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Ride Profile: Sand Blasters

By on 11/12/2011

Six Flags Magic Mountain Sand Blasters

Ride Type: Flat Ride

Manufacturer: Reverchon Industries
Model/Style: Bumper Cars
Year Built: 1971

Six Flags Magic Mountain may be known for its world-class collection of roller coasters, however it also has a handful of flat rides scattered around the park as well. Most of them are older, having been around since the early days of the park, long since overshadowed by their coaster cousins. But just because they are older, doesn’t necessarily mean they aren’t any fun. One ride that is considered to be essential for any amusement park is the classic bumper cars, and Magic Mountain just happens to have one of those.

Sand Blasters is the name of Magic Mountain’s bumper car ride. It was one of the original 33 rides when the park opened its doors in 1971 and it’s remained virtually untouched throughout the past 40 years. It was built by Reverchon Industries, a French company that was started back in the late 1920’s. In 1971, when this ride was built, the company was finally hitting its stride in the international market. Unfortunately, it was a victim of the global recession and closed its doors forever in 2008.

The ride has a standard layout, a round building with electric powered cars that travel in a circle, powered when the car completes a circuit between a power grid overhead and a metal floor. There are roughly 20 cars on the floor at any given time, give or take a few. Each car has a steering wheel, an accelerator, and a seatbelt. Drivers travel in a counter-clockwise direction, bumping each other as they please. The ride is located on the backside of the hill, right next to JB’s Smokehouse BBQ:

Six Flags Magic Mountain Sand Blasters

As I mentioned before, not much has changed with this ride over the years. The following photo was taken in the early 1970’s, not long after the park opened. The photo at the very top of this article was taken in 2011. Other than some fresh paint and a new covering for the queue, it’s exactly the same as it was 40 years ago:

Six Flags Magic Mountain Sand Blasters

Image © Robin Hall

This is the queue for the ride. It’s been a very long time since I’ve seen many people backed up waiting to ride these:

Six Flags Magic Mountain Sand Blasters

Once the ride stops, everyone clears out and a new round of riders is let in. Everyone gets to pick their own car. Once everyone is strapped in and secure, the ride will start:

Six Flags Magic Mountain Sand Blasters

Power to the cars is supplied through a giant metal grid, roughly ten feet overhead, well out of everyone’s reach. There is a large pole that extends up from the back of each car that makes contact with this grid to get the power that it needs:

Six Flags Magic Mountain Sand Blasters

Just touching the overhead power grid is not enough. Each car must be grounded as well, and that’s where the all-metal floor comes in. There are contacts under each car that must be touching the floor in order to complete the circuit. If either contact, overhead or on the floor, is broken, the car loses power and will not operate:

Six Flags Magic Mountain Sand Blasters

As the name “bumper cars” implies, each car has a giant rubber bumper that completely surrounds it. In the good old days, the tracks were a free-for-all, meaning you could drive wherever you wanted and bump into whomever you wanted. Unfortunately, those days are long gone. As our society has become more litigious, most parks have taken steps to protect themselves from frivolous lawsuits. Most bumper car rides these days force everyone to drive in a uniform direction, and some even ban ‘bumping’ the other cars. It’s hard to bump someone of you’re driving the same speed in the same direction. You can see the One Way signs on the back fence:

Six Flags Magic Mountain Sand Blasters

Here’s a fun little piece of park trivia. Before the park started using the Looney Tunes characters as their mascots in 1985, they used a wizard and some trolls. With the exception of what you see in the Sky Tower museum, all references to the trolls were removed from the park except for one, and he is seen on the Sand Blasters exit sign:

Six Flags Magic Mountain Sand Blasters

Behind this curtain is where the cars can be taken out of service to be worked on. You’ll notice that the curb swings open to allow passage of the cars:

Six Flags Magic Mountain Sand Blasters

There’s actually a really nice covered deck that surrounds the ride, allowing parents or others to observe the ride in action while staying protected from the elements. If you’re ever looking for a nice place to sit and eat your ice cream in the shade on a crowded day, this is a really good place to check:

Six Flags Magic Mountain Sand Blasters

If you’re observing the park from the Sky Tower, this is what the building looks like. The round part is the ride itself, while the partial brown covering is the deck:

Six Flags Magic Mountain Sand Blasters

14 Comments

  1. Eric

    11/13/2011 at 9:22 pm

    That queue is definitely not ADA-compliant. Nowadays, the bars need to be about three or four feet from each other to allow wheelchairs to pass through. It’s been awhile since I rode Sand Blasters, so maybe I’ll give it a courtesy ride on my next visit.

    • Neil

      06/18/2012 at 8:10 pm

      All rides except for Roaring Rapids is ADA compliant. If one with a disability would want to ride they can use the park’s ADA pamphlet to reserve their wait time. Once their wait time has been reached they can go through the exit and the ride operator will help them onto the ride.

  2. Robert

    11/15/2011 at 5:59 pm

    Haha, I honestly did not know you are suppose to go one way in that ride and always thought the one way sign meant there is only one way out to the exit. Every time I’m on the ride, I always go reverse or just spin in circles and never has a worker told not to do so.

    • Kurt

      11/15/2011 at 10:02 pm

      I’m not that sure that they monitor it that closely or care that much, so unless they see someone acting really reckless they probably won’t say anything.

    • Eric

      01/09/2012 at 9:08 pm

      Sometimes the operators will “remind” you to go in the correct direction. I’ve seen that happen a few times.

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  11. Francoise

    12/01/2014 at 10:13 am

    I just wish they would change the seat belts. I have seen some men have to get off because they can’t fit into them. They need a new system. I love the ride though, rode it since I was a kid, and so did my kids. 🙂

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