Six Flags Park Drops 'Open Every Day' Policy

October 26, 2022, 1:58 PM · Southern California's Six Flags Magic Mountain will no longer be open every day of the year, starting November 1.

Six Flags' most-visited theme park had been posting operating hours for 365 days a year, though occasional closures for rain meant that the park never actually did open its gates every single day in a calendar year. But it was scheduled to open, weather permitting, meaning that if roller coaster fans wanted to come out on a day when riding a roller coaster did not mean getting one's face impaled by Mother Nature, they could.

Starting November 1, however, Six Flags Magic Mountain will close Tuesdays through Thursdays for most weeks through the end of the year. The park will be open every day during Thanksgiving week and the final two weeks of the year. Six Flags Magic Mountain has not posted operating hours after January 1, 2023.

"These changes will allow the park to deliver a more exceptional guest experience," a Six Flags Magic Mountain spokesperson said in response to our inquiry about the change in operating hours. You can find Six Flags Magic Mountain's operating hours on its website.

For more information about the park, including Theme Park Insider readers' rankings of its coasters, please visit our Six Flags Magic Mountain page.

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Replies (19)

October 26, 2022 at 2:24 PM

And yet Knott's Berry Farm, which is also under corporate ownership and similarly sits just 30-45 minutes from downtown LA, manages to open 364 days a year. Brutal.

October 26, 2022 at 4:09 PM

"These changes will allow the park to deliver a more exceptional guest experience,"

Correction: These changes allow SFMM to stop hemorrhaging money on winter weekdays when there are more employees in the park than there are guests.

October 26, 2022 at 4:34 PM

I’m sure there are a few Six Flags parks that can actually deliver a better experience when they are closed….but I don’t think Magic Mountain is one of those parks.

October 26, 2022 at 5:17 PM

Speaking as an international tourist, Magic Mountain is really out of the way if you're not driving, also there's limited tour operator options too. And even local friends in the OC consider it a hike to get there. So operating 365 didn't make a lot of sense. Whereas Knotts, for example, is always near somewhere I'm staying so it's easy to go any day.

October 26, 2022 at 6:32 PM

I'm honestly surprised that 365 day operation at SFMM lasted as long as it did. In previous years with an active membership base, they were still managing to pull in a couple thousand guests on off-season weekdays, but this year there have been quite a few where the guest count was in the triple digits. Add in staffing shortages that have resulted in sections of the park remaining closed on weekdays, and the change definitely makes sense. The whole point of 365 day operation was to make the park more tourist friendly, but I suspect they aren't really pulling in tourists like they thought they might (especially since it's a 45+ minute drive from any of the LA area tourist spots). By comparison, Knott's is less than a 30 minute bus ride from Disneyland, so it's really easy for those visiting the Anaheim area to add on a day there.

October 26, 2022 at 6:57 PM

That's the key dichotomy — Six Flags can do solid numbers as a locals' park ... but those locals are primarily coming on the weekends ... and unless something changes in a big way, they're primarily going to be on the young side. Tourists coming to LA are more likely to tack on Universal Studios than Six Flags, and who can blame them? Magic Mountain is a summer and weekends park; there's nothing wrong with that.

October 27, 2022 at 12:13 AM

Gonna be sad that I can't go on a random Tuesday and the park is completely empty.

Still would have to wait 60 minutes for X2 tho because SF, as a company, is the definition of one train ops

October 27, 2022 at 7:50 AM

The main time I like to go to Magic Mountain is on slow days. By getting rid of a lot of slow days, I won't be going as much.

October 27, 2022 at 8:36 AM

Theoretically this park should be a destination and doing much better than it is. It has huge marketing capability with having arguably the best coaster collection in the world (I don't think it does, but i'm sure many people think so), LA gets 50 million tourists a year from all over the world, the state of California has a population of 40 million people and a GDP of $3 trillion which is almost as big as the entire country of Germany. There is no reason it shouldn't easily be viewed as the second biggest/most popular park in California behind DLR.

And this is where the huge problem lies with Six Flags...the park is just not good. It's ugly, the facilities are not well maintained, feels depressing to walk around compared to good parks, the operations are hit or miss to put it nicely, and it's been this way for a long time. Sure its a little bit out of the way but it's not that far. Busch Gardens is an hour from Orlando but still does really good business with both locals and tourists. I think Great Adventure has a similar problem, it has all the advantages you could possibly want from a geographic and demographic viewpoint, but people in the region just think of the place as a dump. I used to live in socal and personally know people that will not go to SFMM because they are afraid of getting jumped.

