Accident at Six Flags Magic Mountain Bushwhacks Ninja

Written by Norman Gidney. Posted in Features, In the Parks, Six Flags Magic Mountain, Southern California Parks

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Published on July 09, 2014 at 12:28 am with 12 Comments

On Monday, July 7th, the Ninja coaster at Six Flags Magic Mountain partially derailed when the suspended coaster struck a tree that had fallen against the track.  The first car, containing 4 passengers, was derailed but did not fall the the ground 20 feet below.  The four passengers in the first train were evacuated and transported to a local hospital for minor injuries.  They were later released.  The other 22 passengers were safely evacuated – some after hours of waiting.

Ninja, otherwise billed as the Blackbelt of Rollercoasters,  is an Arrow Dynamics steel suspended roller coaster.  Built in 1988, It is still the fastest roller coaster of its kind in the world, joint honor with Vortex at Canada’s Wonderland, both with top speeds of 55 mph.  The ride, along with the Jet Stream water flume attraction nearby, are both closed as the tree near the accident is cleared and the trains safely removed from the track.


In an official statement, Six Flags Magic Mountain stated the following…

Six Flags Magic Mountain Statement:
Of the 22 guests safely evacuated from the Ninja roller coaster, four were transported for precautionary measures – all have been treated and released.
The safety of our guests and employees is our number one priority and as a precaution, the ride will remain closed until a thorough inspection of the area is complete.



A day after the accident the station sat empty, abandoned, and unattended.  In the station, two trains were parked, while a third was in the maintenance bay, and the fourth on the track, still in the spot where the accident occurred.





The Maintenance bay where one train was being serviced.




The accident happened just after the first lift hill and drop.  The train crests this hill and then makes an exhilarating turn/dive through a wooded area.  The train then weaves through another section of trees headed towards the open area above the Jet Stream flume attraction.  It was in this section, just before swooping down to the water, that a tree had fallen against the track.  The speed of the trains in this particular section of track is approximately 25 mph, less than half the top speed of the ride.





Until the train is safely removed from the track, it is safe to assume that Jet Stream will remain closed as a safety measure.




As far as accessibility goes, the path that weaved under the track for Ninja has also been closed off.  Visitors cannot make the full circle around the park at the moment.


We would like to point out that this is only the second incident that the Ninja roller coaster has had, with the first being in 2008 when a 20 year old male scaled a barrier to retrieve a hat and was hit by a passing train.  In this instance a tree simply fell against the track.  There was no way for the ride operators to have known that there was an obstruction.  Should it have been?  Maybe.  But that is the nature of the ride and part of its appeal, that it swoops and dives through the terrain.  The train did not fall from the track, and aside from the 4 minor injuries, no other guests were hurt.

This begs the question though; what will become of the wonderful terrain surrounding this and other attractions in the park? While it is always necessary to put safety first, we hope that due consideration is also given that the lush surroundings of this attraction are part of the appeal.



In the end, Six Flags Magic Mountain took care of the situation, they safely removed the guests, and the attraction is getting cleaned up.

The accident certainly isn’t keeping me from enjoying the park, nor will it prevent me from riding Ninja in the future.

About Norman Gidney

Norman Gidney, also known as Fishbulb, produces and edits many of the articles on MiceChat. Tune in every Tuesday for the Orlando Parkhopper and every Friday for In The Parks. But you'll also find his photos in the Weekly Round Up, SAMLAND, and numerous other columns on the site.

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  • Internitty

    These kinds of incidents are rare and it would be a pity to spoil the current terrain. There are a multitude of sensors that could be installed to monitor any further tree fall and shut the ride down in an emergency. Perhaps simple braking systems before the drops into wooded areas would help as a precaution.

  • lazyboy97O

    Unfortunately I would not be surprised to see Six Flags over react to this incident since their reputation has suffered in recent years.

  • DannyeF

    They really should have a way to keep an eye on the track between the trees during the day.

  • MikeBlakesley

    Seems like they should just install a few unobtrusive cameras that can monitor those areas of the track. Then the ride operator could glance at those monitors before giving the all clear for dispatching a train.

  • ayalexander

    That area gets a lot of seasonal fires, having all that debris on the ride building like that is a major fire hazard.

  • Klutch

    I used to live near Busch Gardens, Williamsburg. This park also has a roller coaster which swoops through the trees, “The Loch Ness Monster”. Back in the 1990s, a sudden storm blew and a large tree branch fell on the track. The coaster train hit the branch, but did not derail.

    Anyway, I assumed the trees around Loch Ness Monster would be cut down. But that didn’t happen. The coaster continues to operate through the trees as it always has.

  • Writergray

    Having worked there for 8 years and participating in the opening crew as well as working the Jet Stream I can tell you that this type of incident is rare as it has never happened before in the 26 years the ride has stood there. The trees have been there since opening. They were cut back then for construction. They have grown. Part of the opening process for a day is to look out at the track area and run tests. This was nature not neglect. And to the person who said that this was debri causing a fire danger you are jumping way ahead of yourself as that is not the case for this park as it is well saturated and the fire danger in the area has been south of the park not in the parks immediate area. These types of things can happen anywhere and any park. I have looked over the footage several times and am still amazed at the force it would have taken to break the wheel housing loose.

  • Haven

    I’m afraid monitoring track conditions minute by minute is an unrealistic and logistically impossible task not only for Ninja, but for the 400 plus out and back roller coasters in this country. Fortunately, the blocking system on this ride, and all modern roller coasters, did prevent any further trains from being dispatched when the train failed to arrive at the second block after leaving the station. To that end, well done software program! This was an act of nature, just like the big ole tree that crashed into Rivers of America at Disneyland a while back. Ninja has always been a favorite of mine and my Mother (who doesn’t ride big scary stuff) and while its hard to watch a favorite ride of yours in the news (think Big Thunder back when it killed someone) I am very pleased no serious injuries were suffered. Why just the other night we had storm here in Las Vegas, and tree from the “community greenbelt” behind my home sent a huge branch crashing into my yard, just hours before it had been a beautiful day!

  • connerd

    What has not been said yet and may never be known is when the tree fell against the track. I have read news articles that say the riders heard the tree snap and could hear the tree falling through the leaves. It is possible this occurred after the train had already climbed the lift hill and was relying on gravity. Once the roller coaster train has crested over the lift hill and is released from the lift hill chain, there is no stopping the roller coaster train until a brake run or the brakes prior to entering the station. I agree with Haven that the ride software with its fail safes worked correctly and did not allow another train to be released and thus cause a train to train collision. Good job Arrow!

    It is not feasible to post a person along all parts of every roller coaster. In addition, unless there is a brake run, they would not be able to stop the train.

  • c j princess

    Tuesday night on local L.A. news a family said they were on the ride and notified ride operators that their kid got hit by a branch and they should check it out . The family said they were ignored and the ride kept running . The kid was seen by medical staff and given ice for his bruised chest . So the operators had a bit of a heads up that something needed to be checked .

  • Ravjay12

    I remember when I worked at Disneyland and a huge tree fell on some guests at Stage Door Cafe. People got hurt. They cleared the fallen tree out and they didn’t take away all the trees along the pathways. Very rare thing but it happens.

  • daveyjones

    a rare, natural occurrence. i hope park management doesn’t overreact. i personally LOVE ninja and hope it gets to reopen soon.