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It's Time for Magic Mountain to Fix 'X'

The wait times for Six Flags Magic Mountain's new Arrow 4D coaster, "X," have grown beyond inconvenient. The wait's turned dangerous. It's time for Six Flags to take action before someone falls seriously ill under the California sun.

From Robert Niles
Posted June 3, 2002 at 9:37 PM
Theme park fans are used to waiting in line. Queueing up for the popular new coaster isn't just tolerated--it's expected.

But the wait times for Six Flags Magic Mountain's new Arrow 4D coaster, "X," have grown beyond bring inconvenient. The wait's turned dangerous. And with the hot California summer approaching, the "X" in the ride's cryptic name might soon stand for "excruciating."

Six Flags promised an operating capacity of more than 1,000 riders per hour when promoting the ride to the press late last year. But only rarely has X operated with two trains on the track, much less with its maximum three. More commonly, X runs just one train, with up to 10 minutes between dispatches. Such (in)frequency would give the ride a paltry capacity of fewer than 200 riders per hour.

Please don't misunderstand me: I applaud Six Flags's diligence, if it is to protect the safety of its guests and employees. If the park cannot operate X at more than a few hundred guests per hour and ensure their safety, then Six Flags must continue to go slow until it can.

But Six Flags' obligation to safety does not begin when a rider climbs aboard X. It begins when that guest comes on to Magic Mountain property, and in this case, when that guest enter's X's queue.

As is typical for Six Flags, the company built another generic, unthemed, unsheltered wait area for X. Only when would-be riders reach the load building do they get significant shelter from the sun.

That wouldn't be much of a problem if guests were moving through the queue in less than an hour. But X's glacial dispatch rate has created wait times of four and five hours.

Some people just can't wait outside under the Santa Clarita valley sun in those conditions.

"I saw them take one little girl out of the line that looked as if she had fainted due to the heat," one recent visitor e-mailed me this weekend. "Her parents were holding her in their arms and running towards the park exit."

Theme Park Insider member Jason Herrera reported seeing six people collapse in line during a recent visit.

This cannot continue. If Six Flags cannot safely increase the effective operating capacity for X, it must reduce the number of people waiting in line.

It's time for Magic Mountain to implement a ride reservation system for X. Determine the number of people per hour and the number of hours per day that the ride can serve, and take reservations.

Six Flags can determine how, and under what conditions, it wishes to assign reservation times. Perhaps it can assign times, first-come, first-served each morning. It could take reservations over the phone or via a Web site. Or it might even charge guests an additional fee for preferred times.

Obviously, theme park fans would prefer to avoid additional fees. Six Flags has learned that low prices get people in the gates. Raising the price on X would only further damage the park's already tattered reputation regarding this attraction.

But something must be done. Better to turn people away at a reservation desk than to make them put their well-being at risk in the summer sun for four hours, with no guarantee they will get to ride even then.

How about it, Six Flags? What will you do to protect the safety of your customers? Or will you do nothing--and recklessly hope that no one falls seriously ill, or, heaven help us, dies, from the heat in the intolerable queue for X?


Comments in chronological order. Most recent at the bottom. Scroll down to respond.

From Jason Herrera
Posted June 3, 2002 at 10:08 PM
Y'know Robert, I contacted Six Flags Magic Mountain with this concern 2 times, and have yet to get an answer! Quite frankly, this is SERIOUS!! You'll have people passing out left and right if this continues. It's a sad turn of events for Six Flags Magic Mountain, but they need to take a SERIOUS look at this problem, if X is going to have 5-7 hour waits, then why not make water more available, and/or lower the cost of cold bottle water!!!?

My company has been hounding Six Flags Magic Mountain about this issue, and they're giving us a cold shoulder!!!

There are 2 ways this problem could be solved during the HOT summer months... and it won't cost Six Flags a Dime, just wish they'd listen and stop playing the part of, " Who us?"

From xavier xo
Posted June 3, 2002 at 10:28 PM
Magic Mountain needs to do the right thing, LOTS OF SHADE!, WATER, WATER WATER fountains and bottled! While they fix this whole 200 people an hour mess.
X is the best ride ever. Shame that so many people are getting such a negative opinion of this ground-breaking ride.

