CCK’s Magic Mountain 365 Gameplan

Alexander: It’s been six weeks since Six Flags Magic Mountain began 365-day operations. Have you been out to the park recently to enjoy the light crowds?

Lots of changes are already underway to help ensure an optimal 2018 and beyond at Magic Mountain, but there’s also lots of opportunities for improvement.


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There are a LOT of big things coming to Six Flags Magic Mountain in the next few years. The park has already demonstrated that they’re just as committed to restoring and beautifying areas as they are to building new rides and attractions; a healthy dose of both is necessary for Magic Mountain 365 to be a success!

We at CCK like to think we spend more time at Six Flags Magic Mountain than any other media outlet. We know every square inch of Magic Mountain in great detail, and we’ve seen quite a few changes unfold over the years.

We know Magic Mountain has a killer gameplan for their future, and as you might’ve guessed, so do we. Allow us to take you on an area-by-area journey of the park, where we highlight what we think the biggest game-changing developments would be.

The name of the game is to expect the unexpected. Nothing shall be impossible!


Six Flags Plaza

The entrance to Six Flags Magic Mountain saw a major adjustment with the addition of Full Throttle and the remodel of Revolution, but there’s still plenty of untapped potential.

A small but notable place to start is the Revolution loop pavilion, which is not open to the public due to the threat of loose articles being lost and hitting bystanders. Perhaps a clear canopy could be engineered to allow good views of the ride in action without the risk of taking a cell phone to the face?

There’s a major part of Six Flags Plaza that’s only open during Fright Fest. The former Flashback entrance and queue are now each home to a maze, the latter being both a major production and a lengthy walk from the main midway.

Fright Fest is, of course, a major money-maker for Magic Mountain, and having a large number of mazes is key to their success, but the spaces they occupy should reviewed annually to ensure that the park is getting the most out of their real-estate. Six Flags’s landlocked Hurricane Harbor is also a major production, and with the aforementioned mazes sitting on prime locations next to the water park, its probably time for Magic Mountain to at least use one of these spaces to do something notable for the water park.

Relative to other water parks, Hurricane Harbor is behind the curve (which shouldn’t be the case for one of the world’s leading thrill parks), and it would be nothing if not wise to make a power move against the region’s heated competition (particularly Raging Waters Los Angeles, which has been enjoying a lot of success with its recent rebranding). Something extremely marketable that Hurricane Harbor is missing is a hydromagnetic water coaster, and with Magic Mountain being Magic Mountain, we’d like to see them try to build THE WORLD’S LARGEST or FASTEST or something of that nature. They’ve definitely got the space. 

The lagoon for Log Jammer has long been reduced to dry ruble, and, while we’ve made peace with that, it’s time for the park to make some landscaping efforts around Full Throttle. This area and the razed undergrowth around Ninja could really use some cleaning up.


High Sierra Territory

There’s not really much left of this original Magic Mountain land, but there’s just enough left to know that there was something. A lot of the land has been absorbed by Bugs Bunny World (which is fine), but it would be nice for the area to have an actual attraction again.

Pitiful Pistachios Park needs to go. Swiss Twist deserves a better replacement than an awkward patch of grass and concrete dedicated to broadcasting the health benefits of tree nuts. With all of the Six Flags parks that have received flat ride packages over the years, we’re a little surprised that this obviously-short-term-turned-long-term “replacement” of a beloved flat ride hasn’t in turn been replaced by, if nothing else, as basic Zamperla flat ride. A Rockin’ Tug? Balloon Race? Samba Tower? Anything will do. Just, please, no more Pistachio Park. 


Screampunk District

Six Flags got a lot of things right with this area: a brand new flagship roller coaster, a sharp repaint of an often overlooked roller coaster (plus matching nearby waterslide repaint), a new restaurant (with a vegan meatball sub!), a good live show, and lots of atmospheric touches.

When Twisted Colossus is good, it’s really good. When the ride duels, it’s a true showstopper; the problem is then “when” part. Six Flags appears aware of this problem as they continue to push their staff to send out trains as rapidly as possible, but there are simply too many operational setbacks that come with dispatching an RMC coaster in a timely manner. It was a good show, Six Flags, but you need to do better.

The solution? Stop the train before the 2nd lift hill.

Six Flags has said they don’t want to do this, and their logic is reasonable: Stopping the train will yield lazy dispatches and ultimately harm throughput while also disrupting the pacing of the ride and alarming guests.

To this I say:   F I G U R E   I T  O U T.

The staff gets trains out as quickly as they can (usually). There is no issue here, and if things change, there doesn’t ever have to be an issue. Why promote good operational practices at the expense of a ride’s best quality when you can have both? Why choose? The park is currently testing loose-article pouches to speed up dispatches, so they’re moving in the right direction. Time will tell if it actually helps.

