Close Magic Mountain? Residents Aren't Thrilled

Friday, July 7, 2006 9:10 AM
I would probably a full frontal lobotomy after listening or a full bottle in front of me while listening or maybe even both.
Watch the tram car please....
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Friday, July 7, 2006 2:13 PM
Like rollergator said...

Being an "enthusiast", whatever that means to you, I dunno....to me, it means I don't want parks destroyed. Whoever RUNS them, I could give a rat's arse as long as they're profitable ENOUGH to stay in business with confidence about being secure in their future.

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I second that.

I can't tell what Shapiro's role is for Six Flags, is he a savior or some sort of carpetbagger? I know he battled hard to take the reigns from old management, but why? Did old management know something we don't about Shapiro. Is he in some ways worse for Six Flags? Does he really want what's best for the company or for those in attendance?

I don't care what financial dire straits CP falls into, you wouldn't see Dick Kinzel looking to unload parks to houseing projects. It comes down to choice. Are you selling the park to those who want to improve the park, or are you selling it to someone who's looking to destroy it? To say that's purely a finacial decision is just wrong. The company's reputation is on the line. Investers are wondering if Shapiro is willing to do this to a flagship park, what to prevent him from doing the same at any park? This is why he's focusing so much on explaining the problems with Magic Mountain. It suggests the company can't find a CEO who is truely interested in improving their parks, and it should scare away investors.

In my mind the worst crime one could commit in the entertainment industry would be to scrap a major amusement park. If Shapiro thinks that is what he was hired to do then he's lost his mind. Though I do agree he could make a great deal of money for himself doing just that; but that type of success I could never be greatful for. *** Edited 7/7/2006 7:09:04 PM UTC by rc-madness***

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Friday, July 7, 2006 3:15 PM
Kinzel,unlike Burke knows how to run an amusement park chain so there'd be no reason for CF to consider selling off any of their parks.

SFI is in need of a CEO who can turn things around & fix the mess that Burke made of the chainI don't agree with some of Shapiro's policies & pricing I'm willing to give him a chance to turn things around,the only reason you look at it as "a crime" is because of the fact that SFMM is among the parks currently being considered for sale,SFA was once on that list too you know & it might very well be added to it in the future but if it ends up being sold I wouldn't necessarily blame Shapiro entirely for it.

Instead I would hold the previous owners <Burke & CO.> responsible because it was their poor management over the last several years that was the underlying cause of the paark's porr perfermance problems,not Shapiro's.

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Friday, July 7, 2006 3:29 PM
My point was Kinzel would also be morally opposed to being in anyway associated to signing over a park to be destroyed.

This blog is about recent rumors on Magic Mountain. If its true Shapiro is looking to sell SFA to Wal-Mart, then ya I'd would be upset about that too. Why wouldn't any of us?! Burke may have been an idiot about mismanaging parks, but at least he didn't check to see if someone wanted to build condos on top of them. Call me crazy but I give Burke credit for that. I'm just not going to be one of those enthusiasts saying, "Heck of a job Shapiro, for making a profit scrapping those parks!" *** Edited 7/7/2006 7:40:55 PM UTC by rc-madness***

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Friday, July 7, 2006 3:43 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

rc-madness said:
I'd would be upset about that too. Why wouldn't any of us?!

I wouldn't. Life happens and I have much better things to worry about than whether or not a few rides are lost.

Really, I don't understand the attachment to these parks and rides beyond a strong personal attachment (something like - my dad used to take me to this park every summer for a father & son day, I loved the time we spent there and now enjoy taking my own son there continuing the tradition) - and even then it's a little weird to me.

Does that make me a 'bad' enthusiast?

Honestly, I dont care. :)

I think one is in for a lot of disappointment if they don't expect the world to change around them.

*** Edited 7/7/2006 7:45:56 PM UTC by Lord Gonchar***


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Friday, July 7, 2006 4:12 PM
rollergator's avatar

rc-madness said:
My point was Kinzel would also be morally opposed to being in anyway associated to signing over a park to be destroyed.

If CF owned a park that was COSTING them money to operate, and the highest bid for the property came from a developer, I think DK would help them drive the bulldozer on site. But here's where I'm as bad an enthusiast as Gonch: I wouldn't blame him one bit.

Does NOT mean I wouldn't be as disappointed as I am about LibertyLand, and Miracle Strip, and SFAW, and SFMM, and one from my childhood, the famed Palisades Park. But the thing is, business IS business, and DK is responsible PRIMARILY, first and foremost, to CF's unit-holders. He's just "lucky" in that CF is well-managed so they don't HAVE parks costing them money to operate year after year...

