Monday, May 24, 2010

Magic Mountain - Trip Report May 2010 - Part One

It’s been two years since my last visit to Magic Mountain (link). I figured it was time to visit the mountain again so I went last Thursday and spent the entire morning and afternoon. Disneyland of course is my number one theme park, but Magic Mountain is (or was or is?) a close second. Although I’ve been going to Disneyland since I was an infant, it’s not possible for me to have seen the “early” years of Walt's park, unless I get a time machine.

Magic Mountain is different, my grand parents (the coolest grand parents ever, who I love and miss dearly) took me and my brother to Magic Mountain just weeks after it opened in 1971 – it left a positive mark on me that I still feel today. I was hooked. Subsequently I spent many summers at the Mountain; in fact, I grew up at the mountain more than at Disneyland.

So please humor this blogger as we spend a few posts this week scratching the surface and looking for remnants of My Magic Mountain. No coaster mania shots here, this is going to be old school. I've got some Disneyland stuff to post this week too, so be sure to come back tomorrow and Thursday if the Mountain isn't your thing.

Magic Mountain Wall Map 1971 (high-res link)

The entrance was totally reconfigured years ago and I still need to try and figure out what’s been done. It appears that Hurricane Harbor and the security gates were part of the reconfigured area. More shops were also added in the 1970's. As a side note on security; there is a Sheriff Substation right at the entrance and metal detectors at the entrance gates. It does make you feel safe.

This original 1971 building opened with the park as Security Pacific National Bank. It was later used as the Camera Shop, now it's used as Guest Relations, sort of like Six Flags version of City Hall.

Nice details, I’m glad they kept this building and re-purposed it.

It still looks like a bank inside. The workers (cast members?) were super nice, I even scored a free Coke!

Concept art for Flashback, those kids running towards it have no idea what they’re in for!

See, it used to be a bank!

Originally the "Holiday Bazaar", this store is from 1971. They actually keep it in pretty good shape.

They’ve been selling popcorn it this spot for 39 years! Those restrooms are also 39 years old; I recommend you try another one just down the walkway to your left or right, trust me on this.

The Valencia Falls are looking great as ever, even with all that steel in the way.

How about a couple of “Now and then” photos? Here are the fountains with the Gazebo and the Holiday Bazaar in the background as seen today.

From a 1973 brochure, the view hasn’t changed too much, just a lot more tree growth. You’ll notice throughout this series the trees and plants have really matured at this park.

To the left we find the 1912 Grand Carousel as it looks today.

As seen in 1972, the Grand Carousel has changed very little. Just like Disneyland, the grass areas were not fenced in the early days, in fact, I remember sitting on the grass nearby in the shade enjoying ice cream many times in the 1970’s.

The Grand Carousel still operates and even had a few guests.

Just in front of the Carousel is “The Gazebo”, later and still known as the “Carousel Bandstand”. Bands used to perform live here in the summers; “Saturday in the Park” was required to be on each set list. It's now the summer home of "Dance, Dance, Revolution Challenge" a dance contest.

Next to the Gazebo and the Carousel is the Cyber Café. This was originally “The Coffee Grinder” and later became the “Trollhouse” that's where I used to get my ice cream!

The Cyber Café has free wireless and about a dozen free Internet ready computers. I seem to recall a water wheel on the right side where that water is running into nothing!

They sell coffee, fruit, biscuits and stuff like that. And they still sell ice cream! They have a great patio in the back that overlooks the falls; I don’t think many folks know its back there.

Here’s the best part, they sell doughnuts, but not just any doughnuts, these are bite size and made fresh to order! I got a half dozen ($4, $6 for a dozen) half cinnamon sugar and half powdered sugar. These are warm, yummy and to die for, worth the wait and worth the $4. (of course I carry vintage brochures and tickets with me, who doesn't?)

Great views while getting a sugar rush.

This guy was all by himself for the entire afternoon, something we both had in common!

It’s really quite charming and peaceful sitting here.

As you step back out from the Cyber Café, to your right you’ll find the Orient Express. This attraction was originally called the Funicular Rail Road. I think they changed the name when they added Ninja in 1988.

No line today (or in the last few decades I would guess).