Mid-course stopping can be smooth if handled properly. Staff someone at the bottom of the hill (a la staffing before a drop on a log flume) and install signs/audio to iterate that the ride isn’t over and to remain seated. Will this effect pacing? Sure. But doesn’t having a lift hill in the middle of the ride already do this?

Waiting in a brake run to wait for a train dispatch is just part of the experience. If you’re going to stack trains, you might as well make people wait mid-way so that they can get their race in. If not, they’ll just sit on the final brake run anyway.

ALSO. Let’s make that planned Twisted Colossus infield turnaround flat ride a reality, because A. It’ll help move traffic down to Scream and B. It’s just a really good idea. The rumored Starflyer idea was scrapped, but there’s plenty of flat rides in the sea. This is a prime spot for freeway onlookers, so something flashy and thrilling would get a lot of return. 


DC Universe

Let’s go ahead and talk about the big, green elephant in the room.

Green Lantern either needs a major change, or needs to just go. The ride falls under the rare category of “better off closed”, since a typical person’s day is almost certainly better off without a ride on the troubled Intamin. 


Boardwalk

To say the least, we were surprised with the announcement of “The Boardwalk” for Magic Mountain in 2018. Six Flags resisting the urge to give the area a DC makeover (which would bridge DC Comics Plaza with the new Metropolis) is nothing short of baffling; in an era where every major development seems motivated out IP promotion, the flagship Six Flags took the high road, pouring money into a needy area of the park without using it as a vehicle to push merchandise.

We’re still in shock, actually.

The crumbling Contempo Metro Station and dilapidated remains of Drunken Barrels have all been cleared away for – wait for it – a flat ride.

*hell freezes over*

As much as we hate to see so many trees come down, we must always admit to ourselves the adage “if you want an omelette, you gotta break a few eggs”.

And since literally none of these trees were here before Magic Mountain was built, the trees are 100% theirs to knock down. We hope to see Magic Mountain continue to invest in saplings as major trees come down. 

Aside from CraZanity, the world’s tallest and fastest pendulum ride, Boardwalk will offer some refreshed gaming pavilions and smaller flat rides. Sandblasters and Scrambler have been stripped bare as they prepare for their 2018 re-debut.


Cyclone Bay

Magic Mountain is steadily tackling the areas of the park that need the most help; the new Boardwalk area was a top priority, as its location between the splendid DC Comics, Screampunk, and Metropolis areas greatly accentuated its shoddiness.

With 2019 plans already well underway for numerous major parks, Magic Mountain has undoubtedly narrowed their next area of focus down to either Baja Ridge, Samurai Summit, or Cyclone Bay. Of the 3, we think the latter needs the most work. 

The prominent, almost haunted-looking lower Dragon station should be retrofitted into some sort of hangout spot. The updated food options for Metropolis already offer a ton of nearby food options, so more options for seating won’t hurt.

Another option would be to take the Dragon station and the small-but-still-full-of-potential Spinout spot and try to do something larger. A small flat ride, perhaps? More shopping or food? Maybe something totally new? This area is prime real estate at the intersection of Samurai Summit, Metropolis, and Cyclone Bay, so it’s a great opportunity to do something eye-catching. 

The plot left by ThrillShot has already been prepped for something new – but what?

The obvious thought is a Mack Twist-n-Splash, which has been a successful addition a Six Flags parks, and would make an ideal companion water ride for Jet Stream. The hottest park in the chain could always use a new way to cool off. 

Cyclone Bay’s anticipated major overhaul will probably come with a new identity. We’ve heard a lot of rumors, but we don’t care what it’s called or how it looks, as long as most of the shops and restaurants are restored.

There’s even room for another small ride or two among the shops; the old train station behind the ladder game offers a fair amount of space for something; kiddie rides come to mind, as this area is about as far away from Bugs Bunny Land as possible.

Things fell into disrepair as the park struggled to draw people to this area; we can only hope that Magic’s next power move will anchor the updated Cyclone Bay, giving the masses a reasons to actually make their way back here. 


Samurai Summit

The next-most-needy area at Magic Mountain is Samurai Summit, which, like Cyclone Bay, suffers from trickling traffic. Scaling the park’s namesake mountain is a lot to ask for just a handful of attractions, but Ninja and Superman: Escape From Krypton still enjoy a great deal of popularity.

Like many of Magic Mountain’s retired buildings, the old Laughing Dragon Pizza Co. and Eagle’s Flight station serve as seasonal event space, the latter being a not-so-great Fright Fest maze. Laughing Dragon was almost turned back into a functioning restaurant this past year, but the plan was staved off for budgetary reasons. Hopefully it’s still on the table for 2019 or 2020.

