LOS ANGELES — Donald Kolwyck and his wife, Sharon, were next in line to ride the Full Throttle roller coaster at Six Flags Magic Mountain when a voice on a loudspeaker announced that the ride was temporarily offline for technical problems.
“Oh, I guess we are back to normal, then,” Kolwyck joked, noting theme park rides’ reputation for breaking down.
Normal? Not quite.
More than a year after closing because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Six Flags Magic Mountain is back to operating stomach-churning thrill rides and selling high-calorie snacks, albeit with a slew of new coronavirus safety protocols that begin at the front gates, extend to the rides and restaurants and even affect the men’s bathrooms.
The Valencia theme park dubbed the Thrill Capital of the World opened Thursday to annual and season passholders, the first day allowed under California’s reopening guidelines that cap attendance at 15% of maximum capacity, among other rules. The park opened to the general public Saturday.
Other major Southern California theme parks are still gearing up. Universal Studios Hollywood is scheduled to reopen April 16. Disneyland and Disney California Adventure Park in Anaheim plan to reopen April 30. Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park is expected to open sometime in May.
Most of Magic Mountain’s attractions were operating Friday, except for an indoor acrobatic show and a bumper-car attraction, both closed because they violated the state’s social distancing rules. Several indoor queuing areas were shut for the same reason. The state guidelines require all queuing areas to be outdoors and visitors from different households to stand at least six feet apart while waiting.
“It’s Day 2,” park spokesperson Jerry Certonio said. “We are still working out the bugs.”
Most guests seemed unbothered by the requirement that everyone wear masks, remain six feet apart and sit separated from strangers on rides. The rides were also stopped every few minutes so workers could wipe down the seats and lap bars with disinfectant.
“We are happy and excited about all the safety rules,” said Cesar Romero of Cypress, who visited the park with his daughter and two nieces.