From Danny Thrower
Posted June 4, 2002 at 1:22 AM
No doubt about it....I am season pass holder at magic mountain and we went 3 weeks ago bought two "fast passes" from a tired couple and headed staright to X. We thought we where cool cause we had fast passes however the wait was still close to 3hours. Also right before we were to get on X broke down. They did however have two trains yet it takes soo long for them to load people on. Maybe more man power during the summer whould help. Also Dejavu is almost as long as X to get on but that ah lil more understandable

From Lesley Allen
Posted June 4, 2002 at 4:42 AM
Man, things are looking bad for MM between the on-again, off-again functioning of Deja Vu and now the queue problem with X.

I don't know why SF doesn't adopt a queing line for X that mirrors what IOA and Universal do for their attractions. They have covered queue lines with cool mist fans constantly blowing at almost every bend of the line. How much could something that simple possibly cost? Not enough to dent SF's bankbook too badly, I'm sure......and it would be a heck of a lot cheaper for them when viewed against the inevitable alternative, which will be lawsuits out the wazoo due to heatstroke and heat exhaustion victims.

From Robert Niles
Posted June 4, 2002 at 9:52 AM
Misters and shade are an absolute must for any outdoor queue where the wait outside will last over 15 minutes, in my opinion.

Jason, perhaps you have some statistics you would like to share with us on how long a person can stand outside in the sun before they start suffering form dehydration and heat exhaustion?

But even if Six Flags allowed people to sit in an air-conditioned theater for the four hours, that wait time is ridiculous. Making people spend nearly half of their forty-dollar day waiting for a single ride is not a good way to deliver value to the consumer.

Again, Six Flags (or any theme park) would do better by its customers to give them a true reservation system for any ride where wait times run in excess of two hours.

From Mr. D. T.
Posted June 4, 2002 at 10:14 AM
No wonder. If wait times exceed 1-hr-15-minutes, I strongly reccommend you not bother with that particular ride. Especially in the hot sun. That's why I never bother waiting for more than 40 minutes in line for a 3 minute ride. At Great America, Vertical Velocity usually gets a 1 hr 15 minute wait, while Deja Vu (if it ever works again) may have waits which exceed 2 hours. Both coasters have very slow loading. In the meantime, I don't remember any ride in Great America or Disney World having waits over 3 hours.

That's why FastLane and Lo-Q exist in the first place.

And please lower the cost of water!

From Anonymous
Posted June 4, 2002 at 10:26 AM
Hey guys. LCMUNC from DC here. First of all, NO ONE shoud wait in the hot SoCal sun for more than hour to ride a coaster. And I'm a coaster nut here. So I think SFMM should take a good long look at their competition, namele from Cedar Point, and some other, of course. I've visited both parks and both have some of the best attractions. But CP blows them away when it comes to customer satisfaction and attention. And a lot of that attention goes to the "Q" lines. Shade, shade, shade! It's everywhere! (Even DJ booths to take your mind of the the long wait!) Those that have visited CP know what I'm talking about. And there are the mist-blowing fans. Add all that together and you still have a wait, but at least you can shake your booty in the shade with you friends.

From Jason Herrera
Posted June 4, 2002 at 11:32 AM
Heat Exhaustion will affect more amusement park patrons then any form of injury out there! Research conducted by Herrera Amusement Park Injury Management Services, Inc. indicates that heat exhaustion is the #2 injury inside of the amusement park industry!

Field Research conducted within 4 California Amusement Parks, shows 9 in 10 patrons will suffer Heat Exhaustion, and 2 in 10 will be on the verge of suffering from the more SERIOUS condition of Heat Stroke!

When in a long line during the summer months such as X's queue you'll begin to notice that patrons become jittery, and that is a sign of Heat Exhuastion as the body is becoming very tired.

When waiting in a 4-5 hour line as the case is with X.Syncope (faint) is a mild form of heat exhaustion and is precipitated by standing or a long time in a hot environment. Syncope has been witnessed by myself and by countless other patrons who've e-mailed me, and have felt that Six Flags needes to do something quick!

One of the best ways to defeat Heat Exhuastion is to drink plenty of water 2-3 days before attending an amusement park, believe it or not, riding roller coasters drains your body physically. So BE HYDRATED! This also takes the park too, if you want to ensure that you're patrons stay hydrated let's cheapen water, or let's work on my concept of sponsorship injury managment!!! Last thing we need is someone getting cold water, inside the First Aid Station!


