Trip Report & Review for
We just saw 19 human beings shot out over the Santa Clarita Valley like they were being launched into hyperspace in some big-budget science fiction movie. The dreaded feeling came over us that we would be doing the exact same thing in about 5 seconds...
For those who aren't familiar with the area, Six Flags Magic Mountain is Southern California's other big amusement park and third on the list of popularity after Disneyland and Universal Studios. It's located about 30 miles north of downtown L.A. in the middle of the Grapevine in the town of Santa Clarita.
Magic Mountain is also unlike the other two in that it is a bit grungier and has more attitude...which can attract sometimes unsavory characters. You go to Disneyland for Main Street USA, family fun, and non-threatening adventure. You go to Universal Studios to see shows, the studio tour and a couple of movie-based rides. You go to Magic Mountain for pure adrenalin inducing, raw excitement, and sometimes terrifying rides...period!
Our August Credit Union statement came with an offer to go to a private party at Magic Mountain in September for just $19.95. No problem...we were there. (By the way, if you can get an offer like this, it's the best way to go)
Tonight's journey would be after a hard week on a Friday evening. Frankly, I was seriously considering just staying home to be the best option, but Jr. had been promised a night at the park.
Although traffic was heavy at the Magic Mountain offramp, the parking lot was incredibly light with maybe 100 cars parked in it. We grabbed a spot and headed in.
Junior's favorite ride here is Ninja, a suspended coaster, which is located on top of the hill next to the landmark orange observation tower. Last time we were here we tried the Orient Express funicular to get to the top of the hill but quickly found there was no wheelchair access to get off at the top so we walked a rather long walk to the other side of the park where we climbed up the steep access road to the top.
Learning not to jump to conclusions, we were suprised to find that, yes indeed, wheelchair access had been added to the funicular and we could have saved ourselves a very long walk.
Oh well, live & learn. At least on the way we got to ride on Viper, a very menacing looking coaster climbing 200 feet in the air and dropping into 7 loops on its journey. We climbed aboard, except for Junior who didn't quite meet the 54 inch height requirement, and let it rip.
The first, immediate climb up that chain hill was the worst as you are pointed up to the sky with an impending sense of doom. Higher and higher you go...past the loops...past the tops of nighboring hills...still heading up...until finally you crest that incredibly tall hill only to be dropped into an immediate u-turn into the first loop. Suprisingly, the ride is very smooth and the loops are not violent at all...unlike the neighboring Revolution. It's a fun ride and a real rush but not as scary as the ride looks.
Back on the top of the hill, we boarded Ninja. After a short pull up the hill, Ninja truly kicks. By far, the most thrilling gravity fed roller-coaster in the park, you don't know where you'll end up on this free-swinging demon. It's design always keeps you guessing exactly what path you'll follow and, no matter how many times you ride, you wonder if there is really enough room to miss the poles, trees and water. It's extra scary at night. Love it...
Back down at the bottom of the hill, we noticed Psyclone was running. It had never been open before on previous visits. In fact, I had heard rumors that is was to be dismantled.
There was only one train running this night, so the line moved pretty slow even though it was not long. After about 20 minutes, we boarded. After going through a pitch-black tunnel we were pulled up the incline. Not much in the tunnel...go the the Boardwalk at Santa Cruz to see what can be done with that...but the ride itself is very rough & raw. The sign at the front called it a "mindbender", "spinebender" would be a more appropriate description. This ride is very bumpy, fast and sometimes painful.
After this, we talked Junior into trying the Gold Rusher. This is a rather tame mine train coaster that used to be the biggest, baddest coaster here when the park was young. It is still fun, though and always easy to get on.
Next up was Batman...the Ride. This is the suspended coaster with no floor, your feet dangle in mid air. I was wearing sandals this evening so I got the extra pleasure of riding barefoot (riders are told to remove loose-fitting shoes).
One of only a couple of themed rides in the park, you line up in a decaying, crime-ridden Gotham City and enter the Batcave via the sewer. Very nicely done. Once seated in the coaster, the floor drops away and off you go. There are some serious g-forces pulling you as you careen through the loops and corkscrews of this ride on the outside. Way more serious than Viper and a very enjoyable ride.
Now it was time to head back up the hill and get to the real reason we came tonight. Just off the summit and around the corner from Ninja you find the ice cave leading to the other themed ride, Magic Mountain's newest and most gut-wrenching attraction, Superman...the Escape.
Now, other than the ice cave lair and the Superman figure at the top, I have no idea what this ride has to do with Superman or what he's escaping from. But all that really doesn't make any difference except to sell the parent company's (Warner Brothers) movie related merchandise.
