Good morning from Santa Clarita. Ridiculously low airline fares and California’s blue sky guarantee made us book a trip to Los Angeles during the Belgian autumn holidays. But these weren’t the only reasons to come here; Los Angeles is also known as an ideal theme park destination. That’s why we’re planning a visit to four of the region’s major amusement parks. Our tour starts here, in Santa Clarita. We spent the night at the local Holiday Inn Express, which offers some pretty awesome views of the nearby rollercoaster park.
Yes, that’s right: we slept right across the street from Six Flags Magic Mountain. Many coaster enthusiasts may consider it as Los Angeles’ premier amusement park destination. Personally, I don’t share that opinion (I’m actually more a Anaheim kind of person) but that doesn’t mean that I don’t look forward to our Six Flags visit today. A park that offers 19 different coaster credits… that can’t be bad, right?
Arriving at Six Flags Magic Mountain’s isn’t nearly as exciting as arriving at Cedar Point or Europa-Park, but these views never get old. California’s typical weather conditions make things even better.
According to some crowd calendar websites, Tuesdays in October shouldn’t be overly busy. Luckily for us, that seems true. The parking lot is nearly empty at our arrival and it would remain mostly empty for the remainder of the day. And look at all of those rollercoasters waiting for us…
The Six Flags chain isn’t known for its theming and that can be clearly noted near the park entrance. This arch may have looked cool during the early nineties, but it feels very dated nowadays. Maybe Six Flags should contact Carowinds to help them building a new, modern entrance?
Our first stop today is X2, perhaps the most unique rollercoaster at Six Flags Magic Mountain. When X officially opened in 2002, it was the world’s first 4th dimension coaster, built by Arrow Dynamics. A few years later, the ride got repainted, rebranded and renamed to X2. The new colour scheme looked considerably better than the original combination of pink and yellow, but the most important novelty were new trains. These were designed to make the ride more enjoyable.
X2 may have become smoother, but it’s still a bumpy experience. And it’s pretty intense as well: it’s hard to notice whether you’re travelling backwards, forwards or upside down during some parts of the ride. I wouldn’t consider this as a negative point (it distinguishes the experience from most other rollercoasters) but you shouldn’t ride X2 if you’re quickly nauseated.
It’s also red, it’s also rough and it’s also built by Arrow Dynamics… I’m talking about X2’s neighbour Viper. The ride may have been impressive at the time it opened, but it’s actually worthless nowadays. That’s why I can’t regret the fact that it remains closed today… I got the credit in 2008 anyway.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise, but Six Flags Magic Mountain has been built on and around… a mountain! That mountain is home to several rollercoasters, including one of my favourite B&M rides on the planet: Tatsu.
Tatsu is a flying coaster built by Swiss coaster gurus Bolliger & Mabillard. And although I love this ride, it really needs some TLC. The paint is faded and the station looks like a bunker. This comes close to the typical Six Flags feeling, but this ride is just too good to be left abandoned.
Honestly, I prefer Galactica at Alton Towers over Tatsu’s ride experience. However, Tatsu features an incredible pretzel loop, which could easily be described as one of the planet’s most intense coaster elements. This inversion mimics the feeling of a bulldozer driving over your chest. In a good way.
After rides on X2 and Tatsu, you may get the impression that Six Flags only invests in incredibly intense coasters…
… but that’s not true. One of the tallest rides of the park is actually surprisingly gentle. Superman – Escape From Krypton is a Reverse Freefall Coaster with a top speed of 160 kms/h and a height of 126 metres. It’s very loud and it looks impressive, but this ride feels like one big disappointment.
Another ride which evokes a meh feeling is Ninja. This red suspended rollercoaster was built by Arrow Dynamics in 1988. I will gladly admit that it’s a lot smoother than most 30 year old coasters, but one ride is more than enough. Get the credit and move on.
I wouldn’t call Six Flags Magic Mountain a theme park, but some areas are nicely decorated. One of those areas is the DC Universe, which is home to a dark ride, some flat rides and three coasters. Green Lantern – First Flight (an Intamin ZacSpin) remains closed, but the section’s two B&Ms are running today.
The most notable ride at DC Universe is Riddler’s Revenge, a stand-up coaster. It recently got repainted, so it looks very shiny nowadays. Unfortunately, the ride experience isn’t nearly as shiny as the track. It’s rougher than most other B&Ms and standing up during a coaster ride feels pointless. Riddler’s Revenge makes it easy to understand why nearly every other stand-up coaster has been transformed into a floorless ride in recent years.
