Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Great Debate: Six Flags Magic Mountain vs. Cedar Point

Ahh yes! In the amusement park/thrill ride industry, there are many parks that are regarded as being the best. Let's get real here for a minute, we are coaster enthusiasts, not theme enthusiasts, so although Disney produces amazing attractions, they are not building major thrill rides like heavy hitters Six Flags Magic Mountain and Cedar Point. With that being said, let's examine these two parks by juxtaposing them in the following categories: Roller Coasters, Rides/Attractions, Park Atmosphere, and Innovation/Trend-Setting.

Raptor @Cedar Point

Park Atmosphere

Let's suspend geographic reality for a few seconds here and just talk about the interior of the parks. SFMM has 260 acres of park space and CP has 364 acres. SFMM has themed areas of the park such as: Baja Ridge, Samurai Summit, High Sierra Territory, and DC Universe. Cedar Point has one themed area of the park called Frontiertown. So clearly in terms of theming one might think that SFMM takes the "W" here. Cedar Point may not have themed areas of the park, but the rides and coasters are highly themed, but not enough to win. Besides theming, how does the staff compare? According to the Golden Ticket Awards (presented by industry publication Amusement Today), Cedar Point ranks as having some of the Friendliest Staff in the industry, whereas SFMM does not. I could rate food here, but, let's be honest with ourselves, park food, save for a handful of parks, is deplorable at best, both in terms of quality and price. Both parks lose in this category, sorry foodies.

Wicked Twister @ Cedar Point

So, let's get back to geography. SFMM is located at the base of a mountain range in SoCal, and Cedar Point is located on a peninsula over Lake Erie. Walking the terrain of SFMM can be exhausting, and the mountainous views are amazing, but nothing compares to being able to see another country from the top of a coaster's lifthill like Cedar Point can offer. After all is said and done, Cedar Point, the third most attended seasonal amusement park in North America offers a more traditional amusement park experience with limited exposure to offensive advertising like you would encounter at a Six Flags park. Although SFMM is a true hybrid of theme and thrill park, Cedar Point's atmosphere makes you feel welcomed and energized at the same time and takes the "W" in this category.

Park Atmosphere WINNER: Cedar Point

Maverick @ Cedar Point

Rides and Attractions

SFMM and CP have a thrilling collection of roller coasters and exciting rides/attractions. Both parks have a great collection of world-class roller coasters (which we will get to in a minute) and both have a generous supply of rides; SFMM boasts 52 rides and Cedar Point trumps with 75 and also holds the record of the park with the most rides. Built in 1971, SFMM doesn't have the history that Cedar Point, which was opened in 1870, utilizes as a theming element for some of its rides. Both parks have iconic observation towers and similar flat rides, but Cedar Point has an edge on SFMM in this category thanks to additions to the park in 2005, 2006, 2010, and 2011 with maXair, Skyhawk, Shoot the Rapids, and Windseeker respectively. These were unanswered additions at Cedar Point as they are thrilling, new, and in-style and SFMM has none of them. Now we know that SFMM is not going to be outdone for long, and in 2012 they are going to answer to their non-roller coaster ride fanatics by adding an unbelievable 400 foot drop tower with a terminal velocity of 85 mph. This ride shatters height records by more than 50 feet. Personally, drop tower rides are the only rides that terrify me, so, I cannot even imagine getting on a ride of this height, but, it sounds amazing.

Superman: Escape from Krypton @ SFMM

Even with SFMM's anticipated 2012 addition, 52 just does not compare with 75 either in quality or quantity.

Rides and Attractions WINNER: Cedar Point

Top Thrill Dragster @ Cedar Point


This category might sound pointless, but, in actuality, it is essential in determining which park is better. Any park can add a mediocre attraction, but it takes mega-parks like SFMM and CP to identify a trend, jump on board, and brand it/make it your own. What is innovation in the amusement park industry? I would say that it is setting a trend by adding a unique and one-of-a-kind attraction or changing the way we think about a given attraction by amplifying some aspect(s) of it to create a unique attraction. Cedar Point has added many unique attractions over their 141 year history such as: Disaster Transport (only indoor bobsled attraction), Power Tower (only quad combo tower), Maverick (one of the first Blitz Coasters), not to mention coaster speed records and height records.