The Funicular is an incline railway, much like Angeles Flight in down town Los Angeles (Link to Daveland’s excellent Angeles Flight post). This one was built in Austria in 1970 and has been at the mountain since opening day 1971. This is one of my favorite attractions in the park so I was thrilled it’s still in operation.

Ready to take a ride to the top? Let’s go, it’s slow but sure beats walking up the mountain, they even have air conditioning!

The station at the top is great, again, no line!

The top of the Mountain or “Samurai Summit” is a mixed bag, some good, some not so good.

It’s pretty quiet in this spot.

It’s quiet because this attraction is closed. This was the Shangri-la Station for the Eagle’s Flight (Skyway style buckets) this station did double duty and handled both sky bucket routes.

They really need to do something with this building. I’ll spare you the really gruesome photos. Let’s just say it’s being neglected.

Walking up the path a few steps and what do we have here – Ninja! "Ninja is an Arrow Dynamics steel suspended roller coaster located at Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia, California. It is the fastest roller coaster of its kind in the world, joint with Vortex at Canada's Wonderland, both with top speeds of 55 mph." (Wiki-link)

This was originally the Top Station for the Dragon, a tram like transportation ride that took you from the Jet Stream area to the Summit and back. The lower station still exists and is long since (1978) abandoned, I’ve got photos of it in an upcoming part of this series.

Not much of a line here! I rode it and its still a blast, in fact, I rode it twice! I highly recommend this classic thrill ride! From Wiki: "still considered by guests as one of the best rides in the park, even with newer and more modern coasters installed nearby."

Just in front of Ninja is what used to be the Magic Pagoda. I’m told there are still parts of the attraction in the building.

On top of the Magic Pagoda building is this abandon eating area. No where to buy food, but plenty of tables. You can’t see it, but to my right was an OPEN door that led down some stairs, I spent about 2 minutes debating going in, but common sense took over.

I think I’ll look for the Sky Tower, it is one of the main reasons I wanted to come visit the mountain again. It was closed on my last visit and I heard there was a museum up there so I wanted to check it out.

This is what’s left of the Japanese Gardens (thanks Tatsu!) I guess it’s the thought that counts.

Oh boy, here’s the tower and even a sign about the museum.

Oh my gosh, I forgot how high this thing is. The base is already 120 feet higher than the main gates and the tower is 365 feet high from there! Ok folks, I have a moderate fear of heights and this tower is very intimidating. As I saw the elevator coming down (with it’s exposed windows all around – even the doors have windows!) my heart had doubled its rate, I was sweating and starting to get that feeling in my stomach… I almost chickened out… take a deep breath... go...

Come back Wednesday to see what’s up in the tower, it's an impressive collection.

Come back tomorrow for a interesting Disneyland ticket from 1978.


TokyoMagic! said...

Can't wait to see the next installments to your Magic Mountain trip report! I really need to get over has been too long. Hey, if the door with the stairway downward didn't say "Employees Only" or "No Admittance", I think I might have risked it. If it was on top of the Magic Pagoda building, perhaps it used to be an emergency exit. I'm glad you went up the Tower and I'm looking forward to hearing about the museum. Also can't wait to see what the Dragon cars' lower station looks like today. I'm assuming most of the concrete incline for the track is still there? Oh, and didn't the Trollhouse used to have a wooden deck next to it or above it where you could look up at the cars going through the "loop" of The Revolution?

Davelandweb said...

My last trip to Magic Mountain was 1980; looks like it may be time to revisit!

Major Pepperidge said...

So strange to see the place so empty, and with practically no lines for the coasters. Especially with the beautiful weather we've been having lately! So does the Orient Express take you up to what used to be the Magic Pagoda? I sure miss the original MM...

Anonymous said...

I believe sections of the Magic Pagoda are currently being used in the Willoughby's Mansion for the Haunt.

The Julanders said...

My one and only trip to the MTN was my Senior Trip- summer 1990. A friend and I were in line for the Ninja. We waited....waited....and waited some more, it was a very busy day to say the least. When we got close enough to see the ride in full view, the loading station, we quickly hopped out of line and went looking for the Looney Tunes least I think we did! :)
I sure wasn't a roller coaster junkie then and am barely able to tolerate Screamin' now. :)
Alas, my only memories from the MTN.

I want to thank you for this blog. I only came across it about a week ago....I have started reading from the start (2007) and am working my way to modern day....every once in awhile I read a current post (like today). Wonderful tidbits. Glad you are a collector and share with the rest of us. THANKS

outsidetheberm said...

