Six Flags Magic Mountain, Valencia, California, USA
As a joint celebration of both my 40th, and Boogie's 13th birthday, we took a flight out to SFMM. A good friend of mine, let's call him Beavis, came along too. This was my first visit since Pre-Tatsu, Boogie's first non-baby visit, and Beavis's first visit ever, despite being from San Francisco.
Because the park was only open until 6pm, and we knew it was our only chance, Flashpass was a planned part of the trip right from the beginning. What we didn't plan on was just how much more expensive it was at SFMM. $125 for the platinum, and that only got you 1 ride each on TC, S:TE, and Full Throttle. X2 wasn't even included. It's an extra $15 for a single FP use on X2! Since the lines weren't terribly long, we opted for the middle tier, $70, which was good enough to get us immediate access to all other coasters, except the 4 listed above.
First stop, naturally, was Twisted Colossus. This was, after all, the reason we were here. The line only took about 30 minutes, plus a little more for a small breakdown. We waited for the front row. Beavis got on the train before us, with the intention of racing us on the 2nd circuit. Unfortunately, neither of his circuits raced, and only our 2nd one did.
This is an odd ride. Plusses: It's extremely fun. The drop is great. The elements are incredible. Especially the "Top Gun Stall." (Or was it the "Flight Deck" stall? Or the "Bat" stall?) There's actual pacing in between them, which is nice. And who doesn't love a good racing coaster. Minuses: It doesn't always race, which comes as a big surprise to no one. The timing of the lifts. The lift chain can vary its speed to allow one side or the other to catch up, but it cannot stop. This is good in that it makes racing possible more often. On our 2nd lift, we crawled at a snails pace the entire lift and still crested the lift half a train ahead of the other, so it wasn't an even race. The downside to this is that it's a major buzzkill. With each individual circuit taking maybe 30 seconds, the amount of time spent baking in the sun climbing the lifts is just too much. I know it's asking a lot, but this would be a perfect ride for magnetic, Maverick-style lifts, to speed things along a bit. Of course, this would lead to train stacking, so who really knows?
Unbeknownst to us yet, this would be our only ride on TC. Final thoughts... It's a darn good ride. Probably the best ride in the park. I wish we had gotten another chance to ride it. Boogie and I have now ridden all 4 U.S. RMC conversions and I'd rank it a close 2nd behind Iron Rattler. It would be first if not for the awkward pacing caused by the buzzkilling lifts.
Next we hit up Scream. It's a great ride, it's Medusa East: West, it's your standard B+M layout, but build over a parking lot. Great ride, not much else to say. Next we backtracked to Goliath. Goliath is a great ride, but again, not much to say. I miss the extra helix you get in Texas, it's my favorite part of the ride.
We then decided to try out the Lex Luthor drop ride. I had actually forgotten that this even existed. For those that don't know, they built drop rides on either side of the Superman towers. But WOW! What a rush. You just keep climbing, and climbing, and climbing. And the view is great. From our side we could see the whole park and the rolling terrain all around. Then the drop. Equally thrilling, as it's noticeably longer than any other drop tower we've ridden. (We have not done SFGAdv's) I wish Cedar Point would build these on Dragster, as I love drop towers, but cannot stand the S+S models.
Boogie and Beavis rode Batman while I sat that out and got us some ice water. We then went over to Riddler's Revenge. RR is pretty much the only Stand-up coaster that I have ever truly enjoyed. But it had been so long that I was curious as to how it held up. It has definitely aged, but is still a great ride. RR has an absolutely amazing, custom layout. I could only think how incredible this ride would be if they Rougaroued it, but of course, with Scream right outside in the parking lot, that's probably never going to happen. Still though, highly enjoyable.
Backtracked just a bit and Boogie rode Green Lantern by himself. I pretty much knew that I wouldn't be riding, but I considered it first, rather than just ruling it out altogether. The first half of the ride, the cars barely even spun, making it look pretty tame. But then, after they did invert, they took one of the dives upsidedown, at a completely ludicrous speed. Just watching it hurt, as I could imagine all the pressure of my 200 lbs, multiplied by however many G forces, placed squarely on my shoulders. Beavis and I said "no F'in way." Even Boogie didn't care much for it.
We saw that Apocalypse had a half hour Flashpass wait, which was abnormal because everything else we were queuing for was only a few minute wait. Turns out it was because it was a single train operation. So we queued for that and hit up the Mine Train, which is more fun than your average Arrow Mine Train, and Boogie took a ride on the Slingshot, man he loves those things. Apocalypse, also a new credit for me, was kind of a shock as we made our way in. For being a relatively new ride, it looked extremely weathered. The wood looked faded and discolored. And let me tell you, it rode like it looked. We rode in the front row, not daring to ride anywhere else. And this ride just beat the crap out of us. I didn't know GCI's were capable of being this bad. This must be what happened to Gwazi, which was always good to me when it was younger. I was glad when it was over. Next.