From Philip Curds
Posted June 4, 2002 at 1:02 PM
When I went to SFMM this easter, on a holiday from the UK, I found the queue lines long, 6hr for non-fastlane customers.

The problem is that the marginal social utility = p = marginal social cost, in economics terms, ie. Six Flags wants more of us to buy FastLane for $12 extra so that it will boost its overall operational profit each week, and if you review the Six Flags/Premier Parks company forecasts of growth, they tie boosted profits and turnover in with longer queue times and increased sales of FastLane tickets. The only way in which Six Flags could sell the Arrow 4D model to shareholders was the fact that the $38 million investment, which is previously untried, would be funded by separate charges, eg. FastLane.

This is not to say that I beleive Six Flags believes profits rise above customers de-hydration. My advice to Six Flags, would be to install more shades and water fountains to stem the amount of people de'hydrating whilst in the queue, either that or complaints will continue to rise, or maybe more sales of Arrowhead Mineral Water Bottles at $8 each would do the trick within the queue lines, more can machines, in other words, save paying for more staff, and therefore reducing the costs to the business.

Great idea to highlight this area of the 'X', as most talk of the amazing ride, which incidently is second to Millenium Force at Cedar Point, but definitely worth a visit, even if you die waiting to ride?

Resource Allocation Vs. Insatiable Wants = Need For Choice

As you might have guessed, got an exam tommorow in economics, sorry for some economics style wording in me comment...

From Mike Fortier
Posted June 4, 2002 at 2:54 PM
I agree with every one of these posts on the board. Six Flags does have an issue with there uncovered queue lines. It is riciculous to make people wait 5 hours in the California sun! But I have one good thing to say about Six Flags... when I went on Goliath last year the queue area past the large stone letters was either covered or shaded by the trees. I also noticed some misters and music! If Six Flags did all their queues like this then people wouldn't be uncomfortable and pass out do to heat exhaustion. Six Flags needs to take a hint form either Busch or Disney on how to design a queue.

From David Allen
Posted June 4, 2002 at 4:29 PM
I endured a couple of 1 1/2 hour waits for Millennium Force last summer when the heat index was 109 degrees. They had fans and misters, both helped when you were standing there, although there definitely could have been more.

I found the conditions at C.P. in the high humidity much worse to endure than a hot day at Magic Mountain. I still think shade is the absolute minimum they should provide.

From Carey Lynn Holtsclaw
Posted June 4, 2002 at 6:49 PM
I say its time for Magic Mountain to fix Deja Vu.
The other 2 parks with them need to fix theres too.

From DJ VICDOGG
Posted June 4, 2002 at 8:14 PM
Went to SFMM last Sat. Waited four hours for X and fried my ass off in the sun.
That's not really my idea of fun. That second car has been broke for too long.
And is it just me, or do the employees who load you seem to not care about moving fast?

From Anonymous
Posted June 11, 2002 at 3:55 PM
Well you won't have to worry about waiting in line anymore.... the ride will be shut down for 60-90 days for now....

From Anonymous
Posted June 11, 2002 at 4:59 PM
Geez, stop complaining. I swear some of you people get weaker and weaker by the moment. I live in AZ, where it is 105 today, and will reach 115-125 come late June.

First of all, the California sun is not that hot. I work out in the AZ sun quite often for 115 degrees for five hours or more. Standing in the X line is NO different then aimlessly wondering the whole park for five hours.

People, please stop blaming your own lack of basic human survival skills on the theme parks. I am not only an AZ resident in the sun, I am a certefied EMT. I know for a FACT that if people are consuming the right amount of water, they will have NO problem with the heat.

A gallon a day is a minimum, not a maximum. Feel free to drink more--and I mean pure water. Not iced tea, coke, gatorade, or coffee. water.

Also, wear a hat. Wear loose-fitting, light-colored clothes. Wear sunglasses and sunscreen.

Seriously folks, if you know you will be at a theme park or a beach or hiking more then one day in advance, put some simple intelligance to use. These people collapsed because of their own negligence in preparing for that day.

Drink tons of water a couple days beforehand; drink tons of water that day; plan your da'ys wardrobe like I suggested above. If you do that, which is simple basic knowledge, you will have NO problem at all in the heat.

