NCL Free At Sea

X2 Roller Coaster At Six Flags Magic Mountain

By on 01/12/2012

X2 Roller Coaster At Six Flags Magic Mountain

Ride Type: Roller Coaster

Manufacturer: Arrow Dynamics
Model/Style: 4th Dimension
Year Built: 2001

Ask 100 roller coaster enthusiasts what the most extreme roller coaster is and chances are pretty good that you’ll get several of them say the X2 roller coaster at Six Flags Magic Mountain is. Built by Arrow Dynamics, X2 actually started life in 2001 as the world’s very first 4th Dimension coaster called X. In addition to the normal forces you would expect from a roller coaster, X2 is unique in that the cars rotate independently on their own axis, 360 degrees forward and backward, perpendicular to the track. More on that later.

Scheduled to open in the summer of 2001, the complexity of this prototype coaster led to numerous technical problems and mechanical glitches that delayed the opening. On December 24, 2001, Six Flags finally opened the ride to season pass holders. On January 12, 2002 it opened to the general public. Mechanical problems continued to plague the coaster and it was closed again just six months later, in June 2002, to receive modified, second generation trains.

When you arrive at Six Flags Magic Mountain, you must drive up Magic Mountain Parkway and turn in towards the parking lot. When you do, the X2 roller coaster is the very first roller coaster you see. This is your view as you approach the entrance to the park:

X2 Roller Coaster At Six Flags Magic Mountain

The X2 roller coaster consists of 3,610 feet of track. The lift hill is 175′ and the highest peak stands at 190′ tall. The first drop is 215′ at 89 degrees, nearly straight down. As you continue driving towards the parking toll booths, you get to see the rest of the coaster:

X2 Roller Coaster At Six Flags Magic Mountain

When looking at the southwest corner of the park from the Sky Tower, it’s hard to miss the pair of Arrow coasters. Viper, dressed in red and white, is in the foreground while X2 is the red and charcoal coaster in the background. Although Viper looks slightly taller than X2, it’s actually built on higher ground. If they were both on level ground, X2 would be taller by a mere two feet:

X2 Roller Coaster At Six Flags Magic Mountain

When it was originally built in 2001, X2 was simply called X. It had a pink and yellow paint job that, in my humble opinion, portrayed an image that was completely opposite of the ‘extreme’ ride that they were promoting. The following photo is of a promotional poster that used to be on display in the Magic of the Mountain Museum up in the Sky Tower. It shows what the first generation trains looked like (manta rays?), as well as the unique paint scheme that was used:

X2 Roller Coaster At Six Flags Magic Mountain

This is what the coaster looked like when it first opened:

X Roller Coaster At Six Flags Magic Mountain

Image © Microsoft Bing












On December 2, 2007, X closed for a major transformation into X2. Six Flags dropped a whopping $10 million into the ride. The exterior got 1,500 gallons of red and dark charcoal paint that took three months to apply by brush and roller. The ride also got new trains that were not only lighter, but they also contained a pneumatic restraint system that wasn’t prone to jamming like the manual system on the first two generations of trains. There was also a new loading/unloading procedure that allowed a third train to be put into service, increasing capacity by 50%. The new trains carried an on-board audio system and the track received two flame throwers as a special effect. The X2 roller coaster re-opened on May 24, 2008 and here is what the ride looks like today:

X2 Roller Coaster At Six Flags Magic Mountain

Image © Google

X2 is arguably the most popular ride in the park, which means that the lines can, and do, get very long. As soon as you reach the entrance to the ride, the switchbacks start:

X2 Roller Coaster At Six Flags Magic Mountain

Fortunately, there are a lot of trees that provide lots of shade for the long waits:

X2 Roller Coaster At Six Flags Magic Mountain

You’ll have plenty of time to read about how the unique train chassis rotates the seats 360 degrees forward and backward during the ride:

X2 Roller Coaster At Six Flags Magic Mountain

Where there aren’t any trees, artificial shade is provided. There are also some tv monitors throughout the line to entertain you while you wait:

X2 Roller Coaster At Six Flags Magic Mountain

By the time you get here, underneath the lift hill, you know you’re getting close. The loading dock is located on the second floor and it’s two-sided, meaning that you must decide which side you want to get on. The red ramp you see on the left is the entrance to one side of the ride. There is a tunnel just underneath it that leads to the other side:

X2 Roller Coaster At Six Flags Magic Mountain

This first side is a giant ramp that makes its way up to the loading station:

X2 Roller Coaster At Six Flags Magic Mountain

By going through the tunnel, you are presented with stairs up to the other side:

X2 Roller Coaster At Six Flags Magic Mountain

It’s a very open loading station and reminds me of an aircraft hangar. This photo was taken from the second side, the one with the stairs:

X2 Roller Coaster At Six Flags Magic Mountain

Looking back the other direction, you can see the ride operators perched high overhead, looking down on the trains as they return to the station underneath them:

X2 Roller Coaster At Six Flags Magic Mountain

This is a very poor photo taken with my cell phone, however it was the only one I had of the seats without any riders in them. The restraints are very unique, opening and closing like butterfly wings. You put your arm through each side and compress them towards your chest, much like putting on a jacket. The restraints also slide down and lock on your shoulders, providing the best and most secure fit:

X2 Roller Coaster At Six Flags Magic Mountain

This picture shows what the restraints look like when closed. This is me and my buddy Shane during the Discover Coaster to Coaster Tour we went on in July 2011. Six Flags Great America is his home park, so it was fun to accompany him on his very X2 ride. You should also take note of the speakers on either side of the head:

X2 Roller Coaster At Six Flags Magic Mountain

When the trains are dispatched, this is where they exit the station:

X2 Roller Coaster At Six Flags Magic Mountain

The trains start out running backwards, so remember that when you get in line. Those who think they are sitting in the front are actually in the rear, and vice-versa:

X2 Roller Coaster At Six Flags Magic Mountain

As the trains exit the loading station and do a 180 degree turn towards the lift hill, you get a great shot looking out over the rest of the park. There are lots and lots of trees. The orange coaster is Tatsu and the tiny white loop in front of it is Revolution, the world’s first looping modern coaster, also known as the one-loop-wonder:

X2 Roller Coaster At Six Flags Magic Mountain

OK, now we get into what makes the X2 roller coaster so darn unique. While most modern roller coasters use tubular steel to form a pair of rails on which the train travels, X2 actually has two pair of rails, an inner and outer pair:

X2 Roller Coaster At Six Flags Magic Mountain

The entire weight of the coaster train is carried on the inner rails, which are also used to guide the train through the course. The outer pair of rails are purely used to control the rotation of the seats. Take a look at the previous photo and look at how far away the outer rails are from the inner rails. Now look at this photo and notice how much closer the two pair of rails are to each other:

X2 Roller Coaster At Six Flags Magic Mountain

Here we see the train on the rails. As I mentioned before, the entire weight of the train is carried by the inner rails. You’ll notice a small set of guide wheels are used to attach a steel post to the outer rails. These posts are 4′ long rack gears that are connected to a spindle that controls the rotation of the seats. As the outer rail moves towards or away from the train, that rail goes up and down, rotating the seat accordingly. The seats continually rotate forward and backward along the entire course, maximizing the thrill:

X2 Roller Coaster At Six Flags Magic Mountain

The white box you see attached to the back of the train in the previous photo houses the audio equipment. The ride has a custom audio track that plays throughout the entire ride, pumping through the speakers next to each rider’s head that I pointed out earlier. Unfortunately, this audio system seems to be very problematic and almost seems to be not working more often than it is working.

