Good-bye Magic Mountain? Six Flags puts six parks up for sale or closure*
Published: June 22, 2006 at 4:33 PM
[* Update, March 24, 2010:
Folks continue to come to this article below from 2006
via the Google archive search, so let me bring you up to date. Six Flags sold a few of its smaller parks back in 2006, but not Magic Mountain. Six Flags Magic Mountain remains part of the chain, is not for sale and doesn't appear to be going anywhere anytime soon.
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.]
* * *
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.
Published: June 22, 2006 at 8:55 PM
Cedar Fair may have Knotts, but how could they not have their eye on Magic Mountain. They may be buying Paramount, but why would they not want Magic Mountain as well. I suppose the cost of buying the park would be an obstacle, given the cost of the land, and the possiblity of corporate vultures but still, the park could be successful.
My question is this. Why is Six Flags quitting on Magic Mountain? I can see dropping the other parks, but this is the park they've invested millions and millions in with state of the art rides. Of course that's pretty much all they invested in, but still they put a lot of money into it. What the park always lacked in my opinion was good management. Too much money into rides...not enough into keeping them in top shape...not enough into smaller family attractions...not enough into food, gift shops, shows, employees, or operations itself. Building coasters took precedence over guest experience, and people were too busy standing in line waiting for one train operations to actually spend money elsewhere in the park. Trip reports of people leaving the park to eat lunch at McDonalds, arriving to find a good portion of the top attractions closed, and overall bad experiences have been in abundance the past few years, and they tell the tale of a park that should have been a lot more successful than it was. Hypothetically the solution would be to replace those responsible for poor performance, but they want to get rid of it? There has to be a little more to the story. Perhaps somebody wants some real estate and has a lot of money.
The cure to make this park a great place to visit?? Cedar Fair. They've proven with Cedar Point that a thrill ride haven can indeed be highly successful when it delivers a great guest experience. The magic words for Cedar Fair...guest spending. Heres a little fact disclosed last week. Paramounts Kings Island entertained 200,000 more guests last year than Cedar Point, however, Cedar Point's revenue last year was double that of Kings Island. Through the use of things like hotels, great restaurants, and over the top gift shop items, they got guest spending up in the face of a small attendance decline. Why? because people love the place. It has a cult-like regional fan base, and has become a destination. Magic Mountain tried to copy the formula, but didn't realize that coasters are only part of the equation.
With the acquisition of the Paramount Parks, Cedar Fair does have a handful of debt, but the success of the Paramount chain will compensate and enable Cedar Fair to make it's money back quickly. Adding Magic Mountain does give them some work to do, but the park is a great fit, and it's solution is the management of Cedar Fair.
Despite my disappointment with this park, I hope it remains open with somebody. I remember seeing that park so many times in movies and on TV. In fact, that's really what made me want to go. It would be a shame to see it close due to someone running it into the ground. I can only wish I had the means to buy it. Anyone want to back me on a large business venture, because I'm telling you, it could be a real winner.
Published: June 22, 2006 at 10:03 PM
just another of 6 flags blunders..... I wonder if mr shapiro even has a clue? Just maybe it was some of the policies that he enacted? Maybe it is because he is trying to turn 6 flags into disneyworld? Maybe it is because they raised rates on everything (parking, tickets, and food)? Maybe 6 flags needs to learn that because of high gas prices, people are not vacationing like they were 2 years ago and raising rates, does not help at all. Go back to policies of a year ago, lower prices and quit trying to turn 6 flags into disney. Also it didn't help closing the offices in a far cry cheaper Oklahoma to the high price New York
Published: June 22, 2006 at 11:35 PM
At first, I dismissed Cedar Fair, since it already has a park in SoCal, but, hey, it bought Geauga Lake. So maybe CF could go for two parks in SoCal.
But I'd also think that Busch would give Magic Mountain a long look. Its first park was in the L.A. market, and many wish it'd never closed Busch Gardens L.A. Rebranding Magic Mountain as Busch Gardens Magic Mountain... or Busch Gardens L.A... or Busch Gardens Asia... would send a strong signal to burned locals that the park truly was under new management -- a management with a strong rep in the theme park business and one that many locals retain fond memories of.