Dick Kinzel is NOT some sort of "saint" sent by God to appease enthusiasts' desires...but he IS a better businessman than Gary Story or Kieran Burke... ;)


edit: I was afraid that "DK" might be confused for that guy in Central PA who really IS a saint sent by God to appease enthusiasts....ROFL! :)

*** Edited 7/7/2006 8:14:22 PM UTC by rollergator***

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Friday, July 7, 2006 4:17 PM
I think the word 'enthusiast' suggests you care about something (here being the context of parks and coasters). Someone who does not care if parks exist or not would just suggest you are not an ethusiast (within this context). Which brings up a question on why non-enthusiasts care what about 'enthusiasts' being upset about park closures. Sure, there is some entertainment value in the arguement, but is that it?
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Friday, July 7, 2006 4:41 PM
janfrederick's avatar Can't speak for Gonch, but I'd rather see Magic Mountain sold than the entire chain go away.

That being said, I think they could make a go of Magic Mountain. But what do I know?

Disappointed? Yes, but perhaps not as much as I was when the monorail closed for good. Or when it took me two hours to ride X even though the line was barely past the station.


"I go out at 3 o' clock for a quart of milk and come home to my son treating his body like an amusement park!" - Estelle Costanza
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Friday, July 7, 2006 5:45 PM

rc-madness said:
My point was Kinzel would also be morally opposed to being in anyway associated to signing over a park to be destroyed.

Oh please. Dick Kinzel is a businessman, and that's what makes him successful. Morals rarely enter into the business context, especially when it comes to what to sell and what not to sell. If you really believe Kinzel wouldn't sell because of a moral dillema, you're kidding yourself.


Burke may have been an idiot about mismanaging parks, but at least he didn't check to see if someone wanted to build condos on top of them.

Funny, I could have sworne Burke closed Astroworld and put it up for sale. That must be my crazy imagination at work again. :)

"Enthusiast" obviously implies enthusiasm over something. Where you're confused is you're making an assumption that that everyone must be enthusiastic in the same way you are. I'm enthusiastic about the business side of things. I'm not going to cry or whine or try to get petitions signed because a unsuccessful park is being sold.

-Nate

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Friday, July 7, 2006 8:09 PM
Mamoosh's avatar As I mentioned a few pages ago I visited SFMM with my sister, her two boys ages 6 & 8, and my parents. That's three generations, all with different ride preferences.

There are definite improvements that Shapiro is succeeding at including park cleanliness and coaster operations but there are still some major problems, especially for people who are not fans of coasters like my Mom.

The park is now down to only eight flat rides. The Circus Wheel [Tilt-o-Whirl] has been missing from its pad since at least January with no signs of it returning. The station is blocked with a "We're building for future enjoyment" sign.

Similar sign also stands in front of FreeFall which also remains closed.

The Log Flume remains closed following the bulldozer accident during Tatsu construction. Superman was also closed.

Colossus only running one side; front of trains in operation are covered in bird droppings.

And the S&S Ab-Insane up-charge remains closed as well.

The majority of employees still remain slow and apathetic with two notable exception: the Scream and Goliath crews. The leads at both were on their mics getting the crowd excited for their rides and trains were dispatched quickly.

WORST EXPERIENCE OF THE DAY: Ride crew and operations at Tidal Wave, the park's Shoot-the-Chutes. The two rides ops lacked energy and were slow moving. Two boats were in operation, of which one had row 2 closed thanks to what I was told was a non-operating lap bar. So the line queuing for that row should have been advancing every other boat...except that the ride ops were using that row on the "good" boat for FastLane riders. That meant that when the boat with the working row 2 was loading those waiting in that queue row were not advancing.

Guess what row we were waiting in? Yep...the queue for row 2. After a 45-min wait in the hot sun I finally stood on the railing and yelled to the ride ops, asking why that row was not being boarded. That is when I was told the lap bar was inoperable. So I yelled back that maybe they should be putting Fastlane riders in another row as we had all been stuck in the hot sun for almost an hour.

Ten minutes later I see the ride ops huddle together and talk while the boat with the bad row 2 lap bar sat empty, waiting to be loaded. The gates opened and all lines moved forward but ours as we were told the bar was broken. The ride op then motions to the Fastlane guests and places them in Row 2, lowers the lap bar, checks it, and dispatched the boat. Seems the lap bar was OK all along. WTF?!?!

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Friday, July 7, 2006 8:17 PM
matt.'s avatar ^Sounds like a mantinence problem. In my experience there is often no communication AT ALL between mantinence and operators at some parks. What I would guess is that they told them to keep the row closed without giving a reason. Then they never thought to reopen it when the problem was resolved (if there was a problem.) Eventually somebody realized something was screwy and called whoever who called whoever who then realized that row was good to go. *** Edited 7/8/2006 12:18:06 AM UTC by matt.***
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Friday, July 7, 2006 8:32 PM
Here’s my thought: MM ought to be saved because it’s a better use of the land than housing. There is more to responsible city planning than simply getting the highest cash value for any given piece of property.

