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Parking Lot Tram Overview At Six Flags Magic Mountain

By on 04/16/2011

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote an overview of the parking lot and what’s it like to try and find a parking space at Six Flags Magic Mountain (here). I mentioned that the very first impression a theme park makes on its guests is often times their experience pulling into the park and parking. Once out of the car, the guest needs to make their way to the front entrance, and that’s what this article is about; the parking lot trams.

Let’s start with an overview of how Six Flags Magic Mountain runs their parking lot trams using the image below. The loop at the bottom of the green line, labeled ‘Front’, is the main entrance to the park. This is where the trams drop off arriving guests and pick up the departing guests. The red line indicates the loading area. The tram then proceeds up a special portion of the entrance road dedicated to the tram and makes its first stop at the red line labeled ‘#1’. Guests can only get off the tram here, none can get on yet. The tram then continues along the same route making its second stop at the red line labeled ‘#2’, again only letting people off the tram. It then continues along the route and makes a u-turn and starts to head back. The now empty tram stops at #2 and picks up new passengers, and then does the same at #1 before returning to the front entrance.

(C) 2011 Google Maps

Now that we’ve gotten the main flow out of the way, let’s talk about some of the issues that I have with the trams. I often park somewhere between stop #1 and stop #2 . Since it is usually the same distance to either tram stop, I thought it was logical to head towards stop #1 since it was closer to the park entrance. However, on more than one occasion, the tram hasn’t stopped for me at #1 because it was filled to capacity at stop #2. Since the park seems to run one tram more often than two, you must either wait there quite awhile for it run the entire circuit again, or just walk all the way to the entrance by foot. It’s not a bad walk, but it gets really, really hot here in the summer. One particularly hot day I saw a second tram coming in the distance, so I decided to wait. Guess what? It too had filled to capacity at stop #2 and was unable to stop to pick us up. This was a very poor experience.

If you look at the above picture again, you’ll notice three different colored parking areas; black on the far right (stops #1 & #2), light grey (stop #3), and then an almost white lot on the far left. During the off-season, they’re lucky if they fill half of the black area, so two stops seem adequate. However, I was forced to park in the middle of the grey lot the last couple of trips I’ve made to the park. I know what you’re thinking – that’s when they kick stop #3 into action, right? Nope. I had to walk from the other side of the guard tower in the grey lot to stop #2 in order to catch a tram. There are also no dedicated walking paths or sidewalks in this gigantic parking lot, so you either have to walk down the narrow rows where the guests are looking for parking spots and risk getting hit or walk down the dedicated tramway where you will get yelled at as the trams approach. The good news is that since that’s the first pick-up, the tram is empty and you have a good shot at getting a seat. I have never seen the trams go all the way to the last stop. I know there is one there because they have a loading area marked with purple flags. When I asked the tram operator, she said they don’t use that stop any more, but she wasn’t sure why.

Let’s talk about the trams themselves. The park must have about three or four of them. I know I’ve seen at least three different trams myself. I haven’t been able to confirm this, but I believe that every single tram is as old as the park itself. If the park didn’t have trams on opening day, then I’m sure they are the original trams from the day they started using them. In other words, they’re are really old, show their age, and are in desperate need of replacement. Each tram holds approximately 76 people; five rows of seats in the drivers section and seven rows of seats in each of the two trailing sections, with each row comfortably seating four adults. There is a driver up front and a spotter in the rear. Here is a photo of the tram loading up at the main entrance:

You can tell from this next shot that the trams are old, but it doesn’t look too bad from here. Each trailing section only has one axle, and I do not believe they have any sort of suspension or shocks at all. It is a very rough ride and you feel every single bump and crack in the road. It can be very hard on the back. It’s funny to listen to some of the comments the first-time riders make about it, but it’s also sad that they are given the opportunity to make derogatory comments about the park before they even get to the main entrance.

I think the tram above is the only one with both front windshields. How would you like to see this next tram coming to pick you up during your very first visit to the park? I don’t know about you, but my first thought would be that if they can’t properly maintain their trams, how safe are the roller coasters going to be? It’s sounds funny, but it’s not. This is definitely sending the wrong message to park guests.

I think most of the trailers are missing one or both windshields. This one is missing the glass on the left:

This next one is missing the glass on the right. I could post a bunch more similar pictures, but I think you get the point. You can’t really tell from these photos, but all of the glass was completely filthy. The park had just opened and it was obvious that they don’t do any cleaning on these things before putting them in service. I bet they just park them outside every night and put them in service in the morning without doing anything to them. How hard would it be to do a quick wipe-down of the dust each morning and clean the windshields? To me, this just shows an incredible lack of pride in what they do. Just because park management doesn’t require it to be done, you would think the employees operating the tram would take the initiative. In the photo below, you can also see damage to the dark blue sheet metal on both trailers. The seats are all chipped and scratched, the seat supports are actually scratched and rusty, and the arm rest on the front row is bent out of whack.

I did not intend for this article to be a bash against Six Flags Magic Mountain, but I definitely wanted to shine a light on the issue. These trams are old and need to be replaced. I can understand wanting to get full value out of your equipment, but come on. These trams are well beyond their intended lifespan, have a zero book value, and were written off of the company books long ago. It’s time to get some new ones. Everyone complains about them yet nobody seems to do anything about them. I’m hoping this article is read by someone in a position to finally do something about it.

What are your thoughts on the trams? Are there trams at other Six Flags parks and are they just as bad? Please leave a comment and let us know if this is a local problem or company wide.

