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Ride Profile: Buccaneer

By on 04/17/2012

Ride Type: Flat Ride

Manufacturer: Intamin AG
Model/Style: Bounty Pirate Ship
Year Built: 1980

One of my favorite non-roller coaster rides in Six Flags Magic Mountain is Buccaneer. It is a classic Bounty swinging pirate ship made by Intamin. It’s a very simple ride that produces a ton of fun. The basic premise is that you climb on board a pirate ship, take a seat, and start swinging. If you like the feeling of weightlessness, like I do, you’ll love this ride.

In 1979, one of the park’s original attractions, the Galaxy double Ferris wheel, was taken down. In 1980, half that space was used to install the Buccaneer pirate ship. In 1983 a Chance Yo-Yo called Swashbuckler was added to the other half. As you can see in this first photo, the two rides share a ride entrance, with the Buccaneer entry being on the left:

sfmm_buccaneer_02

A very fun detail that many people never seem to notice is that the entry is actually a crashed pirate ship. Looking back at the above photo, it pretty much just looks like a wood building with two open doorways. However, if you glance at it from the side, it takes on a very different look. It’s now obviously a wrecked ship lying on its side:

sfmm_buccaneer_14

Once you go through the left entry, you see a standard queue area. This picture was taken several months ago when the ride was closed for maintenance. You can just make out part of the ship in the background, all sanded down and awaiting its new paint job:

sfmm_buccaneer_03

Once the ride operator opens the gate for the guests waiting, you cross over the ‘gangplank’ to get to the loading area for the ship:

sfmm_buccaneer_05

As you can see here, the loading area is actually curved to match the curve of the ship. The ride operator has a small station from which they can control the ride:

sfmm_buccaneer_06

The ship itself has ten rows of bench seats, split equally in the middle with two groups of five rows facing each other. Each row can accomodate up to five riders with a maximum of 50 people per ride. There is one giant lap bar for each row:

sfmm_buccaneer_07

I couldn’t help but wonder if we were even going to go anywhere with the sails being sideways. It also didn’t help that they were not unfurled:

sfmm_buccaneer_08

Once the ride starts, the ship starts to swing back and forth, gaining in speed and height on every pass. From this next shot you can clearly see the gangplank feeding into the loading area from the queue. The path you see in the lower-right is the exit path:

sfmm_buccaneer_09

By the way, I did ask and was granted permission to take these photos during the ride.

I’m not sure what the maximum height is during the ride, but it feels really high. There is a definite feeling of weightlessness as you hang there for a split second on each pass. Even though you feel like the ship is nearly vertical, it’s really only goes up to 75 degrees:

sfmm_buccaneer_10

This next shot was taken when the ship was at the exact same angle as the previous shot. It doesn’t look nearly as steep as it does when you’re actually sitting on the ship:

sfmm_buccaneer_13

On the opposite side of the ride is what looks like an old exit. I don’t have any history on this, or where it leads, but it’s obviously closed off now:

sfmm_buccaneer_11

The current exit strategy is back out the way you entered. The only difference is that the ride operator will swing open a gate to the exit path:

sfmm_buccaneer_04

The exit path forks in two directions. The path on the immediate left will loop you back around to the entrance to the ride. Going straight leads directly to the midway:

sfmm_buccaneer_12

If you chose to go straight to the midway, you would exit here, under the watchful eye of a feathered friend:

sfmm_buccaneer_01

Here’s a really short video of the ride in action:

22 Comments

  1. Eric

    04/17/2012 at 10:59 am

    Most people don’t realize this, but Buccaneer really does have the most airtime of any ride in the park. This has been one of my very favorite rides from the time it opened, and really is one of the gems of this park. As for the now blocked off exit leading away from the ship, it used to loop back around the ride and let you out under that “No Entry” sign. I don’t know why they changed it, as it worked just fine the way it was.

    I remember the days when the queue was filled inside the building, and you actually had to wait a number of cycles before getting on. Swashbuckler actually came in about five years after Buccaneer. Before that ride arrived, it just sat empty from what I recall.

    Funny thing…in all these years, I’ve never really taken a good look at the Buccaneer/Swashbuckler queue building. You’ve noted some very interesting things about it. Next time I’m out there, I’ll really stop and take it all in. I really hope that Magic Mountain keeps Buccaneer going for a long time.

    • Kurt

      04/17/2012 at 12:46 pm

      I was kind of assuming that they were added together because of how the building and the sign are shared between the two. However, I just noticed that Wikipedia shows Swashbuckler being added in 1983. I also find it interesting that despite the pirate theme, Pirate’s Cove didn’t come into existence until 1993.

      • Eric

        04/18/2012 at 7:25 pm

        I just checked my Magic Mountain history, and you (and Wikipedia) are correct. Swashbuckler arrived in 1983, not 1985 like I said in my comment.

        Pirate’s Cove was in fact created in 1993. That’s the year that Six Flags decided to split Magic Mountain into “themed areas.” To me, the best one was High Sierra Territory because they added that tall tree and the other touches that really made the area look like something up in the High Sierras. I did find it interesting that Buccaneer, Swashbuckler, and (at the time) Jolly Roger already had pirate themed names. Sort of like a pirate themed area without the actual pirate theming.

    • Evan

      04/17/2012 at 2:55 pm

      Sadly, the airtime thing is true…

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  8. Ryan O

    04/17/2012 at 11:02 pm

    You know an amusement park has a really pitiful selection of flat rides when a pirate ship is one of the best flat rides they have.

  9. JJJJ

    04/17/2012 at 11:45 pm

    I never noticed the sideways pirate ship.

    I always go on this ride, and its sad how no one else is around to ride it.

    One thing I wish Magic Mountain did, which other theme parks do, is to let the ride go longer when no one else is in line. The ride is too short. Same goes with the spinning chairs. Heres a picture of that I took with my sister and her boyfriend. Looks sort of sad.
    https://fbcdn-sphotos-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-snc6/255063_10100299950723150_923388_54332844_4095745_n.jpg

    And yes, MM needs another one of these rides, either the kind that goes upside down, or the ones that spin with each swing.

    • Eric

      04/26/2012 at 3:36 pm

      SFMM used to have a Looping Starship ride, called Z Force, which was located approximately where the entrance to Batman–The Ride is now. It was only at the park for about six years (1987-1993) and was removed to make way for Batman–The Ride.

      • Rosie

        02/24/2014 at 12:02 pm

        Ohh I remember the Z-Force! That was an awful ride. That and I think…Reactivator? Activator? Violent in the worst ways. I think the reason a lot of people don’t ride Bucaneer (it IS a nice ship ride) is because they can ride it at any fairground

        • The Coaster Guy

          02/28/2014 at 10:39 pm

          If you’re thinking of the ride that used to be next to where Z-Force was, that was the Enterprise.

      • Danielle Pluzsik

        10/11/2018 at 3:31 pm

        That was in Kidsongs: Ride the Roller Coaster.

        Josh Wiener: “Look, there’s Z-Force! I wanna go on it.”
        Hillary Hollingsworth: “You DO?!”

        I saw that video as a kid and it started my love of theme parks. Even today I want to sing and dance at Six Flags. Speaking of, my recent trip to Great Adventure was full of singing on rides and I didn’t even realize it. However, I do sing on all rides.

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  14. Brandon

    12/09/2012 at 7:22 am

    The exit path was blocked in the late 90s as a way to cut down on staffing – they used to have another host standing on that side. With that blocked off and guests exiting up front, they could have just one operator.

    The same thing was done when Turbo (formerly Electric Rainbow) became Grinder Gearworks.

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