Monday, April 27, 2009

The only “magic” is in the name

My thoughts on Six Flags Magic Mountain . . .

First of all let me state that kids consider me a middle-aged bore. From that perspective let me describe my experience at Six Flags Magic Mountain. I visited the park to help chaperone a church youth group. One of the kids wasn’t able to make the trip and so we had one extra ticket we decided to sell at the gate. We figured that someone waiting in line to pay $59.99 would jump at the chance to pay $20 to get into the park.

Since we don’t live in California, we were unaware that trying to recoup some of your money in this fashion is called “scalping”. Californians frown on scalping as severely as armed robbery. As soon as my wife offered the ticket to a kid she was escorted from the line by an undercover “Loss Prevention Agent” (from their job description: “Imagine coming to work every day in disguise!”). The “agent” who had a tin Magic Mountain badge and a non-functioning walkie-talkie threatened to jail my wife for scalping. Apparently, if you read the fine print on the back of the ticket it says the ticket has a value of 1/10 of 1 cent. If you try and sell it for more than that amount you’re a scalper. (“Hey buddy, can you spare 1/10 of a cent, I’m making a deal?”).

Since my self-described “not-middle-aged” wife didn’t assault the “Loss Prevention Agent”, she only had her name entered into the agent’s violation book and was allowed to enter the park with a stern warning. (The ticket was confiscated since it had been used in the commission of a real crime). After spending a few hours in the park, I discovered the real crime is charging anyone more than $20 to enter the Unmagic Kingdom.

Just inside the door is a cyber café where we decided to check email and news from home. Well I’m not sure who they’re using for an ISP but I’m pretty sure that my page is still waiting to load . . . OK then, onto the rides. Roaring Rapids looked tempting for us “white bread” relics. We walked there ready to “Roar with delight” while we rushed through “Western America’s first man-made white-water river.” What we didn’t realize is that they’re still using the original boats. I know the “river” was only inches deep but sinking in one of America’s first man made fiberglass boats wasn’t appealing. We walked away squirting water with each step.

Taking a break from “roaring with delight” we decided to take in a show—oops, none scheduled for the entire day. Since old people “have to go more often”, I decided to visit the restroom. It appeared that I beat the cleaning crew there—by a week. I think I still have an imprint on my rear from the graffiti etched into the seat. Perhaps the filthy conditions are part of a two-part plan to discourage restroom loitering. Part two involves blasting ice cold air directly onto people using the single available stall—it certainly shortened my stay.

One of the lesser known facts about the park is that there are rides that aren’t covered by the exorbitant admission fee. For example, Cyclone 500, Dive Devil and Thrill Shot cost more money—lots more.

If you get hungry you can pay $12.99 for a double-cheeseburger meal. Since it said “double” on the menu I thought it meant enough food for two people—nope, only enough for one but “served with a smile”. If I was charging $13 for a hamburger I’d give everyone the biggest smile they’d ever seen—and then I’d take their money and go to a amusement park where they value their guests, maintain the facilities, and clean the restrooms.

PS—The kids said the park was great and they had a fun time.

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