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:
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:
Fortunately, there are no exposed body parts when they pass, so they can get quite close:
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:
Once it reaches the front of the park, it enters the turn-around loop counter-clockwise:
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:
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:
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.