As you may notice, I’m not the only one who doesn’t like Riddler’s Revenge. The ride’s popularity is very limited today.
The neighbouring B&M is smaller and looks less maintained, but it’s actually a lot more enjoyable. Batman The Ride is the most copied B&M model ever and it’s not hard to understand why. Despite its rather small footprint, it provides a lot of thrill and five inversions.
One ride? Two rides? Twenty consecutive rides? The choice is up to us. Man, I love week days at amusement parks…
Six Flags Magic Mountain’s beautiful Screampunk District has been transformed into Terrortory Twisted for the Halloween season. And although there isn’t any Halloween activity planned for today, this section actually becomes my worst nightmare…
And this is the reason why… Twisted Colossus closed?! Seriously? Why would they close the best ride at the park during this perfect coaster day? I was lucky enough to experience this ride in 2017 and it immediately became one of my favourite coasters on the planet. It’s smooth, it’s fun and the total ride duration is quite long. I really looked forward to riding it again today… but what a gigantic disappointment.
Okay Six Flags, let’s make a deal. Just open Twisted Colossus and close this coaster instead? Please?
By the way: this is the reason why Riddler’s Revenge will probably never become a floorless coaster. They already have a floorless coaster called Scream! (with exclamation mark) and it’s not bad at all. The ride looks better after its recent paint job and it’s very powerful. I regret the fact that it was literally built on the parking lot, but hey… I never complained about Silver Star, so I shouldn’t complain in this case either.
If it comes to impressive entry gates for rollercoasters, our next stop should be in the top 10. This sign at Goliath‘s entrance is famous and it was even featured in Rollercoaster Tycoon 2. It’s massive, just like the coaster behind it.
Goliath is one of the few Mega Coasters built by Giovanola. This company was founded by people who used to work for B&M and that can be noticed in several ways. The tracks look similar and the ride is unbelievably smooth and comfortable. Although the actual ride is not that intense (except for the final helix), it’s very enjoyable and re-rideable. Goliath is a perfectly fine family coaster, in my opinion.
Talking about family coasters… If your children aren’t interested in a 70 metres tall coaster with speeds of up to 135 kms/h, Bugs Bunny World may offer the perfect alternative. This area is home to four (!) kiddie coasters and a good selection of other rides. Besides, Bugs Bunny World looks quite nice to Six Flags’ standards.
The next major coaster on our to-do list is Chick-fil-A The Ride, a.k.a. Full Throttle. This coaster is built by Premier Rides and it opened back in 2013. It’s sad that Six Flags hasn’t invested in a decent queue and a more permanent looking station building, but the actual ride looks spectacular.
Unfortunately, the ride could better be described as Medium Throttle. This coaster features three launches, but those are literally the only good parts. The lay-out is way too short and trains enter the final brakes at top speed. This could have been a world-class coaster, but it seems as if they ran out of budget during the construction phase. The result is an ugly queue, a cheap looking station, a mediocre ride and too much advertising for Chick-fil-A.
Six Flags Magic Mountain is a park of contrasts. The relatively new Full Throttle looks awful, but the 42 year old Revolution appears to be brand-new. This coaster classic – which is actually known as New Revolution nowadays – got some fresh paint in 2016. They also removed the shoulder restraints in that year, which made the coaster considerably more enjoyable. However, you shouldn’t expect it to be the smoothest ride ever. It’s got a certain rattle and the lay-out features a few snappy transitions.
Six Flags Magic Mountain is undoubtedly one of the world’s most legendary rollercoaster destinations. They’ve got unique coasters, extreme coasters, family-friendly coasters, thrilling coasters and painful coasters. Every coaster enthusiast travelling to Los Angeles should spend at least one day at this iconic park, but be warned: not every aspect of Six Flags Magic Mountain is as great as you might think. The park is notorious for its unannounced attraction closures, which makes is very hard to get a full coaster-bingo in one day. Besides, the park isn’t known for having a huge ride capacity. This wasn’t any problem today, but lines can get horribly long during weekends and school holidays. During these times of the year, it may even be advisable to plan a 2-day visit to Six Flags Magic Mountain.
Is this my favourite amusement park on Earth? No, it’s not. Is this my favourite coaster destination on Earth? Once again the answer is no. That other legendary coaster park at the shores of Lake Erie definitely delivers more value for money. No other park in the world matches the amount of rollercoasters Six Flags Magic Mountain has, but numbers don’t always guarantee awesomeness. I’d prefer a day at Knott’s Berry Farm or a stay at the Disneyland Resort over this. And luckily, those are exactly the things we planned for the following days. To be continued near/in Anaheim.