Stop trying to challenge theme parks to baby you. Grow up and act like the adults you all want to be treated as. Take some responsbility for your own actions, and stop leaving your brains at the door.

Jeff Nash

From Jonathan Gelert
Posted June 11, 2002 at 7:31 PM
Most of us here have our heads on our shoulders, I think.

Where the real problem would lie is in guests from other states where it is cooler, cloudier, and folks do not normally wait four hours for a 50-second ride.

I know I always wear bright colors and a hat to any themepark, since it's only common sense, at least in California. But someone from Oregon or Washington doesn't necessarily have this same common sense. You can always tell who they are, too: no hat, long pants, usually sipping a Coke instead of something that'll actually help.

Common sense to us, to be sure, but to an outsider, more obscure.

From Robert Niles
Posted June 11, 2002 at 7:47 PM
It's nice to see EMTs who have such compassion for other human beings.

From Anonymous
Posted June 11, 2002 at 11:03 PM
Quite. :p

I can see how Cedar Point might be worse as far as the "feel" of the heat to some folks, mostly on account of the humidity (Cali and Arizona are much hotter, but one can at least sweat to keep cool).

Perhaps we could consider ourselves fortunate that the only SF park the owners seem to be putting new coaster investment into is SFMM--at *other* Six Flags properties I could think of, an equivalent wait on X would be MUCH worse (Six Flags Over Georgia, or (as hard as it may be to believe) Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom, come to mind--not only do you have *normal* summer temperatures from the 90s to the 100s, but you also have opressive humidity; "wet heat" like this is actually worse for causing heat-related injury, because (unlike in Cali or Arizona) one generally cannot keep cool by sweating and evaporation).

And yes, I think I can state for the record for SFKK at least; before Six Flags assimilated it, Kentucky Kingdom would regularly open as part of the midway at the Kentucky State Fair (yes, you could ride Chang with fair tickets; the one wag who joked in one of the Disney threads that "if IoA is like a county fair you must have the best damn county fair in the country"--well, Kentucky came pretty close. In fact, I think SFKK *still* opens as part of the midway...alas, haven't been to the fair in a year or two)...and they'd have to post EMTs there, as *regularly* people would get sick from heat exhaustion or worse just being in typical, 95 degree with 95 percent humidity and no wind, August weather in Louisville. :p)

From Anonymous
Posted June 12, 2002 at 1:03 AM
Robert,

I do have compassion for other people. And unlike you or Jason, I do not have to pull specific examples out of my head to prove that point.

My problem relies in ignorant fools such as yourself, who have nothing better to do then to try to stir up trouble. If YOU as the author were truly concerned about the safety of people at Six Flags in the sun, you would post warnings on your site about the heat and how to prepare yourself for such conditions. Jason is an ex-EMT. If you two sincerely cared about these people, would you not get together with a service article on how to handle the heat? Or is all you can do lambast a theme park for situations beyond their control?

I agree SFMM could put up a shelter of some sort and misters, but I have personally been on calls with the fire department where people have incurred heat stroke and fainted under those conditions.

It is clearly not your desire to help people via this site. I grant you it is your site to do with as you wish. However, I am tired of hearing people like you whine and bitch and moan and groan not or public safety or improvement; but just to get an argument going.

It is NOT SFMM's responsbility to properly dress and hydrate these individuals. Yes, as an EMT it is my job to help some people and I do, with compassion. But I also expect others to have at least an ounce of common sense.

If I have to rescue someone who hiked a mountain mid-day with a jacket and no water, yes, they'll hear it from me. If I have to do CPR on a baby who almost drowned in a tub, they'll hear it from me. If I have to give an IV to a drunk driver who crashed his truck, he'll hear it from me.

Similarily, if people are completely stupid enough to wear dark clothes and not drink water in the sun, I'll help them, but they will here a lecture. I do not do this to be mean, but I am sick and tired as you can imagine if people passing the blame. I am sick and tired of the increasing stupidity and irresponsiblity exhibited by the majority of the public.

I hold people like you, with articles such as yours, responsible for the growing population of irresponsbile and stupid people. It is your kind who writes articles that, rather then telling someone how to be safe, encourages them to act like idiots and then blame the parks if something goes physically wrong. It is articles like this who encourage people to leave their stupidity at the door and do whatever they want, and then blame the parks.

