SFMM 6/3 - Major Safety Issue?

My gf and I are new to LA and are season pass holders to USH and SFMM. This was our third time at SFMM. Our main objective was to ride X2 (because it is our favorite) and hit a few of the coasters we have skipped before (Batman, Riddler, Green Lantern) before the crowds arrived and then leave. Along the way, we encountered what I believe to be the worst safety issue I have ever encountered at any park ever.

According to my coaster tally, I have ridden 154 coasters in 26 different parks, and I have never seen an issue like I saw on this day. This issue happened at Goldrusher around 11:30AM. We had a one train wait to get on the front seat. The girl op cleared the train to go but instead of making any announcement, she was just laughing over the loud speaker. I look over to see her and a guy op flirting/horse playing. Very annoying.

The train came back in the station, and as it was coming through the brakes in station, the train was "pumping the brakes" all the way through until it finally stopped. People on the train were getting jerked back and forth. More horseplay/flirting. This did not seem safe to me. My gf and I gave each other the "is this the last ride we will ever take?" look and hesitantly boarded the train.

We arrived back in station without incident. The bars released, my gf got out, I stood up, and as I went to take a step to get out, THE TRAIN SLAMMED FORWARD! I was almost ejected from the front of the train onto the tracks! I look over at the op and she is hitting the guy op and all the ops are just laughing? I noticed a little girl was rubbing her leg as she left, and it made me sad.

Let me first say that I understand mistakes can and do happen. This was no mistake. This incident happened because the ops were horse playing and not doing their job. They are lucky nobody was seriously hurt.

I went to guest relations before we left and filed a complaint. The kid at guest relations didn't offer an apology or any type of remorse. We assumed they would give us gift cards or a front of the line pass or a free ice cream cone or something? He just said it would get passed along to the superior, and he gave me an incident number that I will follow up with next week.

I'm not sure if I am over-reacting, but I have never seen such a disregard for safety. Even at parks where I feel the ops are too young (Kennywood), I have never seen such behavior from ride ops such as this. I felt like my safety was in serious jeopardy.

I don't know what to do or how to feel about this incident. Growing up an 90 minutes from Cedar Point my entire life, I love the fact that I live 20 minutes away from SFMM where they have so many great rides. But I also don't want to jeopardize my health, safety, and life for a bunch of idiot young people who can't properly do their job.

Other notes:

We both hated Green Lantern. LAME. The physics of that ride are completely off.

Riddler was incredible and a major surprise, as I loathe stand-ups. I have never experienced a stand-up coaster that didn't hurt my legs and man parts. How is that so?

Apocalypse is one of the best rides at the park.

We didn't care for the "log" ride

We still hate the food in the park and the prices of the food make us hate the food even more. At least they have good junk food to fill up on.

The gatekeeper op at X2 gave us attitude when we asked to wait for the back. Every time I have ridden X2 the Gatekeeper Op has always been enthusiastic and let us wait for the front or the back. When he wouldn't let us wait for the back, I asked him if we could wait for front. After he denied us that, he stuck us dead middle. Punk.

So after our 3rd visit to the park, we are now unsure of how we feel. It is even worse because USH has been jammed for the passed two weekends. We love USH.

Last edited by KingKanesh,

Could you clarify what you mean when saying "The train slammed forward?" Do you mean that the train started to roll forward and the op quickly applied the brakes? I'm confused as to what actually took place.

Nevertheless, incidents where the operators are horsing around and not paying attention are all too common at SFMM. I'm sorry to hear about your experience, and I don't think you're overreacting. Do following up with us when you hear back from the park. I'm curious to hear what they say.

P.S. - I could not agree more with you about Green Lantern!

CoasterDemon's avatar

In this type of situation, it is *MOST* important (and valuable in terms of being heard) to fill out a form in Guest Relations complete with your contact information.

Also, you can call or write the park president´╗┐:

Six Flags Magic Mountain
Bonnie Rabjohn, Park President
26101 Magic Mountain Parkway
Valencia, CA 91355 ´╗┐

Or email the park at this link: http://www.sixflags.com/magicmountain/footernav/contact.aspx´╗┐

Sounds like the more and more coasters should be changed over to fully automated stops, and go back to the big red "E-Stop" button in case of emergencies. Ride ops are sometimes such a problem, and can affect more than just capacity and enjoyment. (Paging Rideman)


Train arrived in station. Lap bars released. People were exiting. As people were exiting, the train was released (I don't know the terminology, it was like it was "cleared" to leave the station). The train moved forward down the station. Brakes applied. All while people were exiting the train and half of the people (like me) were still on and standing up on the train to exit.

I am 6'1 170 and the force was enough to push me into the front of the car enough that the top half of my body swayed out over the front of the car to where I had to stop myself with my hand on the FRONT of the car.

It sounds like the control board operator accidentally pressed the button to release the brakes, which is essentially the dispatch button. Realizing her mistake, she let go of the button, which closes the brakes and brings the train to a halt. That's my theory, although I'm sure someone else has a better one.

Then again, aren't most manually-parked Arrows configured so that once the train is parked in the station, it would require another operator to hold a dispatch button on a remote control panel in order to dispatch (e.g. Gemini)?

