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Ride Profile: Gold Rusher

By on 08/11/2011

Gold Rusher roller coaster

Ride Type: Roller Coaster
Manufacturer: Arrow Dynamics
Model/Style: Mine Train
Year Built: 1971

When Magic Mountain first opened its doors in 1971, it only had one roller coaster called Gold Rusher. Over forty years later it’s still there and it’s still going strong. Manufactured by Arrow Dynamics, Gold Rusher is a mine train coaster that was installed to take advantage of the unique terrain in the middle of the park. Located on the backside of the ‘mountain’, in what was once referred to as the Waterfront District, Gold Rusher has not changed much over the years. The coaster is 2,590 feet long, reaches a top speed of roughly 35 MPH, has two lifts, and last about 2:30 minutes.  Although the ride lists an official height of 70 feet, you’re never more than a couple of feet off the ground all the way up the first lift hill because it goes up and over a hill.

Each coaster car has a 2×3 configuration, with five cars per train, for a total of 30 passengers per train. The ride has a total of fours trains, which it can handle simultaneously, however there is rarely ever a need to run more than two trains these days.

The above photo shows the front of the ride, with the entrance being the doorway below the sign. You cross underneath the track and walk up a ramp to get to the loading area. The dual stairways coming down from either side of the building are where you exit the ride. The following photo shows an aerial view of the back of the building, where you can clearly see the ramp up to the loading area. On a side note, the rusty grey beam you see in the foreground is from the old Metro monorail, just after it exited the station located inside the hill. It has since been removed and is no longer there:

Gold Rusher roller coaster

Once the train is dispatched, it exits the loading station and makes an immediate 180 degree turn to the left, towards the first lift hill:

Gold Rusher roller coaster

This shot is from the ramp on the back of the loading station. See the old monorail beam hiding in the trees in the background? The train has just made the 180 degree turn and is heading towards the first lift hill:

Gold Rusher roller coaster

This is where the extra trains are stored when not in use. The shack houses some of the mechanical equipment and spare parts for the ride. The first lift hill is in the background. Notice how it’s never really that far off the ground? When the ride was new, it went up and over the top of the hill with an unobstructed view. However, it now passes through a small tunnel as it goes underneath the entrance to Superman: Escape from Krypton:

Gold Rusher roller coaster

This is a train heading up the first lift hill:

Gold Rusher roller coaster

The first drop, on the other side of the hill, puts you on a giant arc that used to pass underneath the Log Jammer log flume ride, over the top of a pond, and under Log Jammer again before hitting the second lift hill. You can also see where the old Metro monorail beam used to exit the hill tunnel:

Gold Rusher roller coaster

Today, the Log Jammer is long gone and the hillside was extensively cleared to make room for the Full Throttle roller coaster. The Gold Rusher track is much more visible than it used to be. Several trees were replanted, but it will take a few years before they start to mature and cover the hillside again. The Full Throttle track now exits the old Metro tunnel before heading up and over the 160′ vertical loop:

Gold Rusher roller coaster

Gold Rusher is one of only two roller coasters in the park that has two lift hills. The other one is Ninja. This is the second lift, going right along the side of Superman: Escape from Krypton, with an unfinished Full Throttle in the background. The second lift hill was needed to get back up and over the hill. Although you can’t tell from this photo, this provides an excellent view of the Superman tower, as it is right in front of you:

Gold Rusher roller coaster

After the second lift hill, you pass underneath the Superman track and wrap around the Superman station:

Gold Rusher roller coaster

This is a fun part of the ride because you are sent through a series of curves through the few trees and foliage:

Gold Rusher roller coaster

Here’s a hidden brake block, which allows multiple trains to run simultaneously:

Gold Rusher roller coaster

This corner passes really close to the first lift hill, which you can barely see at the bottom of the photo. Just past this curve is another brake block and a 540 degree helix that drops you down and leaves you perfectly lined up to pull back into the station:

Gold Rusher roller coaster

This is the final brake run, waiting for the train in the station to clear:

Gold Rusher roller coaster

This next picture was taken on Magic Mountain’s opening day in 1971. It shows a very exposed Gold Rusher roller coaster. The first lift hill is just visible in the very lower-right corner. You can see a train just coming back over the hill, which would be under the Superman track today. After a series of curves, you can also see where the track drops into the helix in the lower-left corner before pulling back into the station. Lastly, you’ll notice that the track is red. It was only red for the first season before being painted yellow (gold?). Rumor has it that this might have been a primer from the manufacturer because they didn’t have time to paint the coaster before opening to the public:

1971 Magic Mountain Opening Day

If you look in the station today, you can still see the original red paint job. For some reason, this section of track was never painted:

Gold Rusher roller coaster

I really enjoy this roller coaster. Although fairly tame by today’s standards, it is a fun family coaster and perfect for smaller children who are just starting to graduate up to the bigger rides. Because of it’s age and the outstanding collection of larger coasters in the park, this ride is almost always a walk-on. My wife and teenage sons also enjoy it, laughing hysterically every time we ride it. We always try and ride Gold Rusher whenever we are in the park. Don’t let its age fool you. This is a fun little roller coaster. If you’ve never been on Gold Rusher, do yourself a favor and experience it at least once.


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  3. JJJ

    08/19/2011 at 2:14 pm

    I love how this ride goes in between so many other ones, like the logs, superman and the monorail.

  4. ela

    08/26/2011 at 11:39 pm

    I remeber when there was wide open and no foliage, But like with the Nija, its cool going thru all the foliage, Finally checked out your site, Love it.

    • admin

      08/27/2011 at 9:21 am

      Thank you, Ela, and welcome! I’m glad you like the site. I just need to find more time to work on it.

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  9. Eric

    11/19/2011 at 2:35 am

    While the rest of the ride is bright yellow, the part of the track that passes through the station is still painted in the original red color. Take note of that next time you’re waiting for it. And I’m still trying to figure out that “Rotary Brakes Retracted” sign. Give me time—it’s only been there for 40 years…

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  19. Candice Hargrove

    08/03/2013 at 10:34 am

    I love Gold Rusher! I always go on it after I’ve done a few of the bigger rollercoasters. 🙂

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  21. Rosie

    02/24/2014 at 10:40 am

    Even though it doesn’t have big thrill elements like loops or steep drops it’s still very fun and it feels pretty long compared to it’s faster sleeker descendants. It can rattle you a little but it’s a good family ride

  22. Sam Skarin

    06/04/2014 at 6:41 pm

    This is a very fun ride! Not my fav, but its fun! I hope that this will not be the next one going to the chopping block. What do you guys think? By the way , love your website. After reading all your research, I tell my friends about it, and the call me “the roller coaster freak”. Any way, love your website curt. Keep it up!

  23. Steve-O

    09/11/2014 at 2:37 pm

    Just a heads-up, the pictures in this profile seem to be out of order.

    • The Coaster Guy

      09/11/2014 at 2:49 pm

      That’s really weird! I wonder what happened? Thanks for the heads up. I’ll need to fix that tonight.

  24. Zeb

    11/09/2014 at 8:40 pm

    Eh, this ride is a chiropractor’s dream, a real neck-breaker. The only ride in the park that caused both of us in my party actual physical pain that lasted beyond the ride.

    We actually enjoyed the big centrifugal loop towards the end, but the pacing on the rest of it is a bit of a let down, with lots of “almost” thrilling drops that get reined in with more brutal jerking rather than smoothly continue to build speed along the topography.

    Too bad, because I generally really enjoy your typical “mine-cart” coaster. This one was more painful than fun or thrilling, alas.

  25. Caden Thure

    12/31/2015 at 9:58 pm

    Its amazing to see the old photo of it on the barren desert hill and think that they built so many coaster on and around it, a lot more dense of steel and trees now. Glad that they have kept it all these years.

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