Magic Mountain to become Six Flags' first full year-round park
Six Flags Magic Mountain announced today
that it will switch to a full year-round schedule in 2018. The Valencia, Calif. park now operates throughout the year but only on weekends for much of the school year.
All other Six Flags parks around the country operate on a seasonal basis, closing after Halloween or Christmas, then reopening in spring. But in Southern California, the Disneyland parks and Universal Studios Hollywood open every day of the year, and Knott's Berry Farm opens every day but Christmas, putting Six Flags Magic Mountain at a disadvantage against other Los Angeles and Orange County theme parks. The operational switch should provide Six Flags Magic Mountain with an attendance boost, as fans no longer have to check to see if the park is open on any given day. They can just go.
"With the best collection of thrills in the world and the Six Flags brand expanding globally, this is the perfect time for one of our flagship properties to make the business transition to a 365-day operating schedule in order to maximize travel industry opportunities," Jim Reid-Anderson, Chairman, President and CEO of Six Flags Entertainment Corporation, said in a statement. "We can also now further leverage our thrill brand to the population base of 24-million Southern Californians and take advantage of new shoulder season business growth."
Now, even though a park is scheduled to be open every day of the year, weather can change those plans. The Disney and Universal parks typically stay open in what we soft Southern Californians consider "inclement weather," but that's because they have many more indoor and covered attractions that can run in the rain. Knott's and Six Flags Magic Mountain, with their heavier emphasis on coasters and outdoor rides, closed several days due to rain over the past winter. So let's put it this way: With its new year-round schedule, Six Flags Magic Mountain now will be open every day of the year that anyone actually will want to go. (What can I say? We're wimps about going out in the rain around here.)
Sunny winter weekdays actually might turn out to become the best days to visit the park, as fans can escape the typically scorching Santa Clarita valley heat from the rest of the year. The questions for fans then become... how many of the parks' coasters will be operating on any given day during the winter, and at what capacity?
"Off season" months typically bring much shorter lines... but at the cost of not being able to get on certain attractions due to refurbishments. That's been an issue on winter weekends at Six Flags Magic Mountain but should become more of an issue in 2018 as running coasters more often throughout the year presumably would necessitate accelerating their refurbishment schedules. Six Flags could minimize that need by keeping more coasters closed during the winter months and reducing capacity on those that do run, but that then runs the risk of generating frustration among fans who do show at the park during the extra operating days.
So there's a whole slew of operational questions involved when expanding a park's calendar. But if operating more days leads to higher attendance, which makes a park more money, then there's an incentive to keep the cycle spinning forward by offering even more to those new fans. That's the business model that Disney and Universal have followed to great success, so we will see if Six Flags tries heading down that route, as well.
Of course, world-class IP helps, too. Time for a "Winter with Wonder Woman" festival at Magic Mountain?
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Ah the benefits of California. Although in Illinois, we enjoy the videos of them doing construction of big roller coasters at Great America with snow about.
I'm so curious to know what the employee make up is at this park. Most seasonal parks are operated by High School and College aged employees which is perfect. When school opens, the parks close and staff goes back to school.
So, so, so excited about this. But my "Winter with Wonder Woman" suggestion was not in jest. The park will need to do a lot to reverse the market conditioning that it is closed on weekdays during the school year. It needs some fun events - and people posting about crazy short waits for coasters - in order to draw the crowds to make this the money-winner for the company that it could become.
Does this mean they'll have the revenue to make the park not feel like a complete dump? Seriously, would it kill them to paint a coaster every once in a while or theme an area? Sheesh.
Now that it'll be open 365 days a year it makes sense to build an onsite hotel and maybe even a Citywalk type shopping/dining district.
What they should probably do is a rotation of rides throughout the winter season. Instead of running everything at reduced capacity, pick sections of the park to keep closed a week or two at a time, rotating those closures throughout the park during the winter months. As long as they post the schedule on their website and at the front gate, they shouldn't have any problems. There's absolutely no reason for SFMM to have everything open on a Wednesday in February, and their balance sheet would probably suggest that they probably shouldn't pay to staff a full park on projected low attendance days. Through a rotation, not only do they reduce costs and establish expectations, but they would encourage repeat visits from season passholders that want to experience the entire park without the oppressive weekend and summertime crowds. Six Flags has been really getting their act together in terms of trying to improve their reputation and customer service, but if they don't do this right, it could severely backfire. Here's hoping they make this work, because I'd be the first in line to ride X2 on a Tuesday in January.
Per Rob's point about food, having enough open and enough choice is key.
Good points, Russell. I mean, yes, an attraction but not Disney sized who pull in families during the week. After all, Magic Mountain caters more to young adult, high school-college and hard to see too many of them taking a day off from school to do this. Rotations can help and do hope it means more upgrading as Six Flags is so used to a seasonal schedule, moving to year-round is going to be as off-balance for them as the customers.
