Six Flags Magic Mountain, Valencia, California, USA
I try to get a fewfriends together each September to go to Magic Mountain, or sometimes anotherof the So Cal theme parks. I find September is a great time to go - theweather is superb, and yet the crowds are fairly low as it's between the summerJul/Aug and the Halloween crowds in October. The last time I visited SFMMwas 2 years ago. I did not organize a trip last year, and this year Septwas overly busy, so it became the 2nd weekend of October, and the first weekendof the Halloween activities.
All 4 of us purchased our park tickets in advance. My g/f and I purchasedthe Thrill Pass for $62, which is a 2012 season pass that is also goodthroughout the rest of 2011. I also decided to try out the Flash Pass forthe first time.
I'm sure many people already know this, but The Flash Pass comes in threelevels: Regular, Gold, and Platinum and allows you to set a reservation time sothat you essentially check into a line from anywhere in the park, withoutactually having to wait in that line. Gold will allow you to make areservation time that cuts the wait by 50%; Platinum does the same but at 90%. For example, if it's 12 noon, Regular Flash Pass might let you select a 1:30reservation time, but Gold would allow 12:45 and Platinum would allow12:15. When you purchase the Flash Passes, you can purchase for theappropriate number of people for the line-skipping, up to 6 people.
Current pricing for the Flash Pass:
Regular: $41 for 1st member, $26 for each add'l
Gold: $69 for 1st member, $46 for each add'l
Platinum: $99 for 1st member, $76 for each add'l
I prepaid for the Flash Pass online for our group of 4 when I purchased theThrill Pass season passes, total cost $135, just two days prior to our plannedtrip.
We left San Diego just after 8am, hoping to arrive by the park opening time of10:30. With some stops & some traffic, we arrived around 11am. There was not a long line to get into the parking lot at all; we waited behindjust one or two cars, paid our $15 parking fee, parked, and walked to the frontentrance.
Metal detectors - a breeze. Bag check - the security guy briefly lookedin the main pocket and handed the bag back to me.
In my search for information the evening before our trip, I couldn't find clearinformation on how to turn our Thrill Pass vouchers into the season passesthemselves. Yes, it needs to be done at the Season Pass processingcenter, which is after the metal detectors/bag check but before the park gates,but could we enter the park without having the official season pass inhand? When we arrived, there was a line out the door of the Season Passprocessing center of approximately 25 people. Not wanting to wait therebefore even getting into the park, I decided to just go directly to the gateentrance with the printed bar-coded vouchers from the online purchase. There was no problem at all - the employee scanned the vouchers and we walkedright in.
1st stop: pick up the Flash Pass. The FP(Flash Pass) center was easilyvisible from the main gate, straight up the main 'road'. There were twodoors to the building, one on the left for purchasing FPs and one on the rightfor returning your FP device. The 4 of us waited in line for about 20minutes with the line barely moving at all - there was no separate line forthose who thought ahead and prepurchased the FP online. I was disappointedby having what was looking like at least a 30 minute wait for a no-linefeature, that I had already prepaid. They also had some signs up showingthat, as expected and per the information on the SFMM website, that X2 is onlyavailable on certain levels of FP and for a per-reservation fee of $15. BUT, they had the same sign for Green Lantern too. I was unhappy aboutthis discovery, as the company website clearly indicates the additional fee forX2 but no such mention is made for Green Lantern: First Flight. As amatter of fact, the website shows lists Green Lantern as available on the FPjust like any other listed ride. To be fair, the site does say theavailable FP rides can vary, but they need to list the add'l fee for GL justlike they do for X2. (grumble, grumble).
The "training room" doors finally open, and as we queue up, theemployee tells us that just one person from each party needs to go in -- theothers should wait outside. Why they didn't have a sign beforehand I donot know. We're brought into a small room where there are two flatscreenvideo monitors and a sign listing which rides are available on the Flash Passthis day. I immediately notice Batman and Deja Vu are NOT on thelist. An employee gave us an introduction, we watched a 3 1/2 minutevideo about how to use the Flash Pass, and he allowed a couple questions. I asked why Deja Vu and Batman were not on the list, he said Deja Vu hadalready been moved to another Six Flags Park. Already? I told himthat I read on Six Flags blog that the ride was *open* until Oct 16, and itbecame clear he had no idea at all. No surprise, really, for Six Flags,but come on.
We are moved into the next room where there are approx. 6 people behind acounter at computers who can process the Flash Pass purchases. Once thetransaction was complete, I did ask the employee to communicate to those hereports to that I was disappointed the website should list GL is an additionalfee, like how X2 is listed. "The website is normally weeks out ofdate," he admitted.
We all called the FP device Tamagotchi for the day, as it very much reminded usof the fad some years ago when all the kids had to care for their electronicpet (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tamagotchi).
During the FP process, my g/f and the other couple checked out Revolution tosee if they could get on it in the meantime -- 1 hr wait already!
It's now almost noon and time to go to our first coaster. Looking at theride times, we could check into any ride, some with reservation times as littleas 15 mins from now, others up to an hour from now. We walked up to Viperto see their line, and the sign said Est Wait: 5 minutes. We decide tocheck into Tatsu, and ride Viper.
Viper's wait time was not 5 minutes. There are 3 separate lines at theentrance, but at the entry point you are not sure which goes where. Onceyou're in line for a while, you eventually get to the stairs where you seesigns showing the 3 lines are for rows 1-6, 7-??, and ??-??. The line forrow 1-6 is the far left one as you enter, and has further to go, and thus takeslonger. We had a great time on Viper - 7 inversions! - and I think we hadwaited about 30 minutes in all before boarding.
Off to Tatsu! We went in the FP entrance, got a little confused where togo, and then found a small 6-person line with FPs. We showed ourTamagotchi to the employee, she put it head-to-head with her device, and wewere able to go up to the boarding area straight away. Once the check inwas matched up, we were free to make another reservation, so while waiting toboard Tatsu we reserved Apocalypse. I've only ridden Tatsu once before,it was probably 2008 or 2007. Great fun! Thoroughly enjoyed it and it wasa great rush. Off to Apocalypse!
... to be continued in Part 2
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