No matter, this was THE ride. Over 2 years in the making, including an extra year to get it "just right", this ride was at the top of the list of all adrenaline junkies. The boarding area is similar to Disneyland's Star Tours except that once you're inside, this is no virtual reality.
Once on board the first thing you notice is that there are no shoulder restraints, only a padded lap bar to keep you from flying into the parking lot. If you're lucky (or unlucky, depending on your view) you can see the other car go first...as we did.
It is unbelievable how fast that car goes with the instantaneous speed provided by the ride's magnetic propulsion system. Then you realize you're next...
There is a barest perception of movement once the car is released and then it hits you. Zero to 100 miles per hour in one breath. Everything is instantly turned into a blur. You cannot move...you're superglued to the back of the seat and the immense weight of the g-force makes sure you stay there. Only one sight stands out of the chaos...the immense tower looming up ahead.
Dread is the feeling that hits hardest as the really unbelievable sense of speed combines with the sight of that tower up ahead...you know you're going straight up the side...you know you're going faster than any ride you've ever been on before...you know that tower is even taller than the landmark orange tower on top of the hill. And you know everybody comes back safely...but maybe you're the first.
All these thoughts race through your mind as you hit the tower and scream toward the summit. Then back the way you came to be stopped by those same magnets that shot you up into the sky.
The stats on the ride are awesome: 41 stories (the tallest structure in the park)...100 miles per hour...over 6 seconds of weightlessness. But all I can remember was that incredible burst of speed from the start and the feeling of dread. After that, the rest of the ride didn't seem so bad. I can't even remember the weightless part and despite being so incredibly fast and tall, the whole ride from start to finish is very smooth.
Do this ride!
To top off the evening, we took a spin on Colossus, the giant white wooden coaster in the parking lot. Still a classic and the cause of much giggling and giddiness but not a bit scary after the other rides tonight.
I'll sleep well tonight.
Current full admission to Magic Mountain is $32.95. AAA members recieve a discount of at least $4.00, it depends on what day of the week you visit. There are many other discounts throughout the year, no one should pay full price here if they dig around a little.
Food continues to be a sore spot here, it's not very good at all. We now stop on the way and take some snacks with us if we'll be there long. Souveniers are not as expensive as Disneyland and have the Looney Tune theme to them.
Magic Mountain is definitely the grungiest of our big amusement parks here. Graffiti in the restrooms, gum on the ground, and just some general untidyness is something that would never be tolerated at Disneyland.
Capsule reviews of other rides not covered above:
Flasback: by far the most painful ride we've ever been on. Relentless, unecessary head bashing on the shoulder restraints ruins this ride. I had a headache for hours after this ride.
Revolution: the world's first looping roller-coaster still thrills but is showing its age. Never a smooth coaster, nonetheless it's still fun but technology has long since passed it by.
Tidal Wave: only time to ride is on a hot day...which is usually the case here. A one-note ride, but what a note. Basically a quick boat ride down one drop that gets you wet...that's it! Cool relief.
Log Jammer: a basic and well done log ride.
Jet Stream: a good log ride with boats instead of logs.
Roaring Rapids: float in a boat. Get wet. Get on with the day. Doesn't get you as wet as you think it would. Bigfoot Rapids at Knott's Berry Farm gets you much wetter.
Free-Fall: the main gut-wrencher before Superman. Extreme stomach willy's make this very short ride's effects last much longer.
The best part of disabled access for Magic Mountain is that it's free. That's right, permanently disabled guests can recieve a free admission at any time. Just go to the Guest Relations window (next to the Will Call) to recieve your admission wristband...no strings attached.
All rides listed above are accessible to wheelchairs. The Orient Express funicular now is accessible allowing guests in wheelchairs easy access to the top of the hill. Officially, you must be able to get into the ride without the operator's help (with help from your friends or family) but the ride operators did offer to help lift guests into the rides the night we were there. Guest must meet certain height requirements for rides. Height limits run 42", 48", or 54" depending on the ride. Guest must meet certain health requirements to go on the more violent and challenging rides.
Most rides are accessible through the exit of the ride. Up to 4 guests can board the ride with the disabled guest this way.
The Sky Tower is accessible on the lower of the two top levels only.
Accessible restrooms are located throughout the park. Several rows of handicapped parking are reserved for placard & disabled license plate holders at the portion of the parking lot closest to the main gate (right by Colossus). It is still quite a walk to the main gate from there. Parking lot trams come by every couple of minutes. I don't know if the whole fleet of trams is accessible but the trams we saw were (ramp in the front of the tram).
The monorail around the park is not accessible at all stations. Particularly, the station closest to the main gate is not accessible. Do ask for a disabled guests brochure for more details at the entrance gate.
Photos for this report courtesy of Joyrides. Visit them today!