Magic Mountain to reopen in spring, Supes support quicker reopening of theme parks

Twisted Colossus at Six Flags Magic Mountain was ranked as the country’s second-best roller coaster of 2018 by the readers of USA TODAY. Photo submitted by Six Flags Magic Mountain
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After nearly a year of having its roller coasters and rides shut off, Six Flags Magic Mountain has announced plans to reopen soon, with support Tuesday from the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors for the quicker reopening of theme parks. 

The Valencia-based park shared on social media it planned to return with rides in the spring, saying, “We’ve missed you. Are you ready for thrills this year?” 

Park officials said Tuesday that a specific date had not yet been chosen. Spring runs from March 20 through June 20. The park has served as one of the county’s mass COVID-19 vaccination sites inoculating health care workers and those ages 65 and over. These venues, including Magic Mountain, will continue delivering vaccines through the end of March, according to the county’s COVID-19 Emergency Operations Center. 

“A specific opening date has not been determined. However, Six Flags Magic Mountain is in preparation mode and working closely with state and local officials to reopen both our theme park and waterpark,” park officials said in a prepared statement. 

State lawmakers are working to expedite the process for reopening amusement parks via the proposed Assembly Bill 420, which Assemblywoman Suzette Valladares, R-Santa Clarita, whose 38th District includes the Valencia park, has co-introduced with Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva, D-Fullerton. 

The new bill would allow all theme parks to reopen in counties that fall in California’s orange tier, rather than the yellow tier as the state’s current four-tiered reopening model currently stands. 

Under the state’s color-coded tiered system, large theme parks can only reopen when a county is in “yellow,” or tier 1, which is the least restrictive level, as there would be a “minimal” spread of COVID-19 at that point. Smaller parks can open with modifications such as allowing only a 25% capacity, in the “orange” tier where there are only “moderate” risk factors. 

Los Angeles County and surrounding counties where some of the state’s largest theme parks are based, such as Magic Mountain, Universal Studios Hollywood and Disneyland, have remained in the most restrictive tier (“purple”) due to the virus being “widespread.” 

On Tuesday, L.A. County Supervisor Kathryn Barger, whose 5th District also includes Magic Mountain, introduced a motion that would support AB 420. Supervisors approved the move to send a five-signature letter in support of the proposed legislation. 

“With full outdoor operations and the ability to maintain physical distancing, theme parks across the country have proven that they can safely open. Large theme parks nationwide began reopening last summer, yet no outbreaks or significant spread have been identified from these establishments,” read Barger’s approved motion. “Additionally, California currently allows museums and restaurants to open outdoors and retail operations indoors. The operations of theme parks are no different than the combination of these three sectors.”

Magic Mountain officials, who have not issued a comment regarding legislation, have repeatedly said the park is ready to reopen with multiple safety measures in place that “meets or exceeds federal, state and local guidelines for sanitation, hygiene and social distancing protocols,” reads its website. 

“We are ready to welcome our guests back with a full complement of our world-class coasters and water attractions in accordance with the California Blueprint for a Safer Economy,” officials said in their statement regarding a spring reopening. 

In her motion, Barger also highlighted that the amusement park sector has experienced the highest percentage of jobs lost across the county, with more than 98% of jobs lost since March 2019, according to the L.A. County Economic Development Corp. Magic Mountain is considered the Santa Clarita Valley’s largest employer, with an estimated 3,200 workers, according to the SCV Economic Development Corp. 

AB 420 is expected to be heard in a state committee March 7, according to the California Legislative Information website. 

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