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August 23, 2017

Exclusive: Six Flags Magic Mountain Will Open Daily All Year in 2018

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"More flags! More fun!" That's been a tagline for Six Flags advertising across its chain of amusement parks. Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia, Calif. may want to consider modifying its slogan to "More days! More fun!" Today the park announced that starting January 1, 2018, it would switch to a 365-day operating schedule.

Magic Mountain will join other L.A.-area destination attractions, including Disneyland and Universal Studios Hollywood, and remain open daily all year long. According to Bonnie Weber, the park's president, the expanded schedule reflects both the company's increased presence domestically and internationally and its desire to capture more of the 47 million visitors who pour into the region seeking fun. "We have to be open 365 days a year to tap into that market," she says.

Opened in 1971 and long recognized for its impressive collection of roller coasters – with 19 of them, it boasts more than any park in the world – Magic Mountain is already on the radar of tourists, convention attendees, and other visitors. With the planned rollout of Six Flags parks in Dubai, China, and other locations beyond the USA, the company is growing its brand and awareness across the globe. "If you come to Southern California and you want thrills, you come to Six Flags, hands down," says Weber.

But you can't experience marquee rides such as the wooden-steel hybrid coaster, Twisted Colossus, or the 415-foot-tall, 100-mph launched coaster, Superman: Escape from Krypton, if you go to the gate only to find a sign that reads, "Sorry folks, park's closed." (Fun fact: Magic Mountain stood in for Walley World, the fictional amusement park in the original Vacation movie.)

With its prime location and its sunny California weather, Magic Mountain has long remained open all year long. When school was in session, however, it would only be open weekends and holidays.

Weber says this will mark the first time that Six Flags is jumping into the destination market. But all of the company's parks have been extending their operating calendars for a number of years, and the chain has tested the vacation destination waters.

Like other seasonal parks, Six Flags locations used to focus on the window between Memorial Day and Labor Day. That remains the peak period. But with the successful introduction of Halloween events, Christmas celebrations, spring break promotions, and other festivals, the shoulder seasons have become increasingly important for Six Flags and its regional park competitors. One of the chain's smallest properties, The Great Escape in Lake George, N.Y., opened Six Flags Great Escape Lodge, an indoor water park hotel that is open year round.

The Legoland parks in California and Florida, are open all year long, but, like Magic Mountain, close some midweek days in the slower seasons. Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, Tenn. closes for a few weeks in the winter, but is otherwise open virtually year round. All three of the parks have added on-property hotels. With Magic Mountain's bid for destination park status, might a hotel be in its future? As part of its long-range plans, Weber says the park is looking at a number of options. There is available land on-site to build a hotel and other resort amenities. The company might also try to develop Six Flags-branded accommodations at a nearby off-site location with a third-party hotel partner.

Magic Mountain has been upping its game in anticipation of its schedule expansion. "We've been developing 'wow zones,' " says Weber, pointing to the Screampunk District the park built a couple of years ago and the DC Comics-themed Metropolis land it opened this year. Nobody would equate them with Disney's highly immersive Cars Land or Universal's impeccably rendered Harry Potter world, but they are a step up from the more generic lands of most regional parks. And the 4D, interactive, roving motion-based Justice League ride that Magic Mountain debuted in Metropolis this season is on par with the attractions at the established destination parks in Southern California.

With the transition of Six Flags Magic Mountain into a destination park in its own right, Weber says that visitors should expect additional wow-worthy attractions, an increased focus on stories, new events, and more attention to detail. "We want to give people a great, compelling reason to visit the area."


Copyright 2017 USA Today. All rights reserved. From http://www.usatoday.com. By Arthur Levine, Special for USA TODAY.
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