Now that's how you do a holiday event that even the most Covid-cautious theme park fans can enjoy.
Six Flags Magic Mountain tonight reopened its gates to the public for the first time since mid-March, for its all-new Holiday in the Park Drive-thru Experience. As the name implies, it's your chance to drive through Magic Mountain to see its collection of more than a million holiday lights. The trip takes about half an hour at a brisk walking speed of three miles per hour and takes you through pretty much the entire park, starting at the employee entrance backstage, then in through DC Universe for a lap around the park, exiting in the Screampunk District between Scream and Twisted Colossus.
But you never leave your car, making this the safest possible way to visit in person. You're always moving; there's safe physical distancing between the cars, and masks are mandatory if you want to roll down your windows.
Which we would recommend — not just to hear the holiday tunes playing throughout the park, but also to exchange holiday well wishes with the many costumed greeters along the route, including Bugs Bunny and Santa Claus. You might even catch a few flakes of the "snow" blowing in some parts of the park, too.
But the wildest way to experience the show is with the upcharge "3D" glasses that Six Flags is including with its $49.99 Holiday in the Park Merchandise Package. For that, you get four Holiday in the Park-themed face masks, four holiday light necklaces, and four of what my kids called rave glasses. (Plus Six Flags will donate a Holiday Buddy Bear to a Los Angeles-area children's charity.) And here's what those glasses do:
The glasses reduced my wife and twenty-something-year-old kids to cackling six-year-olds all the way home, as they kept them on to gawk at every traffic light and street lamp along the way. Honestly, I hadn't heard them laugh that hard in weeks, making me grateful that we'd all made the drive out for the show.
Yes, it's bittersweet to watch CraZanity and the carousel running, when no one can climb aboard. But it's wonderful to be back in the park after all these months, especially when all the other guests are safely in their cars, too — well away from you and your family.
This is hardly a conventional way to reopen a theme park. But 2020 is far from a conventional year. And of all the ways that parks around California and the world have reopened to guests, running a drive-through holiday light show is perhaps the safest possible way to do it. Yet it's still a wonderful amount of fun.
Six Flags Magic Mountain's Holiday in the Park Drive-thru Experience runs select evenings through January 3, 2021. Prices start at $20 per person, but admission is free with a Six Flags pass or membership. But if you have a pass or membership, you still must make a reservation online to attend. Six Flags asks that there be at least two people per car and that everyone in the car be from the same household. No motorcycles, bikes, buses, or RVs are permitted. Tickets and reservations must be purchased or made in advance on the Six Flags website, where you can find the complete rules as well as upcharge add-ons, including snack packs.
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I have given this park a lot of crap over the years but one thing I can't deny is that they put on a great Christmas display. This was about as good as a park could do under the circumstances and its pretty sweet that they are letting people drive their cars through the park.