It's been nearly two years since my first visit to the park. On that first trip, it seemed to be in fairly decent shape all things considered... only the crowd was pretty young overall and somewhat rowdy. Lots of people you wouldn't want to look at the wrong way. Anyway, the rides were good, and overall I had a good time.
But I went back yesterday for the second time and wow. What happened? I mean, yeah, last time I was there it wasn't the cleanest theme park around, but in just two years it seems to have really gone downhill. For one, the restrooms need to be bigger! This was the case two years ago and nothing has changed. Not even all of them have sit-down papers or even mirrors (which would probably get graffitied and broken). One restroom didn't even have paper towels. The lady cleaning the bathroom even told me there were none.
While the rides are plenty and very good, the theming of the queues and boarding areas has taken such a downturn. Simple upkeep does not seem to be a priority. Batman The Ride comes to mind. There were lightbulbs that were dead... others that had lots of dead bugs in them that could easily be cleaned out with a mere screwdriver, and yet others that had gum on them. Other rides' queues and boarding areas were so filthy. Paint chipping everywhere you look, rust on handrails and walls, gum all over the place. Stickers left by guests in various places. Does management not send people out with gumscrapers and Simple Green? Plus features of the various queues were not working... The Riddler's Revenge lighting wasn't on in the boarding area, for example. Batman The Ride's bat symbol wasn't lit. Fans that could have been running were not running. Fans that shouldn't have been running after dark were still running. Queue's after dark had unlit areas that were dangerously dark without any light. Elements that played roles in the experience of queues and boarding areas is a big thing that the park is neglecting. It seems once something that isn't really necessary to the operation of a ride breaks, they don't fix it.
Again, the rides themselves are great. I love coasters, and Terminator Salvation is a shining example of an attraction done right at Magic Mountain from start to finish. The queue could have used some more shading, but it did have some great parts to it. The television screens showing clips from other theme parks and music performances (along with commercials of course) is nice for passing the time. The ride itself is awesome. And again the crowd... well, quite a bit different from the typical Disneyland crowd.
I realize Magic Mountain is struggling right now when it probably shouldn't be. It's been there for years and should be turning a profit for the most part. But it seems that in order to counter its financial struggles, the park isn't bothering with general upkeep, nor is it bothering to fix broken elements in the attractions. Instead they're pushing the lockers they make you rent out if you have a loose article on you when you get close to getting on pretty much every ride. Not to mention, a lot of employees greatly exaggerated the wait times on several rides. Would the park be in better financial shape if they were doing a better job if their upkeep was better? Probably. Is it saving them money in the short term to just let things break and not go out of their way to repair chipped paint and remove rust? Likely. So in that regard I see why they're handling things the way they are. But I also know that such poor presentation is a way to make people not want to come back to the park. I know that I certainly don't need to go there for another two years mainly for those reasons (okay, it's also pretty out of the way). And as far as the crowd goes, it definitely doesn't make the park seem like a family friendly place. Tons of teenagers cursing out loud, line jumping, and being overall unpleasant. Magic Mountain needs to quit the cheap season passes and raise the prices so that the park becomes a more family-oriented establishment that makes the entire experience more pleasant for everyone. I know a few people personally that keep away from the park for that very reason.
Anyhow, I don't mean to rant about my disdain with some of the park's way of doing things, I'm just quite a bit peeved that Magic Mountain seems to be taking such a downturn. It's sad, really.