Nice post. Looking forward to what you found in the Sky Tower museum. The last few attempts to get in, it was closed.

Thanks for this.

Anonymous said...

Nice post. You and I went to the Mtn at the same time, except i only went twice in the early '70's and never again. Had fun both times.

good to see these pics, thank you.


Jeff said...

Thank you for this update.

I too have such fond memories of pre-Six Flags MM. As a kid, I went through the Magic Pagoda numerous times and actually set up a Google alert for information about the Pagoda.

Partly my interest is nostalgia, but I also really want to sheer up some very grainy memories of what the interior of the building was like (or is today).

There was a charm that the original park had that just isn't there anymore. I appreciate your efforts to bring it back to others who may have not had the chance to experience it.

I haven't had a chance to get to the park and see the museum, but it is on my list. If I find the door open at the Pagoda, I'm in.

jedblau said...

Loved the post! Did you stop off and check out 'Ol 55?

Yellows said...

Wow! I worked the Funicular way back in '81! Thanks for the rare shots of the lower station! It sure brought back memories of sending the trains (red at that time) up. "Please stand clear of the automatically opening doors. Thank you for riding the Funicular, and enjoy the rest of your day here on Six Flags Magic Mountain!"

Chris Merritt said...

Great post! Can't wait to see the museum shots...

Vintage Disneyland Tickets said...

Thanks for all the great comments, come back tomorrow for a visit to the Tower Museum.

TokyoMagic; They did have a sign, but is was generic and just said something about “electrical panel 6A” no warnings or don’t go there sign, but not real welcoming either – I could here the buzz of transformers. The Dragon track is mostly gone, Ninja supports & infrastructure took most of it, but there are a few sections left. I do seem to recall an upper deck on the Trollhouse, but it’s long gone.

Daveland; 30 years is about right for your non-Disneyland theme park visits. How long since you were at Knott’s? WDW? LOL! Your lack of “Tragic” Mt. reference has been noted; heck I was kinda looking forward to it!

Major; weekdays in May the park is dead, its only open 10:30 am to 6:00 pm – no time for school kids to invade the place! Yes, the Funicular (Orient Express) takes you to the top of the Mountain just steps away from Ninja and the Magic Pagoda.

Anon: “I believe sections of the Magic Pagoda are currently being used in the Willoughby's Mansion for the Haunt.” I’ve heard that too – Since I got an Season Pass I plan to find that out for myself.

Julanders; Thanks for the kind words. I’m not a coaster Junkie either – There is no way I’ll do the monster coasters at MM! Ninja is comparable to Screamin in the fear department so you’d be fine. You’re reading my entire blog? Not sure whether to thank you or apologize to you!

Outside: The Tower was closed when I got there, but opened around 11:30. They also close it if it’s too windy. It was not windy the day I went up, but it does sway a bit…

JG: You would not recognize 85% of the park, but the 15% is still fun.

Jeff: Good luck finding Magic Pagoda info, there is practically nothing online. You will see a rare interior photo in my Sky Tower post tomorrow (remember the “bridges”?) My memories are grainy but at the same time vivid, the dragon flying around the ceiling in the strobe light room still haunts me…

Jed; I didn’t have time to get to the train, I’ll be back soon so where is it again? Thanks!

Yellows; Awesome you worked on one of my favorite rides at MM! 1981 I was there many times, that’s the year I got my drivers license so I went a lot that summer! I forgot they used to be red!

Chris; Thanks and how’s that humidity?

.:Kristina:. said...

As a former Entertainment Dept. employee, I can confirm that inside the door you would have found the exit to Willoughby's Mansion's, the only good maze during Fright Fest. =) The building above it serves as a breakroom. It's sad to think how much better that park could be if they put some effort into it. Oh well....

TpC said...

wow - i was reminiscing about my fun times @ magic mountain in the early 80s and 90s... funny, one of my favorite spots i remember was the japanese gardens - maybe because i was making out with a certain girl after dark there.... apparently it was quite the makeout place.

Going back years later, me and my friend went a little off the beaten path in the gardens - i remember being able to see part of the Flume ride? very near it... apparently they had cameras or just happened to see us there and security came and threatened to throw us out if we didn't get our butts back over the rail.