Mills drove overnight from
She wanted to ride Colossus for the last time.
The iconic wooden roller coaster is scheduled to close on Saturday, and Mills felt compelled to relive a bit of her childhood.
Mills, 40, and her husband, James, packed their bags, took a few day's leave from their military jobs and left their six children behind for a thrilling getaway.
In a world of rapid change, Colossus always provided a constant for Mills when she visited
See also: Star reporter remembers Colossus on opening day
As the train car descended the drops and whipped through the curves, Mills screamed and cried the entire way.
"This is really a nostalgic memory for me," said Mills, trying to fight back tears. "It definitely took me back to my youth. It's kind of like eating something your mom used to prepare and you don't have it again until she prepares it and it takes you right back. It was wonderful."
Mills was not alone in her trip down memory lane.
Thousands of park visitors have been trying to squeeze in a final ride on Colossus since Six Flags announced its closure in June.
Park officials haven't said what will take the ride's place. Six Flags intends to make an announcement
There has been speculation the park could tear Colossus down and replace it completely or transform it into a bigger, better upgraded version of the ride.
When it opened 36 years ago, the
But Colossus no longer ranks among the top 10 in height or speed, and has been overtaken on the thrill meter with more modern roller coasters.
McDaniel immediately bought season passes for
Friday was McDaniel's seventh trip to the park this summer, and he planned to return on Saturday to ride Colossus in a continuous loop from the time the park opens at
To record as many last memories as possible, McDaniel brought a
"I love wooden coasters and this one has been here so long," McDaniel said. "I just really hope they keep it. As long as some part of it stays, I will be happy. If they tear it down, I will probably never come back here again."
Not everyone was as sentimental.
After riding Colossus for the first time on Friday,
"It makes room for a new change," said Escobar, a
"I have never been on it, and I want to tell my friends I got to ride it before it closes," Miranda said. "My mom has ridden it and she said I should do it. It looks fun."
Rothenberg, 42, returned to the park for the first time in 15 years on Friday to ride Colossus and reminisce with two close friends.
"I feel like a part of my childhood is ending," Rothenberg said. "My brother and I used to ride it over and over again when they kept the park open all night and you could ride it backward. It was our favorite ride and it's still one of my favorites."
The ride's closing date on Saturday coincides with National Roller Coaster Day. Riders will receive buttons that say "Colossus. I rode the last day 8.16.14" with a picture of the 1,608-foot coaster.
Mills couldn't stick around another day for a button. She settled for a picture in front of the ride's entrance to mark the occasion.
Although her emotional journey required nearly 14 hours of driving, the 2½ minutes Mills spent zipping along the wooden tracks of Colossus made every second worth it.
"There was no way I was going to miss riding this one more time before it's gone," Mills said. "It's just so sad this won't be a part of my life again."
Type: dual track wooden roller coaster
Features: six drops; 14 hills
Top speed: 62 mph
Highest drops: 115 feet high; 105 feet high
Size: covers 10 acres
Length: 1,608 feet
Height: 125 feet
Each track: 4,325 feet
Ride duration: 2.5 minutes
Thrill level: moderate
Materials: 1.2 million board feet of
Featured in the following movies and television shows
"Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park"
"Coming & Going"
"Step by Step"
"Knight Rider" (rebooted version)
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