Good-bye Magic Mountain? Six Flags puts six parks up for sale or closure*
Published: June 22, 2006 at 4:33 PM
Visit Theme Park Insider's Six Flags Magic Mountain for the current attraction line-up, reader ratings and reviews, as well as links to fresher news and discussion threads.]
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June 22, 2006 - Six Flags announced plans Thursday to sell or close six of its properties, including the chain's once-flagship park, Magic Mountain, in Valencia, Calif.
In a press release issued after the U.S. stock market closed Thursday, Six Flags announced that it would sell the properties, to either a single buyer or multiple buyers, or that it might sell or redeploy the properties' attractions, to clear the land for real estate sale.
The six parks on the block are Magic Mountain, Elitch Gardens in downtown Denver, Colorado, Darien Lake near Buffalo, New York, Wild Waves and Enchanted Village outside Seattle, Washington and the waterparks Six Flags Waterworld in Concord and Six Flags Splashdown in Houston.
Long-time TPI readers are familiar with our coverage of Six Flags' financial struggles, and we predicted some of the parks would be going back in January. With Paramount Parks already selling out to Cedar Fair, one wonders what company will be able and willing to mount a bid to purchase the Six Flags parks. Real estate sales, alas, seem the most likely result for most of the parks. Magic Mountain, obviously, is the most viable park among the six, but Cedar Fair already has a Southern California park, in Buena Park's Knott's Berry Farm. The land underneath Magic Mountain would be worth many millions, even in SoCal's stalled real estate market, if no theme park company is willing to add this roller coaster haven to its portfolio.
Six Flags shares plunged, losing nearly a fifth of their value in after-hours trading, following the announcement.
Update: A comment I've made in a couple TV interviews since the story broke: It'd be ironic if Magic Mountain were sold off for real estate development, given that real estate development is the reason the park was built in the first place.
Magic Mountain was not always a Six Flags park. Its builder and original owner was the Newhall Land Company, the developer that built many of the communities around the park. Newhall Land thought it needed a big attraction to lure families over the pass from the San Fernando Valley into the Santa Clarita. So it contracted SeaWorld's designers and built Magic Mountain.
How ironic, now, that the park might fall victim to the success of the real estate market it was built to inspire.
Update (9/27/2006): It looks like Magic Mountain will not close in 2007, at least.