Well, 2020 has been a roller coaster of a year! You know what I could go for right now? A ride on my favorite real roller coasters at Six Flags Magic Mountain. While we feel ready to go "Full Throttle," we will have to wait until the theme park reopens after its temporary closure due to COVID-19. At this point, it feels more like we are on Superman: Escape from Krypton. We are strapped in and sitting still, socially isolated and anticipating the 0 to 100 miles per hour acceleration that will be the Six Flags Magic Mountain reopening announcement. Then we can finally race back to the thrill capital of the world! But we just do not yet know when that will be. It's a real nail biter.
The State of California released theme park reopening guidelines. California has a 4-Tier Blueprint for a Safer Economy that rates each county's risk level as it relates to COVID-19:
Tier 1 (Purple) is Widespread Risk, with many non-essential business closed
Tier 2 (Red) is Substantial Risk
Tier 3 (Orange) is Moderate Risk
Tier 4 (Yellow) is Minimal Risk, with less than one daily new case per 100,000 residents
A theme park cannot reopen until the county in which it is located reaches the Yellow Tier 4. That means Los Angles County would have to reach Tier 4 Yellow before Six Flags Magic Mountain could reopen. Once the theme park is ready to reopen, it must limit capacity to 25 percent through a reservations system. Face coverings are mandatory.
Even though the theme park cannot reopen yet, Six Flags has a holiday treat. The park is opening the gates this season. No you can't walk through the theme park, but you can drive through it! What? Yes, Six Flags Magic Mountain is offering a Holiday in the Park Drive-Thru Experience with themed areas and millions of dazzling lights. Beginning at 6 p.m. on select nights, you can wave to beloved characters from afar, pass by Santa and enjoy holiday sweets and eats in your car and snow falls in Southern California. Reserve in advance. You have to reserve for each person in the car and also reserve food in advance if you want to enjoy snacks as you pass through the decorations. It's $20 per person age 3 and up. The event is held Nov. 20 through Jan. 3.
Six Flags Magic Mountain Reopening Dates and Hours
Even though a few Six Flags parks and water parks have reopened around the country, in California, the theme parks are awaiting government approval to safely reopen. We Magic Mountain fans admit to being a little greener (with envy) than usual and are hopping with anticipation for any news that brings us closer to California theme parks reopening.
As soon as the California governor approves California theme parks to reopen and lays out the state guidelines, we expect Magic Mountain to set a reopening date and new operating hours. Hurricane Harbor water park remains closed through the 2020 season.
So what changes can we expect during the Six Flags Magic Mountain and reopening as well as the Hurricane Harbor water park reopening?
Six Flags Magic Mountain Reopening Safety Measures and Reservation System
Even when Magic Mountain reopens, the theme park will operate a little differently during the pandemic. That’s to be expected, and we applaud the steps Six Flags is taking to keep guests and the employees safe. Those measures include limiting capacity for physical distancing, changes to ride procedures, increased sanitizing and disinfecting, and of course, mandatory face coverings for all employees and guests. Basically, at Six Flags Magic Mountain, you can expect a lot of the same changes that will be in place at other local theme parks. You can learn about other parks in our post on What to Expect when the California Theme Parks Reopen.
Expect Park Capacity Limitations with a New Magic Mountain Reservations System
During the Six Flags Magic Mountain reopening, the park will operate with reduced attendance. This allows for physical distancing and supports other changes the park will make in terms of queues and ride capacity. A message on the Six Flags website states that all visitors — including pass holders and members — must make advance reservations for a specific day and time period via the online reservations system to visit the park. Having staggered entrance times can avoid overcrowding at the entrance.
Anyone with a ticket can make a reservation. All ticket holders will use this reservations system, including season pass holders. Guests will also pre-pay for parking. Reservations can be canceled but not transferred. Guests may also order masks and other merchandise if desired. The reservation system will go online for Magic Mountain shortly before operations resume. During an initial preview period, only members and season pass holders will have access. After a set period of time (for most other Six Flags parks the preview period has been a few days), the system will open up to other ticket holders. The parks will operate at a percentage of normal capacity. As the situation changes over time, capacity will ramp back up based on local guidelines.
New Health Policy for Guests
Before visiting, all guests are asked to review the health policy. All guests should be healthy for at least 14 days prior to visiting. Guest and employees will undergo noninvasive temperature checks before entering.
