For Spring Break this year, we decided to put our Six Flags season passes to good use and head to California and Magic Mountain. Yesterday I shared our budget and savings. In today’s post, I’ll go over our itinerary and share what we did each day through the first half of the trip. Then I’ll finish it up in tomorrow’s post.
Unpacking and Re-Packing
I had gotten home late the night before from a conference, but had left a packing list for the kids to do while I was gone. Unfortunately, I hadn’t planned for all of the things I would need to do to get ready for this trip, less than 24 hours after I returned from my last trip. Lesson learned!
Driving at Night
Needless to say, we got a late start and didn’t end up going to Magic Mountain on arrival like I had planned. We didn’t even make it by bedtime! We finally rolled up to the hotel, Hampton Inn Santa Clarita, around 1:00am. Luckily, Magic Mountain didn’t open until 10:30am, so we wouldn’t be in any rush to get to the park the next day. However, getting to our free hotel breakfast in the morning was a priority!
Magic Mountain was just a short drive down the road that ran parallel to the I-5 freeway from the hotel. I was a bit nervous about whether our passes included parking, but the attendant scanned my card and waved us through. We were pretty far back in the lot, because they save the front sections for “preferred” parking. We made a note of our space so that we could easily find it on the way back out.
No Food or Beverages
Turns out, I didn’t need to worry about finding the space again. I went back to the car twice before we even entered the gates, so I was pretty familiar with its location. The first time, I read the sign near the parking lot shuttle that said food and beverages were prohibited, even water. We marched back to the car to empty our packs of snacks and bottles of water. The kids decided to forego their packs altogether and just carry our seasonal souvenir sports bottles by the handle.
We went through security with little to no wait, but the attendant wouldn’t allow me to bring in my mini tripod. I hoofed it back to the car for a second time to empty my bag of banned items. Turns out I had one more illegal contraband: a Sharpie. Actually, it wasn’t even a Sharpie. It was an OfficeMax brand marker. I decided to throw it out rather than hike back to the car a third time. I was wondering why the attendant had not informed me of the marker the first time he checked my bag so that I could have left it in the car along with my mini tripod!
Unlimited Refill Sports Bottles
Once we were in the park, our day got a little bit better. We noticed people stopping off in an ice cream shop right at the front of the park to fill their sports bottles and take advantage of the unlimited refills. We decided to just get water since we couldn’t bring ours in with us, it was early in the day, and we could stay hydrated. We noticed other people had cool neoprene covers for their bottles and vowed to hunt them down sometime that day.
Lockers at Six Flags
We headed to our first ride, Goliath. They offer lockers, but you can simply put your stuff off to the side of the ride vehicle and pick it up when you get back. No one else will be there in between. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize this when I paid $8 for all-day locker access before we got into the queue. We didn’t use it once the rest of the day.
Hitting the Rides
I was really surprised that the kids wanted to try the ride with the biggest drop first, Goliath! It is certainly a thrill, and one I remember riding the last time I visited Magic Mountain in the early 2000s. After that, we tried a couple of mild rides themed to pirates: the Buccaneer, a swinging ship, and the Swashbuckler, which is a typical swings ride, and then headed to the DC super hero land. The kids got on The Flash, which I sat out due to my motion sickness. I knew that one would be too much.
Mixed Up Menus and Long Waits
By this time, we were ready for lunch. We saw a food court that touted nachos and other Mexican food favorites, but when we went inside, we found out that they had changed the menu from what was listed on the map and pictured in the signage outside. There were no nachos or tacos anywhere in sight. I decided to get a veggie burger at the healthy food stand at the front of the park, while the kids chose to get burgers from Johnny Rockets. However, by the time we got back to Johnny Rockets, the line had stacked up. I figured it must move quickly, but instead, it moved at a snail’s pace. We probably stood in that line for over an hour!
Meal Plan Limits
I also didn’t realize that they enforced time limits on meal plans, so I wouldn’t be able to get two more lunches when I finally got to the front because I would have to wait to use one of those credits for dinner starting at 4:30pm. I complained to the manager about the time limit and the untenable wait, and he let me have one of the meals as a dinner credit which he would run through later. I was very grateful for his creative thinking.