Due to its width and height, the lift hill almost looks like a pair of downhill ski jumps:

X2 Roller Coaster At Six Flags Magic Mountain

By the time the train starts up the lift hill, the riders are completely on their backs:

X2 Roller Coaster At Six Flags Magic Mountain

Although much lighter than the first two generations of trains, this third generation train still weighs in at 38,000 lbs, or 19 tons. There are four riders per car, situated in pairs on each side. Each car is 20′ wide and wing-shaped, with nothing above or below each pair of riders. With seven cars per train, and a total length of 70′, there are a total of 28 riders per dispatch. With three trains in operation, and maximum efficiency, there is a theoretical throughput of roughly 1,600 riders per hour. These 3rd generation trains were manufactured by S&S Power:

X2 Roller Coaster At Six Flags Magic Mountain

This is the train heading up the lift hill, as seen from the Sky Tower:

X2 Roller Coaster At Six Flags Magic Mountain

Once the train reaches the top of the lift hill, there is a pre-drop, or kicker, which is used to reduce stress on the lift hill chain. During this time, the seats begin to rotate forward in preparation for the first drop:

X2 Roller Coaster At Six Flags Magic Mountain

As you can see here, the seats have been rotated forward 180 degrees and are now facing straight down as the train drops nearly vertical. The first two generation trains reached a maximum speed of 70 MPH, however this lighter 3rd gen train can hit 76 MPH. Pulling a maximum of 4 G’s, this ride earned its reputation for being extreme:

X2 Roller Coaster At Six Flags Magic Mountain

Even though the tallest point on the coaster is 190′, the first drop is 215′ due to it going below grade at the base of the first drop:

X2 Roller Coaster At Six Flags Magic Mountain

After the first drop, the train enters an inside raven loop. As it exits the loop, the seats rotate, executing a ‘lie to fly’ maneuver, transitioning the riders from lying on their backs above the track facing backwards to a flying position hanging under the track facing forward:

X2 Roller Coaster At Six Flags Magic Mountain

This is the train exiting the first raven loop, as seen from the ground:

X2 Roller Coaster At Six Flags Magic Mountain

Shortly after exiting the first raven loop, and while still in the flying position, the seats do a 360 degree rotation backwards, completing a full backflip:

X2 Roller Coaster At Six Flags Magic Mountain

As the train rockets back towards the station, it enters a sweeping fan turn. It takes a lot of heavy steel to support a 19-ton train flying around this turn:

X2 Roller Coaster At Six Flags Magic Mountain

Here is the train as it enters the sweeping turn, sending it back the other way:

X2 Roller Coaster At Six Flags Magic Mountain

After the turn, the train performs a unique half-twist/forward flip. This transitions the train back on top of the track and the riders onto their backs, looking backward again. This is also referred to as a ‘fly to lie’ maneuver. Just as soon as you get your bearings, giant flame throwers spit fire overhead, leaving you in awe as you continue to move away from it. Before you know it, you’re on your way through an outside raven loop:

X2 Roller Coaster At Six Flags Magic Mountain

After the second raven loop, there is another half-twist of the track and the seats are rotated 180 degrees, returning the riders to their original positions:

X2 Roller Coaster At Six Flags Magic Mountain

Once the track levels out, it slides into the brake run:

X2 Roller Coaster At Six Flags Magic Mountain

After a successful run, here is a train backing its way into the station:

X2 Roller Coaster At Six Flags Magic Mountain

This train is stacked in the station, waiting its turn to move to the loading area. This area used to be a dedicated unload area so that people could unload and load simultaneously in the two different areas. Once emptied here, the empty train would move into the load area as the freshly loaded train was dispatched. That freed up this area for the third train to enter the station and start unloading. This was theoretically the most efficient way to keep the trains rolling and the lines moving. However, since there are never more than two trains running at any given time, they no longer use this area to unload:

X2 Roller Coaster At Six Flags Magic Mountain

This photo shows the lift hill heading up and out on the right, the return run down the middle, the track heading out again on the left, and then the brake run in the lower-right:

X2 Roller Coaster At Six Flags Magic Mountain

The loading station has plenty of lockers to store your stuff and it’s highly recommended that you use them. This ride really likes to pick pockets. If you have anything loose in your pockets, chances are pretty good you’ll lose it. Better to be safe than sorry. These people are taking pictures of the people who just returned from a run, but are stacked in the former unload area. This is where I took the photo two pics up:

X2 Roller Coaster At Six Flags Magic Mountain

The X2 roller coaster is by far the most popular ride in the park and is considered to be one of the park’s signature rides, with Tatsu being the other. If you want to ride it without waiting in a long line, you need to get there quick. Every day when the gates open, people literally run as fast as they can to get there. You can see a short video I made of that here. My recommendation is to use either the Gold Season Pass or Discover card entrance to get in a few minutes early and head straight there. This next photo was taken 20 minutes after the main gate opened and the line had already filled the queue and extended back over the bridge. From the bridge, you’re looking at a wait between 2-3 hours on an average day:

X2 Roller Coaster At Six Flags Magic Mountain

As seen from overhead, the X2 roller coaster really doesn’t look like that radical of a coaster. In fact, it looks rather bland. However, the introduction of rotating seats adds a feeling that can’t properly be explained. You’ll simply have to experience it yourself to understand:

X2 Roller Coaster At Six Flags Magic Mountain

Image © Microsoft Bing

In closing, I feel the need to pay homage to Arrow Dynamics, the manufacturer of this ride. Arrow had a long, rich history in the amusement ride business, with many industry firsts. Their foray into roller coasters occurred back in the 1950’s, when an entrepreneur by the name of  Walt Disney came to see them about creating some rides for a small park he was planning in the orange groves of Southern California. Arrow went on to create the world’s first tubular steel track roller coaster, the first mine train coaster, the first modern inverting coaster, the first suspended coaster, and the first coasters with 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7 inversions. The list goes on and on.

With increased competition in the late 1990’s, Arrow’s business started to slow and they were facing possible bankruptcy. In a last ditch effort to save the company, they struck a deal with Six Flags in 2000 to install their radical new 4th Dimension concept coaster in Magic Mountain. Scheduled to open during the summer of 2001, the complexity of the new coaster led to technical issues that delayed the opening. While still trying to get X up and running, Arrow had to declare bankruptcy. In October 2001, S&S Power bought all of Arrow’s assets. S&S Power created a sub-division called S&S Arrow, which still exists today, but their only mission is to sell and install 4th Dimension coasters.

In 2006, S&S Arrow built the world’s second 4th Dimension coaster, Eejanaika, in Japan. It’s very similar to X2, but slightly taller. There is a third 4th Dimension in China called Dinoconda. Including the X2 roller coaster, these are the only three roller coasters like this in the entire world. If you get the chance, be sure to ride one. You won’t regret it.


  1. caleb

    01/12/2012 at 6:52 pm

    This was awesome. X2 is by far my favorite ride. I know it isn’t very unique, but it’s so awesome it never ceases to amaze me. The only thing I don’t like about the coaster is the right hand 180 degree turn a little after the raven loop. You just glide around the turn… I wish you did another flip or something! Must have something to do with the G’s.
    Anyway that was a wonderful ride profile and thanks!

    • Stephen M Greene

      06/21/2016 at 2:14 pm

      Not unique? X2 was the first ride of its kind. I would say it’s very unique

    • judy allen

      06/25/2016 at 10:44 am

      I went on this in 2010 at the age of 56, I wasn’t concerned as I have rode loads of x stream rides, a guy said to me as I was getting on you should not be riding this, I just laughed, what a mistake, I screamed all the way round, my son said to me that he couldn’t believe that I was frightened, what a ride, I didn’t go on a second time.

      • John

        06/26/2017 at 7:53 pm

        I have never been scared on a coaster in my life. I was today when I rode this. Amazing ride.

  2. Eric

    01/12/2012 at 7:07 pm

    I was one of the fortunate people to ride X in December 2001 during the season pass preview. As X, I rode as few times as possible because the ride was so rough. In fact, at one point I actually said that if the park scrapped the ride, I wouldn’t miss it.

    However, when I got to ride X2 at media day with the new trains, my opinion changed. X2 was somewhat smoother, and I also learned how to ride it to lessen the discomfort.

    These days, it’s unusual if I don’t ride X2 during my visit.

    • Jeffrey M. Matthews

      07/10/2017 at 10:16 am

      Please share what you’ve learned about how to ride X2 to lessen the discomfort!

