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Six Flags Magic Mountain Buses Put Into Service

By on March 11, 2013

When Six Flags Magic Mountain opened for business on Saturday, March 9th, gone were the old and tired trams that had been at the park since it first opened back in 1971. In their place were the new Magic Mountain buses that were officially introduced to the public a few weeks ago. I experienced my first ride, and took these pictures, on March 10th.

The very first thing you notice about the new buses is that they load and unload facing the opposite direction than the trams that they’re replacing. This is because there are only two doors on the passenger’s side and none on the driver’s side. The park has set out barricades at each tram/bus stop to assist with an orderly loading, but through the front door only:

Six Flags Magic Mountain Buses

Despite the limitation of everyone using a single door, it looked like it loaded very fast. I suspect that’s because people aren’t walking back and forth searching for enough seats for their party to stay together, like you would often see with the trams. Everyone piles in quickly and then finds a place to sit.

I’m a little disappointed that the park didn’t use this opportunity to spruce up the loading areas, like I thought they would. The barricades look old and well used, not to mention extremely temporary. Since these buses will likely be used for a very long time, I was expecting a more permanent loading area to be erected at each tram stop.

There was also some definite confusion from guests. As I was taking the previous photo, I overheard a lady walking past me ask her husband if they were going to get on the bus. He said “No. I’m not sure where it’s going. The entrance to the park is this way,” and they walked right past the bus in the opposite direction. Honestly, I would have walked as well, but I wanted to experience it at least once and get some photos.

The buses follow the exact same path as the trams, just on the opposite side of the road. Given the size of the buses, there isn’t much room left when they pass each other:

Six Flags Magic Mountain Buses

Fortunately, there are no exposed body parts when they pass, so they can get quite close:

Six Flags Magic Mountain Buses

After loading onto the bus at the first stop, it continued driving further out into the parking lot, away from the entrance, making additional stops as needed. Once it reached the end of the serviceable area, it made a very wide u-turn. Once it turned around, it made a straight run directly to the main gate with no stops:

Six Flags Magic Mountain Buses

Once it reaches the front of the park, it enters the turn-around loop counter-clockwise:

Six Flags Magic Mountain Buses

What was once the pick-up area in front of the park is now the drop-off area. The new pick-up area is around the corner, in the old drop-off area. Unfortunately, there are no signs that indicate this. As the following bus pulled in and passengers started to unload, that group of people you see waiting made their way through the open back door and onto the bus. The person training the driver just happened to see it and warned the driver that people were boarding from the back. I wonder how they’ll prevent that when the trainer isn’t around:

Six Flags Magic Mountain Buses

This is the new loading area for people leaving the park. However, without a single sign anywhere, how are we supposed to know that? Also, as I mentioned about the other bus stops, this looks very temporary and does not scream bus stop to me:

Six Flags Magic Mountain Buses

I know that everything is new and it’s going to take some time to work out the kinks. For example, I heard from people leaving the park at closing the night before that each bus was standing room only. It was great they were able to haul so many people at once, but the complaints were that the people who wanted to get off at the first stop had a very difficult time making their way to one of the two exits through the crowd of people.

I left the park mid-day and practically had the entire bus to myself. The air conditioning felt good and it was a much more pleasant ride than the trams ever were. I’ll probably continue to walk into the park each visit, unless I’m really parked way out in the boonies, but I’ll probably hop on a bus on the way out if one’s readily available and it’s hot outside.

28 Comments

  1. bejammin

    03/11/2013 at 2:31 pm

    Good report Kurt.

    This was pretty much a dry run type of thing before full time operation. Since they are going to re-route the tram rode anyway it makes no sense to do nothing more then use temperary barriers (I’m also sure they borrowed the barriers from another department and they will want them back)

    From what I have heard they are going to re route the tram road to go down from co;osus to the picnic area and have the stops facing the main lot. There will either be 2 or 3 stops there and then another re-route from the current tram road down at the end of the lot near the wash that devides the main and gravel lot.

    One thing I forgot to mention on my previous posts is now that the guests are inside a vehicle the trams can now travel at the parkinglot speed limit of 25 mph. Under the old tram policy the drivers were limited on their speed to 11 mph which was recorded by the trams tach-o-graph. This was done for safety since a guest could jump off at anytime.

    As for folks boarding while the tram is off loading that will be chabged as they will soon discover that at the end of the night folks will be lining up at the off load stop to load.

    • The Coaster Guy

      03/11/2013 at 9:19 pm

      This is close to what I was expecting to see. I thought for sure there would be a bus route that circled the parking lot. Instead of turning around in the front, it would loop around the outside, stopping to pick people up along the way at new bus stops, much like they do at LAX and other airport parking lots. The existing stops along the front would be for dropping people off who are heading back to their cars. People who would like a ride to the main gate would need to walk over to one of the new stops on the other side of the parking lot.

  2. bejammin

    03/11/2013 at 2:32 pm

    PS

    Always wanted to be the first one to post a response. )

    • The Coaster Guy

      03/11/2013 at 9:20 pm

      Congratulations! ;-)

  3. Casey

    03/11/2013 at 3:47 pm

    The buses even have park map holders in them! Coolio!

    • The Coaster Guy

      03/11/2013 at 9:22 pm

      Now, if we could only get our hands on the 2013 maps! We know they exist because somebody found a copy of one. I really hope the park isn’t doing something lame like keeping the new maps under lock and key until all the old 2012 maps are gone.

