Santa Clarita Valley History In Pictures

67. Magic

The best-known and most-visited landmark in the Santa Clarita Valley consists of hundreds of acres of gardens, waterfalls and pools — and some of the wildest rides in the world. It is Six Flags Magic Mountain.

Walter Elias Disney proved that theme amusement parks could be impressive money makers, a fact not lost on the directors of The Newhall Land and Farming Company. While these creative businessmen were experts in such things as petroleum, wheat, cattle and creating whole New Towns, their inexperience with entertainment venues compelled them to form a partnership with Sea World, Inc. and engage the architectural firm of Randall Duella and Associates to design a theme park.

Magic Mountain opened its gates on Memorial Day, May 29, 1971 and featured a series of rides it called "white knucklers." Chief among them was the Gold Rusher roller coaster, whose gold-colored trains swooped riders around the hillside at a then-chilling thirty-five miles per hour. Opening season saw a total of just thirty-three rides, including such long-gone attractions as El Bumpo, Galaxy, Billy the Squid and the Grand Centennial Excursion. The 384-foot Sky Tower provided an impressive vista of the western Santa Clarita Valley.

More than seven thousand trees were planted on the almost-barren hillsides — which the Spaniards of earlier centuries had called the "sterile hills" — together with over thirty thousand shrubs and flowers. Miles of gracefully curving walkways, streams and bridges added beauty to the place.

The impact on the community was tremendous. Magic Mountain patronized local businesses and brought millions of tourists to the area each year. From a mere five hundred employees on opening day it quickly became the largest employer in the valley, especially of teen-agers looking for summer jobs.

In 1979 Newhall Land sold the park to the Six Flags Corporation, the nation's largest regional theme park company, for $53.3 million. The new owners added rides and, in 1985, replaced the old trademark trolls with characters nearly as famous as Mr. Disney's mouse. Here now were Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Yosemite Sam and more.

In 1990, Six Flags was purchased by the entertainment giant Time Warner, positioning the amusement park company for major growth. The acquisition led to a marriage between park attractions and recent film releases in the form of new white-knucklers such as Batman The Ride and Superman The Escape — whose world's-fastest roller coaster speeds leave the good old Gold Rusher in the dirt.

With the addition of the Hurricane Harbor water park in 1995, Six Flags California became the first multi-gated entertainment complex in the state.

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