Required Face Coverings
All guests (ages 2 and up) and team members must wear face coverings that cover the nose and mouth while they are in the park and water park. Masks may be N95, surgical or made of cloth. If a guest is unable to wear a mask, then he or she may wear an acrylic face shield while in the park. Acrylic face shields may NOT be worn on ANY attractions. Only guests wearing a mask may ride the attractions. Guests may remove masks in pools, on waterpark attractions (note Hurricane Harbor remains closed through the 2020 season) and in Mask Break Zones.
Is your mask roller coaster ready? You don't want to lose it on a ride, so bring a secure mask and several backups. You'll want to swap your mask out throughout the day when it gets wet, sweaty or dirty. Masks are available for sale in the park. Check our our tips for wearing masks in theme parks.
Physical Distancing Measures During the Six Flags Magic Mountain Reopening
Expect the following steps to help keep people physically distanced in the park:
- Virtual queues.
- Signage and ground markings to indicate where to stand and walk.
- Limit the number of people in queues.
- Promote 6 feet of separation in all queues (ride, restroom, restaurant).
- Separate guests on rides and attractions by leaving empty rows and empty seats.
- Limit the number of riders in ride vehicles.
- New reservations system to limit park capacity.
- Promote guest separation in water park changing and shower areas.
- Reduce indoor capacity of shops, restaurants and service buildings.
- Separate guests in entertainment viewing areas.
Measures to Reduce Contact Between Guests and Employees
Besides physical distancing measures between guests, expect steps to reduce contact between guests and team members, such as:
- Minimize guest contact during security pre-screen using state-of-the-art technology to efficiently perform bag checks and metal detection with no contact.
- Mobile order.
- Cashless transactions.
- Physical barriers when physical distancing cannot be maintained.
- Purchase parking and tickets in advance.
- Provide employees with protective equipment.
- Food service items such as napkins, food wrappings, condiments, and cutlery will be accepted into the warehouse, quarantined, disinfected and secured prior to disbursement and utilization.
- The restaurants eliminate and reconfigure buffets to eliminate guest contact with food.
- Indoor dining spaces would be limited to 25 percent capacity.
The team members will constantly sanitize the park and frequently touched surfaces, such as chairs, tubes, benches, tables, cans, etc. Expect the following sanitation measures:
- Team members sanitize game items and reconfigure games for social distancing.
- Guests can find hand-washing and hand-sanitizing stations throughout the parks and at the entrance and exits of rides.
- Hygiene signage reminds guests to practice good hand hygiene.
- Employees frequently monitor and sanitize restrooms/water park changing areas.
- Team members frequently sanitize ride units.
- Employee work areas sanitized in both front and back of house.
- Only unused cups are used at beverage filling stations.
- Hygiene signage reminds guests to practice good hand hygiene.
Increased Training for Employees and Guests on COVID-19
Team members receive training on how to stay safe and keep guests safe. In addition to training, each employees receives Personal Protective Gear. All employees receive a kit featuring a face mask, gloves and safety glasses to use during their shift. Employees can refresh kits daily or as otherwise needed.
Six Flags will educate guests on these measures as well. Guests with reservations visit an On-boarding Program to receive information about the visit and expected social distancing and hygiene guidelines. The program includes emails, documentation and videos. A newsletter communication program also gets guests on board with the new procedures.
Risks Associated with the Six Flags Magic Mountain Reopening
Despite all the safety measures, visiting a theme park during a pandemic has its health risks. Six Flags Magic Mountain has a safety disclaimer on its site. It says:
"Exposure to COVID-19 is an inherent risk in any public location where people are present; we cannot guarantee you will not be exposed during your visit. The CDC advises that older adults and people of any age who have serious underlying medical conditions might be at higher risk for severe illness from Coronavirus. Guests should evaluate their own risk in determining whether to attend. People who show no symptoms can spread Coronavirus if they are infected, any interaction with the general public poses an elevated risk of being exposed to Coronavirus. By coming to the park, you acknowledge and agree that you assume these inherent risks associated with attendance."
Mask Break Zones
Wearing a mask and climbing those Magic Mountain hills all day can make you hot. If you need to take a breather, look for a Mask Break Zone. You can sit down, cool off and catch your breath. It's a good time to switch out a sweaty, dirty mask with a fresh one. Be sure to drink plenty of fluids throughout the day. Sometimes wearing a mask can act as a deterrent to getting enough fluid. Be conscious of your fluid intake.
Are you as excited as we are for the Six Flags Magic Mountain reopening? Once the theme park is open, remember to purchase a ticket in advance and make a reservation. Psst ... your favorite froggy friends can save you some green with discount Six Flag Magic Mountain tickets and Los Angeles Go Cards, which can save you money on multiple Los Angeles, Orange County and San Diego attractions.