This park, with its location, easily could pull in four-million-plus per year. But only with a strong, family-friendly management and a healthy mix of rides, shows, dining and events that appealed across generations. I think Cedar Fair might be able to do that. I know Busch could.
Published: June 23, 2006 at 6:55 AM
Saw someone on ABC7 from TPI Today. Who was that?
Published: June 23, 2006 at 8:34 AM
I'm not all that familiar with Magic Mountain beyond it's reputation online and the setting for a few films and TV shgows, but I think I like your idea of Busch taking it over Robert. They've built up a strong reputation of quality with the two existing "Busch Gardens" parks, but both are on the east coast. Why not venture into the California market. The coasters and thrills are there already, all they need to do is theme things up better.
Another potential benefit would be the potential for a multipark AP with Sea World. Here in Florida my pass is good for Busch Gardens Tampa, Adventure Island (water park across street from BGT) and Sea World Orlando. If they picked up magic Mountain they could easily do a similar deal for Californians. For me, it's the only AP I can still afford to own (with Disney and Universal out of my current budget), and it's always great for a quick getaway for a whole or partial day of downtime.
Published: June 23, 2006 at 10:41 AM
why is six flags giving up on Magic Mountain? Um hellloo,the park is the home of 16 of the most X-treame roller coasters,and if they are giving up,why aren't the other parks going for it? I live near Magic Mountain and it's my favorite theme park,I hope it at least gets sold to a good company :).
Published: June 23, 2006 at 6:10 PM
I can't believe they would consider Six Flags Magic Mountain. The park has 17 world class roller coasters. Most of these coaster where at one time the tallest, fastest, the first ever, rides. Get rid of " Hurricane Harbor" and built something more family oriented there. God knows how much they spent on water and other expenses on the waterpark and It's only open for the season too. I know the park lost the family fun theme like Disneyland, but what do you expect at a park with mainly roller coasters. Six Flags Magic Mountain now needs to turn and built on the park that will generate family fun. I know $1,000,000.00 an acre sounds tempting for the owner to sell, but I think they can overcome there financial debt without selling.
Published: June 24, 2006 at 6:02 AM
The thing is though, while the real estate would fetch a pretty penny, the revenue that Magic Mountain brought the company would also be gone. They may pay the debt down, but it would only make a dent in the 2 plus billion amount they owe, and whatever profit Magic Mountain and the other parks made would be gone as well, leaving them with less profit over the long term.
That means that Six Flags would drastically have to get guest spending up at it's other parks. Raising prices would be a quick fix, but there are plenty of parks out there that are providing a better experience for less money, and consumers will catch on if they haven't already. Look at the DC market. You have a Six Flags there, but down the road a little ways you have Busch Gardens, and you have Kings Dominion, soon to be under Cedar Fair management. Customers wanting to go to an amusement park will take their money elsewhere if there's a better value closeby. Money needs to be spent on improving the guest experience.
That's what happened to Magic Mountain, families stopped going there and instead went to places like Knott's, where the food and rides are good, the kids admission is dirt cheap (9.99), and the rides are open all the time. In the meantime, Magic Mountain appears to have become a sort of babysitter for teenagers. Not that teenagers are necessarily a bad thing, but teenagers without their parents attached in an amusement park usually translates to lower guest spending. The parents have no reason to go, and no reason to take any youngsters who aren't big enough to ride the mega coasters. That's what the park is sorely missing, along with good operations. You can have all the coasters you want, but there has to be something for everyone else too. Take the 25 million they were going to spend on the next new coaster, and spend it on a kids ride package, a couple of real restaurants, a couple of shows, landscaping and maintenance, property repair, better gifts, marketing to fix the trashed image, and (GASP)..better pay to employees...preferably the little guys and ones who do their job well, not undeserved bonuses for the management. In this case, money spent that way would go miles further for profit than any ride ever would.
That being said, I still think Magic Mountain is something that can be fixed and improved, and if Six Flags really thinks it can't be fixed, well than perhaps the wrong person is running the show.