Yes, SF could get a lot of money from the land by selling it to developers. So what? Snyder could get a lot of money by selling the Redskins. I don’t care one whit about Dan Snyder’s money problems. And as I’ve stated elsewhere, I don’t see any significant portion of the sale money going to any use other than paying down SF’s debt, and I don’t believe the amount of money they will get from MM and the other parks currently on the block will reduce the debt enough to significantly help with the long term viability of SF.

The Santa Clarita valley area of Los Angeles (about 40 or so miles north of town, for anyone who doesn’t know) has no shortage of housing. It’s not low on condos, and it’s not low on single family homes. And if it were, there is still plenty of other open, developable land within 10 miles of MM. Unlike MM, most of it isn’t within a block of the 5 freeway, but for residential use, that ought to be a plus - less noise. So, from a ‘need’ standpoint, there’s no particular reason to replace the park with housing.

I finally moved out of southern California a couple of years ago after living all my life there – too long, but that’s another story. The real estate market is a bloody mess. The thing that most people don’t realize is that most of the real estate ‘development’ going on there now has nothing to do with providing housing, and everything to do with people trying to make a quick buck by purchasing properties and then reselling them for the equity increase. To give an example: my nephew moved into a new home on a cul-de-sac with 7 houses on it a little over a year ago. All the houses were sold by the developer, but only 3 are occupied. The rest are simply speculative investment—they don’t even rent them, out of fear they might get damaged! Bottom line is, there are plenty of unoccupied homes in SoCal—anyone telling you more housing is ‘needed’ is full of baloney.

There simply is no need to build any housing on the MM property. And by taking away one of the few recreation sites in that area, you’re going to create other problems—what exactly are people supposed to do besides diddle their Playstation and watch TV?

Here’s a quick stat: Ohio has 3 major amusement parks (CP. GL & PKI) and a population of around 11 million. Southern California (Los Angeles, Orange, San Bernardino, Riverside, Ventura, San Diego, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties) has 3 majors (Disneyland/DCA, Knott’s & MM), and two midsize (Legoland and Universal), to serve a population of close to 30 million.

MM is the only amusement park in Los Angeles County, other than the tiny Pacific Park at Santa Monica pier.

Gonchar, in answer to your specific comment: I understand change happens. But this change is, IMO, bad for the community, in addition to being bad for those who simply enjoy the variety of rides at MM. If the purpose of change is so that a multimillionaire can pocket some cash at the expense of a community he’s not even part of, I tend to come down on the side of the community. Not all change is progress, you know?

Hopefully someone with the cash to buy the park will realize that MM’s failure to thrive has nothing to do with anything other than the total ineptitiude of management—for many years, at least back to when Time-Warner owned SF.

As many have noted, the brand is damaged there, no question. Here’s my free suggestion to the next owner: cut a licensing deal with Warner Brothers, close over the winter to retheme the park, and reopen it as Wally World. That alone would bring at least an extra half million people through the gates in year one. Making their experience enjoyable and a good value would bring them back.
[br]
*** Edited 7/8/2006 12:34:09 AM UTC by GWHayduke***

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Friday, July 7, 2006 8:32 PM
You have to think like a business.

2 BILION in debt is a ton of money. What if somebody offered 500 million say just for the land?

That would reduce the debt by a quater at least.


They stated they would sell SFMM if they got a good enough price. ITs not final.


IF CF rather have bought paramount parks then SFMM wouldnt you start thinking if it was worth it to keep open?

I do think they told people in the industry that we might sell it. We dont know if Cedar Fair new about this before they bought paramount parks.

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Friday, July 7, 2006 8:34 PM
Vincent Greene said:
I mostly agree that Six Flags in ten years PROBABLY will exist as a stripped down entity, but I think 10+ parks is pushing it. If I ran the company, I'd sell off all but these parks:

SFOT - untouchable, the original park in the chain and the only large park in Texas AFAIK. Perennial good performer.

>>Did you foget about the park in San Antonio? A park called Six Flags Fiesta Texas? A park that is probably the best looking park out of the whole chain and it quite large in its own right?

SFGAdv - Great ride selection, huge market, huge upside. The drive-thru safari makes it a natural for the (ugh) family focus. Good performer. Unlike Texas and Georgia, needs quite a bit of work as far as image, but the upside IS huge.

>>Wrong. Had a great ride selection until they slowly started stripping out all the flats they installed in 99'. Needs quite a bit of work as far as image? Yeah, I'd say so considering the people who visit the park aren't exactly the most family-friendly, and I'm talking about some of the parents!

SFGAm - Big market, good park. Perhaps the model for the chain.

>>That I totally agree with.

SFMM - There's so much untapped potential here that if they can get their heads above water financially, without selling MM, it could and should be a huge asset. I think the turnaround would be easier than Shapiro suspects.