20 Comments

  1. jd

    04/16/2011 at 10:46 pm

    lol i remember like 3 years ago i was riding one of the trams back to my car at night and it broke down. started smoking and everything. They made us get off and walk the rest of the way. Its kind of rediculous. im sure they could get at least 2 new ones for under 60k. Pocket change that would make a huge difference. and i didnt know they didnt go all the way to the dirt lot anymore. its a joke. I might just get a season pass to knotts next year.

  2. Kyle Dugan

    04/18/2011 at 2:46 pm

    Hey Coaster Guy,

    Do you have an email I can reach you at?

    Thanks,
    Kyle

  3. Planet SIX

    04/18/2011 at 6:54 pm

    The trams are pretty poor, but it’s not like it’s a long drive. And I remember Discovery Kingdom’s about the same.

    • admin

      04/20/2011 at 7:07 am

      No offense, but that’s exactly the wrong attitude to have when you’re in the guest relations business. Every single interaction you have with your guests needs to be of the highest caliber. That’s what keeps people happy and coming back for more. “Good enough” is not good enough.

      • Planet SIX

        04/22/2011 at 10:44 pm

        Yes, but the tram doesn’t influence people to return or not. It’s a resource, not a new state of the art attraction.

  4. Ryan O

    04/18/2011 at 9:33 pm

    I can’t help but notice this issue every time I visit. The biggest problem for me is that the tram service is completely insufficient. There just aren’t enough trams for the amount of people who need the transportation.
    Whenever I ride it, each row is uncomfortably crammed with passengers, because no one wants to wait 5 or 10 minutes for the next tram to come. Now I just walk to the main gate because it’s faster and a better experience (even during the summer).

  5. jd

    04/27/2011 at 12:34 pm

    Now since you’ve done a review on the parking lot and the tram can i expect to see one on each themed area in the park?

    • admin

      04/27/2011 at 1:41 pm

      Yep…I’m getting there. I’m impressed that you picked up on my theme so early! I’ll eventually have overviews of the season pass registration process, themed areas of the park, and each individual ride starting with those that have been in the park since it opened in 1971. There is so much to write about, yet so little time…

      • jd

        04/28/2011 at 11:24 am

        Sounds awesome. Cant wait!

  6. tanya sanders

    07/06/2011 at 9:32 pm

    I visit magic mountain myself and noticed that the tram smells propane for most
    part and not design to handle the large volume of park visitors increase in altogether .The trams need to be replaced with newer,bigger trams to handle the
    volume of park goers .The trams set an image to the overall amusement park to
    the public once they board the tram from the parking lot.

    • admin

      07/07/2011 at 6:05 am

      Not much they can do about the propane smell, and I find that it’s nowhere near as bad as the smell coming from the Disney trams. However, I’m sure that’s due to the size of engine being used between the two. Overall, I’m very happy that they’re even using propane. I hear it’s much more efficient and better for the environment.

  7. Mike

    10/28/2011 at 9:17 pm

    The parking lot does not have bad management!! The third stop is only used if the third parking lot is being parked!! There is most of the time more than one tram out!! The trams are old yes they need replacing yes but the six flags parking crew is doing best with what they are given!! If you parking in the second lot wait at the second stop for boarding for the tram!! The tram driver do what they call cross boarding at stop 1 when they know they will fill up at stop 2! I would have to say the parking lot crew does a great job!! People just have to understand that they might be under staffed or other stuff might be going on so take it in consideration!!
    Sincerely the guy that miss his parking lot crew!

  8. Bryan

    08/08/2012 at 9:46 am

    I just came back from a visit to Hurricane Harbor…. seriously, those are the worst trams I’ve ever seen in my life. I was embarrassed for Magic Mountain.

  9. mike

    12/11/2012 at 7:50 pm

    You have no idea how much I love reading this overview of the trams. Think I will link it onto my desktop and click and read each time I go to SFMM. Perhaps changes are on the horizon or not …..but as long as Tram #5 runs all is good in the world… (FYI #5 only has a drivers window and is missing the other 5 windows … lol)…. Lemme go re-read this again … Gawd I love this.

    • Kurt

      12/11/2012 at 9:08 pm

      Ha! I saw your comment and had to go back and read it again myself. You can tell it was an early post of mine, not long after I started the blog. I was pretty hard on the staff. I’m not sure my opinions have changed much, but I do have a much better understanding of why things are the way they are, and the challenges the parking lot staff face everyday. I’m really surprised to hear that you like it so much.

  10. Pingback: New Trams For Six Flags Magic Mountain |

  11. Looper

    08/27/2013 at 9:53 pm

    Still a very nice read. So how to compare the old trams now to the buses. Give me back the trams please. But get more of them, have 10 trams, ok perhaps not 10 but at least have 5 available.

  12. Looper

    07/10/2014 at 10:50 pm

    Lets get back the trams but perhaps at least something built after 2001. Buses have the perks with A/C or heat on cold and windy days of March. But lets be able to go back to yesteryear and fill 17 rows at one time. Yes trams were never cleaned from day to day and might only have gotten a wipe down if dew or bird ca-ca had been left over at night. True there were employees that really did/do care but no budget was in place to clean or wipe them down. They were ghetto but we need a re-do with some trams again. Sign the petition to bring back the trams.

  13. Charles

    07/15/2015 at 12:17 pm

    I drove the trams 1-6 when I worked there, trams 1-5 were old Universal studio trams 6 was bought new (it was a extra that did not get sent with the rest I believe the others like 6 were built for a airport in Hawaii) but the axle broke and they never could get it correct so the cars did not line up they were offset and just before I left a few trams were brought in from another six flags park but I never drove those just saw them sitting in the overflow lot across feedmill when I was there all the windows were in the trams and the drove very good but the weld was welded on weld they were constantly being welded I think the stiff suspension caused the cracking and we used to haul full loads constantly with no real issues the engines pulled great.

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