Your Six Flags Vacation:
Strategies, Tips and Suggestions!
We’ve got some Six Flags vacation tips for you to consider, that hopefully will enhance your thrill-seeking experience. Those gems of wisdom are organized loosely into the four areas shown below. It might be worth briefly reading the tips we've presented for the other SoCal theme parks, in case there’s a bit of transcendent knowledge that we neglected to include on this page. So here we go…
Six Flags Vacation Tips: Park Attack Strategy
- Don’t buy tickets at the park if you can help it. You’ll likely save time and money by purchasing admission tickets in advance. See our suggestions for online research.
- Most of these tips will apply to visits during the summer vacation season. If you’ll be taking your Six Flags vacation in the off-season, the lines may be shorter, but realize that the park is only open on weekends. That means the locals (some 20 million of us) know that Friday to Sunday is our window to get a roller coaster fix during the school year. Also, Disneyland and Universal Studios Hollywood do not provide the thrills found at SFMM and Knott’s (and Six Flags is still the king of thrill rides according to many locals). So, except for the hot weather, you’ll still want to be planning for significant crowds.
- Decide on a place where you will meet if you get separated from each other. There are a number of obvious places throughout the park.
- Although there are 15, going on 16 coasters and major thrill rides, realize that they, primarily, are why people are coming to SFMM, and coaster fans tend to be, shall we say, vigorous in their pursuit of fun. So to maximize your time at the park, show up before the place opens so you can look at the printed maps available at the gate.
- Before leaving home do your homework on the various attractions, using the links we’ve provided. If you are a sophisticated coaster fan, you’ll know exactly the order you want to hit the rides, and you’d better go for your favorites first thing. If you are not a connoisseur, know that several of them are pretty similar in their configuration; there is no “best” coaster. More on coaster strategies below.
- If you’re traveling with young thrill ride fans, measure them in advance and check the ride details on the SFMM web site; let Junior know in advance if he/she will be limited in the coasters he/she can ride. And don’t try to cheat on the height; these are high-speed machines and the height limits are there for a reason.
You can have your kids measured once in the park and then put on a wristband that certifies their height to ride operators. Write your cell phone number on that wristband, and maybe the place you’ve decided to meet if y’all get separated.
- If you are planning your Six Flags vacation during cooler months, know that riders of Tidal Wave WILL get pretty wet. You’ll get wet watching on the exit bridge also, I’m told. Consider bringing extra socks and/or a change of other clothes.
- Hitting the latest rides early in the morning is a good idea. If you’re a good walker, consider moving immediately towards the back of the park, to take in the rides that are furthest from the entrance. If you get there at opening, and find short lines (5-8 minutes) at rides closer to the front, why not hit them? Then keep moving away from the entrance. The lines generally are shorter earlier in the morning and after 6 pm or so.
- Finding a couple rides with shorter lines right away is a good way to relieve the anticipation in youngsters (and some oldsters and middlesters). Even if they are not your first or second choice, get on a ride ASAP. In fact, going on a “lesser” ride first lets you appreciate the cooler ride later, where you may be waiting longer in line.
- If your Six Flags vacation falls on one of our many hot summer days, the water-oriented rides (where you get wet) become very popular in the afternoon; not all of these qualify as true thrill rides, but they are a lot of fun. To help shorten the lines, hit those in the morning or later in the early evening (but watch out for getting wet just before it cools down at night).
- Try and get a good dose of coaster action in the morning, perhaps playing through lunch (lines may be a bit shorter during typical dining hours so consider eating at other times; you’ll help avoid long restaurant lines also). Then you can enjoy the nice shade trees and look for cool places during portions of the hot afternoon.
- If your Six Flags vacation has you staying nearby, consider a trip back to the hotel for a swim and nap, returning late afternoon, perhaps after an early dinner out of the park (to save money).
- Just realize that coaster rides are more popular in the morning and the water rides have longer waiting times in the hot afternoon. Try and work around that.
- You should come prepared to wait in lines; it’s almost unavoidable. Think about diversions for children (and adults) while in line. Many phones have games. Bring a desk along to take care of that pesky geometry homework. Be creative.
