Two years ago one of my favorite clients asked me if I was game to do a photo shoot in Magic Mountain in Santa Clarita, about an hour north of Los Angeles. Magic Mountain is one of my favorite amusement parks in Southern California; I was there when it opened on May 29th 1971. Back then the park had only 33 rides; the Newhall Pass was a mess because of the February 9th Sylmar Earthquake. For a lad such as I of ten years old this place was awesome; I have been there numerous times since that day and watch the park evolve into one of the best rollercoaster amusement parks in the Southland.
I assumed that I would park the RV in the main parking lot, but I was informed that I would be driving the motor home directly into Magic Mountain. Mind you, the roads are narrow designed for pedestrian’s not large vehicles like our convoy of trucks, generators and my RV, I drove slow and watched our lead car weave in and out of obstacles until we arrived at our staging area. During the fall, winter and spring months and non-holiday periods MM is closed during the week, and is available for filming. One cannot expect the same from places like Disney Land or Knox Berry Farm, so our crew had the park for itself. The park was like a ghost town, the rides stood still, the streets empty, void of people, it was a cold crisp day in January, and the sky was clear and blue.
Our site rep for the park was helpful and bought in a Skelton crew to run some of the rides we would need for our shoot. We bought in our own cater because as I indicated the park is closed and therefore the restaurants would be unavailable. Since there would not be any guest at Magic Mountain we had a ton of extras to simulate a busy amusement park. MM is an amazing place to film because there is so much to see, from the rollercoasters, the arcade, the water rides, the petting zoo, the Sky Tower, which gives viewers a 360 degree view of the Santa Clarita Valley.
Shooting during the summer or on holidays might be more difficult to obtain permission, but not impossible. The weather is more pleasant during the cooler months; in the summer temperatures can exceed 90 degrees. If your project requires an amusement park Magic Mountain (661.255.4103) is the place, for the film permit call Film LA at 213.977.8600. If you need a motor home or if you have any questions please call me Mike Green at 818.317.7099.