      • The Coaster Guy

        07/13/2017 at 11:25 pm

        I’m one of those rare people who don’t find X2 uncomfortable. I keep my hands up and feet straight out when I ride, and just go with the flow. The complaints I hear are from people who hold on tight and keep their feet tight against the seat. They take a beating. If you don’t do that, you don’t get beat up.

  3. Alex V.

    01/12/2012 at 8:29 pm

    I love this ride so much its one of my favorites. Usually to avoid the lines i go on it later in the afternoon, like at 3:00pm <3

  4. Andrew K

    01/12/2012 at 9:39 pm

    Thanks for such a great article, learned a few new tidbits about the design of X. For me X was always one of those rides at SFMM that if I didn’t get around to it then I wouldn’t be heartbroken, simply because after looking at the stats and ride layout I wasn’t impressed and decided to spend my 2 hours elsewhere at the park. Recently I rode it for the first time and was intrigued but highly battered by its rough ride. Now if it was this bumpy and jerky as X2 then I can’t imagine riding it as plain old X. It’s not one of my favorites at SFMM but I applaud its innovation and creativity.

  5. Andres

    01/13/2012 at 12:15 am

    hahaha i can now image a X3

  6. JJJJ

    01/14/2012 at 2:15 am

    I love X, but with my luck, its usually closed when i go. Last time I got to ride we didnt board until an hour after the park was closed (thank God for the policy which allows people in line to ride). I wish six flags was better about informing riders what will be open on which days during the slow season. Last time I went, x, tatsu, ninja and de ja vu (before removal) were all closed, and it was a beautiful day in late November.

    Your post did remind me of one thing….those retched lockers. Did you ever write a post about that? How six flags went from providing great free storage areas for bags (including custom designed storage areas on new rides) to charging $1 a ride? Its bull I think.

    It also hurts some sales. You know the free-refill souvenir cup? I always want to buy it, but doing so would mean paying for lockers. :/ So we dont. Thats, what $13 they miss out on?

    And small backpacks are easy to hide, especially in the winter. Yes sir, I am fat, stop staring at my bulging belly! No locker fees for me.

  7. Alex

    01/16/2012 at 8:55 pm

    As you’ve mentioned kurt about the discover card, at exactly what time is the earliest they can let you in with the card??

    • Kurt

      01/17/2012 at 12:53 pm

      It all depends on the park and when they decide to start letting people in. I’ve been let in as early as 15 minutes before the main gate opened and as late as the exact same time as the main gate. On average, I’d say they let you in about five minutes before the main gate opens. You can easily get at least halfway to X2 before the main crowds start running towards it.

  8. Alex V.

    01/17/2012 at 4:09 pm

    Thats awesome

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  15. Jorgee

    03/27/2013 at 9:59 pm

    Where exactly can I get The picture that X2 takes while on ride?

    • The Coaster Guy

      03/27/2013 at 10:51 pm

      When you get off the ride and head down the stairs, you’ll pass right by the photo booth on the backside of the station, right before you turn the last corner.

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  20. Ezra

    05/08/2013 at 12:39 pm

    Actually X2’s full name is Xtreme to the second power. Also, he station is supposed to be an aircraft hanger because it is supposed to be an extreme flight.

    • Davis S.

      07/03/2013 at 8:29 pm

      Sounds like you’re describing X-Flight. Another cool wingriding roller coaster with red track and (type of)black supports.

      You know, I kind of think that X-Flight is the sequel to X2 (or possibly X).

      • Dane

        02/21/2015 at 9:26 am

        X flights seats don’t twist though.

