I first visited this park in 1996 and boy have things changed since then! Six flags have been engaged in a long running battle with Cedar Point for the title of roller coaster capital of the world and so the intervening years have seen the addition of several new rides and the demise of a few older attractions. I liked this park very much the first time I visited and it is a great place but if you have been to Cedar Point you will know which park is king of the coasters and it isn’t Six Flags!
Magic Mountain is situated a few miles north of Los Angeles in the California Hills and you certainly cannot knock the location. The park is just off the freeway with its own exit and has ample parking available. The entrance procedure is a bit messy with rather stringent security measures which can take some time to negotiate and if you arrive early you will find you are held outside the gates until the official opening time. This practice means that a huge crowd gathers in quite a small space in the morning but, to be fair, the park does get the people through the turnstiles quickly once they have opened.
The Park is relatively attractive with decent landscaping and some theming and is surprisingly compact, making it easy to navigate. The layout is broadly circular and there is excellent signage which points you towards each ride via the quickest route. It may be compact but there are a lot of attractions at Magic Mountain and so you will need more than one day to cover everything on offer. The coasters are supplemented by several rides for the kids, a midway type area with fairground stalls and the regular appearance of characters for photo opportunities. There is also a viewing tower which affords spectacular panoramas of the surrounding countryside and a great view of the rides.
The major rides attract big queues and the things do not move with the efficiency of Cedar Point or Disney so a lengthy queue can mean a considerable wait especially as shut downs are quite common. There is a priority access system via Q-Bot but it is very pricey.
The star attraction at the time of writing is X2, a 4th dimension coaster with rotating seats. I had desperately wanted to ride this machine but found the experience extremely disappointing. The ride is uncomfortable and the seats’ movement seems awkward and out of keeping with the flow of the ride. I only took one spin on this thing and then left it alone! Goliath is a better experience but the most thrilling point of point of the circuit, the double helix near the finish, has been ruined by the addition of trim brakes. I believe this is due to several people having passed out but I much preferred things the way they were! This huge coaster is a decent ride overall but is not in the same league as Millennium Force at Cedar Point.
For me the best ride in the park is Tatsu, a flying coaster of truly epic proportions. I love the climb out of the station where the ground seems to disappear beneath you rapidly and there is genuine sense of flying over the trees. Most of the circuit is admittedly quite uninspired but the pretzel loop towards the end is awesome and if anyone is going to pass out in the park now it is right here! I also love Apocalypse, a Great Coasters International woodie which is a real triumph. There are the usual tight turns and steep drops which are complimented by a high speed pass over the station and pyrotechnic effects.
Superman has been operating since 1996. When built, it was the tallest ride on the planet and used revolutionary LIM technology to propel the cars up a 410 ft tower after which there was a free fall to earth. The ride now launches backwards but seems rather tame in comparison to the Intamin Accelerators like Top Thrill dragster although there is a great view from the top especially at night when the floodlighting really adds character to the park. Superman now has the Lex Luther Drop of Doom Ride on its tower which was testing during my last visit but looks pretty brilliant as drop towers go.
The headliner rides are supplemented by Viper, a rather harsh and bumpy steel coaster, Revolution the world’s first steel looping coasting, Ninja, Batman the Ride (nemesis without the canyon) and Riddler’s Revenge a stand up coaster which is mercifully much smoother than Mantis at Cedar Point! The old racing woodie Colossus is worth a go but Green Lantern is a rather pointless contraption with rotating seats that almost crawls its way around a vertical circuit. Scream is also worthy of your time but the ride in the front seat is a must to really enjoy this floorless coaster.
Food and Shopping
Be warned, the food at Magic Mountain is terrible! I have tried a variety of their offerings and haven’t enjoyed anything about them including the prices. The queues for food can be pretty long too and I object to waiting in line for something I know I am not going to like. The shopping is an improvement on the food with some decent ride souvenirs and merchandise available but there is nothing to really live in the memory. The park is all about the rides not the overall experience.
This park makes for an enjoyable visit with several thrill rides worthy of your attention but it certainly isn’t Cedar Point. The coasters are disappointing in comparison and the efficiency of the operation falls short too. Having said that I have spent several good days at Magic Mountain and I will have to return to try out the newest coaster, Full Throttle, which was being constructed the last time I was there.
Article by Sally Stacey