I love thrill rides, and Six Flags Magic Mountain in Santa Clarita, Ca., is the Thrill Capitol of the World. Roller Coaster testers—yes, there are lucky people who actually get to ride roller coasters for a living—will tell you that different seats on the same ride provide a toadally different ride experience. I just spent a day hopping on and off some of the many roller coasters in the park. I have my favorite seats for each ride, and I will share them with you so that you know how to get the best seat on each roller coaster at Six Flags Magic Mountain. You can even apply this knowledge to choosing the best seat on other roller coasters at other theme parks!
Magic Mountain holds the world record for having the most roller coasters in an amusement park—with a whopping 19 coasters! A few of them are Lily’s speed or beginner coasters, but I consider 13 of them to be pretty great thrill rides. I like to get the maximum thrill and effect from each ride, so I usually pick my favorite seats…and that varies greatly based on the roller coaster. In general, the front seat offers some great visual effects while the back seat offers the wildest and fastest ride. That is why those seats tend to have the longest waits. I consider the middle to be the most ho-hum area of the coaster, but on certain coasters I actually choose the middle seats…and if you are a beginner thrill seeker or are nervous about riding and want a milder ride with less scary scenery, then that is a perfectly enjoyable place to be. Some coasters are so crazy that it just does not matter! Here is my take on my most favorite thrill rides at Magic Mountain.
How to get the best seat on a roller coaster at Six Flags Magic Mountain
Tatsu is the most amazing roller coaster. I could ride this smooth coaster all day long if the line weren’t so long. And the funny thing is about Tatsu—the roller coaster I care the most about—is that I do not care where I sit…well, lie really, because on this roller coaster you are suspended from above and lying on your stomach. Say whaaaat??? It is super high and loops around, soaring up in the sky like a flying dragon. You see ground far far below and you see sky, but you don’t really see the people ahead of you. All that comes between your thumping chest and the ground way below is your chest harness that you are sure is going to fail and drop you to your death. You get the best view of the park from up there—so try to keep those eyes open to take it all in. The front may be slightly better without having to glimpse anyone’s shoes ahead of you as you climb up the hill, and the back might be a little faster. But generally, here is a ride where you can take the shorter wait by choosing the middle and you will not lose any thrills—but you might lose your lunch. Just kidding.
The seats on X2 are located on the sides of the track, face backwards and spin 360 degrees. There is rock music blaring, voices coming from the speakers, fire shooting at you, and you have absolutely no idea where you are coming or going on this most extreme roller coaster. Really, it's the most extreme coaster I have ever been on. All you can do is scream and laugh hysterically as you plunge at the ground stomach first and then loop around in the opposite way you expect to move. I do enjoy sitting in the very last seat, because it provides the most extreme and fastest thrill. You also get the visual effect of being in the front because you are in the last car going backward, so you don’t see anyone else and you get a great view of the park as you climb backward up the initial hill. But the line is already long enough for this unique coaster, so I am happy choosing a middle seat if it has a slightly shorter wait because the thrills are already extreme. Once you are off the initial hill climb, all you see is an alternating view of sky and earth with nobody blocking your view. It’s hilarious and confusing extreme fun.
Colossus was the classic famous wooden roller coaster used in "Walley World," the fictional theme park in the original National Lampoon’s Vacation movie. The double racing roller coaster was reinvented in 2015 to combine steel and wood—creating a smoother ride that adds twists and turns and a zero gravity loop. The best surprise was finding out that one car now follows both tracks, extending the fun. You want the front seat for sure. The visual effect of looking straight down the hill is worth waiting for an extra car or two to sit in the front. If you head there first thing after park opening, there will be no wait, so you can try the first car and then try the last car to get the best of both worlds.
After going on Twisted Colossus, do not miss this next-door blue, looping coaster almost hidden in the corner. I Scream, You Scream, We all scream for the very front row on this looping, feet dangling roller coaster. If you sit anywhere but the front row, all you will see is the tall seatback in front of you. Yawn. But the front seat has great visual effect. I like the front seat on the right side because at one point it really looks like you are going to slam into the pavement below. I lift my frog feet just in case every time. I just can’t help it.
