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Best Coaster Touring Strategy for Six Flags Magic Mountain?

Six Flags Magic Mountain: What is the best single-day, non-Flash Pass strategy for riding all of the coasters at the Coaster Capital of the world?

From James Rao
Posted September 6, 2013 at 2:25 PM
As part of a larger SoCal trip later this month (September 2013) I will be visiting Six Flags Magic Mountain for the first time in a long time. More than likely I will buy a 2014 Season Pass and visit two days in a row, but for purposes of this discussion, I would like to know the best, single-day, non-Flash Pass touring plan for riding ALL 18 coasters at the Coaster Capital of the World. Yes, even the kiddie coasters... they count!

Please note, I will be visiting on a Saturday and/or Sunday since the park is only open on weekends in September.

So, SFMM experts... what say you?

(If you have any other tips, ticks, or traps for SFMM, feel free to let me know those as well).


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

From Park traveler
Posted September 6, 2013 at 3:11 PM
When I did it years ago they were still building scream. It was slow so that made it do able. All I can say is eat in the que lines, Have fun and good luck.

From James Rao
Posted September 6, 2013 at 5:06 PM
I appreciate the sentiment, but if one has to have good luck to ride all 18 coasters at Magic Mountain, then I guess I'll just add another Disney day instead.

From AJ Hummel
Posted September 6, 2013 at 6:11 PM
In the off-season, SFMM is rarely too crowded that you can't get everything done. I like to visit on off-season Sundays as it is rare for anything to have more than a 20 minute wait unless only one train is running. In fact, I've gone and ridden all the coasters (and a few other attractions) without difficulty even though I had a full sit-down lunch. If you visit on Sunday or have two days to visit, you have nothing to worry about. However, if you are visiting on Saturday only and are not willing to get a Flash Pass I'd recommend the following order:

1. Full Throttle
2. Goliath
3. Green Lantern
4. Batman The Ride
5. Riddler's Revenge
6. Apocalypse
7. Tatsu (if line is over 45 minutes, return at the end)
8. Ninja
9. Superman
10. Gold Rusher
11. Colossus
12. Scream!
13. Road Runner Express
14. Canyon Blaster
15. Revolution
16. Viper
17. X2

A few notes about SFMM's coasters in general:

-Full Throttle, Green Lantern, and Superman all have low capacity, so you absolutely want to get all of them done before lunch.
-Colossus, Gold Rusher, and Revolution rarely get significant lines. Ninja, Scream!, and Viper are also typically less than 10 minute waits unless only one train is running.
-X2 has a huge line in the morning, but it typically drops to around 30 minutes or less by mid-afternoon (it gets longer in the evening if the park is open late). Goliath, Apocalypse, and sometimes Riddler's Revenge develop long lines in the afternoon that don't typically vanish completely, but are often dead in the morning. Tatsu consistently has a long line all day.
-The kiddie coasters are rarely busy. Note that Magic Flyer has a maximum height restriction of 54", no exceptions, so you won't be able to ride (hence why I didn't include it in my plan above).
-Be aware that X2 has recently had some issues (broken chain and/or motor) and likely will be closed until at least October. If this is a deal breaker, you may want to hold off on a visit, but fortunately this is not SFMM's only top-tier coaster.

I'm actually going to a special event at SFMM tomorrow, so if I find anything different about crowd patterns than what I wrote above I'll post here (though since I'll be at Knott's on Sunday, probably not until Monday/Tuesday). If you have any other specific questions about SFMM or other So Cal parks, let me know as I live here and visit most of them frequently (I've had passes to SFMM, Knott's, and the Disneyland Resort for years).

From James Rao
Posted September 6, 2013 at 7:19 PM
AJ, that is awesome info, and I really appreciate it. In fact, it is exactly the kind of touring plan I was hoping to get on a site filled with such experienced coaster fans. Thank you.

However, if, as you wrote, X2 is down for an extended time frame, that situation is a deal breaker. Despite the park having a lot of world class coasters, X2 is really the only reason I am willing to take time out of my Disney vacation and spend the extra dough to visit a Six Flags park. If you hear anything else regarding X2, please let me know.

I was planning on visiting SFMM Sept 21 and/or 22.

Maybe Park Traveler was spot on when he wrote that I would need "good luck"! =(

Another question for you, AJ, what do you think about us going to Knott's Berry Farm on October 1st or 2nd, a Tuesday or Wednesday? Hours are only 10 - 6, but is that enough time to visit most of the major attractions on what should be a very slow day?