Published: June 24, 2006 at 8:32 AM
I agree wholeheartedly with Derek. My family and I have visited Six Flags NE a number of times over the last 2-3 years and every visit has been full of experiences like outrageous food & water prices, long ride waits, closed rides - for months at a time , trash all over the park, slow ride turns, and the lack of customer service in general. It's telling that you can't talk directly to the park manager on site, and they don't even have email or electronic feedback links on the parks pages on the main six flags website. The company has never responded to written complaints I've filed while at the park. I don't think they want to speak directly to customers because they could not stand the avalanche of complaints.
The previous poster's comments about coasters is right on, too. At Six Flags NE, I'm guessing 2/3 or more of the park attendees will never even want to ride the Superman coaster. The parks spend countless millions building these things, they break down constantly, and they are not an attraction to many. The parks need to ruthlessly close down the old and unreliable rides, stop building coasters, and start adding 2 or more new and original family friendly rides each year. If you are retiring the unreliable rides, it makes room for newer ones, there is less maintenance expense and effort, and parents are happy because they don't have to constantly placate children who are unhappy because the ride they were looking forward to riding is shut down.
Also, no one has mentioned the EVIL electronic fast pass systems. This is a real kick in the groin to familiy visitors; you pay and outrageous amount to get into the park to begin with, and then instead of the park operating the rides to move people through at a good pace, they have the gall to charge you for a device that is almost necessary to avoid the huge waits. Worse, if you are a family and don't want to spend for the devices, you lose because the "wait is xx minutes" from here signs are now useless because they don't take into account the constant groups of teens barging in front of you to ride. You enter a queue thinging it will be 20 minutes from where you are, and it ends up being 60 minutes.
Any company who has a rapidly deteriorating product and customer service is seriously deluding themselves if they think that can *raise* admissions and expect to make more money.
Why is this business so difficult for the owners to figure out? Lower the admission prices, stop charging even more for parking, don't charge $30!!! for a large cheese pizza. Fix your rides, close unreliable ones. Stop building coasters, spend the money on family friendly rides, hiring and training english speaking staff, and enforcing park rules that make it friendly for families! Pick up the trash, and stop raping guests for necessities like bottled water.
Published: June 24, 2006 at 10:22 AM
I work for Magic Mountain(yes Pity me), and what everyone has been saying about needing to pay the employees more is true. Minors make min wage which is only $6.75 and all adults get paid $7.50 to start. Which is crap. The area where I work is literaly falling down around our heads, so fixing the leaky cellings getting rid of the mold and vermin would be nice too. A good friend of mine works on a ride near the back of the park and her "break room" is picnic table underneath the track, I'm not even joking.
Did we need to spend millions of dollars on Tatsu, I don't think so. What we could have done with that money instead is updated the computer systems we use to sell tickets! Food service all have touch screen computers, while we at the front have teeny tiny screens little bigger than the size of a playstation game case. We could have used the money to build new ticket booths that don't have duct tape covering holes in the walls... again not joking. Or how about actually tearing down Flashback for God sake! That ride has been "being repaired" since i was about 10, I don't actually remember it ever working... yet there it sits.
On to ticket prices. Yes even I think they are outragous and I sell the damn things. Look, a regular season pass sells for $69.99 ten dollars more than a one day ticket, but it doesn't include a coupon booklet. To get said coupon booklet you have to pay $89.99... twenty dollars more than a regular season pass and thirty more than a one day ticket, and if you buy a one day ticket for full price and decide later you want a season pass you have to pay $40.00 for the upgrade.. paying a total of $100.00 for a regular season pass that again doesn't come with a coupon booklet.
The price to park is crazy as well, $15?!?! Please... park down the hill at the Red Lobster, Marie Calenders, or Wendy's parking lots and walk up the hill. Sure it takes a little longer and in the heat its not that great but save the 15 bucks for the overpriced food inside the park... Obviously I could go on and on with an insiders opinion but I think I'll stop here... and hope none of my Supervisors see this..
Published: June 24, 2006 at 2:19 PM
^ Yeah your right I just finished my Hiring Process at six flags magic mountain yesterday and I have orientation friday. If you, can you tell me about job orientation and what we do?
