On my last full day through the Los Angeles area, we decided to rent a car and take the half-hour or so drive out of Hollywood and into Valencia, California. There really isn’t much to see along the way other than some random hills, trees, and random buildings, but this (relatively) short drive wasn’t about the travelling, it was about the destination.
We opted to rent a car (from Enterprise, no less), as when we looked up the trip through the LA area’s public transit system (Metro), it was a two-hour ride that involved multiple transfers. Where were we heading, you may ask? C’mon now, you should be smarter than that! Look at the title of this entry. Of course, we were heading to get our adrenaline fix at Six Flags Magic Mountain, arguably one of the best roller coaster parks in the world.
Although we probably would have preferred to head out to Ohio and try our luck at Cedar Pointe (rated THE best roller coaster park in the world, year in and year out), Magic Mountain was the next best thing that was within a more reasonable travelling distance. Because it is in the middle of nowhere, they have a monopoly on just about everything, including parking. Before we even entered the (huge) parking lot, we had to pass through a toll booth where they quickly demanded $15 from him for parking. Expensive, yes… but also absolutely necessary.
We arrived just as the gates were opening at 10am, and proceeded over to the admission booths to buy a season pass, reason being, it was the same price as a single-day entry. We then walked over to a tiny little building to fill out our information, get our (grainy black-and-white) pictures taken, and be supplied with a card so we could come back anytime we wanted for the rest of the calendar year. Best of all, it is valid at all Six Flags parks across the United States, so we might be taking a shorter road trip over to Wild Waves and Enchanted Village in Washington State, despite the fact that their park probably doesn’t have anything extra to offer above and beyond what PNE/Playland has.
While there are a handful of shows and kiddie rides, Six Flags is clearly designed with the roller coaster junkie in mind. On mere acreage alone, Magic Mountain can’t compare to Disneyland or maybe even Universal Studios, but they certainly managed to pack in the scream machines, with about a dozen or so of the steel beasts littered throughout the park. With names like Batman, The Riddler, Scream, Colossus, and Goliath, they certainly were of superhero proportions. I enjoyed trying out the different configurations, including those that allowed you to be essentially standing the whole time, have your feet dangling, or some other innovative design.
Easily, the most thrilling ride in the park was named simply “X”. In addition to the standard fare of ultra fast travel speeds, inversions, and “hair soaring through the wind” drops, the seats themselves were hydraulically rotated as well, giving a new “spin” on an otherwise standard coaster. The experience simply cannot be described in words.
Because we went during a “low season”, the lineups were remarkably short, with the longest wait being no more than fifteen or twenty minutes, compared to three hour or longer queues found at Disneyland during the months of July and August. I had a blast, and I am quite happy that most of the rides simply had a high “excitement” value rather than turning over stomachs with a higher “nausea” rating (veterans of Roller Coaster Tycoon will know exactly what I’m talking about– interestingly, most of the mean machines found in RCT are based on Six Flags rides).