From AJ Hummel
Posted September 6, 2013 at 7:39 PM
James, I'm not trying to persuade you to give up a day at Disneyland if you don't want to, but it may be worth considering the following:

-In my personal opinion, Tatsu, Full Throttle, and Goliath are all better coasters than X2 as while X2 is unique it is insanely rough and uncomfortable. If you tighten the restraint all the way you feel the shaking all throughout your body, and if you don't the ride throws you around like a rag doll. It is an experience that is absolutely worth trying but if you don't like rough rides it is a nightmare.

-I don't know how many days you have planned for Disneyland, but if you have two or three other days I would advise avoiding Sunday. Due to the number of passholders, Sundays are packed all year long (I've seen 60+ minute waits on Sundays in January). If not going that day would only leave you one (or two including Saturday) for the resort, it's better to just go, but expect the park to be packed.

-You can get tickets to SFMM for $42 on their website, which is much less than other parks (granted the park isn't as good as other parks). Especially if you go on Sunday you really only need one day for the park.

I will let you know if I hear anything at the event tomorrow, but otherwise if you have flexibility in your schedule I would recommend calling the park a couple days before to find out if X2 will be running and decide then. If your schedule is not flexible, decide if an extra day at Disneyland is worth missing a number of world-class coasters (for me it would be, but for some it wouldn't).

As for your Knott's question, I will say this: I routinely visit Knott's after class when I get out of school early and usually only stay for about three hours. In that time, I often do close to a dozen rides and have never seen a wait longer than 15 minutes. As long as you don't care about doing all the generic attractions (spinners and such) and there isn't a special event going on, you should easily be able to do all the major attractions at Knott's in a day on those dates, get any re-rides you want, and perhaps even leave a little early.

From steve lee
Posted September 6, 2013 at 7:58 PM
James LOVES those spinners, so that could be a tough one.

I ended up skipping Magic Mountain when we were out there in July, and I don't regret it a bit. I just wish we had also skipped Universal Studios Hollywood, as I absolutely loathed that park. We'll have to pick up SFMM next time we're out there, and holy crap I can't wait to get back out there.

Man, now I want an Umami Burger.

From James Rao
Posted September 6, 2013 at 8:44 PM
We'll be at Disney for five days. One of them will probably be a Sunday, but mainly to catch Fireworks and Fantasmic since they only show on the weekends during Sept/Oct. We'll have plenty of time Mon - Thurs to catch the headliner attractions with minimal waits.

Contrary to what some have stated, I despise most midway rides and carnival spinners. At Knott's I am most interested in Timber Mt. Log ride, Calico Mine Ride, some of the coasters, and the Mystery Lodge. I think you are right that I will have no issues visiting all those attractions in eight hours on a Tuesday.

I appreciate what you have said about Magic Mountain's eclectic collection of coasters and I am sure you are right that X2 is not the best one in the park, but for the most part I can get those other coaster experiences elsewhere in the nation. X2 is a singular, although painful sounding, experience. It is on my "bucket list". Anyway, I do have some leeway on my dates but if X2 is closed into October I probably cannot visit this time around.

And Steve, I completely agree with you about Universal Hollywood. $85 a person to take a Tram Tour and ride Transformers seems a bit extreme to me. Not even Harry Plopper's BENCH: The Ride can make that park a good value, IMHO. I'll just hold off on Universal until I get back to Orlando.

From steve lee
Posted September 6, 2013 at 9:23 PM
We had an LA Go Card so at least we didn't have to pay that ludicrous admission price.

But if we actually wanted to ride ANYTHING, we had to get Express passes, which were around $77 per person. The most enjoyable ride there ended up being the escalator rides to GET OUT of that hell hole.

Zero stars. Would not go back for free.

From AJ Hummel
Posted September 6, 2013 at 11:51 PM
What you say makes a lot of sense, James, and it is true that if you've been to several other Six Flags or Cedar Fair parks SFMM has few completely unique coasters. I imagine the park isn't happy their signature coaster is down and will try to fix it as fast as possible. For your sake, hopefully X2's downtime is not as long as expected, but if you do have to wait at least you'll have more coasters to ride (the park is adding a new kiddie next year and generally adds a major coaster every 2-3 years).

At Knott's, I'd recommend riding all the non-clone coasters (ride the clones as well if you need the credits or just want to ride), Timber Mountain Log Ride, Calico Mine Ride, Calico Railroad, Stagecoach, Bigfoot Rapids (if you like rapids rides) and Supreme Scream and see Mystery Lodge. You should be able to do all this in 4-6 hours on the dates you selected. I'd recommend starting with Xcelerator in the Boardwalk and going counter-clockwise, stopping at attractions as you go, but as crowds should be minimal it doesn't matter all that much. Most of the other attractions are of the carnival variety so ride what you want (if any). One other tip: Eat outside the park. Everything inside is overpriced and poor quality.

