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Parking Overview At Six Flags Magic Mountain

By on 04/07/2011

Whenever someone visits a theme park for the first time, their very first impression is usually that set by their experience driving up to the property and parking. If they have a great experience here, chances are pretty good that things will get even better once they get into the park. If they have a bad experience, one can only hope that things will get better inside, but there is no guarantee. If a company doesn’t care about the parking facilities it provides, how much is it going to care about other aspects of their park? What follows are my personal observations and opinions about the parking conditions at Six Flags Magic Mountain.

Let’s start with an aerial view of the park and parking lots to get our bearings, courtesy of Google Maps. You enter the park from the southeast corner, on Magic Mountain Parkway. The end of Magic Mountain Parkway opens up into nine individual lanes of traffic, each feeding into a separate toll booth in the main gate where you pay for parking. Once through the main gate, you continue due north and wrap around the backside of the main parking lot. There are different entry points into the main parking area depending on the time of day and how many cars are already in the lot. When they first open in the morning, there will be Six Flags employees directing traffic. Each parking spot is deep enough for two average-sized cars to fit into, so the first car pulls all the way in and the second car parks directly behind them, both at an angle. The next two cars do the exact same thing in the next space, and it continues until the entire row is filled. They then move to the next row and repeat the process. Looking at the photo below, the lot is filled starting all the way over to the right and proceeds to the left until filled. What I have labeled as overflow parking is simply an expansion of their parking lot that was not park of the original parking lot. The employees also have a dedicated parking lot tucked in behind the park.

Photo (C) 2011 Google Maps

This is a photo taken at the end of Magic Mountain parkway, looking down the nine lanes that feed into the main gate. It’s too bad they don’t chain this section off when they are closed. As you can see, someone thought it would be cool to leave their calling card on the asphalt. Six Flags spent approximately $500,000 just two years ago having a new layer of asphalt and striping put down over most of the driveways and parking lot. It’s too bad some people feel the need to deface other people’s property.

This is a close-up of the main gate. The yellow posts in the foreground is where they chain it off when they are closed. I have never seen them use more than four of the pay booths at any given time, but  then again I avoid the park like the plague on their busiest days of the year. Each stall has a red or green light above it to indicate if it’s open or not, but  the yellow gate in front of the stall is usually a pretty good indicator. They use the pylons to funnel traffic to the open lanes. You have to be careful pulling in here because nobody pays any attention to the lanes. Everyone is focusing on which stalls are open and which have the shortest line. They will then make a dash for that line with no consideration to the cars around them. As you can see from this photo, all of the lanes curve at the last minute, so it’s also really hard to determine which lane goes to which stall until you’re practically right on top of it.

This is an aerial shot of the parking lot taken from the top of the Sky Tower right after the park opened. You can see that the cars are filling up the lot from the right and moving to the left.

As you can see in this older photo (check out the color of Superman’s tower), the cars have filled in quite a bit more of the parking lot but it’s far from being full. The giant white square section is what I dubbed the overflow lot. The park has to be exceptionally busy for that to be used.

Here is where we get into what is probably my biggest pet peeve with parking at Six Flags Magic Mountain. As explained above, the cars come down the row and park two to a space, each facing the same direction. When that row is filled, they start filling the second row. Notice the white line on the right? That’s where the first car is supposed to stop and then the second car just pulls in behind it. This is a very efficient way to get cars into the park. They can park cars very fast using this method.

My pet peeve occurs after the initial onslaught of cars are all parked and the parking lot employees disappear. You are then on your own to find a parking space. I wouldn’t have a problem with that if the parking lot was navigable. I usually like to arrive at the park sometime after lunch, knowing that lots of people leave the park to go eat elsewhere. If I drive all the way down one of the lanes (they’re pretty long) and don’t find a spot, I’m screwed. At the end of each lane, they dump you onto the road that exits the park. You can’t go left because it’s a one way, so you have to turn right (see the arrow?). You can’t turn back down the next lane because they are all one way, heading towards the exit row. It may not look like it in the above photo, but each lane is barely wide enough for one car. Most lanes are not wide enough for two cars to pass. Therefore, you are forced to go against the intended flow of traffic, risking your safety and that of others. Most people increase that risk by speeding back down the next lane because they want to get to the end before another cars pulls into it going the right way. It really is a nightmare situation trying to find a parking spot if you show up later in the day. You could easily park on the far side of the lot, where there are lots of open spaces, but they won’t run the trams all the way to the ends of the parking lot (look for a post on this pet peeve soon) so you end up walking a mile just to get to the entrance. I’m not against the exercise, but it’s no fun walking a great distance when it’s over 100 degrees outside, especially when you’re walking on hot asphalt.