October 27, 2022 at 8:37 AM

@the_man - I think distance is also a big factor in attracting those tourists, which is similarly a factor for SFGAdv. You’re looking at a 30-45 minute drive to get to SFMM from most hotels guests visiting the LA Area would stay at (and a similar distance for NYC tourists to SFGAdv).

I think the park’s location in Valencia is a massive barrier in the park’s ability to attract your average LA tourist. It would take a massive investment in marketing and transportation to attract more tourists to the park, and the park’s “build it and they will come” philosophy when shifting to the 365 calendar shows how disconnected Six Flags is from their customers.

October 27, 2022 at 9:54 AM

For what it's worth, I think tourists would make the hike to Six Flags if they thought the experience was worth the drive. A visit to California involves a lot of driving, something I'm sure many of you are familiar with. If Universal Studios or Knott's Berry Farm was in Santa Clarita ... I think we'd be having a different conversation. But, instead, we're talking about Six Flags.

October 27, 2022 at 12:35 PM

I agree Jacob, but SFMM's distance from LA proper certainly doesn't help. If SFMM and Knott's switched places, I think Knott's might have similar difficulty pulling tourists, and SFMM would probably have seen better returns from their 365-day schedule. Driving is definitely a given for serious tourists in the LA area, but I think SFMM's location far north of downtown is more of an impediment to tourists than the park's bad reputation.

October 27, 2022 at 12:42 PM

I suppose my thinking is that tourists are already making an equidistant drive to Orange County from Los Angeles to get to Knott's, so it's pretty apples to apples. The difference is that they're not really driving to Orange County for Knott's. They're driving to Orange County for Disneyland, and Knott's is benefitting by being its next-door neighbor.

Universal Studios might have been a better example, but even then, I think Universal benefits by being near all the tourist nonsense people were going to see anyway. I'm with you that it hurts tourism, especially because almost no tourist who isn't keen on renting a car will make that journey, but I just want to push back on the notion that its location is a net negative. There are a LOT of people who live in The Valley(TM) and that population alone could sustain a large theme park.

(I also recognize that's not exactly what Russell's talking about, to be clear)

October 27, 2022 at 2:40 PM

I agree Knotts greatly benefits by being so close to Disneyland, but that doesn't change the fact that SFMM still has a [well deserved] bad reputation and loses a lot of business because of it. According to the TEA report, CP gets slightly higher attendance than SFMM, and even if that's wrong the fact that it's even close is embarrassing for SF. First off consider the obvious that CP is closed for half the year. Even when it is open it has significantly more bad weather days.

Then consider CP is literally out in the middle of nowhere, its closest cities are Cleveland and Toledo. While it does pull from western Pennsylvania and Detroit its not just an easy day trip for a lot of people that do go. Ohio has a population of about 12 million, California has a population of 40 million. LA gets 50 million tourists a year, Cleveland. Do you know anyone that has ever gone a trip to Cleveland? (other than enthusiasts going to CP, and that being the only reason they go)

This is a hill i'm willing to die on, this park greatly underperforms. TBH i'm sure SFMM's management knows this and the things they have done over the past decade make sense theoretically, they have been trying to fix up the park for a long time area-by-area, but they have been doing it way too slow and having too many hiccups along the way. Management changes, corporate leadership changes, and corporate leadership incompetence have held this park down. IMO SF had the best opportunity to turn this around 5-10 years ago as the parks were actually very profitable a few years after the bankruptcy and interest rates were really low, but of course JRA went the opposite direction. Now the company is struggling again, and they have another new management team in place again who can't even figure out how to price annual passes. The current CEO is not going to last and they are once again going to be in the market for a new CEO, who once again will probably have never worked in the industry and has no idea what he/she is doing.

October 27, 2022 at 4:43 PM

Okay, the_man, I've got to ask...when was the last time you visited Six Flags Magic Mountain? While I do agree that the park is far from perfect, I have had more good days than bad there since the mid-2010s, and I'd actually say nearly all of my visits there since reopening last year have been better than nearly all of my visits to Knott's. The areas that they've redone over the past decade have all been noticeable improvements from what was there before, and while the theming is basic, the important thing is that they look nice. Operationally, they may not be the best, but they are definitely what I'd consider passable, and they've had far fewer newsworthy incidents recently than Knott's has. The reputation of the past may still turn off some of the locals who haven't gone and seen the change, but I don't think it's any longer a factor with regards to tourists.