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  25. Rosie

    02/24/2014 at 1:03 pm

    really wanted to ride this, it was closed the day we went. boo! such a neat idea, combining two rides into one. (roller coaster with carny ride the zipper)

  26. PBRstreet

    04/13/2014 at 12:19 pm

    I worked for Arrow on this ride it was designed from scratch using a entirely new restraint system. There was only a handful of people who designed it and produced the engineering. Both vehicle engineers quit before the first test run. One was fairly competent, the other was a complete idiot. Halfway through the design process I had to inform him that the lift was being designed with the chain left of centerline and anti-rollback flight right of center (standard arrow practice) he had the vehicle opposite and had the arrogant attitude to tell me that was the “old” Arrow and we are doing things differently now, I told him ” we’ll you better talk to the lift designer he’s designed it opposite” Arrow always ran the vehicle through 100 test cycles before allowing any passengers and it was a good thing because on the 50th test run the lead chassis broke and the train stacked up into the ready brakes prior to the station. (Talk about your uncomfortable moments) It was a single point load failure on the chassis, so they had to scab on a bunch of gussets and doubler plates to transfer the load on the main chassis tube. The outside raven turn was also problematic it put way too much stress on the vehicle and if you factor in the width of the vehicle 27′ if I remember correctly, and the moment/distance from the outside seat to where it was supported on the running rail it was kind of frightening.

    • Katie

      09/27/2014 at 10:44 pm

      Hey PBRstreet, I know this post is months old but here we go…designing and building X had to have been incredibly stressful, but in the end here you have this intensely frightening roller coaster with more personality than any other ride out there. I would love to pick your brain. ‘Cause there has to be so many stories about it. What was role on the team?

  27. Phillip

    06/02/2014 at 6:34 pm

    X2 is just too rough for me to enjoy now. However, when I first rode it as X in the front row, the first drop was one of my favorite coaster moments ever. I won’t forget that.

  28. Sarah

    10/18/2014 at 11:18 am

    Just road X2 for the for my 4th time but my first time in yeeeeeaars. I had a lot more fun than ever before (I used to get scared shitless), until towards the middle when my seat restraints started to jiggle around. This is normal right? I assume so now, but in the moment I started to panic, lol. I had a moment of sheer and utter panic where I literally thought I was gonna die, silly me. Luckily I didn’t , and I was so happy the ride ended. I definitely want to ride it many more times, but just to quell my own anxiety I gotta ask the workers if it’s normal for those damn restraints to move like that!

  29. Jorge Hernandez

    07/09/2015 at 1:17 am

    why the fire effects and music sometimes is turned off?

    • The Coaster Guy

      07/09/2015 at 9:12 am

      They don’t turn the sound effects off, they just don’t always work. Over time, the rattling of the coaster loosens or breaks the wiring connectors. They can’t work on it until the train is taken out of service, and even then they don’t always have the time to fix the audio because it’s a much lower priority then other necessary fixes.

      The fire units don’t always work, either. Often times they will turn those off if there’s too much wind.

  30. Drew

    11/26/2015 at 4:56 pm

    First time ever on X2 last month during Fright Fest (Oct 23 2015). All I can say is WOWWWW!!!! Crazy experience and definitely the most intense coaster I have been on. We sat in the 2nd row from the front. Rode it at night. The audio was working! Which I thought added to the buildup and ride experience. My favorite part was the alarm sound like the National Weather Service weather warnings you here on the radio and dead Presidents talking “The only thing we have to fear is…fear itself”…and X2 I might add. Then a heavy metal soundtrack follows. Good stuff! From the first drop all hell breaks loose and its non stop craziness till you head back to the station. Anyone who hasn’t ridden X2 should if you want an awesome coaster experience. I tried to hold my hands up through the ride but just couldn’t, I was holding my restraints mostly. Two emphatic thumbs up and a perma grin/wince on my face.

  31. John

    06/26/2017 at 7:57 pm

    If there is a more extreme coaster in the world, I would like to know where it is because this thing was insane.

    • T2

      08/31/2017 at 7:02 am

      I don’t want to ride anything more extreme. I thought I was “good at coasters” and made a trip from Ohio (Cedar Point is my home park) to SFMM this month.
      Visit was planned to coincide with LA County back-to-school, so we had minimal (if any) waiting in lines.
      X2 was our first ride on the first day we were there. I have never ridden anything like it, and probably won’t again. We did not ride a second time, I was still trying to get my internal organs all shaken back into their proper places.

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