Batman The Ride
You want the front row, outside seat in this suspended, looping roller coaster. Otherwise, like Scream, all you see is the backs of the seats in front of you. Again, if you ride this really fun coaster (it’s nearby Twisted Colossus and Scream) within the first hour of park opening, you might not only get your first pick of seat but also get the entire ride to yourself. If nobody is waiting for the next ride, they may even let you stay on and ride again! Don’t let the lack of others make you think that this ride is not worth it. It’s super fun. The line will climb later in the day. Because it is located at the very back of the park it takes other guests while to make their way there. Outsmart them by hitting the back of the park first.
It does not matter where you sit on this ride. Because it changes directions, sometimes you’re in front and sometimes you are in back. This is fun, but it is one I could skip if I am short on time.
The Riddler’s Revenge
Riddle me this: Do you want to stand in a significantly longer line for this stand-up coaster? You choose your location on the ride earlier in the line and that can mean a really long wait for the front but a much shorter line toward the back. We say go for the time savings and hop in the shorter line for this one.
This steel mega coaster provides thrills including a 255-foot drop. No escaping the thrills here. Better view up front, a rougher and faster ride in back or big thrill in the middle. You cannot escape the disorienting excitement here.
Superman: Escape from Krypton
If the wait is super long, you might pass on this super short thrill. It shoots you backward straight up a 41-story tower at 100 mph and then drops you back down again. But if you must experience it, the back seat will take you higher.
This classic post-apocalyptic wooden roller coaster goes wicked fast. It and Superman: Escape from Krypton are the only two thrill coasters (besides the beginner coasters) that do not go upside down (while technically not looping, Goliath's crazy twists feel almost like inversions). I hop in back because the back car gets whipped over the hills and around the turns.
You can go all-out on the world’s tallest looping coaster. It almost feels like you are moving in slow motion when you circle such a large loop—keep you eyes open for the tall upside-down view of the park. The coaster is a little too short and sweet—we’d like more please! We like the back seat because at one point it takes you higher, but we don’t want to spoil the surprise on why. If you arrive at park opening this makes a good first coaster before the line builds because it is not an efficient loading system.
This coaster brags of seven inversions. The back is the fastest and roughest (as in head-banging rough). You might find a smoother ride in the middle and toward the front. This mega coaster has a significantly shorter wait then the other extreme coasters surrounding it, so it makes a great stop when you want a short wait. Brace your head and neck though.
The New Revolution
I have saved the newest coaster for last. This single looping coaster is also one of the oldest coasters in the park. The coaster was also featured in Vacation, back when Revolution and Colossus were the only real coasters in the park. It is fun to see how much the park has risen up around them. But now the Revolution has been revitalized as North America’s first Virtual Reality coaster. The coaster is the same, but the experience is, well, revolutionary. They hand you a Virtual Reality (VR) headset before entering the ride. So while you are on a roller coaster, you do not see the actual roller coaster track. Instead, it seems that you are in a fighter jet, shooting at robotic aliens in a city. This ride went from the shortest wait time to the longest with the addition of VR. Here’s a hint if you get motion sick: There is a single rider line that puts you in the front seat with no VR and no wait. Mommy Frog, who can get a little more green when it comes to screens and movement, enjoyed hopping in front with no VR. Other than that seat recommendation, you can probably just sit anywhere you like since you will be transported to another world. But the backseat will be a little wilder and faster. Just sayin’.
There are several smaller and gentler coasters in the park. The same rules generally apply. The front offers a better view or visual effect but can be the slower and gentler ride. The back seat gets pulled more quickly over the hills and around turns from the momentum of the other cars. If you are taking froglets on their first roller coaster rides, start them out gently in the middle and over time work your way to the front and back, especially if they love it and yell, “Again! Again!” Give them the love of roller coasters and they may become like me, an aspiring roller coaster tester!