Which Is Better: Cedar Point or Six Flags Magic Mountain?

May 6, 2020, 6:07 PM · What gets roller coaster fans' pulse racing fastest? Is it a 300-foot drop? Ejector airtime? A high-G helix?

Or is it asking them to choose between Cedar Point and Six Flags Magic Mountain?

When I started this "which is better" feature, I intended it as a kind-of tournament without the bracket - an opportunity for Theme Park Insider readers to vote on and debate some interesting match-ups in the theme park world. Some votes have been on types of rides, some on decisions that fans make, and some on the parks themselves. But I have to admit, when I decided to go ahead with this feature, today's vote was the first on my mind.

Forget Disney v. Universal. (Well, for now....) I think the real holy war among fans is this one, the battle to see which of these two of the world's top roller coaster theme parks is the real Coaster King.

I'll leave the debates to you in the comments and just kick things off here with a couple of playlists including on-ride videos from six of the top coasters in each park.

Here's Cedar Point:

And Six Flags Magic Mountain:

Time to vote.


Replies (11)

May 6, 2020 at 8:10 PM

I was last at Cedar Point in 2015, and MM in 2014, so can’t really compare the current coaster lineups that well. But in 2014, it was an extremely close call.

Being from the Northeast, I really wanted to say Cedar Point’s coasters were better, but I just couldn’t. I think the different types of roller coasters at MM just blew me away, even the extremely rough Green Lantern coaster got some points for being unique (or at least extremely rare). X2 impressed for the same reason.

Overall park comparison, I would give the edge to Cedar Point, but coasters (during my last visits) I would give a very slight edge to MM.

May 6, 2020 at 9:14 PM

Can I vote for neither?

My last few visits to CP have been pathetic in terms of maintenance/downtimes and operations, opening weekend 2019 was probably the worst I have ever seen in regards to downtime at a major corporate park. Sadly with CP's location being a huge park requiring tons of staff, but not near a major population center they can draw staff from, in the spring while school is still in session half the park was closed but the weather was nice, and it was SV's opening day so the park was still extremely busy (and SV was closed most of the weekend). I don't know if this is normal for CP in the spring but they would close literally every ride in an entire section of the park at a time but there wasn't any communication about it, so throngs of people were just walking around totally confused walking by closed ride after closed ride.
And then the maintenance was totally unpreared for opening weekend. SV, MF, Gatekeeper, and Valravyn were all supposed to open for resort guest early entry. Literally the only coaster open for the whole hour was SV, none of the other rides had even tested yet. MF opened sometime around noon, Gatekeeper opened sometime in the early afternoon, Valravyn didn't open until 7pm. We went back the next morning and the struggles continued, the park was more enjoyable because it was less busy but the staffing challenges still had whole swaths of the park shut down and rides were still breaking down like crazy.
I would say that was an anomaly but my previous visit to CP before that, which was in the middle of summer, was also really bad. Much better staffing wise but an unacceptable amount of rides still had delayed openings and constant breakdowns.
I really want to like this park. Its got a beautiful location and lots of great rides. On paper and in pictures its a great park but I have yet to have a good visit there, the only time i've been there that I would consider the maintenance and operations even acceptable was like 15 years ago. I'm sure I will go back at some point though and give it another chance.

Oddly enough I have been to SFMM many times but haven't really had any issues with closed rides and constant breakdowns like at CP (in the early 2000's yes SFMM had a major issue with closed rides). I haven't been to SFMM since 2012 because I just don't like the park very much and would rather be at other parks in the area but it looks like they have made major improvements and built several good looking coasters as well as renovated the areas around them. So for a decade or so they have definitely taken steps to move in the right direction.
My big issue with SFMM is the parks atmosphere is extremely bland and so many things need paint/upkeep (I don't know what it is about SFMM and SFGADV, Six Flags two biggest market parks, but they seem to be the ones that have the biggest problem with this). The park is just not fun to be at, it feels like an abandoned Scooby Doo amusement park when it's not busy and its just a sh*tty frustrating stereotypical Six Flags experience when it is busy. It's amazing how much design plays into how enjoyable a place is, you can go to Disneyland and even without doing any attractions still enjoy being at the park. You go to SFMM and do 20 rides and not really enjoy it, there's just something about the place that gives a "meh" vibe. Plus I feel like I need to take a shower after being at MM.
...that being said I will give SFMM another go next time i'm in the area, been putting it off but the park has gotten a lot of new stuff since then and i'll give it another go with an open mind.

May 6, 2020 at 11:08 PM

If you're going for coasters, and only for coasters, it's hard to top Six Flags Magic Mountain. While individual rides at Cedar Point may best those at SFMM, no other park has as much variety, plus I'd say SFMM's offerings tend to offer more unique experiences. SFMM also wins on the price side, where you can purchase a season pass for less than the cost of a one day ticket with some of the deals that they offer.

In almost every other area, however, I'd award the edge to Cedar Point. They have better upkeep, better operations, a better collection of non-coaster attractions (particularly non-thrill attractions), better dining, and an overall much nicer setting. I do think the park tends to be a tad overhyped, but when stacked against most regional parks it does come out ahead.

Any way you slice it, both parks have flaws, but you can't go wrong with either one if you're a thrill-seeker. For all who call themselves a coaster enthusiast, both parks are absolutely bucket list destinations.

May 6, 2020 at 11:24 PM

I'll give it to CP just for the variety of rides besides just coasters and good experience.