- If your budget permits, look into the Flash Pass. It gives you front-of-line privileges at 4 rides. Although a bit pricey at $20 to $25, it could really improve the attitude of your family, even if you split one or two passes among a group. They don’t work for X2 and Déjà vu, but do work on 13 rides. If you go for that, pick a group of rides that you might want to use it for and see how the lines are. Obviously you’ll want to use the pass only for the busiest rides. If done wisely, use of the Flash Pass can enhance your Six Flags vacation experience.
By the way, I’ve heard complaints that SFMM does not offer the free FastPass option available at Disneyland. Without getting into all the details here (you’ll find more info on our Disneyland pages), it is unlikely that a person would be able to squeeze in more than say 4 FastPass opportunities during a long day at Disneyland.
So the real difference is that you pay extra for those 4 accelerated queues at Six Flags. Now you need to realize that SFMM is noticeably cheaper than Disneyland. If you look at it as getting FastPass for another $20 per person, you’re still paying less than an admission to Disneyland.
- Depending on budgets and schedules, a portion of a day at Hurricane Harbor is a good way to cool off in the summer. A morning inside Magic Mountain, followed by 4-5 hours at HH, and then an evening back in the main park would be a very action-packed day. You’d sleep well that night. You won’t get to all the attractions by including both parks in one day, but it could work if you only have one day here. A two-day Six Flags vacation schedule should be enough time for most of us.
Six Flags Vacation Tips: Safety and Convenience
- Do your research ahead of time and buy tickets beforehand if possible.
- There is a Cyber Cafe with internet access not far in from the main entrance. If you're on vacation and away from the computer, this might be a way to catch up on emails, or check traffic conditions at a very helpful website on the L.A. freeway system known as
- Bring sunscreen and possible changes of certain clothing items. There are lockers near the entrance. If you get wet late in the afternoon, you’ll be pretty chilly at night.
- Decide on where you’ll meet if you get separated. There are lots of landmarks in the park.
- Consider lunch at mid-afternoon, when food lines will be shorter. Go to an air-conditioned restaurant and take a nice break.
- Don’t get overheated; that will ruin your Six Flags vacation experience. There is actually quite a bit of shade around the park if you look for it, including some nice shady walkways. Drink lots of liquid.
- Wear comfortable shoes; it’s a pretty big park and there are hills to climb.
- Leave the fancy jewelry at home, especially if you’ll be taking in a lot of roller coasters.
- They won’t let you bring certain items on several of the attractions; there are signs at the entrances to the rides to let you know. In general, travel light.
- Bring something to amuse the kids while you’re waiting; but don’t bring big stuff. We were just kidding about bringing a desk for geometry homework.
- Even in the summer it can cool down a lot at night in Valencia. You may want warmer clothing, especially if you’ve gotten wet. You don't want pneumonia as a reminder of your Six Flags vacation.
- Although many of the shops offer package delivery, where they’ll hold purchases for you to retrieve later in the day, you might want to do your more serious shopping later in the day. That would apply to the shooting galleries and arcade games, where you could win a 3-foot Homer Simpson plush toy.
Six Flags Vacation Tips: Getting The Most Bang For Your Buck
- We’ve covered much of this before. Try and purchase admission tickets before coming to the park. Consider packages and season passes. Check with your hotel and check online for discounts.
- East a big breakfast at your free hotel breakfast bar (or a local restaurant). Then eat lightly at mid-day to save money. If the timing works out, snack into the evening and then eat dinner late at Wendy’s after you leave the park.
- Bring a picnic lunch in a cooler. Leave it in your vehicle and then enjoy your meal out under the trees in the picnic area. It’s out beyond the parking lot.
- Look seriously at the season pass if you’ll spend more than one day here. Also, if you will be able to use a season pass at other Six Flags parks around the country. That would maximize the benefit of the money you spent on your Six Flags vacation.
- There is a Chevron gas station and convenience store at the offramp to Six Flags Magic Mountain. They carry a lot of snack items, and even products that could serve as breakfast or lunch.
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