Green Lantern: First Flight @ SFMM

SFMM has also added unique attractions: Green Lantern: First Flight (only ZacSpin coaster in US), Superman: Escape from Krypton (first coaster to reach 100mph in US), Revolution (first modern looping coaster in US), X2 (first 4D coaster)

But let's talk about true innovation. Cedar Point has not really been a proponent of adding a never-before-seen attraction, or prototype. SFMM is known for adding prototypes like X2, Superman: Escape from Krypton, Z-Force, Revolution, Flashback, and Deja Vu (now relocating to another SF park). Cedar Point can really only boast 3 prototype coasters: Disaster Transport, Corkscrew, and Wicked Twister. Cedar Point does use innovation on their side as they are known for taking a successful prototype and increasing the height and speed like they did for nearly every coaster and attraction they have added. SFMM has, however, a much more innovative and diverse collection of coasters, which we will address next. In terms of innovation, SFMM takes risks, and in an industry where you are only as good as your newest attraction, SFMM takes the cake.

Innovation/Trend-Setting WINNER: SFMM

Goliath @ SFMM

Roller Coasters

And now, the topic we have been waiting for! Let's talk about the magic number first here, shall we? The magic number, as of this year, has been raised to 18, which equals the number of coasters SFMM has, which is the world record and one more than rival park, Cedar Point. SFMM has taken the coaster crown yet again by adding Green Lantern this year. Ok, so SFMM has ONE MORE coaster than Cedar Point, but let's analyze quality now. Ok, so SFMM has 13 types of coasters (2 steel sit-down looping, and 3 kiddie coasters were the overlapping types) and CP has 13 types as well (2 kiddie coasters and 2 wooden coasters overlapped). Well, since each park has the variety that a coaster fanatic appreciates, let's talk height and speed.

Millennium Force @ Cedar Point

Cedar Point has held speed or height records at least 16 times in the past with the following coasters: Gemini, Mantis, Raptor, Magnum XL-200, Millennium Force, Mean Streak, Top Thrill Dragster, and Wicked Twister. SFMM has held height and speed records 12 times in the past with the following coasters: X2, Goliath, Superman: Escape from Krypton, Riddler's Revenge, Deja Vu, and Tatsu. Clearly, Cedar Point is a thrill lover's paradise, but, it's an acrophobic's nightmare as it is the only park to have 4 coasters over 200 feet tall: Top Thrill Dragster (420), Millennium Force (310), Wicked Twister (215), and Magnum XL-200 (205). SFMM only has 2 coasters that top the 200 foot mark.

Magnum XL-200 @ Cedar Point (Taken in 1989)

Ok, so I know height isn't everything, but what about speed? SFMM has one coaster that tops the 90mph mark, but Cedar Point has 2. SFMM has 5 coasters over 70 mph and Cedar Point also has 5. Ok, so now let's talk about the most recent awards for coasters as given in the Golden Ticket Awards. SFMM had no placing in any category, especially coasters. Cedar Point had three steel coasters place in the top ten: Millennium Force (1), Top Thrill Dragster (9), and Magnum XL-200 (10). Ok, I think we are getting the picture here. Cedar Point takes this final category, hands down. I've tried to leave this last category to the facts, but, personally, Cedar Point maintains their rides better than any Six Flags park, so even if the rides weren't highly reviewed or the tallest/fastest, they would still ride better. Magnum, Millennium, Raptor, Maverick, Gemini, and Top Thrill Dragster are some amazing coasters. If you haven't ridden them (or been to Cedar Point), get there now and ride every last one of them and I'm sure you'll agree with me: America's Rockin' Roller Coast takes the "W" in this category and wins the overall!

Roller Coasters WINNER: Cedar Point



MontagnaMagica said...

I disagree with you on the final category, "Roller Coasters". This isn't just about statistics. Six Flags Magic Mountain's Tatsu, X2, Green Lantern, Goliath, Riddler's Revenge, and Apocalypse are all incredible roller coasters!

The Golden Ticket Awards are a joke! The ratings are just based on popular vote, which is completely unfair. If you look at the Mitch Hawker's Poll, which utilized a fairer rating system, you can see that after Dragster, Maverick, and Millennium, nearly all Magic Mountain's roller coaster are rated better than Cedar Point's. It's not even close!

ParkImpressions said...

Having been to both parks, I'd still say Cedar Point has the better coasters -- although I do see your point. After Dragster, Maverick, and Millennium, most Cedar Point coasters match up pretty evenly with those at Magic Mountain. Raptor may be a little better than Batman, although Riddler's Revenge is definitely better than Mantis; there are definitely some places where MM has the better coasters. I haven't yet ridden S:EFK or Green Lantern yet, but I still think that Dragster, Maverick, and Millennium hand it to Cedar Point pretty easily.

MontagnaMagica said...

Here is my own take on this debate:

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