As we opted to stay on the lower path, we came to Tatsu next. It just so happened to be down at that moment, so we could not FP it. We moved on, and I ended up missing out on a new credit. Now, I'm not a fan of flying coasters period. But Boogie has never ridden a B+M Flyer, and Beavis, not being a coastertool, had never even heard of such a thing. Not to mention, I hear that Tatsu is a far and away better ride than the Superman B+M's at all the other SF parks. I would have liked to have ridden it, but am not losing any sleep.
We decided to skip right past Viper, the Arrow Mega-Looper, and also X2. I gotta give Boogie credit for this one. I thought for sure he was going to want to ride it. But I told him how long and slow the line would probably be. And I told him how much I hated it. Seriously, I *LOATHE* X2. I cannot think of a single coaster that I like less....
...But that didn't stop Revolution from trying. I don't remember it being that bad. I also don't remember if this was my first time riding it with OTSR's or not. But after this ride, in row 2, I'm damn lucky to remember my name. This thing beat my head so badly, and I was unable to ever find a truly defensive riding position. But then it kept going... and going... how freaking long is this ride? Never again. Sad thing is, I know that without the OTSR's it would be a great ride. And I'm sure that the jostling would be just fine without that damn head restraint. I mean, SooperDooperLooper is fantastic.
At this point, it was around 4:30, which meant we were running low on time. We had made our way back to the front of the park and it was time to line up for the other coaster I was very excited to ride, Full Throttle. In only 20 minutes we were loaded in the train. I was by myself in my row, with B +B in the row behind me. When the ride op closed the lapbar on the empty seat next to me, it would not give him the green light. They tried again and again and it just wouldn't take. Okay, everybody out. The mechanics got there pretty quickly, and we were expecting a quick fix. People started leaving the station, but we were hopeful. When they started disassembling the sensor boxes we knew things were not looking good, but we stayed anyways, since we knew this would be our only chance to ride it. What felt like an eternity later, we were pretty much the last people left in the station. I asked very kindly, and the supervisor was kind enough to take our name down for Front Of Line access if they got the ride back open.
By now it was around 5:20 and we were pushing it on time. We figured we had enough time to run back to TC for one ride and then run back to FT by 5:59:59. We made it almost into the individual loading lines of TC when it broke down! Again! Things didn't look good for us to ride TC. Yes, we know that we could have waited and ridden even if it went past park closing, but we had to leave around 6pm anyways, as we had flights to catch. We made the last second decision to bail on TC, and head back to FT. If it was running, we could hop on with our FOL access and then leave the park still a little after 6. Alas, no such luck. We showed up pretty much at 5:59 and the ride was still closed and now done for the day. And so were we. We returned the Flashpass, made the long walk to the car, and it was time to prepare for our flights home. (Side note: Pilot Truck Stop showers are awesome! $12 for a shower and it was worth every penny to wash off all the sunscreen and sweat from a day at the park. Please don't show up for a red-eye with a full days stink on you.)
Final thoughts. It's hard to say.
We had a full day, and a great time.
It was great to visit a park that was brand new to the other two, and had lots of new stuff for me.
We were constantly busy and never felt like our time was being wasted.
TC was amazing.
SFMM really does have a great collection of rides.
The stereotypical SF "single train ops" were not really seen.
It's always great to get to hang out with Beavis. A college friend, he and I go way back, but we don't see each other much because he lives in CA, and we live in OH.
We missed out on quite a bit. We never even made it up the mountain. I had 7 new credits to get (6 if you take into account that I'm never going to ride Green Lantern,) but only got 2 of them. Yeah, 2 of those new credits I missed were the new kiddies, but so what?
Breakdowns. No one understands better than me that sometimes machines break. These are complicated pieces of heavy machinery. But still, it just seemed really bad there at the end.
Boogie was really upset that we didn't get to ride Superman. I too would have liked to try it backwards. But they were only running one side, so we decided not to even bother trying.
We spent more time riding in airplanes than we did in the park.
I visited Magic Mountain for the first time on a Sunday in January of 2014. I swear I hit the place on it's "best day ever" - as every coaster was open, the entire park was a walk-on (except for X2 which was about a 20 min wait and Full Throttle which was about a half hour) - and other than Batman The Ride, every coaster ran multiple trains.
Growing up with Cedar Point and later working at Disney, one of my biggest worries was driving out to Valencia (I was in Anaheim) for a day of long lines and closed rides. Many of the coasters I rode were truly outstanding (couldn't agree more about the awful state of Revolution though, but couldn't disagree more about X2 - it was an unbelievable ride) and the only coaster I didn't ride was Green Lantern, and that was out of choice. It truly was a "perfect amusement park day" in every sense of the word, and it was such a thrill to be in an iconic park that I had seen on TV for decades.
That said, I would almost hesitate to visit again and jinx the one in a million experience I had. Knowing what a great day I had that day, the reports of typical lackluster operations, one train on coasters, and closed rides frustrates me even more now that I went to the place and saw it operating so well.
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