ApolloAndy's avatar

Right. And I thought most of the time you can't dispatch a train with the restraints open, thought that may just be on newer rides. Could it be that it was never fully parked when the restraints opened the first time or is that impossible too?

Hobbes: "What's the point of attaching a number to everything you do?"
Calvin: "If your numbers go up, it means you're having more fun."

I do know the restraints on Gold Rusher are manually locked and unlocked, car by car, and am fairly certain the system doesn't care whether the bars are down before dispatch. I don't know if the block system cares exactly where the train is parked in the station. Perhaps someone else can answer this.

The firtling and laughing are not cool, but I question if the mechanical issue was a result of it or a coincedence. On two major the coaster platforms I supervise, both the main control panel and another dispatch button somewhere else on the platform must be pressed simultaneously to move a train. However, these coasters aren't as old at Goldrusher, so things may be different. I also find it hard to believe the operators control the "pulsing" of the station of any coaster, but the sudden jerk sounds very worrysome. If the ride really does require two operators to move a train, then two people really screwed up and someone either let off one of the dispatch buttons or someone hit "Ride Stop" or "Station Stop" to abruptly stop the train. An E-Stop would have shut main power to the ride off, and required a significant amount of time to restart the ride.

Overall, these ops a$$es should be grass for fooling around regardless.

Last edited by AJFelice,

I've never operated anything at SFMM, but have operated the Arrow Mine trains at SFOT and SFOG. Both had similar operating systems and pretty sure the safety systems are standard throughout the Six Flags parks. In regular operation mode, for a train to advance once stopped in the station, both the main panel and the dispatch verification button on the dock would need to be pushed.

The system is in place to prevent someone from accidentally hitting a button that would move the train. It's possible that the both were pressed to advance the train, but it wouldn't happen from just the main panel operator screwing around. The panel can advance the train when it's in manual mode but that usually requires maintenance or management key.

LostKause's avatar

It could have been a mechanical malfunction as well. I would have immediately went to Guest Relations to tell them about it, and would not have expected a front-of-the-line pass of free ice cream, but that's just me. A situation like that, be it the ride operators fault or a malfunction, needs to be addressed as soon as the problem occurs to prevent anything worse from happening afterwards.

CoasterDemon's avatar

LostKause said:

I would have immediately went to Guest Relations to tell them about it, and would not have expected a front-of-the-line pass of free ice cream

Awww... well, they would have given it to you anyway, Travis. You have that effect on people.

ApolloAndy's avatar

They probably would have looked at him and said, "If you want a front of the line pass, you can go buy a q-bot."

Hobbes: "What's the point of attaching a number to everything you do?"
Calvin: "If your numbers go up, it means you're having more fun."

LostKause's avatar

HAHA... I probably would have already had a Q-Bot in hand.

But seriously, I don't want it to be about that. The point of my comment was about how important it is to alert management asap when one sees a potential disaster.

Good job for telling Guest Relations, but I would have done it as soon as I saw a problem.

Last edited by LostKause,

LK, I know I was gone from this site for a while, but have you changed your stance on q-bots? Or am I so tired I am missing the sarcasm? Hehehehe...

I would have said something immediately as well after noting names of offending parties because the ride ops change so many times at SF parks, or at least they do at GrAdv. I never see the same ride ops unless I power ride for an hour.

"Look at us spinning out in the madness of a roller coaster" - Dave Matthews Band

LostKause's avatar

Nope. I still hate Q-Bot, but I normally consider buying front-of-the-line access (reluctantly, I might add) because I feel I have to in order to keep people from cutting in front of me, I have to play the game. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em. I haven't visited a SF park in almost a decade because I hate it so much (and because I live so far away from one).

Now please, let's just forget it and talk about SFMM, and this mine train problem.

LK, absolutely. Sorry.

King Kanesh: did you notice that the train was jerky in the station for every incoming train? Did the staff take any notice of the way the train jerked and pitched forward while people were exiting the car? That sounds like a serious problem indeed, no matter if mechanical or operator is at fault. What did Guest Relations say? I mean, you said they gave you an incident report number, but was there some semblance of concern at all?

I would also be a tad irritated by the fact that I had to be the one to follow up with an incident. I know Six Flags probably get hundreds of incident reports, but I do believe THEY should be following up with them. YOU, the patron, should not have to work this hard to report a major safety issue.

"Look at us spinning out in the madness of a roller coaster" - Dave Matthews Band

I was only half joking about receiving a front of the line pass/an ice cream cone/Batman cape. I wasn't expecting anything save for an apology or any shred of remorse--- which I did not get.

The train entered the station fine the first time. The second time, the train was stop go stop go stop go jerking the entire station length (horse play). The reason I believe my incident was because of the horse play and not mechanical, was because whenever I almost fell out of the front of the train, I looked back at the control station (with a death glare), and the girl operator was hitting the boy op and the boy op was laughing. The boy op was doing a sort of game where he would put his hands on the control board and the girl would try to hit his hands away.

Oh yeah, that sounds like douchebaggery at its finest. Hope they got some serious flack or a good ole fashioned firing for it. You can't horse around like that when dealing with people's lives like that. I know it is just a junior coaster, but it is still super easy to make a mistake that ends up knocking someone in front of a thousands of pounds coaster car and crushing them. Ridiculous.

"Look at us spinning out in the madness of a roller coaster" - Dave Matthews Band

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