I also feel your comparison to Cedar Point is not fair, as SFMM is not a destination park the way Cedar Point is. Most people who visit Cedar Point are making that the main point of their trip, and they will usually spend 2-4 days there (which means the numbers reported are far higher than the actual number of people visiting). By comparison, SFMM is a one day visit for most tourists who venture out there during a larger SoCal trip and is a day trip for locals in LA and Orange County. Despite the number of roller coasters, it is also a much smaller park, with less than 2/3 of the guest accessible area Cedar Point has. If we compare it to other regional day visit parks in the US, it exceeds all except Kings Island and Knott's Berry Farm in attendance numbers (and both those have pluses SFMM lacks).

The problem with SFMM attracting tourists is simply location. Disneyland is the only one of SoCal's parks big enough to be a tourist destination on its own, and Knott's benefits from proximity (if it weren't 20 minutes from Disneyland, Knott's would be virtually unknown to tourists). Universal is easily accessible from Los Angeles via public transport and offers more than just theme park attractions, which adds appeal to those who don't like thrill rides. SeaWorld is the same way for those who are in San Diego. SFMM, unfortunately, requires committing to a lengthy drive from any other tourist destination for a park that only offers thrill rides, which is going to limit the audience. Add in the fact that most people who live near a Six Flags will probably see the park as the same thing they have at home, and even fewer will feel the drive is worth it.

October 28, 2022 at 4:22 AM

Well you got me there, the last time I visited SFMM was in 2012, haven't had any desire to go back since. But I have been to many other SF parks since then and they kept getting progressively worse, and I have kept up with what is going on in the industry (including SFMM).

October 28, 2022 at 12:23 PM

I might quibble with AJ's assessment of the operations — they're quite poor, but that's more down to austerity than to lack of expertise. With that said, he's absolutely right that Knott's suffers from many of the same problems, like austerity that leads to understaffing in ride operations, while not suffering the same blow to its reputation.

I've been to both parks quite a few times in the past few years, though not as much as AJ (I think), and while I think a good day at Knott's is better than a good day at Six Flags ... the disparity is relatively small. And I think that's what makes Six Flags' management of the park so frustrating. It's not all that far away from having a decent amusement park; though that may entail spending far more money than its comfortable doing.

It's also probably worth noting that, if it was ever true, the idea that a visit to Six Flags is unsafe is pretty ridiculous.

October 28, 2022 at 10:43 PM

Operations are a tricky thing to judge because they vary day by day, hour by hour, and crew by crew, and perception can definitely play a large role in judging them. Everyone also has their own standards for what they consider outstanding, satisfactory, etc. Being scientifically and analytically minded, I probably spend way more time watching and clocking dispatches than most enthusiasts (particularly when I'm in line alone), but it does create some interesting data. For example, in the absence of guest delays and assuming two trains are operating, SFMM typically runs a pace of roughly 30 trains per hour on Batman The Ride (which is about 70% of the manufacturer's theoretical capacity of 43 trains). By comparison, the best I've ever seen at Silver Bullet, a nearly identical ride from a mechanical perspective, was 24 trains per hour (60% of that ride's theoretical 40 trains). When it comes to the top coasters, assuming ideal operating conditions SFMM typically runs 25-30 trains per hour on Full Throttle and X2 and 35-40 on Twisted Colossus (Tatsu, unfortunately, usually gets 15-20 per hour). By comparison, Knott's usually gets 15-20 trains per hour on GhostRider and Xcelerator. Neither are what I would consider great operations (especially after just returning from a Europe trip where operations are mostly excellent), but in my book and based on my experience one is generally acceptable while the other is pretty pathetic for a major theme park.

As for visit count, covid has certainly messed with it a bit, but I'd say I probably average about five visits to both SFMM and KBF in any given year. Knott's is more consistent as it's my home park, with SFMM getting more visits in years they add a new coaster and fewer in years they don't.

October 28, 2022 at 11:33 PM

This has been a long time coming. I have worked slow days at Universal Studios Hollywood but that is nothing compared to what it is at Magic Mountain(It’s a literal ghost town). Disneyland and Universal Hollywood are tourist destinations, while Knott’s saving grace is having Disneyland within 8 miles since many tourists will most likely spend a day there while they’re visiting the area. Magic Mountain was just a teen daycare.

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