---back on subject.
Six flags is already doing construction in the front by the hill, do any of you know what that is? Rumors say its going to be a "City walk/downtown disney" type of thing. Anyways the park yes, indeed needs alot of work done with paint on the trakcs and theming, I think they should take down Flashback and perhaps add a auditorium for a 3d That park has so much potential but there not doing anything with it, the new owner said that it would be more family orientated, even if it mena to close magic mountain down for a few months... But the whole park is SWAMPED with teenagers never will you see a family waiting in line with you like you do at universal studios/disney parks. You see teenagers/kids and or adults. The place where you get a job interview is a pack up and go trailor. For any of you that work(ed) there can you please explain orientation to me, if I get scheduled for orientation that means im hired right?
Published: June 24, 2006 at 2:53 PM
yeah..... "downtown disney" or "citywalk" would be an improvement.... but actually its more housing they're putting up... i know because in my walk to save 15 dollars for parking, i walked past the public notice sign tht every body goes wizzing right by in their cars. its not actually 6 flags doing construction either. its the homemakers... but its on pause because of the community and the government steping in. community doesnt want more traffic, and gov has problems with water and traffic. i dont think anything will be happening soon, but noone can be sure at all.
Published: June 24, 2006 at 6:07 PM
im so pissed..how could magic mountain be put up for sale? its the best six flags in the world...and thats a fact not just my opinion....besides what are teens gonna do if magic mountain closes? where are we gonna go? we are going to have no entairtainment..im telling you, being in high school rite now...alotta teens are complaining....magic mountain won't be sold without the complains from teens that regualrly visit magic mountain..u watch....im so pissed as six flags is what i look forward to every summer...they can't sell it to those stupid real estate people...
Published: June 24, 2006 at 11:23 PM
A few years ago the Travel Channel named Magic Mountain as one of the top 10 theme parks in the world! My family lives 12 hours away yet we make it a destination far more often than Disney. We like the rides better than Cedar Point - although Cedar Point is a great park. The weather is better and the rides are exciting. We will be very sad to see it go :( However, on our last trip we went to Disneyland & Magic Mountain and after the cleanliness of disney - Magic Mountain seemed filthy! But,one member of our group got sick after eating at a food establishment in the park, and the people at the customer service area were very helpful and gave us a refund for the food and made sure the person was doing okay. Good & bad for one visit. I hope everything works out and the park stays.
Published: June 24, 2006 at 11:50 PM
The type of demographic that Magic Mountain attracts includes teenagers and young adults from the inner city that look like gang members even if they are not. There have been many violent incidents at the park. It definitely does not have a family friendly feeling. Disneyland, Universal Studios and even Knott's Berry Farm are cleaner and have the image of being a much safer place for suburban families to come.
Published: June 24, 2006 at 11:56 PM
I thought that Six Flags Magic Mountain is a great place. I think the problem is not the park but the management. The employees are underpayed for all the things they have to put up with while the management gets payed a lot of money. So employees aren't happy it makes people like me have a less fun time.
They could probably find better ways to sell food and water than hiking up the prices. You can get a gallon of gas for the same price as a liter of water. Maybe they should get a fast food chain like McDonalds or Burgerking to go in and sell food.
And I love all the coasters, but they spend more money trying to break records than they do getting people to have a good time when not riding the coasters. People spend most of the time not n a ide, but walking or eating or just looking around. Adding scenery would help and taking care of trash on the paths.
And last, a few family rides for the little ones would help the balance in customers. You spend money wisely to make money. Instead of 25 mil on a coaster that will hold a record for a few years, build a ferris wheel, some better little kid rides. Don't copy Disneyland, they have family friendlyness, that is what disney is about. Six Flags is about Building roller coasters and thrill rides. But disneyland has some good thrill rides for it's teen crowd, it's focus is kids and families. Six flags should have some kid and family rides and still focus on the main crowd that they get.