Five days is more than enough time for the Disneyland Resort, especially with four weekdays. I was just there yesterday and got over 30 rides done, so off-season weekdays really aren't bad crowdwise. I'm guessing you've probably got a good idea of what you want to do there, but be sure to do both Halloween attractions as they are superior to their normal versions and if you are a show person absolutely do not miss Aladdin (in my opinion the best theme park show anywhere).

Finally, one more vote for USH is a ripoff. I would only recommend this place to someone who has never been to Universal Orlando and can find a discount as it is a six hour park at best and everything except the tram tour is cloned in Florida.

From James Rao
Posted September 7, 2013 at 4:14 AM
Thanks, AJ, if we end up going to Knott's we will definitely use your touring advice. And you are correct, I do have extensive plans for touring DLR, right down to the hour and minute! ;)

Back to X2, I have sent a couple emails to Six Flags MM asking "how long will this signature coaster be down" but have not yet received a response. Let me know if you find out anything when you go this weekend.

Steve (and AJ), besides the Umami Burger (can't do mushrooms but some of their other gourmet burgers look good), any other offsite Anaheim dining locations that should not be missed?

From James Rao
Posted September 8, 2013 at 1:12 PM
Email from Six Flags says timetable on X2 getting fixed is unknown. Looks like I am going to have to cross Magic Mountain off the list for this visit. My coaster bucket list will remain unchanged.... =(

From AJ Hummel
Posted September 9, 2013 at 1:22 PM
Unfortunately, you'll have to miss SFMM if you won't go without X2. At Saturday's event it was stated that the ride is undergoing an extended refurbishment and likely won't be back up until the end of the year (I'm guessing around when winter break begins in December). Hopefully you'll have better luck next time you visit California.

The rest of the trip should still be a lot of fun, however. Disneyland is one of the best parks I've been to and while Knott's isn't a top tier park it is still a nice place to spend a day. I can't help you with restaurants as I don't even know what's around the parks, but when I travel places I just do a yelp search and pick the highest rated places that look like somewhere I'd like.

Have a good trip!

From James Rao
Posted September 9, 2013 at 6:06 PM
Thanks for the update, AJ, I appreciate it. I have resigned myself that SFMM is out for this visit. Don't know when I will be back to CA, but I would not be able to handle being in a park with X2 and not being able to ride it. I will just have to settle for five days at Disneyland Resort instead! =)

I do have one Disney question for you AJ.... World of Color is not listing any performances in October, but I see nothing about a refurb. Any ideas?

From steve lee
Posted September 9, 2013 at 6:16 PM
I can't find anything, James. I hope this isn't a case where they take it down in October to work on the special Christmas version...

From AJ Hummel
Posted September 9, 2013 at 6:27 PM
It is very unusual that World of Color wouldn't be showing in October. It's always possible that the showtimes haven't been finalized yet, but that seems unlikely since everything else is. I'm guessing a closure would be to program the special Holiday version of the show, as this is the first time it's being done and it can't be a short process to program and test a thirty minute show.

To be completely honest, if you see Fantasmic and miss World of Color you are missing very little. I know some people are really into World of Color, but it's just a bunch of colorful fountains and a giant water screen showing clips from Disney movies for 30 minutes. I've seen the show twice, and I didn't even make it through the second showing because it got boring less than halfway through. I guess if you've never seen it it's worth seeing, but if it comes down to a choice of World of Color or Fantasmic, go with Fantasmic.

If you do go see World of Color, either get to the viewing area early or don't bother with the showpasses and find somewhere on the bridge or next to Golden Zephyr. If you're not right at the front of one of the viewing tiers you'll have an obstructed view and the lampposts scattered throughout the viewing area only hinder it even more.

From James Rao
Posted September 9, 2013 at 8:31 PM
Thanks for the info, you guys are great. I appreciate the help. I bet it is the Christmas programming - I am just surprised Disney hasn't made an official closure announcement. At any rate, we should still be able to see Fantasmic and WOC, we just won't have a lot of leeway in the dates - if bad weather strikes, we'll be out of luck.

Incidentally, I am looking to move up our DLR dates one week to the first part of our SoCal trip. If that happens, then WOC shows every night that week (22 - 28). Plus, it gives us an opportunity to hit Magic Mountain if a miracle occurs and X2 gets that first week of October. We'll see....

From James Rao
Posted September 11, 2013 at 3:44 AM
And this update today on Screamscape.com: I checked with Six Flags Magic Mountain and confirmed that X2 is down to have the lift hill chain replaced. According to Sue Carpenter, “There is no timeline for it to be back up and running but unfortunately it will not be available for Fright Fest this year.” So looks like we wont see X2 back up until the winter holidays.

*SIGH*

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