The small and awkwardly-shaped Eagle’s Flight station is on a highly visible spot, and there’s lots of nearby space in the plaza that once served both the Von Roll Sky Rides and the Japanese Rock Garden. Best case scenario, this area could easily welcome a massive flat ride or even a small roller coaster; either would help draw crowds up the Summit. 

One of Magic Mountain’s most bustling Fright Fest mazes is located adjacent to Ninja in the old Magic Pagoda space. On top of the building is a large patio home to a staff break area.

The Magic Pagoda space keeps a pretty low profile during the spring and summer months, since it’s not plainly obvious that anything is there. What really needs a change is that upper patio; it’s still a very appealing area despite its state of disrepair. I don’t doubt that Samurai Summit needs to retain a staff break area, but I’d be shocked if it really needed to be on the patio above Magic Pagoda. 

With Sky Tower out of commision for the forseeable future (thank you, State of California legislation), I don’t imagine the park is in any hurry to change things much past Ninja, Helpful Honda Express, and the walkway down to Tatsu, but the blocked patio is such an eyesore; I at least like to imagine the park wants to do something different with it at some point.

All is not lost, however; positive changes are already in effect for Samurai Summit. The beautifully restored area marquee came as a shock to most Magic Mountain fans.

Major restoration work is also taking place on Jet Stream, with its indoor first drop receiving some long-awaited TLC.

ALSO: Let’s do something cool with Ninja; last year we wrote an article about how neat it would be for Ninja to receive Vekoma’s floorless trains (an idea seeded from the success of floorless trains on Vampire at Chessington World of Adventure), but truth be told, there’s a (probably) cooler, easier option:

Backwards Ninja. Astroworld did it with XLR-8 for years(Ninja runs what’s left of the shuttered Astroworld coaster’s trains to this day). It’s an easy fix that’s highly marketable and very inexpensive. AND Ninja beautiful Arrow trains remain in operation.

 


Rapids Camp Crossing

This might be a lot to ask, but would it be crazy to move the entrance of Tatsu up to Samurai Summit? There’s probably not a lot of motivation to do this (if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it – especially when there’s plenty of broke things that need fixin’), but the entrance of a ride in Rapids Camp that clearly belongs in Samurai Summit is a head-scratcher at best.

With all the space up in Samurai Summit, it’s a surprise they couldn’t put the entrance and queue up there to begin with. Riding Tatsu when you’re already in Samurai Summit means trekking down to Rapids Camp and climbing back up to Tatsu’s station (first world problem, I know, but surely there’s a better way).

Also, Tatsu  needs a repaint more than just about any coaster west of the Mississippi River. The park has said they’re putting it off because of all the tree-cutting required to paint (and, after the Ninja incident, the park probably blew their tree-cutting budget for a while).

Call me crazy, but I’d like to see the park go dark with Tatsu. Something in the cool color spectrum; a deep purple, maybe? To complement the often blue skies? Orange was a good choice from a color wheel perspective, but not from a baking-in-the-sun perspective. 

ALSO: Ok, this is a little far-fetched, but what if Roaring Rapids became a Fright Fest maze every year? Hasn’t a park or two done that to their rapids ride before? Maybe I’m just making that up. I’m not really sure.

In any case, the heavy tree coverage an wide flume of Roaring Rapids would make a wicked-scary maze. IJS.


Baja Ridge

If we had to guess, the day will come where Baja Ridge is the last area of Magic Mountain that still feels old. There isn’t exactly any dire needs for change, so we don’t expect it to get touched before Cyclone Bay and Samurai Summit, but someday it’ll be Baja Ridge’s turn to go under the knife.

Our key thoughts on this area relate specifically to the area’s two attractions, Viper and X2. Both of these rides are well-loved and well-maintained, but they each have room for improvement. 

The focus of one of our most popular 2017 atricles is replacing the trains on Viper with Vekoma’s exceedingly popular MK-1212 trains (which feature an over-the-shoulder lapbar and vest combo instead of a hard shoulder restraint). Numerous parks worldwide have introduced these new trains to their aging Arrow and Vekoma coasters to rave reviews (including Six Flags Over Georgia’s Blue Hawk), and we hope/think Viper may be next. After all, the Revolution remodel proved to us that Magic Mountain cares about guest comfort on existing rides.

With MK-1212s and a new paint job (and probably a new name), Magic Mountain could easily market Viper as a new ride (the experience for most guests would be so improved by the new trains that calling it a “new” ride wouldn’t be a hard sell).

Seventeen years later, X2 is still Magic Mountain’s bread and butter. It remains one of the most iconic theme park attractions in the western hemisphere. Worldwide, anyone who’s heard of Six Flags Magic Mountain knows X2 by name.

