Friday, June 20, 2008

Magic Mountain 6/19

Went to Magic Mountain! For the first time in probably 5 years? Last time I went was with Lauren when I won tickets for this KROQ event, after park hours. It was fun, but only a few hours and none of those new rides had been built. For whatever godforsaken reason we chose yesterday, a Thursday in mid-June in Valencia, to go. Invited Lily and chose Lauren's coworker Ray to be our fourth so we were even, and had a pretty good day.

It was fun--we started by gathering everyone together and buying snackies from Trader Joe's, then Lily drove us out. The drive was not bad at all (thankfully), and Lauren's extremely generous aunt Julie who lives out there offered to give us a ride to the park so we could skip the FIFTEEN DOLLAR parking (even Disneyland's--which is COVERED--is cheaper!). Julie's also sweet son David (who's going to be a senior next year! eek!) gave us TWO FREE TICKETS! So with a coupon we ended up paying $15 each to get into the park. David ended up driving us--the first time we've seen him behind the wheel. It was one of the scarier rides of the day. Sneaked food in by our Wile E. ways because they don't allow outside food! Which is ridiculous. (Speaking of Looney Tunes, the characters who formerly dominated many parts of the park were rarely mentioned or seen, except for a glimpse of Speedy Gonzalez at one point.)

We managed to get on only seven rides during the ten hours we were there, but they were all great. The worst things were the oppressive heat--thank God we live by the beach--and the appalling rate of breakdowns of rides. Here's the order:

1. Viper
2. X2 (not really)
3. Tatsu
4. Deja Vu (not really)
5. Ninja
6. Goliath
7. Superman
8. Batman
9. X2

We strolled into Viper and waited about 5 minutes before we got to go on, not at all a bad start. The scary thing was that the last time Lauren and I had been there, what with the park being empty, we rode Viper 12 times in a row. After today's ride we were both shaky and stunned that such a feat was possible. We had forgotten or ignored how fast and terrifying that ride was! Or maybe we've just gotten soft from years of having Space Mountain be our biggest thrill. Definitely made us reconsider what to expect from the day, though.

After that I convinced everyone that riding X2 (we got there around 1pm) earlier would be better than when the park got more crowded as the day went on, so waited in that line for an hour before it was announced that the ride had broken down indefinitely. Like a great deal of the people around us we promptly ditched that line.

Luckily, we waited about the same amount of time for Tatsu and were actually within boarding distance of the ride when we were informed it was also experiencing technical difficulties. Our resolve strengthened, we stubbornly stayed and waited about 20 minutes before they began rerunning. I just felt bad for those who were strapped in and hanging in wait for that long! When we eventually got on, Ray (who had been psyching himself out) was tinkered over his harness much longer than the rest of us. The ride operators were pushing down hard on his harness, trying to get it to do God knows what, without a word and finally seeming to walk away with a "that'll do." The fact that we were suspended from above with nary a net between us and the hard concrete made their concern that much more terrifying, and subsequently turned the ride into the most rewarding, I felt, of the day. Since I legitimately wondered if we might be dropped out and plunged to our deaths ("I regret nothing!") the ride was intoxicatingly scary.

A jaunt over to the ill-publicized and empty line for Deja Vu followed...followed by a thirty-minute wait also near boarding while waiting for THAT ride to be fixed of whatever its problem was. Lauren and I theorized that only the new rides, built in a frenzy amidst rumors of the park closing, were constructed shoddily and attributed the possibly cheap engineering to the rate of breakdowns, as our first ride on the dependable Viper had gone on without a hitch. We finally decided to leave that line and go eat.

I decided to lead the gang to the Laughing Dragon Pizza Company, which I remember as a youth as not bad. On the way we passed Ninja, the virtues and excitement of which I'd been extolling to our group, and Ray suggested we pop in before eating. What a great idea! Although running from the entrance right to a seat was exciting it was a little sad to see a great ride that used to have lines going down the hill be so empty. I'm extremely gratified the ride was as good as I remember it, a sturdy and fast swing around the park.

Found the restaurant closed (like a lot of other stuff that day...too expensive to keep open? In peak theme park season?) and directed everyone to the area with the pseudo food court by some of the kids rides like Buccaneer, the big swinging pirate ship. Lily was very excited to go on that before we found it too was closed. Ate corn dogs and grossly undercooked fries and wandered over to Goliath, which became my favorite ride soon after it was built (sorry, Ninja and Colossus). Solidly exciting, and got some good air time as the lap bar at its lowest setting (either that or it was faulty) was still too high for me and I had a bit of room to be lifted up. Woo!

Discovering that Superman was in fact running and most of us had only been on it once with little recollection of it, we headed back over to Samurai Summit and spent a good 30 minutes in line for that. Lily was trying really hard to opt out of riding (something no one had done all day), due to some unexplained aversion. We insisted she accompany us and she fearfully relented. She was really freaked out about that ride! We got in and waited a full five minutes trying to figure out someone's lap bar sitch, because apparently they all need to be locked into place at a certain spot ("the lowest setting possible," the operator kept insisting) in order for the ride to go. Eventually one heavyset man needed to get off the ride, but that still didn't fix it! After an annoyingly long delay (during which Lily was psyching herself out even more) the 15-second ride started and ended. Not too worth the wait, but the nice "Arctic chill" in line was neat, Lily understood her fear was a bit unfounded and Lauren and I realized why the ride isn't that memorable.

Found similar "old-school" line situations at Batman. It seems like the hype for all the new rides have left classics open for the taking, and we thoroughly enjoyed running through Gotham City's sewers and back alleys to board immediately. (Note: throughout the day our Disney pedigree left us finding the park's condition appalling, as bins overflowed, trash rattled around on the ground and we wandered through some really badly lit, scary places. It seemed like the job of keeping Gotham City looking decrepit and run-down was maybe the easiest in the park.) Oh, Batman! There's nothing like sitting right down and swinging your legs away. Scarier than I remembered, but so were most of the rides.

By that time it was nigh on 9:30 and Ray was getting antsy, mentioning something about a midnight tattoo appointment. I managed to convince everyone, jaded as they were, to try to ride X2 just once. Got in that line and made it all the way to our scary-looking train and proceeded to ride one of the best of the night. Besides the line having very obnoxious, loud "interactive" markers of big-screen televisions and speakers blasting "Are you a Type A...or a TYPE X??", it was definitely worth the line--twice, as it were. I decided that having to wait through the line twice and finally going at the very end of the night made the ride that much more worthwhile and enjoyable. The spins were all very smooth and controlled, unlike the washing machine movements I'd imagined, and falling headfirst was truly scary. The biggest regret was that the ride is 30 seconds long, if that! Pretty disappointing. However, a great way to end the night.

Got picked up by Julie soon after and listened to show tunes the whole way home. Funny, even though we were farther from Anaheim than ever we still kept the habit of singing a few good Disney tunes. At the end of the day our careful preparation had paid off in the lacks of sunburns and dehydration all around. The new rides are quite exciting but the constant rate of breakdowns make the payoff less than desirable. The old rides don't fail to deliver. All in all, a very exciting and fun reprieve from the normal Disney routine and a perfect reminder of how lucky we are NOT to live in Valencia.

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