Monday, July 18, 2005

Something Magic

We took off over the weekend (myself, my wife and my 12-year-old nephew) and drove to California in order to spend all day Saturday at Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia. When we made our reservations several weeks ago, all of the reasonably priced hotels were showing booked, so we stayed at a Ramada Inn located in Chatsworth, about a 30 minute ride to the amusement park.

The drive over was reasonably uneventful. We left the Phoenix metro area at about 11 a.m., which dumped us into the LA Area right around rush hour. We played bumper tag for a few hours and managed to get to our hotel by about 6:30. I went to check in and the nice lady behind the counter informed me that my reservation was for Monday and Tuesday, not for Friday and Saturday. She was right. My own paperwork confirmed the error.

I had booked and prepaid through, so I figured I was in for a major hassle, and possibly a royal screw job. I was wrong. The lady behind the counter was exceptionally nice, she smiled and said that she could accommodate us. She had a smoking room that met our requirement (two beds) but didn't have a non-smoking room, except for a suite. There was no way I could afford an upgrade, so I asked if I check out the smoking room to see if it was too smoky. I did, it wasn't, and we had a delightful stay with no penalties or extra charges. I hope her manager reads this.

We got to Magic Mountain at a little before 9 a.m. The parking lot ($9 per car) opened at 9:00 and we quickly parked and went to the ticket counter. I had one paid full admission pass, which I planned to use for the nephew, and a Coke can with a two-for-one ticket offer. I handed the surly shrew behind the counter the can and said two seniors please. Even though the can said nothing of the sort, she insisted that the discount only applied to full price admissions, so they clipped me for $49.99 instead of $29.99. Bah!

So then we got to mill around in the hot sun until 10:00, checking out the tramp stamps and other obscene tattoos (including the guy who had, along his collar bone, in 1" high block letters "WANT TO F**K" minus the asterisks. Nice, really nice.

They finally opened the gates and we raced off to be among the first to ride "X" and only had about a 30 minute wait. Viper was next, with about a 45 minute wait, followed by Ninja with very little wait, and justifiable so. It was noon, so we went into the Laughing Dragon Pizza Company where three individual pizzas and three drinks came to an even $50 after the tip. Off to the Splashdown, Batman, Colossus and the line for Goliath. Now this was a line. It was now 5:30 in the evening, we had been in line for a little more than two hours, we had cleared the last of the people traps and could almost see the stairs up to the loading platform.

Then IT happened. Someone who had just gotten off of the ride and was passing overhead, leaned out the window of the walkway and puked. It got four of us with fairly direct hits. Gross! Hot, tired, sweaty and covered with a stranger's puke. Someone heard the commotion and came to investigate, and told those of us who were spattered to bypass the line and go to the platform were we could get some assistance. There we were met by some of the team members who agreed it was really gross, but didn't really offer any assistance until one young man, John, stepped up and told us that they were out of water on the platform, but we should go to the first aid clinic, where we could shower and then comeback into the rive via the exit, and he would personally put us on the next ride. Yo John! – You are the man!

So we did. We left the ride, went to the first aid place where they give us fully-clothed chemical showers that felt wonderful, and about an hour later we were back at the ride, going in-the-out, half expecting no one to have ever heard of John, but there he was, and he was good to his word, we were on the next ride. Three and one-half hours consumed for a three minute thrill. Except for the puke, it was worth it.

I did find out that people getting puked on is a fairly regular occurrence there, and when I asked why they didn't put any Plexiglas over those particular windows, I was informed that unless someone get hurt, they don't make any improvements like that.

The park is nice, but line jumping is a big problem, and even though they seemed to try and enforce it, the number of line jumpers completely outnumbered the amount of security on hand. Nearly every ride we waiting in line on, we nearly got run over by line jumpers.

Coke machines are $3.00.

Bottled water is $3.50 or $4.25.

Misters are few and far between, but at least they aren't coin operated.

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