Six Flags Magic Mountain Holiday in the Park 2015
Last week I was down in Southern California to take in Holiday In the Park at Six Flags Magic Mountain (as well as Knott’s Merry Farm, which you can read about here). This is only the second year of Holiday in the Park at Magic Mountain, but you could tell they’ve added more decorations and more extra entertainment to the park. Even more importantly, this was my first time on Twisted Colossus. Another first, while the day started off nice and sunny, rain moved in throughout the evening, and I got to experience the agony/delight of riding coasters while being poured on.
Arriving at the park right at opening, and needing to wait for a few friends who were going to join me, I made a beeline for Twisted Colossus. Crowds at the park in general were light, but Magic Mountain’s latest coaster had a steady line all day (never too bad, but longer than almost anything else). It seemed most people similarly headed there first. Three trains were running, so things moved pretty quickly and I got my first experience of Twisted Colossus (and my first Rocky Mountain Construction coaster).
Wow is probably the best description. It is safe to say it was unlike any coaster I’ve ridden. The amount of air time is ridiculous (and often in sections that don’t look like they would obviously have tons of air). The top gun stall element on the second half of the ride was probably my favorite section. As one of my friends described it, you’re upside down for a long time, but it doesn’t feel like you’re upside down, it feels more like you’re just floating. The other section that was most mind blowing to me was the first crest after the main drop. After cresting the hill the ride lifts riders out of their seats, and keeps them lifted longer than seems possible, basically up through the high five banked element. This felt particularly true on the third ride of the day we took on it when sitting towards the front of the train.
I was also blessed on my first ride of the day to experience something that is sadly a slight rarity it seems, my trains actually raced for the first half of the ride. The “green” lift hill can slow to a crawl to allow the blue train a chance to catch up, and our blue train did. This allowed for proper high fiving (or at least the effect) and being able to look up at the stalling green train as they did the Top Gun element. It was delightful. Sadly, it only happened that one time. In the other 2.5 circuits I made that day there were no other races. Twice we came close, which makes me think with a little more efficiency in the station (like, say, assigning riders to specific rows Disneyland style) it seemed it could happen more often. By the end of the day, after the rain had moved in, they were down to two trains, so sadly no more racing.
Speaking of rain, our last ride of the day on TC was a little after the rain had started. Swapping to two trains made the line more slowly, and this was made worse by a maintenance issue while we were in line. We then discovered that during the 15 minutes it took for maintenance to figure it out and get things moving again, a train of riders had been sitting in the rain waiting to enter the station. “Man, I hope that doesn’t happen to us,” we said. Of course, three rides later when we were on the ride and had completed it’s circuit, it happened again. As fun as Twisted Colossus was, I’m not sure it’s worth sitting in the rain for fifteen minutes. Of course, if they’d let us go again, it might be a different story…Either way, word of warning, although TC is “designed to operate in the rain,” as one employee told me, it seems to have some maintenance issues related to it. I presume something like a sensor that doesn’t like getting wet or something. Luckily, rain isn’t too common in Southern California.
One more comment on TC, the line and “Screampunk” district look really good. The area itself was nicely redone and has been maintained to look very Steam Punky. It’s a little strange that there isn’t really much out there (one theater, one restaurant, TC, and Scream), but it still looked good. The Colossus line is wonderfully decorated with silly little steam punk-y objects and signs that reference both the new design, but also the history of the ride and the original Colossus. They took a lot of effort in all the text around the ride to make it clear that it is a reinvention of the original coaster, a nice touch for coaster enthusiasts. The one downside of the line and the region was that there were no holiday decorations that I noticed. It would have been nice for the area around the most popular ride to have some Christmasy themes, a string of lights or some Santa hats, that kind of thing. Still, the area great addition to Magic Mountain, and Twisted Colossus I think is now my favorite ride at the park.
Lastly, having ridden Twisted Colossus, I now cannot wait for “The Joker” to open at my local park, Six Flags Discovery Kingdom, this year. So excited.
Snowy Tatsu and the Rest of the Park
Although Twisted Colossus was the highlight of Magic Mountain, we did go through the rest of the park. As I mentioned most of the park was pretty empty, and things seemed to be running smoothly. We took in a few more of the back of the park rides. Green lantern remained a totally unique, disorienting, experience, but again I had a ride with much less flipping than I hoped. And both my friend and I hurt our necks, clearly a sign of my advancing age. I’ll probably take a pass on it in the future.
I had forgotten that Goliath had been reskinned, sort of, in honor of a Capcom Game, Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate, earlier this year. That made some of the signs and decorations really confusing, but the ride was almost empty. It definitely isn’t the best hyper coaster, but it’s still a decent ride. It has some great helixes, and I love how it always sort of feels to me like it has very narrow supports. It has a much tighter layout than many hyper coasters, with less of a standard out and back design. I wish the mid-course brake run didn’t bring trains to a complete stop.