Stop encouraging people to blame the parks, and encourage them to be responsible for themselves. I am not talking about coaster safety here or the weight issues of Perilous Plunge. I am talkng about very personal responsiblity issues.

You certainly, along with Jason, have the knowledge and expertise to post articles on how to keep people safe, on how to warn them for what they might encounter at a park in a region they're not used to [such as heat]. If you two truly cared about people, when this kind of stuff comes to your attention, why don't you write articles of help rather then of accusation?

It's time America, the readers, and you, take responsiblity for your own selfs.

From Kevin Baxter
Posted June 12, 2002 at 2:22 AM
Is that not what this frickin' thread is about? Jeez, did Nurse Ratched screw up your dosage today???

Anyhow, someone who thinks California heat doesn't get up to 115 has no business calling anyone else stupid.

Since when is asking for shelter from the sun being babied anyhow? In fact, one suggested solution is for SF to have water available. How can someone drink their 57 gallons of water if they have to get out of line to do that? Oh, I guess we all should be toting that gallon around with us wherever we go!And I guess now it should be a requirement for the entire world to read this site before going on vacation? As much as Robert would like that, unfortunately it ain't gonna happen.

The whole point that you are missing (much like your meds) is that even if people aren't falling over dead, the people in that line are still MISERABLE! And they are miserable for 3 or 4 hours at a stretch. If Six Flags wants these customers to come back, shouldn't they be doing little things like providing shade and misters so their visitors remain happy? Or is your idea of capitalism that people should simply take whatever they are given them, be happy about it and never complain?? Nice totalitarian attitude ya got there.

From Robert Niles
Posted June 12, 2002 at 9:43 AM
Thanks for summing it up, Kevin.

If you haven't taken a look at this thread, it appears that Six Flags is doing something--namely, closing X for some much-needed fixing.

From Daniel Williams
Posted June 12, 2002 at 10:49 AM
Do you think Mr Anonymous would rip me apart if i pointed out the spelling mistakes? :p Whoever you are you should learn to relax a bit!

And I would like to point out thats this site is simply comentary and reviews on theme parks, not "Common Sense for Dummies". I can't cope with heat myself and always carry a bottle of water with me in parks but this is usually in my bag which I leave with non riders because i cant carry a 2 litre bottle of water on a coaster can I? But misters, shelters and simple water fountains in the queues would not go amiss if they reopen X.

From Robert Kral
Posted June 12, 2002 at 11:03 AM
All this reminds me of the need for change and more options in the major theme parks in terms of the line system. I think Disney's fastpass for example is a step in the right direction, and it doesn't cost a cent more.

When we're supposed to put up with waits of even 2 hours or more, in the sun or rain or regardless of the weather, something is wrong and it keeps LOTS of potential customers away from these parks.

I'd love to hear more suggestions about what could be done to shortern these waits, perhaps much like fastpass.

As far as heat exhaustion etc: these parks BUILD these rides. For a california park to NOT take into consideration the comfort of those waiting in line, is in my opinion CRAZY. I just don't understand why they don't design it from the start to make the wait comfortable. It would show they CARE about the customers, by thinking of their comfort whilst waiting. That was the impression when I first ever saw the water misters in line many years ago. It was nice to know they cared enough.

From Anonymous
Posted June 12, 2002 at 12:37 PM
This reminds me of when MIB opened up at USF. The line was so long the park was using the access road next to the Western Stunt show as an overflow line. There was no shade, and I saw quite a few people down, either resting or sick already. I was not going to put my family through that so we left stopping at Guest Relations on the way out. After descriping the situation, they went into action and I saw at least 4 carts full of water on the way. Parks can take care of the guest if they wish. The X situation just confirms my suspicions that Six Flags does not think about the guests. (beyond the wallet)

From Anonymous
Posted June 13, 2002 at 12:07 AM
Well, sorry for being nameless. I put my name at the first post, I forgot to on the second since I am not a member. My name is Jeff Nash if anyone is interested.

I also apologize for my spelling mistakes--I have them all the time, as I'm sure you do, too Kevin. Kevin may also want to note Robert's spelling mistake in the post just above his own, if you want to get nit-picky.

