Six Flags Magic Mountain's X has a long history of problems

Posted | Contributed by Jason Hammond

For riders, experiencing X can mean more than four hours in line. For Magic Mountain at Six Flags California, the ride's complexity has meant cost overruns, legal battles and engineering nightmares as wild as the head-over-heels roller coaster. In a high-stakes competition over which of the world's parks has the most thrilling coasters, Magic Mountain's experience with X shows the pitfalls of relying on the latest in coaster technology.

Read more from LA Daily News.

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It seems to me that whenever you open a coaster that's so new/revolutionary/etc., you're going to have a long list of problems or bugs that can only really be worked out once the thing's in operation. But this does seem an excessive length of time to still have problems.
True. Remember Dragster had it teething problems too, but they at least having the thing running decent now.

I hope one day to ride X. Face it, I need to spend a week or two and do all the coasters in Cali.

rollergator's avatar
Eric Hernandez: "Literally, like in 15 minutes, we moved like five feet, and we saw one car go by," he said.

Like, how do we, like know, he's really from, like, SoCal... ;)

OhioStater's avatar
Exactly Hopman.

I've bumped into a few ACE members at CP over the years, and every single one has commented on how great of an experience "X" is. I also hope to ride it someday.

It seems that TTD has made leaps and bounds of progress, though, while X is for some reason still mired in problems.

If you ask me, after all this time there is no more excuse for not having the ride running properly...despite its complexity.

But look over at SF Great Adventure. The Chiller just sits there like a bump on a log, and it uses old technology...X's problems, to me, have a lot more to do with the old SF regime than "Complexity"...although it makes for a nice excuse.

*** This post was edited by OhioStater 2/12/2007 10:49:52 AM ***

Interesting to learn that the original budget for the ride was under 7 million. Guess we know where all of SFMM's extra cash went those years. I wonder if they 2nd one being built will really be completed within the budget. It's great to see that they are looking at ways to improve what they have built instead of letting it remain a capacity/downtime nightmare.
Jeff's avatar
I don't buy that for a minute. What coaster, let alone the first of its kind requiring a fair amount of R&D, would cost $7 million then? I remember talking to Arrow's CEO that year, and he said the ride has an unusually large amount of steel for various reasons related to the wide and heavy trains, so it certainly would cost more.
Can X actually run three trains at one time? The article mentions that to get capacity it would have to, but I'm not sure it can.

...and if Arrow had to go down, at least they went out in style.

rollergator's avatar
Sure, X *could* run three trains. Load, unload, and "on the course". The shame is that it seems like it takes FOREVER from a train hitting the final station brakes to dispatch...rotating the seats in that ridiculous fashion cannot help.

Will the newer trains have to go thru this same sequence? If so, I can't see them helping capacity at all. Comfort, OTOH....

^^I believe the reasons for the cost increase was because Arrow originally had a working prototype that they felt comfortable building but SFMM wanted a much larger custom model instead & as a result they got a less than perfect ride from a maintanence/operational standpoint.
The big question is, is how is the reliability of the 4D in Japan (however you spell it)? Is it consistently running and has S&S worked out the major problems since Arrow's attempt with X?
If they really wanted this ride to run in an efficient way, they would drop the money on having a different set of engineers approach the problem, and first have them come up with a proposal. Then ask around, and decide if risking their idea is worth it. Honestly, if the ride is still having a ton of problems, something needs to be done that Arrow employees have not figured out yet. It couldnt hurt to get some outside thoughts.Also, it could be that TTD is up and running because CF dropped the time and money on trying to figure out a reasonable solution instead of jumping the gun, like SF did.Theoretically, if the investement was worth it, any problem with this ride could more than likely be fixed. SF just needs to decide what exactly theyre willing to do. Either that or maybe X is the next ride to go.

EDIT - Wow, I didnt even read until just now in the forums that they are indeed trying a redesign on the trains. Smart move. If this works out, I bet we see a totally new X Xperience.
*** This post was edited by Krypton 2/12/2007 1:26:44 PM ***

ApolloAndy's avatar
One of the huge improvements in the whole brakes, unload, load cycle for Eejinaka (sp?) is instead of seat rotation they have moving floors like the inverts. This probably also helps with the restraint releasing issues (the releases for restraints seemed to be related to the wheels on the bottom of the seats which moved into and out of position with the rotation - but also didn't seem to do their job correctly).

It also didn't help on X that they had to check the restraints once, then rotate the seats, then check 'em again before dispatch.

One thing I think that sucks is how it has seemed to age (like other Arrows). Last June the thing beat the crap out of me. (Especially compared to the mind-blowingly smooth Tatsu)
Acoustic Viscosity's avatar
I rode it when it was 3 months old and I rode it again last spring. It was the same clunky ride on both occasions.

The double seat roatation procedure was painful to watch. The first time I witnessed it, I said "OMG, that's the most inefficient unload/load procedure I've ever seen." What the HELL were they thinking?

What are the odds of running into an enthusiast at Cedar Point who happens to rave about X? ;)

I was lucky enough to ride it Jan 2002 and it was smooth, but the rotation was a little clunky. I rode it again in the summer of 2004 and came off with a headache. Defiantly was a different ride.

If MM really wanted to increase its load time, they know how-- a videotape instruction, a sample chair for people to try while waiting, and ride-ops to prep and coach the loading process. But none of these things are in place, probably for a reason.

MM may not want a fast load time.

Maybe there are other technical issues that would warant limiting loads to one every six or 10 minutes? Could there be an issue with wheel heat, same as Superman or some other technical issue?

Having six thousand park guests stuck in the corrugated metal dutch oven of a ride queue for three and a half hours only to disappoint them with a ride failure makes no business sense, and is a customer experience "deal-breaker."

Could new trains be in order for X?

OhioStater's avatar
What are the odds of running into an enthusiast at Cedar Point who happens to rave about X?

That's what my wife and I were wondering. This guy and his partner had been everywhere...raving about the european coasters, etc.

I still stand by the idea that had the park been under good solid mangagement, X would not have grown into the problem it is today. Imagine Top Thrill Dragster under the same has taken a huge (and as Dick Kinzel would say, "unwise") investment, but, kudos to Cedar Fair for being dedicated enough to turning a nightmare into an efficient coaster (knock on wood).

Of course, the problems could not have been predicted, but they should have been prepared, and they obviously were not. It is as if they built the ride, then crossed their fingers praying it would work, and just said "well ****" and threw their hands up in the air when it didn't work so well.

*coughs* chiller *coughs*** This post was edited by OhioStater 2/13/2007 8:53:20 AM ***

Acoustic Viscosity's avatar
*cough* Superman *cough* ;)
Im a bit skeptical about the $7million price tag myself. I mean Didn't Viper just buy itself costs $8million? I know Batman: The Ride costs $12million and Scream costs $20million. So how is it that a brand new never before seen prototype of a ride has such a low cost value to it? Sounds dubious at best. I have been fortunate enough to ride it and for that I am grateful. But much the same way I waited 1/2 a day at Six Flags Great Adventures before I got to ride Kingda Ka (TWICE :D) it just takes some patience and research. I had to tell a friend of mine in GA not to expect a ride on X because it was down until January 31st. Yeah he was disappointed, but he had his heart set on Tatsu anyway. I will hopefully get to ride X on my next journey to L.A. in 2008.

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