X2 has now been X2 for nearly twice as long as it was simply X. Is it time for X3? Technically, the ride functions smoothly; the need for X2 was wrapped up in the need to recoup the expenses necessary to make the ride run properly. There’s no such need now for an X3, but that’s not to say there isn’t room for improvement: the decade-old soundtrack would benefit from an update, and the fire effect is far from consistent (maybe a tunnel w/ LED light programming would offer a more consistent enhancement?).

We’re really just nit-piking at this point. Like we said before, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.


Fright Fest

We’ve touched on the idea of redeveloping spaces that currently serve only as mazes during Fright Fest, but that’s not to say we want the number of mazes to go down. We just want the park to consolidate mazes when the potential for a space is greater than just six-weeks-per-year of use.

There are a lot of GREAT mazes at Magic Mountain. Focus on the best ones, remove the weakest ones (redevelop the spaces), and introduce new mazes elsewhere. 


Holiday in the Park

Daily operations will have an interesting effect on the fall and winter park events this year. In the past I’ve been disappointed by the poor throughput of Holiday in the Park at various Six Flags properties, but Magic Mountain has seen a lot of improvements when it comes to daily capacity and queue times.

With a Samurai Summit remodel imminent, the park should consider expanding Holiday in the Park to include Lunar New Year (which is celebrated in most countries central and east Asia,  as well as  North America). Disneyland Resort, SeaWorld San Diego, and Universal Studios Hollywood already host annual Lunar New Year celebrations; Magic Mountain should consider doing something similar. Samurai Summit would lend itself to this, especially since it doesn’t already have any Holiday in the Park decor.


 

Indoor Waterpark Resort

Ok, so here’s our big wish for Magic Mountain. Build a Great Wolf Lodge-style resort with a large indoor waterpark (let’s go ahead and make it “THE LARGEST INDOOR WATERPARK IN CALIFORNIA” or something. For marketing). Put it right across the street from Hurricane Harbor. Build a bridge connecting the two water parks. Include indoor water park admission with paid admission to Hurricane Harbor, and include Hurricane Harbor admission with every hotel stay. BAM. Profit. 

These are just some of our thoughts regarding the future of Magic Mountain. The park as lots of other great ideas, too. We’re very excited to see the next few years unfold.

What ideas do you have for Magic Mountain? Be sure to weigh in on our construction updates and tell us what you think.


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7 Replies to “CCK’s Magic Mountain 365 Gameplan”

  1. MK1212 trains can not be overstated. A SIMPLE fix for Baja ridge AND Samurai summit is….. Four winds steakhouse/laughing dragon takes form of. CHOP SIX. And Baja ridge turns CHOP six into?….a taco place. Hmmm, BAJA Mexico… not a place well known for kung pow chicken. IJS

  2. Here’s what I think will happen:

    2019: The front half of Cyclone Bay is redone. Transformed into an ocean/bay themed area with lots of blues, whites, and yellows. Many palm trees are added to provide shade and scenery. A flat ride would be great.

    2020: The back half of Cyclone Bay is transformed into a new land themed to an apocalypse to match Apocalypse since it’s in the same land. That will be the year SFMM will receive their 20th coaster (20 for 2020). It will be something big and unforgettable (I’m guessing either a giga, wing, or infinity).

    2021: Samurai Summit makeover. Same theme, but fresh. Tatsu repaint, Ninja repaint? Ninja reimagining and fresh up for sure. Lucky Dragon will reopen, and Tatsu’s entrance will relocate to on top of the mountain. New flat ride or family attraction.

    2022: Water Coaster at Hurricane Harbor. Overall park touchups. Maybe a new show or event. Maybe a Gold Rusher repaint.

    2023: Baja Ridge will see a transformation into a new land. Viper will either transform into a new name with new paint and trains, or get trashed with a new ride in its place. The overall retheme won’t be too crazy, but it will be enough to look fresh.

    2024: Park touchups and new landscaping around Full Throttle, Gold Rusher, and (I’m crossing my fingers for this) Scream. New flat ride or family attraction.

    2025: New middle sized coaster (maybe a raptor or mouse). More park touchups and one ride closure. If any of the coasters were going to go, I can see any of the following leaving: Viper, Scream, Green Lantern, or Goliath. It’s going to be a controversial removal, but a big one.

    2026: (If they remove Goliath) I can see a big new ride taking its place with a retheme of the land around it.

  3. My quick SFMM predictions:
    2019 brings a big Mack coaster with the complete renovation of Cyclone Bay also happening concurrent (also, don’t delay the new ride opening until July)

    In 2020, Sky Tower and Green Lantern are both removed.

    2021 brings another big project for the 50th anniversary.

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