Riddler’s Revenge wasn’t running when we walked past, so we headed to the Apocalypse corner of the park (after stopping for lunch at JB’s Smokehouse, not a bad spot for a theme park meal!). Apocalypse looks much lighter in color than I remember, maybe from the extra dry year we’ve had. I didn’t find it excessively rough, although my friends did. I’ve found I’m pretty tolerant of wood coasters, especially GCI’s, so that didn’t surprise me too much. Still, it looks like it might be getting time for Apocalypse to get some TLC. We then stopped at Ninja for a nice little break, before heading to Tatsu.
The area in front of Tatsu was actually the most holiday themed section we’d seen so far. The DC Universe section had lots of light displays, but not too much else, and as I mentioned above Screampunk basically had no holiday decor. Tatsu, and the plaza in front of it, though, had a dusting of fake snow (or, as one friend put it, re-used cobwebs from Halloween) and some nice decorations. I was a fan of the snowy dragon sign, especially since it does sort of feel like it should be/is on a mountain top.
Speaking of Tatsu, it remains one of my favorite coasters, and at least my second favorite ride at Magic Mountain. Sadly they were only running one train thanks to what looked like maintenance work happening on the other trains (see the photo below). Still, the wait was less than an hour, and man is it a great ride. It’s another unique experience, there’s no other flying coaster like it. As one of my friends put it, the other flying coasters he’d been on, like Superman at Six Flags Great Adventure, are too tight a layout. Tatsu has large sweeping turns and dives that make it feel like more like actual flight, the way an eagle (or airplane) flies. It’s also in about as perfect a location as possible for a flying coaster. Sitting on top of a hill over a wooded area, it offers amazing views of the park, the people below, and the surrounding landscape, and then swoops over and through the trees of the park. The giant 124 foot pretzel loop remains probably the most intense coaster feature I’ve ever experienced, and a perfect, chest crushing, climax to the ride. Twisted Colossus probably jumped into the lead for my favorite Magic Mountain roller coaster, but Tatsu definitely remains the most intense coaster in the park, and a can’t miss ride.
Tatsu was followed by Superman, which while enjoyable doesn’t quite have the intensity of the giant flying dragon. Still, it’s always fun to be launched backwards really fast (although I think I like forwards better). And it definitely helped that we entered the enclosed Fortress of Solitude line while it was still light and not too cloudy out, and then got launched up the ride into a gloomy, darkening, evening sky. I’m glad we made it on before the rain.
Magic Mountain in the Rain – Some Coasters Get Better, All Coasters Get Wetter
As I mentioned above when talking about Twisted Colossus, evening rain came to the park. This led to a quick lesson in which coasters operate in the wet, and which don’t. The good news is most of them do. The bad news is there wasn’t any good way to find out which ones don’t, and unfortunately full throttle, which we missed earlier in the day, is one of the ones that was down. Instead we headed back for that rainy ride on Twisted Colossus, a ride that was delayed while they removed the third train. So instead, I experienced my first full on ride in the rain on Scream. A coaster that I used to usually skip because of it’s location off by itself, and it’s completely unthemed parking lot ride, it’s a more desirable attraction now that it’s next to Twisted Colossus and the area around the entrance is themed. The ride still goes over a parking lot, but when it’s pouring rain and you have to keep your eyes closed to avoid the deluge hitting your face, that’s less of an issue.
I learned something important on that ride, while the rain is painful, it can also make a coaster really fun. Everything is extra disorienting with the distraction of the rain. After our soaked Twisted Colossus ride, we then headed to Riddler’s Revenge and Batman for two completely empty night rain rides. Riddler’s was solid, but didn’t seem too different than normal. Batman, however, was one of the best rides I’ve been on thanks to the wet and darkness. The ride layout is fairly tight, and often low to the ground or close to the neighboring buildings (and the Gotham park theme). Throw in the darkness and the wet and it becomes ridiculously disorienting of a layout, much more exciting than it usually is, and I can highly recommend doing this if you’re ever at the park in the wet. Rainy Batman is now my third favorite Magic Mountain ride, no question. Word of warning though, on the lift hill all the accumulated water on top of the train will drip straight onto your groin region. It can be very cold and wet.
Now soaked to the bone we headed home, but a quick comment on the holiday decorations. DC Universe has a giant light show, timed to music, with LEDs everywhere that looked pretty awesome. Unfortunately thanks to the pouring rain and getting late in the day, we weren’t really motivated to stay and watch. The holiday decorations in front of Full Throttle and Tatsu were nice, but I wish the rest of the park had also been decorating. Hopefully as Magic Mountain continues Holiday in the Park into the future they’ll expand the area of decoration. I was impressed that even in the cold and wet, there was still a group of live singers near the entrance of the park serenading people as they left. A nice little holiday goodbye for an excellent trip to Magic Mountain.
Have you been to Holiday in the Park, or ridden on Twisted Colossus? Let us know what you think of either (or both) of them! And if you haven’t visited, you’re in luck, Holiday in the Park runs through January 3 open every day except Christmas. If you can’t make it during the holidays, Magic Mountain remains open all year. You can check the full schedule on their site. I’m going to make sure I make it down at least a couple times in 2016, if only just to ride Twisted Colossus some more.
Happy Holidays everyone!