Friday 12 August 2011

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Six Flags Magic Mountain

If Disneyland is the Happiest Place on Earth, and Las Vegas is Disneyland for adults, then what do teenagers get?  They get Six Flags Magic Mountain and it's massive collection of roller coasters.  It really is a one dimensional park as every ride that's not a roller coaster looks like something that at any moment could pull into your town with a traveling carnival.  Despite this one track plan, and a 2006 interview where their CEO declared that they have "too many roller coasters" (they had 16 then, they have 18 now), Magic Mountain has built my sons dream park and we've saved our last day in California for checking out this compilation of coasters.

We've ridden most of the roller coasters in Magic Mountain before, so our goal going in to today was to try out a couple of them that we hadn't managed to get to yet.  We started out with Superman: Escape to Krypton.  I rode this ride many years ago, but it closed in 2010 and was completely redone before relaunching earlier this year....and by completely redone I mean they turned the car around.  The good news is that not being able to see where you are going actually makes the ride a whole lot more interesting, and the smoothness of the ride as it accelerates from 0 to 100 mph in under seven seconds is fantastic.  The bad news is that the ride lasts all of about 30 seconds.  It's a great ride for geting you out of the sun though, as the line queues through a replica of Superman's Fortress of Solitude.  Once was enough for me, but my kids went back for a second round later in the day.

The other major ride for this year is Green Lantern:Final Flight.  This is the ride that I've been waiting to get on as it just opened on June 30th.  It's a really inovative concept, with eight riders per car, half on each side of the track where they sit back to back with each other.  The sides spin indendently of each other based on the weight of the riders, which meant my side was facing down most of the time.  The cars follow a zig-zag track on their way down as you do sommersaults and try to figure out which way is ground and which way is sky.  It's a huge, creative, stunning to look at ride.  It's also a little dull.  The zig-zag track doesn't allow you to pick up any real speed and while the switchbacks give you some interesting looks as you go over the drops there's no real stomach turning moments.  In fact the most interesting part of the ride for me was on the first switchback when the person sitting behind me, who obviously didn't speak one of the 36 languages that "Do not bring loose objects on the ride" was posted in, had his cell phone fall out of his pocket, whiz past my head, and plummet 107 ft straight down where it landed on a tin roof.  He was not a happy camper, and proceeded to disprove my theory about his knowledge of the English language by repeating the phrase "#%@! my phone!" over and over again for the rest of the ride. 

Having ridden the two rides that I came to ride, I set the oldest two kids off on their own to go and ride a few more roller coasters while I joined my wife and youngest daughter for some food and shopping.  We spent a couple of hours wandering around finding some of the more unique items in the gift shops and doing the mandatory penny squishers.  My youngest really isn't all that in to the superhero theme that runs through Magic Mountain, but she recognizes the big ones.  At one point she was counting up the superhero rides that we had been on this summer.  There was Batman, Superman, The Amazing Spiderman, Green Lantern Man (?), and Dumbo (???).  Despite knowing better, I queried the inclusion of Dumbo in the list, but I was assured that Dumbo must be a superhero because he can fly.  Before I could pursue the matter, my older two children showed up, having managed to get on two more rides in the last hour and a half. 

Magic Mountain has some fantastic rides, but if you're going to come in the middle of the summer you'd better be prepared to wait in line.  Despite the fact that the park doesn't draw anywhere near the same attendance as Disneyland, the wait times for the best rides are way longer at Six Flags and can routinely reach north of two hours.  The better rides like X2 or Tatsu are probably worth the wait, but I've spent 15 of the last 40 days in theme parks and I've ridden everything that I want to and plenty more.   The only thing I'm willing to wait two hours for right now is my flight home tomorrow.  Just point me to the queue.