Ha ha if theme parks in the U.K. Closed when it was raining they'd hardly ever be open
Thanks Malltus I worked at SFOG for almost 10 years through the 80s and 90s. At the time we were almost exclusively all College and High School aged. I was shocked to discover recently that due to changes to school schedules in Georgia, that park now goes from daily back to weekend only operation after the first week of August! I have to assume because there would be nobody available to work in the park, much less visit as a guest. Hard to believe they are only open daily for barely two months. I really hope this goes well for Magic Mountain.
An interesting decision, weren't they ridiculously close to selling off this park a few years back?
I wonder now if the idea of a Six Flags park in Florida would be of more interest if the year round operation of SFMM proves beneficial to the company. Either Orlando or Tampa are prime "real estate" areas when it comes to theme park properties. Perhaps building a Six Flags park somewhere near Lakeland, FL which is basically the halfway point along I-4 between Orlando and Tampa which would provide some competition to nearby Legoland Florida as well as Busch Gardens Tampa and the Orlando theme parks. Given Florida's climate, the park would be able to operate year round as well. Six Flags could also incorporate a year round Hurricane Harbor water park with the theme park and turn it into a resort complex.
Almost but they survived
This is really exciting news, but I hope it is a successful move for the park. I don't know what the actual numbers are, but on current off-season weekdays that the park is open, it feels like there can't be more than a couple thousand guests at the park. Given the location of the park and the audience it attracts, I find it difficult to imagine they'll actually be making a profit by opening more. Perhaps the numbers are better than I realize, but it is definitely an unexpected move.
I don't know why they would stretch to operate all of the coasters on a slow day AJ. Think about it, a coaster operating in single train mode still requires at least a skeleton crew, honestly it actually requires more crew to make sure the train can be dispatched more quickly since load time more dramatically affects throughput in single train operation (but we all know in the SF world that single train means skeleton crew). I've been at SFMM when everything is in single train operation, and it's terrible. Lines are artificially long, and it takes FOREVER to ride just a handful of coasters, even when the park is virtually empty. I would much rather go knowing I can actually get on 10 coasters that are running in multi-train mode (maybe a few re-rides too), with the rest of them closed completely, over going on a day where all 19 coasters are open but running in single train mode, meaning I'll struggle to get on 6-8 of them over the course of the day. Not only is it better for the guests, because everyone will actually be able to ride everything that's open with lines that actually move, but it's better for the park because they don't need to staff up with crew to operate every single coaster every single day. It also allows SFMM to create a predictable, rotating schedule of maintenance, which will be needed anyway since the park will no longer have any downtime aside from overnight periods. Additionally, by predictably rotating operations around the park in the off-season, they can encourage pass holders to come to the park every few weeks to ride the coasters that are running at the time, hoping to get those guests to spend some money in the park every few weeks instead of just one nice warm Saturday over the winter.
Obviously, the financial picture dictates how this will operate. But, saying "Hey, we're open 365 days/year!" then closing rides would be a PR nightmare. I would feel completely ripped off.
"But, saying "Hey, we're open 365 days/year!" then closing rides would be a PR nightmare. I would feel completely ripped off."
Russell, I can't say for sure what SFMM will be like, but I've done plenty of midweek visits to Knott's on midweek off-season days. There, it is not uncommon for all coasters to run one train, and even under those conditions there are usually barely enough riders to fill each train. Unless something needs to be closed for maintenance, the park keeps all major attractions open on a daily basis while closing some smaller attractions (flat rides) on low attendance days. My best guess is that SFMM will do something similar, and probably have similar crowds. One train operation is awful when the park is busy, but it makes no sense to use two if half the seats would be going empty on most cycles.
I see your point AJ, but SFMM is far more sprawling than Knott's, and they have enough headliners that 2 or 3 can be down on any given day and most guests won't even notice. Based on my limited off-season experiences at SFMM (4 visits on early spring Sundays where they were single-training everything except X/X2 and Tatsu), I'd much rather see them commit to running 75% of their rides at a reasonable capacity (while doing needed maintenance on the other 25%) instead of single training everything.
While this will be great for customers in the sense of not having to plan which day you're going to go based around the days they are open, and also great for staff that are looking for hours, let's be serious it's Six Flags we all know on the really slow weekdays in the middle of winter the park is going to lose money and a lot of attractions will be closed.
Pretty sure 6 Flags Discovery Kingdom is open at least weekends all year. They debuted New Revolution Galactic Attack on Kong in February of this year.
@Marc - The news here is not that SFMM is opening year round (they too were open on weekends throughout the winter months), it's that they will be open weekdays, so essentially will be adopting a 365-day annual calendar, consistent with Disney and Universal. That's pretty big news for seeing as though it will increase their number of operating days by probably 50%.
I'm just correcting the statement (2nd paragraph) that Magic Mountain was the only 6 Flags park that isn't seasonal. It was one of two parks open all year, even if weekends only in the off season, the other being Discovery Kingdom. I've also experienced Knotts on a school day, so 365 day operation at Magic Mountain is a welcome development indeed
Gotcha Marc. I believe SFFT and SFoT also run an almost year-round schedule with weekend operations during the winter months, so SFDK is not alone in that regard.
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