>>What you and many other people are forgetting is that this park's reputation is terrible. A turnaround could take years. It doesn't take long for word of mouth to destroy your credibility, but it takes a lot longer to restore it.

SFStl - That region of the midwest deserves a park, and SFSTL is a good one anyway.

>>What's this about deserving a park? No one deserves a park, especially if it's draining the park financially (which apparently it's not at this point, since it wasn't mentioned). If it's a good park doesn't enter into the equation either if it's not making money.

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Friday, July 7, 2006 8:36 PM
Mamoosh's avatar What I would guess is that they told them to keep the row closed without giving a reason. Then they never thought to reopen it when the problem was resolved (if there was a problem.) Eventually somebody realized something was screwy and called whoever who called whoever who then realized that row was good to go.

Yes, except NO ONE from maintenance came to examine the lap bar and none of the ride ops even phoned anyone to ask if they could begin loading that row. After 45 mins it was suddenly OK.

Regardless of what was or wasn't wrong with that row they should not have been using it for Fastlane riders.

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Friday, July 7, 2006 8:41 PM

majortom1981 said:
IF CF rather have bought paramount parks then SFMM wouldnt you start thinking if it was worth it to keep open?

I do think they told people in the industry that we might sell it. We dont know if Cedar Fair new about this before they bought paramount parks.


Mentioned this before, but my understanding is that when CF approached Redzone after the takeover, Shapiro wouldn't talk about selling individual parks, only the entire chain. CF wasn't interested in all the parks, so moved on and made the Paramount acquisition.

Now that CF has made that purchase, they're unfortunately in less of a position to buy the SF parks they were interested in before. Bad move on SF's part; they drove away the best potential buyer they had.

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Friday, July 7, 2006 8:45 PM
matt.'s avatar Completely agreed, Moosh. I don't have a problem with the Fast Lane program *per se* but when SF can't run their rides correctly to begin with, it makes things completely awful.

At SFGAdv last year we waited about 15 mins for Superman. Then another 20 for them to cycle the ride empty, take one train off, and then cycle the ride some more. They then reopened with one train which should have equalled a bit of a wait for us, but nothing insane (we were at the bottom of the stairs.) Of course, though, by this time, there was a huge Fast Lane line, and suddenly, they were filling half the train with Fast Lane folks and the other half from the standby line.

Needless to say NOBODY was happy with what happened. The folks who paid good money for the shorter line had to wait forever as did everyone else.

Of course this wouldn't be a big deal with Superman ran at capacity the vast majority of the time (like it probably would at say...at Cedar Fair park) but we know that's not the case, at all. *** Edited 7/8/2006 12:45:52 AM UTC by matt.***

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Friday, July 7, 2006 9:00 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

rc-madness said:
Which brings up a question on why non-enthusiasts care what about 'enthusiasts' being upset about park closures. Sure, there is some entertainment value in the arguement, but is that it?

I don't know. Why do you keep telling me I have to care? If you don't want a retort, then quit bringing it up repeatedly. Seems simple enough.

I'm also slightly taken back at the suggestion that I'm not enthusiastic about coasters because I understand that things change and moreso that closing/selling SFMM may help other parks down the road.

I'm not exactly clear on why my being ok with any park closing makes me a 'non-enthusiast' as you put it.

Considering I maintain a popular coaster photo site, take part in a weekly podcast on the subject of the amusement industry, help moderate one of the most visited amusement park/roller coaster sites in existence, attend coaster events and donate photos to parks like Bushkill and Conneaut for promotional use - I'd say that shows more than a little enthusiasm.

But I suppose endless complaining about a single park's potential closure helps too. :)

We're all enthusiastic in our own way, I guess.


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Friday, July 7, 2006 9:04 PM
Looking at the situation from a business perspective, and seeing the state that SFMM seems to be in right now, If I were in Shapiro's shoes, I might be tempted sell the park if I could get good price for it. If the park has been mismanged for years, they might come to the conclusion that the park has gone past the point of no return, and is just not worth the cost of re-vamping into a family park. 500 million just might be too good for them to turn down.

Although I have never been to SFMM, seeing as there are about 3000 miles between me and the park, I have read the trip reports and heard stories about the park. If they are down to only eight flat rides, it seems that there is an imbalance between thrill rides and family rides. But Six Flags said they were only considering selling MM, and that for now they only want to focus on getting everything fixed up. *** Edited 7/8/2006 1:09:12 AM UTC by Avaro***

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Friday, July 7, 2006 9:08 PM
matt.'s avatar This board isn't really the place but rc-madness just begs for someone creating an alias like "SFMMSUX" and trolling him endlessly.

But exactly, Gonch. I'll be enthusiastic how I want to be enthusiastic. The only thing I share with you folks is that I like parks and coasters more than your average joe. Other than that - I'll do it how I please.

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