray said.

Magic Mountain was missing a freefall ride since the original Freefall, which first started to operate in 1982, was demolished in 2008. “Since the loss of Freefall they didn’t have a ride like this and they now have the newest, best, and biggest one,” Murray said.

Michael Rosenbaum played Lex Luthor in the “Smallville” TV series. Photo: Stephen K. Peeples.

Kelly Dell, 15, from the Santa Clarita Boys and Girls Club, finished her eighth ride on the “Drop of Doom” and couldn’t wait to get on it again.

“I would do it as many times as they would let me in a row,” Dell said. “If I could spend the night on it going up and down and up and down I would. It is just an amazing ride and anyone that gets to do should, it’s just so fun.”

Vanessa Lopez, athletic coordinator for the Santa Clarita Valley Boys & Girls Club, told herself that she would not let Dell and the kids ridicule her for not going on at least once and ended up going to the ride three times, she said. “Having Superman go in conjunction with the ride made it just ten times cooler,” Lopez said.

The Boys & Girls Club of Santa Clarita were able to take 40 kids to the grand opening of the “Drop of Doom” Friday. Jim Ventress, Chief Professional Officer of the Boys & Girls Club of the Santa Clarita Valley.

“I had no intention of riding the ride,” he said. “This was the ride that I looked at and said I don’t think so. As I got on the ride and going higher and higher all I could think and say was why did I let them talk me into this.”

Ventress who has been to many media days is not a fan of the roller coasters but will indulge his dangerous side every now and then.

“I am a Superman fan all the way, but the dark side is not too bad,” he said.

KHTS staff was on site and was able to “drop” before the public. Kyle “Jellyman” Jellings, host of “The  Jellyman Hour,” had a seat on the ride in the morning and shot video of his encounter with the 400-foot drop.

“When I first showed up my heart was pounding and I immediately felt terrified,” he said. “After I saw it run a few times I calmed down, but once I got on it and sat down my heart started to pump again and I had the feeling of immediately regretting this decision to ride.”

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