Let’s Think Through Your Objectives and Strategies!
Talk with me briefly about the scenario where you’re on a Magic Mountain vacation for the coasters. Then we’ll think about fitting a short visit to Six Flags Magic Mountain within a larger vacation.
Is This a Roller Coaster Pilgrimage?
If you’ve been to SoCal before and this really is a thrill ride trip, you should be thinking Six Flags Magic Mountain and Knott’s Berry Farm. Block out one day for each if you can. It probably doesn’t matter which you do first; interestingly both parks have adjoining water parks.
There are more places to stay around Knott’s, if that has any influence on your decision. On the other hand, if you must choose between Knott’s and a Six Flags vacation for a roller coaster fanatic, you’ve gotta go with the Mountain according to your Guru’s college-age experts.
If you are arriving from the north, coming down I-5 in the afternoon, you might plan to stop at Magic Mountain so you don’t need to drive in Los Angeles during rush hour (Valencia is north of the rush hour fallout zone).
If it’s summertime (SFMM is only open weekends during the off season; Knott’s is open more days and hours as a rule so that could also affect your schedule), and if you plan to hit each of the 15 coasters at Six Flag Magic Mountain, it could take more than one day with potential lines. You could spend part of a second day at the Hurricane Harbor water park before driving down to Knott’s after rush hour ends after dinner.
Is Six Flags Magic Mountain Just One Part of Your SoCal Vacation?
If this is one part of a larger vacation trip, think about who’s coming with you. If you plan to hit Disneyland, Knott’s and other parks, the order of appearance might be important. First, if time and/or budget are tight, and if you plan to visit Knott’s, and are not big coaster fans, Six Flag Magic Mountain might not be mandatory; you might be able to hit a few thrill rides at Knott’s and Disneyland and pass on the Magic Mountain vacation unless you need a Loony Tunes fix).
If you have older kids who are dying to do roller coasters, you might want to hit Six Flags before Disneyland or Universal, which do not offer as much of the thrill quotient. So you scratch the roller coaster itch of the older kids, and they will hopefully settle down and enjoy the many other cool (but slightly less blood-thinning) attractions at the Magic Kingdom.
Another benefit of going to Disneyland later is that it is generally a classier place; a big chunk of the higher admission price to Disneyland no doubt goes to park upkeep. Kids might be slightly disappointed at the comparison with Six Flag Magic Mountain, although portions of the park are very clever and well maintained.
For most families, one long day at the “Mountain” will do the trick. On a busy summer day, the long ride lines can be a bummer and perhaps a second day split between the main park and Hurricane Harbor would be worthwhile. Bring a change of clothes or go back to your nearby hotel to change.
There are no major nighttime events, so you don’t miss much by not staying late. On the other hand, a trip back to a hotel room for a nap, swim or TV could get you rested up for another few hours at the park after dark. As noted elsewhere in these evocative pages, a Six Flags vacation trumps Knott’s in the thrill ride contest; if you have major coaster fans, you need to find time for Six Flag Magic Mountain!