Last is Breakdowns. They should tear down flashback and sell the steel or something, because it isn't actually operating. And I hear that breakdowns and ride lines are bad, bud when I went there on June 6, 2006, as far as I knew every ride was operating and the longest lines were goliath, 1 and a half hours and X, 2-3 hours. I heard deja vu has long lines but I didn't ride it and from reviews didn't bother with psyclone. But I rode every other coaster, excluding flashback, psyclone, deja vu and the kid coasters, so if that is a problem, I think they fixed it. THen again, it was Tuesday.
Aside from those, I think magic Mountain is fantastic. If they sell to real estate I think that it would really stink. The management either doesn't know what it's doing completely, or is just out and out ignoring it's guests.
Published: June 25, 2006 at 10:44 AM
I would be sorry to se the place go but it really has been taken over by gangs and just crappy peolpe. I stopped going because of that reason. Peolpe getting shot in the parking lot is not the fun ride I am looking for.
Published: June 25, 2006 at 7:36 PM
I gotta defend Magic Mountain on one point here. The whole "gang bangers are running the place" meme was based on a couple incidents in the 1990s, which no longer reflect reality at the park. Sure, there might be some white boy wanna-bes running around in "gang" colors they picked up at the mall, but over the past few years I have found the front gate and parking lot security consistent with industry standards and the atmosphere within the park no less safe than any other theme park I've visted.
Magic Mountain's real problem has been its refusal to operate all of its rides, and to run its operating rides at a fraction of their capacity. This has led to ridiculous wait-times, and has resulted in conflicts in queues, as rude impatient visitors (not just teens) try to jump the line. But that's a far different situation than gang-bangers taking over the place.
That said, from readers' reports since the RedZone takeover of Six Flags, this season the park has done a far, far better job of getting its attractions running and keeping them closer to capacity. (The fact that its two newest coasters are from B&M, perhaps the industry leader in reliability, has helped, too.) This park could be turned around. But Six Flags, it appears, does not have the money to do it, without making massive cuts elsewhere. Some major park in the chain had to go -- from the chain, if not from the industry entirely. With six other parks in SoCal and a hot real estate market, circumstances appear to have dictated that Magic Mountain would be it.
Published: June 25, 2006 at 8:16 PM
This is to Robert Medrano who just got hired in, yes orientation means you are in for sure. They just talk about park policies and guest service standards and stuff like that. Its basically four hours of BS. I work at the main gate in the booths and I like it because the people are very nice and we have a lot of fun. But the truth of the matter is they treat their employees like disposable items, like they can be replaced at a moments notice. When they train you at a position and they start you there you barely know what your doing, the booths on the inside are falling apart. At Disneyland as i recall they were in top shape almost brand new. the counters are broken and the paint in coming off. The management is really trying to correct itself though, they are being much more strict and following procedure but it takes time. This didnt happen over night and it cant be fixed overnight either. But i think with the risiculously high prices they should be making good money, on any given day by myself i get 15 to 20,000 dollars at the front in cash, and they are usually 15-20 cashiers, you do the math. But the rumor at the park is if they dont recover their losses by the end of this summer they will be shutting down. I hope they don't because i think this park can be great, but ppl just have to give it time. Improvements i can see already, there ar characters everywhere to take pictures with, at least 5 sets at a given time. There are parades twice a day, fireworks. The food is getting of better quality, they are starting to run more than one train on the rides. Its only the beginning of summer it is too early to tell...
Published: June 25, 2006 at 9:15 PM
oh wow, So they dont train well? I got hired a sa ride host what ride do you think theyll start me at? if you can, can we continue this convo at my email address firstname.lastname@example.org please & thank you,
anyways Six flags is indeed improving great start and as an empl,oyee ill do anything in my power to ensure quality customer service
Published: June 25, 2006 at 9:19 PM
I feel greatly that six flags shouldnt close Magic Mountain but retool it with better management. Also they should build more family attractions. So the park could appeal to lower ages as well.