May 7, 2020 at 9:20 AM

For me, this one is pretty easy, and it's Cedar Point. Even when you take the atmosphere, staffing/operations, and theming out of the equation and just look at the rides, Cedar Point would take it. Here are the coasters where there are direct analogs between each park...

Steel Vengeance > Twisted Colossus
Raptor > Batman The Ride
Scream! > Rougaroo
Cedar Creek Mine Ride > Gold Rusher (this one's pretty close)
Viper > Corkscrew
Millennium Force > Goliath (different manufacturers, but opened in the same year to directly compete with each other)
Ninja > Draggin' Iron (Iron Dragon)

That puts Cedar Point ahead 4-3 on directly comparable coasters...

Then you've got coasters that are not directly comparable, but have enough similarities to choose a superior ride...

X2 > Gatekeeper - This is a very close one in my book, and I put X2 ahead mostly because I don't have a chance to ride it nearly as much as Gatekeeper. I do really like the B&M, but X2 is one of the most unique coasters on the planet, and the maneuvers it makes are unequaled. X2 is a bit rough, and trying to ride it is a painfully slow and arduous process, but again, I'm only comparing the rides on their own merits, and X2 wins this one by a nose.

Blue Streak > Apocalypse - I'm just not a fan of wooden coasters that beat you to death, and Blue Streak was built at a time when wooden coasters were engineered to be thrilling without requiring a chiropractic adjustment afterwards. It's been a few years since I've ridden Apocalypse (it was closed on our visit last summer because of the West Coast Racers construction), and I know it was retracked and smoothed out over the past few years, but unless it's riding as smooth as Thunderhead was in its first couple of years, I would still choose Blue Streak in this head to head.

Maverick > Full Throttle - This is a pretty easy win for CP in a comparison of full-circuit launching coasters.

Top Thrill Dragster > Superman: Escape From Krypton - Another easy win for CP.

After including the closely comparable coasters, Cedar Point stretches the lead out to 7-4.

Then you have the rest of the "big" coasters that don't have comparable analogs between the parks which includes...

Tatsu, New Revolution, Riddler's Revenge, and West Coast Racers at SFMM, and Gemini, Magnum XL200, Valravn, and Wicked Twister at CP. Unfortunately, I have to discount SFMM's newest coaster from my assessment, because it wasn't finished the last time I visited the park last summer. However, of these 8 coasters, I would pick Tatsu over the field every single time. Tatsu is my favorite coaster at SFMM, and is neck and neck with Manta as the best flyer in the world. I do really like Riddler's Revenge, which has always been the best stand-up in my book even as the style has slowly been relegated to the scrap heap. I also really like Valravn, but it's not the best of its type, nor is Wicked Twister (always liked the uniqueness of V2 at SFDK with Wicked Twister a close second). When it comes to nostalgia, I think I would take Gemini over Revolution with Magnum XL-200 probably the worst of the bunch. So for this exercise, I'll rank these from 1-7...

1. Tatsu
2. Riddler's Revenge
3. Valravn
4. Wicked Twister
5. Gemini
6. Revolution
7. Magnum XL-200

If you award points for each based on rankings (7 points for first and 1 point for last), SFMM would win this segment of the competition 15-13. With CP having a 3 point lead already heading into this, even the 2-point victory here would leave SFMM short. If you give SFMM an extra point for West Coast Racers, it's still a wash, where CP would win virtually any tiebreaker given it's superior theming, operations, staffing, food, and atmosphere.

May 7, 2020 at 12:52 PM

I live in CA SF Bay area and years ago I would have easily picked Magic Mountain. But having been to Cedar Point around 2011 and seen it first hand, I'll go with Cedar Point as the #1 Coaster Heaven. BUT!!! And AJ has mentioned this before in terms of cost of Magic Mountain not having a Gigi Coaster, potential wise Magic Mountain easily has the space to expand to add in more coasters. I'll love to see CA have it's first Gigi Coaster like Fury 325, but again it seems cost is a factor.

May 7, 2020 at 1:40 PM

I just want to point out that there is literally no difference between a hyper and giga other than the height, and often times the smaller rides are better (for example: Shambahla is better than Fury in my opinion, Expedition GeForce is better than Millennium Force and it's not even 200 feet tall...etc). If I remember correctly the "giga coaster" term was coined by CP's marketing department and Intamin never even used it up until very recently, they called all the rides of that type (hypers and gigas) "mega coasters"

I do agree though that MF is better than SFMM's Goliath, but Goliath is a really crappy hyper coaster. But...it is better than Magnum, which (along with Desperado) are unquestionably the worst hypers in the country IMO.

May 7, 2020 at 2:12 PM

@the_man - Actually, Intamin coined the term "giga-coaster". In fact, if you look at the registration plaques that can be found on most Intamin trains and PLCs (even ones at non-CF parks), they state Model - Intamin giga-coaster. I do believe the term "Strata-coaster" was from Cedar Fair though, while the term "hyper" coaster is a generic industry term - Intamin uses "mega-coaster" on its plaques.

May 7, 2020 at 8:49 PM

I vote a Cedar Point. I’ve been to both

May 7, 2020 at 10:56 PM

I do get confused between what they called a gigi or a hyper coaster but in general I would love to see CA get a fury/ornion type of coaster. Magic Mountian has the room for one.

May 8, 2020 at 1:21 AM

@the_man - there is literally no difference between a hyper and giga other than the height? That's like saying there's no difference between a fat person and a skinny person other than the weight. Or there is literally no difference between a rich person and a poor person other than how much money they have.

Boggles my mind that you said that.

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