Coca-Cola Freestyle Machines
While we were getting my food at the Go Fresh Cafe, we had passed a shop that sold the neoprene bottle cozies we had coveted earlier. The store also featured a Freestyle machine. If you’ve never seen one of these things, they are amazing. You can choose from a wide variety of drinks, all dispensed from one machine that is self-serve. I like to drink regular soda instead of diet, but I try to mix in extra soda water if it’s available on the fountain. However, not many fountains offer soda water. I can easily do that with the Freestyle machine! Each of us picked out a fun design for our bottle holders, and the kids were relieved to be able to sling it cross body instead of holding onto the handle. Unfortunately, the bottles are not leak-proof, so some of the soda sloshes through the lid when it’s full. We learned very quickly not to fill the bottles too full and make sure the lid is properly aligned!
The Big Rides
I was hoping to go on Superman and the new drop ride that uses the same tower, but the kids thought both were too much. Between closures, rain the next day, and the fear factor, we never did try either of those rides. Maggie, however, tried the Batman ride and loved it! She even convinced Carter to go on it with her several times the next day!
It seemed like we encountered a lot of long lines, but the park didn’t feel at all crowded. I asked a ride attendant about that, and he informed me that it was the off-season. I was surprised by this since it was spring break season, and my experience at Disneyland during this time of year is that it is crowded, but open late with extra staff to accommodate the crowds. Magic Mountain seemed to ignore the crowds and minimize its staff, so it made a low to moderate crowd level feel much more, well, crowded.
The kids tired easily since we had gotten to bed so late the night before, so they were ready to go back to the hotel not too long after lunch. I put them off until I could use our dinner credit for a salad at the healthy food stand on the way out at 4:30pm. Once we got back, we put on our swimsuits to check out the hotel pool and hot tub. It was a soothing way to end the day!
Easier the Second Day
Everything was much easier the next day. We knew the lay of the land by this time, not wasting energy on trips back to the car to dump off contraband, or doubling back from taking a wrong turn to get to a different part of the park. Magic Mountain is hilly! There is even a tram to get up a hill in the middle of the park. We also strategized how to use our meal credits more wisely. Lunch was nachos with the snack credits, and dinner was shared lunch credits we used right before the end of the lunch time slot. We didn’t even end up using our dinner credits!
We knew there was rain in the forecast, so we were prepared with ponchos and umbrellas. Luckily, it was mostly just a drizzle here and there, so it didn’t put a damper in our touring too much. Some of the rides shut down in the rain, but since it was so off and on, it was hard to tell until you arrived at the queue.
Trying More Rides
We ended up trying more rides that we had missed the day before. My favorite was the Twisted Colossus. I remember the Giant Colossus from my previous visit, but it was replaced by a steel and wooden roller coaster that goes on the first track, and then switches over to a semi-parallel second track in the middle of the ride. It was super fun and intense! We found a delightful little coaster in the Gold Rusher, which the kids rode more than once. I wanted to try Justice League since it’s a shooting game like Buzz Lightyear. Maggie was both intrigued and frightened of the way Harley Quinn is portrayed in the ride. She had previously considered her a super hero rather than villain, mostly based on the fact that she stars in Suicide Squad, even though she’s never seen the movie.
Bugs Bunny World
We made our way into the land themed for kids called Bugs Bunny World. It was fun to reminisce back to my childhood growing up with Warner Bros. cartoons, but I don’t think my kids really know these characters very well. I found myself having to explain a lot of the context of the rides. We rode a coaster with Wile E. Coyote chasing the roadrunner, another with Speedy Gonzalez, and Taz’s Trucking Company.
Calling It Early
Once again, even though we hadn’t ridden everything, the kids were ready to call it quits early, opting to snack back at the room rather than use our dinner credits. I was okay with that since I knew we’d be going to Knott’s Berry Farm the next day, and I wanted to leave the hotel early to make the drive before the park opened.
Check tomorrow’s post to see how our trip ended as we head to Knott’s Berry Farm and the Hyatt in Palm Springs.