This next photo is one of the several guard towers that are placed throughout the parking lot. I am still undecided if I should be glad they are there or worried that they are even necessary. I’m guessing they are there to keep an eye out for any sign of trouble in the parking lot, such as fights, muggers, and car break-ins, but I’m just not quite sure. Seeing as how these folks can’t actually keep an eye on everything around them at once, I think I’d be more comfortable knowing there were security cameras blanketing the entire lot, recording everything at all times. If I were to key the car next to me as I took this picture, this guy would never know. If a video camera was recording everything, there might be actionable evidence and a chance that I might be caught. I’m sure a video surveillance system with a single person watching it from a control room must be more cost effective in the long run then having multiple people manning these towers all day. A person in a control room would also be much safer if violence were to break out in the parking lot, yet just as quick and able to summon the police should trouble arise.

Other than the traffic flow and lack of trams for the far end, the parking situation at Six Flags Magic Mountain isn’t that bad. It’s quick to get in and I’ve never not been able to find a decent spot. I’ve never seen the lot that dirty when getting there early, however it definitely fills up with trash throughout the day. I constantly see people eating lunch out of their car and just throwing their trash on the ground. People also just dump things such as funnel cake plates and soda cups on the ground as they are walking to their car at the end of the day. Absolutely no respect. For the type of parking lot that it is, parking prices are a bit on the high side. I’ll examine this more closely in a future post when I discuss the possibility of a parking garage.

For the 2011 season, parking rates are $15 per car per day, or you can buy a season parking pass for $50 that is valid through December. Parking passes can be bought online, in which case you just print it out and present it as you pull up to the main gate. Of course, you can buy either a daily or season parking pass at the main gate using cash or a credit card. Season passes can also be bought at any of the ticket booths in front of the main entrance.

14 Comments

  1. Andy

    04/07/2011 at 9:53 pm

    Hey, Kurt

    I got some cool information for you. U know were mr. Six dance roller coaster was right? Well it looks like road runner express is NOT the 18th rollercoaster. The 18th roller coaster is not even public yet. My dad. Found out. He told me that it’s gonna be a even better tatsu n a better x2 so watch out

    • admin

      04/07/2011 at 11:24 pm

      I have no doubt they will eventually put something where the dance coaster was going to go, back by Deja Vu, but it won’t be the 18th coaster. All 18 are already known. In alphabetical order, they are: Apocalypse, Batman, Canyon Blaster, Colossus, Deja Vu, Gold Rusher, Goliath, Green Lantern, Magic Flyer, Ninja, Revolution, Riddler’s Revenge, Road Runner Express, Scream, Superman, Tatsu, Viper, and X2. If they end up putting a new coaster back in that corner, it will be #19, setting the bar even higher for Cedar Point. If you hear anything new from your dad, please feel free to shoot me an email.

      -Kurt

  2. Evan

    04/09/2011 at 5:39 pm

    Hey Andy,

    My dad also knows about this information. And yes, its pretty BIG. But if your talking about Green Lantern, then that’s not what i’m talking about.

  3. Charles

    04/16/2011 at 3:04 pm

    The park has a number of operational issues right now. It looks like a bunch of two year olds are running the park. So lets look at the parking situation. First, parking hosts need to do a better job of getting all the cars right up to the white line. Second, the issue of one way traffic could easily be solved by creating a single one way lane before the tram road to allow traffic to go back the other direction. Third, the security in the crows nest is a waste. A combination of security cameras and security guards patrolling in golf carts would be better. Fourth, the trams are a sorry sight these days. They really need to be replaced and put out of their misery.