Published: June 25, 2006 at 9:53 PM
I too have heard from quite a few folks that operations have been improving. I've actually heard a few positive reports this year. Rides are open, and running at better capacity. That's a step in the right direction. The problem is that a lot of people have been burned by their experiences there, and probably won't go back until there is a definitive sign of improvement. Parents won't go unless there is a definitive sign of things to do for younger children. I still can't see why they would cut this park loose. Clean up the place, keep on the maintenance and ride capacity, tear down Flashback and and any other rides that are more hassle than they are worth. Retrack the wooden coasters. Build some different rides for all demographics. The area around Flashback is a good spot for a new and improved kiddieland of some kind. Bring in a couple of actual sit down restaurants that serve dinner food or breakfast. Get rid of Papa John's pizza (that's a personal request from me to all Six Flags parks) and replace it with a good local flavor. Get rid of the extra admission fee to the waterpark and include it in park admission. That alone will draw more families. A free waterpark is a large reason why parks like Kings Island have big attendance numbers. Send the Marvel comic book characters and whatever else you got out in full force. Spruce up existing structures, do some landscaping and water features, put in some queue tvs or line entertainment for the big line rides, and enforce line jumping rules. Entice the younger kids (and their parents) in with a heavily discounted kids admission. That may be a bit of a tall order in some cases, but in my honest opinion, those things come before any new big rides are built.
Published: June 25, 2006 at 11:34 PM
I hope that they do not close Magic Mountain, but I do understand the reasoning behind the move. They have always had the most thrilling rides in the area, but do suffer from lack of maintenance. If it is truely getting better then people should take a new look. They really need to revamp their advertising strategy since they still seem to cater to teens and young adults.
As far as the gang aspect, I knew that had come to an end when I went with a youth group on a Church night at MM. My son, and his friends, were into Punk Rock and dressed accordingly. When we arrived, they were singled out, taken to an area next to the entrance and were searched by security. I got to hold onto the items that the kids were not allowed to have (lighters, some spikes, chains). Since this was a night where Church groups were the only ones with tickets, it seemed a bit overkill, but it showed me that they finally ment business and were cleaning up the park.
I hope that the park can be salvaged. It is the best in the area for fast thrilling rides. I say dump the water park and use the proceeds to revamp MM.
Published: June 26, 2006 at 9:58 AM
This struck me as very interesting.
"Even now, going into the Monday news update, I can’t hide the fact that I’m still in shock over the very idea that Six Flags would even think about selling Magic Mountain. Over the weekend I had some time to think about it, and the only logical conclusion I’ve been able to come up with is... perhaps Shapiro and crew are bluffing.
Here me out here... Synder is a ruthless business man and one shark knows another which is why Shapiro is calling the shots right now. Shapiro has past history with Disney and their management, so he’s seen first hand how the master theme park spin doctors work and has made no secret of trying of the fact that he wants Six Flags to start going after Disney’s audience, which is family groups.
Six Flags Magic Mountain, which has marketed itself over the last several years as the planet’s top Xtreme Thrill Park has had abit of a problem. Goliath, which opened for the 2000 season, was perhaps the park’s last big success story. The park would build a new coaster at least every other year and attendance would soar and things. In 2001, things changed. The park promised too much that year when they announced Deja Vu and X. Deja Vu was the first to open, but from the start was plaged with technical problems and low throughput numbers that still plague the ride even today. X, the highlight of the year, failed to even open until January of 2002, and then was hit with it’s own technical and throughput issues as well. In short, a lot of people were burned by the park those years on top of the 9/11 crisis that made it harder to attract tourists from far away, leaving the park to focus entirely on the drive-in market. In 2003, they wanted something more reliable and went back to B&M for Scream, but the crowds never came. After this, no major new thrill rides were added to the park for 2004 or 2005 while attendance continued to dwindle.
This year, Magic Mountain has opened one of their most impressive rides to date... Tatsu, the world’s biggest flying coaster. However, it’s too early to know what the overall effect is going to be on attendance, but I’m going to guess that they are still failing to bring in the family groups that the new management is seeking. This is understandable though, given the fact that Disney is still flooding the local market with the second summer’s worth of their big 50th Anniversary celebration. So management had to be asking themselves what they could do to bring these guests back to the park again, including the many of which were perhaps burned by bad experiences in previous years. If big new rides weren’t enough, in typical SFMM style, perhaps they needed to try something a little more Xtreme.