      • Casey

        03/12/2013 at 3:40 pm

        Well knowing Six Flags,they probably are. :)

        • Eric

          03/12/2013 at 7:02 pm

          Maybe they’re not releasing the maps yet because they don’t want people knowing exactly what’s going into the new Full Throttle area. If that’s the case, I don’t know why they would, but maybe there are a few surprises that they don’t want revealed as of yet. They could release an interim version of a map, but that would cost money. Since little has changed from 2012 (yet), those maps are “current” enough for now.

          • The Coaster Guy

            03/13/2013 at 7:12 am

            Nope, I’ve already seen the new map and there isn’t anything on there that we don’t already know about. The only new thing I haven’t written about is a show called Full Throttle Nights. Looks to be some sort of laser/sound/light show in the newly created Full Throttle area of the park.

  4. Kenny

    03/11/2013 at 8:27 pm

    Not to be a downer, but I bet the new system will not work nearly as well as the old. I move large numbers of people for a living and see this as a step backwards. The buses are beautiful, and also cost a lot of money. One door to load all the passengers? It is going to take forever at stops. Strollers, wheel chairs, small children= slow. UNLESS they do express runs from each area, meaning “the green bus near scream, fully loads then runs to the drop point and returns there.” No stops to slow you down. that way they could run a zone system and keep it moving. Also dont forget the people who get sick when crammed into a hot box with tons of sweaty people….ewwwww!
    One recycled lunch will shut the bus down and take it off line, no “hosing it overboard” like the old trams. Also, I dont care how good the AC is, those buses will get warm and “ripe”
    Its nice to see a change, just not sure if they made the right choice.
    I hope I am wrong.

    • The Coaster Guy

      03/11/2013 at 9:12 pm

      The downside I see to running a zone system is that the bus still needs to go all the way down to the end of the line to turn around after loading. That wouldn’t be a big deal for the last stop, but it doesn’t make sense for the first couple of stops, especially if there aren’t that many people on the bus from those first stops. A fairly empty bus passing stops with people waiting is a sure fire way to get people really upset.

    • Eric

      03/12/2013 at 9:39 pm

      The big windows themselves don’t open, but you can pull open the small transom window above the main window. That will at least give a little relief if it gets too stuffy inside.

  5. Misael

    03/11/2013 at 11:22 pm

    So they only have The Full Throttle and Tatsu bus??
    Do they have an X2 Bus?

  6. Eric

    03/12/2013 at 10:39 am

    The whole idea of buses would have been hilarious—and perfect—when Mr. Six was still around. He rode around in a bus in the various ads and promos. Could you imagine Mr. Six-themed buses driving around the parking lot?

    • The Coaster Guy

      03/12/2013 at 10:48 am

      I think a wrap that looks like the old school Mr. Six bus would be very clever!

    • Xander

      03/12/2013 at 8:57 pm

      The original Mr. Six bus is definitely not backstage at SFMM. Nope, not sitting under a giant tarp backstage…

  7. Xander

    03/12/2013 at 8:56 pm

    Not sure if this link will work, but the SFMM Facebook page posted an image of the new buses and asked people to vote to theme the next one. X2 seems to be winning.

    https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10151563557387125&set=a.111563082124.115580.67502107124&type=1&theater#

    • Eric

      03/12/2013 at 9:36 pm

      Cool! I went to that page and gave ‘em my idea…

  8. Sammy

    03/12/2013 at 11:00 pm

    Nice update! Sorry to change topic. Now that the Full Throttle track is mostly finished over the superman plaza has superman been running again? I am hoping to go next week and haven’t been able to ride superman In a few years.

    • The Coaster Guy

      03/13/2013 at 6:57 am

      Yes, Superman was open last weekend and I rode it multiple times. I would imagine they’ll need to close it again if they end up installing additional barriers or adding netting to the underside of the track, assuming they don’t do that before the park resumes daily operation. They’ll probably also need to close it once they start testing, at least until they are comfortable the track was properly installed and doesn’t crumble under the stress of the train zooming by.

      • Sammy

        03/13/2013 at 1:47 pm

        Yes that sounds accurate. Thanks. How were the crowds last weekend? I am planning on going next thursday.

        • Andrew

          03/13/2013 at 9:18 pm

          They aren’t open next Thursday.

        • Eric

          03/13/2013 at 11:04 pm

          Magic Mountain doesn’t begin its daily operation till March 23.

  9. chilton schilling

    03/14/2013 at 6:42 am

    Just once I’ve seen the Mr six bus. It was on a tow truck as me and my dad were pulling in to the parking. I believe he started dancing at the wheel and crashed resulting in Superman closing for some reason. I have seen the bus once and I miss those ccommercials

    • Eric

      03/14/2013 at 8:59 pm

      I never had any problem with the whole Mr. Six campaign, but apparently some people found him to be creepy. These days I’m not sure what Six Flags is doing as far as advertising.

  10. Casey

    03/14/2013 at 4:13 pm

    What day is memorial day?

    • Justin

      03/14/2013 at 6:24 pm

      It is sometime around the last week of May if I am not mistaken.

      • Eric

        03/14/2013 at 9:01 pm

        Memorial Day is Monday, May 27.

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