    Look forward to your thoughts on a parking structure. I think it will be a good idea, but I fear the operational mess it could create. This will have to be done at some point since there is no space to expand Harbor or Magic Mountain. They really needed to get the land in front of the park between the entry road and Old Road. I remember the plans at one point with the Mills Corp to build a CityWalk type of place there with parking structures and hotel. Then the old parking lot was planned for park expansion. So much for that.

  4. Pingback: Parking Lot Tram Overview At Six Flags Magic Mountain « The Coaster Guy

  5. Thomas

    05/01/2011 at 4:01 pm

    Interesting article. You are 100% on about the poor parking when the employees don’t make people go all the way up to the line. OR, they put 2 rather large trucks or SUVs in the same lane which obviously means one will stick out, usually blocking almost the entire aisle.

    Interesting in the aerial shot where you show the main parking lot is a river. Although this has always been there, it has never been as close as it is now to the main parking lot. That area also used to be overflow parking. Each year we have heavy rain, that section gets washed away even more and if SFMM doesn’t tend to it soon, which it wont, it will eventually erode into the main parking lot.

  6. Squiggle

    01/23/2012 at 12:11 pm

    The security is in the towers since no other employees are in the lot. You are correct that a 24/7 video system would give more actionable evidence. Often the person in the tower would alert the rest of the security staff about emergency vehicles coming in or a fight or something that would have otherwise gone unnoticed.

    They also are a staff presence to answer questions where there would otherwise be no one to ask. Often visitors would ask about park policies before making the trek to the main entrance.

    If the lot was ever redone adding poles w/ security cameras an emergency buttons would be a great idea, similar to the poles found on college campus’ in California. At current, though, if there was no officer in the tower there would be no way to know what was transpiring in the parking lot.

  7. Jacob

    02/14/2012 at 12:47 pm

    i realize that this is an old post but i totally agree with everyone. they really should build a parking structure as it would not only make the whole situation better, but it would also allow for even more cars than just a parking lot would. and if they make the structure tall enough they could use the “overflow” parking along with a little bit of the regular parking in front of scream for park expansion.

  8. Floyd

    08/02/2013 at 7:11 pm

    Quick question please.

    I assume if I buy a season Gold Pass and print it at home, do I just show it to the attendant at the booth and they’ll wave me through without having hand over any $$$.

    • The Coaster Guy

      08/02/2013 at 9:53 pm

      If you’re talking about the parking booth, than the answer is no. Until you have your pass processed, you will need to pay for parking. What you need to do is have somebody drop you off at the front entrance (no charge) so you can run in and process your pass. They can drive down to the end of Magic Mountain Pkwy by X2 and wait for your call there. Once your pass is processed, they can come pick you up and then you can get into the parking lot by using your pass. It’s a hassle, but you only have to do it once.

      • Floyd

        08/27/2013 at 6:14 pm

        This has been bugging me somewhat, I don’t feel I should have to pay for parking twice. I decided to email this query to park itself as well and this was their response:
        “Thank you for contacting Six Flags! When you purchase online you will receive one parking voucher to use the first time you come to the park so that you can process your pass which will have the permanent parking on it. Thank you again and have a good day!”
        which makes me a lot more comfortable. I’ll find out for sure next month if it’s true.

        • Floyd

          08/30/2013 at 5:13 pm

          Quick addition. Just purchased my Gold Season pass online, includes a parking vouchers that states in the instructions: ” Voucher will be scanned twice, first at the toll plaza for entry into the lot on your first visit. Next, present voucher at Processing Center when your photo ID is made, ALONG WITH YOUR GOLD PASS VOUCHER”

  9. Scott C.

    08/06/2014 at 12:03 pm

    Taking a chance you can see this, I know this is old. I cannot find anywhere that shows what time the parking lot opens in the morning. I wanted to attend Honda ERT on Friday, and want to be there as early as possible to maximize time on Full Throttle. Any ideas?

    • The Coaster Guy

      08/06/2014 at 12:43 pm

      That’s a good question. I’m not sure. I think the parking lot normally opens 1 hour before the park, but the Honda entry to the park is 9:30, so I’d expect you to be able to park at least 30 minutes before that. Sorry I don’t know. You should call the park and ask. http://bit.ly/hondaert

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