Thinking back to Disney’s history a bit... one of Disneyland’s biggest marketing successes was promoting the demise of the Main Street Electrical Parade. A parade so old that everyone had ceased caring about it and Disney really had stopped marketing it in favor of their new big nighttime show, Fantasmic. But once Disneyland started their ads about how the Main Street Electrical Parade was “glowing away forever” at the end of the year, the local SoCal public went completely nuts. It seemed as if everyone you knew had to get back to the park and see the parade one last time... to relive those childhood memories one last time before they were gone forever. Of course it ended up as a giant marketing ploy while they sent the parade to Walt Disney World for a few years. The parade came back to Disneyland a few years later, though across the walkway at California Adventure instead, but the year it left Disneyland, they had one of the top 2-3 all time attendance years as a result of a remarkable marketing campaign that pulled on just the right strings.
So, as sneaky as it is, I’ve got to wonder if Six Flags’ management may just be attempting a similar bluff on the public to get everyone to do whatever it takes to visit the park again, just in case the park closes for good. Even in articles with the press, they mention specifically that they may just reinvest in Magic Mountain and keep it, but they’re just not sure.
Why? Just because I still can’t fathom them really going through with closing the park. Sure the park has a ton of rides, but most aren’t worth selling or moving. Most of the flat rides are so old, that you can find them at just about any carnival. The flume rides have been custom built to the mountain terrain of the park itself and really can’t fit in anywhere else, and you’ll find the same problems with most of the park’s coasters. I can only see four of the park’s coasters being saved or sold: Batman, Riddler, Deja Vu and Scream. The rest would all end up as scrap because they have been custom made to fit the park’s unique terrain or they are just not anything that would likely sell on the marketplace (ie: Flashback, Psyclone, Viper, etc).
Maybe I’m crazy and it really will just all comes down to simple greed and knowing just how much they can sell the land under SFMM for. The land is just so high priced right now that no other amusement park operator could even attempt to compete in a bidding war against land developers. But that isn’t the reason the park was build years ago... it was build out in the middle of nowhere as a theme park, not as a placeholder until the land value rose to an insane cost.
I’ve got a few wild ideas as to how they can really fix the park to bring it back in line with their new company focus, but I’ll save that one for a future article."
Published: June 26, 2006 at 10:37 AM
Valencia welcomed opening day of Magic Mountain on Memorial Day weekend of 1971. I was there. At the young age of 13 I was so excited. I could not stop bugging my parents to take us again and again. After all we lived right here in Valencia, the new home of Magic Mountain. Believe it or not that was the biggest thing that had ever hit our town. Many years passed and we continued to go countless times. Then it came time to introduce my own children to Magic Mountain. They too loved it. But.......After only a couple of visits in 1997 I found that Magic Mountain was not what I had remembered. In 1997 going to Magic Mountain was like going to who's who of gang bangers and undesirables. Waiting in line was a joke because these punks would cut through line and if you said anything you would find yourself having to defend your self in front of family over something as silly as line cutting. You could see it all coming. Busses and parents dropping off these punks to spend the day at Magic Mountain thinking they are above following simple and courteous rules. Magic Mountain management decided to do something about it. Failed attempts like dress codes etc. only resulted in the A.C.L.U. and other liberal groups calling this a practice of discrimination. The news media pandered to this thought process. It soon became common knowledge that Magic Mountain was not a family friendly place to go. The punks learned it was a place to come and agitate each other and Joe public and his family. So to you gang banging punks (past and present) I say this “ where are ya gonna go now?” You bad apples can blame yourselves!!!!!!!!!!! Now you can stay in your ” HOOD” and agitate each other. You will not be missed.
Published: June 26, 2006 at 3:31 PM
You guys say that some rides are running only one train and could run more for faster lines, right? Well, I think that there could be a safety reason behind that. Because if they were running two trains and they know that brakes have a chance of malfunctioning, then if a train is held up and the other comes in, brakes might not work. If the brakes don't work the train will scream in at some 25 MPH and kill someone.
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