NCL Free At Sea

Magic Pagoda Refurb At Six Flags Magic Mountain?

By on 02/17/2011

One of the most bizarre and often talked about past attractions of any theme park has got to be the Magic Pagoda at Six Flags Magic Mountain. Located at the top of Samurai Summit, next to the Sky Tower, this was a Chinese-themed walk-though attraction that was open from 1975 to 1984. The best description that people have come up with was that it was a Chinese fun house. Although virtually no pictures of the original interior exist today, or at least are not publicly available, most people who have been through the attraction recall virtually the same experience.

Everyone remembers a long hall with a talking Buddha at the end that welcomed you to the Magic Pagoda. As you moved from room to room, you would experience different things. There was a hall of mirrors, a strobe light room with a dragon circling overhead, miniature Chinese cities, neon signs, and glass chambers that you could enter that would make you ‘disappear’ right in front of the other other guest’s eyes. Marketing material for the Magic Pagoda advertised it as “a space age technological marvel.” However, most people just remember it as being very weird but good for a laugh and a quick cool down in the hot summer months.

There are mixed reports as to why it closed. In addition to the obvious reason for why an attraction eventually closes, that being dwindling attendance and an increased expense for maintenance/upkeep, there were also rumors of a fire. Some people claim that after a fire broke out inside, it was discovered that there were no clear or obvious evacuation routes, so it was a safety hazard.

Some time after it closed, a snack shop opened in the upper part of the building with nice outdoor seating that still exists today. Unfortunately, that eventually closed as well leaving the building vacant and no place to buy drinks or snacks on the top of the hill, other than from a vending machine.

During the last couple of years, the old building has been given some new life as a haunted maze during the annual Halloween Fright Fest. Every October, it becomes Willoughby’s Haunted Mansion with “hair raising terror around each nightmarish turn and dreadful screams down the long twisting hallways.”

As I was heading to the Sky Tower the other day, I happened to notice that there was some work being done to the building. It looks like the entire facade across the front of the building is being removed:

This debris was piled up out front and makes it look like they may be doing some demolition work inside the building as well. You can see some of the tables I referred to earlier in the background. With no more food service anywhere on the top of the hill, these usually just sit vacant unless someone is resting or seeking out some shade. The stairwell you see leads down to the queue for Ninja:

A close-up of the facade shows some serious rot/decay, possibly water damage:

I have no idea what they are going to do here, but I seriously hope they decide to put in some sort of food service again. With Ninja, the refurbished Magic of the Mountain Museum at the top of the Sky Tower, and Superman: Escape from Krypton opening up, there will likely be a lot of people at the top of the hill this summer. A place to get food and drink would be welcomed by many.


  1. Josh

    02/18/2011 at 11:05 pm

    I wonder if anything will become of the old location for Laughing Dragon Pizza? This season is a good one to bring back life on the top of the hill. It’s usually pretty empty because Ninja and Sky Tower aren’t the most popular attractions at the park.

    • admin

      02/19/2011 at 7:03 pm

      I’ve been wondering that myself. I’ve never been inside that building, but it seems like a good spot for them to put in some sort of eatery. Especially since the rebirth of Superman. If they don’t have the cash to do it, they should partner with someone to do it.

      • Jerry

        09/07/2016 at 5:19 am

        I have been inside when I worked at ninja I remember I mange to open a door one time I took a peek into saw a strobe light on I didn’t bother to go further thinking someone might be inside, I also remember when magic 1st started with the haunted house early 90’s

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  3. Thomas Rabone

    09/16/2012 at 3:16 am

    Maybe the Carl Karcher company could put a Hardee’s there. Seems like a shrewd company that is willing to try new things marketing-wise. Also, would die and go to heaven if they brought back the Magic Pagoda. Yeah, right, and a steam train to Tollywood too!

    • Kurt

      09/16/2012 at 3:23 pm

      We don’t actually have Hardee’s here in California. On the West coast, they are all branded as Carls’ Jr. restaurants. I don’t expect to see a branded fast food joint open up any time soon, but they will be using the Laughing Dragon Pizza location to host the Fright Feast event during Fright Fest this year. I’m hoping that with Full Throttle practically going right overhead, they will reopen this location and put in some sort of patio off the back where people can sit and look at the massive loop and what ever else they decide to do to that area down below.

  4. John Welsh

    08/22/2013 at 4:25 pm

    This was a very awesome piece, bringing back very good memories of my younger days …. as kids, we never stopped growing tired of the Magic Pagoda. Probably it had a lot to do with your comment about escaping the heat for a few moments. We were pretty easily amused, too. I found your post when I Googled “Magic Pagoda and Magic Mountain.” I thank you very much for taking me down memory lane.

    With Warm Regards,


  5. Jason Wilson

    12/01/2013 at 12:47 pm

    I remember the magic pagoda when I was a small child. The thing that stands out most was the house of mirrors section. You would seem to get lost and lose your herrings. Then behind the mirror some really detailed devil looking monster would appear behind the mirror and light up. It scared my mother so bad she was looking for the exit. It almost gave her a heart attack. The magic pagoda and the galaxy spider looking Ferris wheel were two of my favorite shut down attractions from magic mountains past.

    • Shar

      12/28/2014 at 11:51 am

      I remember the Hall of Mirrors. I’ve been telling that tale for so long without ever finding a hint that it was true, so I began to doubt my memory of it. I was very young when I went, and I got separated from my mother while in there. I remember trying to find a way out, and bumping into a couple of mirrors with awful statues inside that were backlit. Thanks for the corroboration. 🙂

  6. Nanette San hez

    10/25/2015 at 5:35 pm

    Hi the reason it closed was in May of 1984 Six Flags Great Adventures Haunted Castle caught fire and killed 9 kids. It was not up to fire codes. Several lawsuits followed. Six Flags also owned Magic Mountain and the Pagoda was not up to code as well. It would have been very costly to bring up to code. It was shut down instead. Both walk thru attractions needed fire alarms and sprinklers. Also all material needed to be fire retardent. A lot of walk thru attractions were closed after the New Jersey tradegy. I loved the Pagoda!!!! As a child it was very scary.

  7. Martin

    10/16/2017 at 7:40 am

    Hi there. The Magic Pagoda at Six Flags Magic Mountain closed in 1981. I was on the Show Operations crew from 1980-82. While I was there we were sent in to strip the inside of everything useful. I remember it took 8 of us to move the giant green monster with the snake wrapped around it. It was mostly made of foam, but with 600 pounds of iron framework. All the mannequins were removed and ultimately rotted away from neglect except one, which I have. Everything else was destroyed. Except that I have no idea what happened to the giant Buddha, it was a hollow plastic wood framed facade. I had heard that it was cut up to remove it, but I did not see that. I still have a few small bits and pieces I was allowed to salvage, but the rest is gone.

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