I would like to apologize for my last two posts, which when I re-read, were very rude and offensive. My apologies to anyone I may have offended, and for acting like a general ass.

As for the reader who made the comment that I don't know how California weather can reach up to 115--let me correct you son. I have lived in many parts of California and Arizona, and am fully aware of what temperatures and conditions can be like. With that in mind, I do consider people stupid who do not dress appropriately and not drink enough water in the heat stupid. Just as if you were to go to Chicago in the dead of winter, and complained of frostbite when you didn't dress warm enough, I would consider you stupid.

As for the comment made about "57 gallons of water." I never said 57 gallons; do not place words in my mouth or take my words out of context. I said people need to consume large quanities the days before and day of, a minimum of a gallon a day. If that means carrying around a gallon jug all day, so be it. I've dont it before. They aren't that halfway. Or you could have a half-gallon container that fits easily in your purse. If we find half gallons to heavy to carry around all day, I suggest visiting your local gym.

I do stand by, however, my position that people need to be responsible for their own selves. It just seemed to me Robert, that you were very over-dramatic in your last paragraph in your call to action. You made it seem like a life or death situation. Add that to the fact that I sincerely doubt Jason witnessed six people collapse in line the other day.

Folks, my main concern here is 1) people's safety and 2) people's enjoyment. To me it seemed that in his article, Robert was trying to place all responsiblity on SFMM for the dehyrdation/sun problem. Yes they can put up shade, misters, and I agree, probably should.

But none of that changes their hydration levels or how their body is exposed to the sun while walking the park.
If Robert wants to put blame on the theme parks, so be it. But maybe the eye-witness "safety expert" Jason would also like to give an account of what the people were wearing/drinking who collapsed. Oh but wait, if they were drinking coke and wearing long pants and black top, that might dis-credit SFMM from being the main bandit here, then Robert would have no story.

Accidents at theme parks happen folks, mainly because the guests does not take enough responsiblity [making their kid sit on Roger Rabbitt, letting a foot be stuck out on Big Thunder, leaving a lap bar loose on Perilous Plunge, ignoring height and age restrictions]. So maybe you see why it deeply disturbs me to articles like this that encourage guests to leave their brains at the door and think they're enterting worry-free happy land where they have no personal responsiblity.

If people can sue parks because they let their kid stand up on a ride, they can sure as hell sue parks someday because it was hot outside. This is all very sickening. Someday our theme park experience will be comprimised several by uneducated doofuses like these.

From Kevin Baxter
Posted June 13, 2002 at 2:10 AM
1) I never commented on anyone's spelling. I will comment on run-on sentences and horrid grammar, because these posts are meant to be read by people with working brains, but I simply assume a few spelling errors are due to typing errors and not idiocy. Please do not accuse me otherwise.

2) "57 gallons of water" was called SARCASM. It was meant to convey THE POINT YOU KEEP MISSING about people being unable to drink enough water when they are stuck in a line for FIVE HOURS WITHOUT ANY AVAILABLE TO THEM! Yes, people are walking around in the sun for five hours, but they can stop and drink and do occasionally find shade. They weren't finding any of those in line for X. And why should people think they need to bring a gallon jug of water to a theme park? Last time I checked, water was plenty available at EVERY SINGLE PARK I HAVE EVER BEEN TO. Why should MM be any different. Oh wait! We are all supposed to be PSYCHIC when it comes to going there. Where is Dionne Warwick when we need her???

3) And since when is it a requirement for every guest on the planet to be a brain surgeon to go to a park. I can guarantee you that millions of people in climates like Washington or Oregon don't have a clue how much water they should be drinking when they visit California in the summer. Most Californians probably don't know. We aren't all EMTs, ya know. Besides, most of us are never out in the direct sunlight for that many hours in a row. So we sure wouldn't know from personal experience. And nobody expects to be when they go to a theme park.

4) Isn't it kind of stupid for theme parks to go to so much trouble for safety's sake (lapbars AND seatbelts, for example) and ignore other OBVIOUS safety hazards? If X had been working properly and people were having problems after an hour wait or less, then I would definitely say that was on them. But the five-hour waits were MM's fault, and they have to take care of the people waiting for that ride. This not only affects the safety of their guests but their happiness also.

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