The kids aren’t alright

Magic Mountain, the famed Los Angeles-area theme park, may soon be converted to a retail and residential development.

In June, Six Flags announced it was mulling the sale of six amusement parks in Buffalo; Denver; Seattle; Houston; and Concord, California; as well as Magic Mountain, north of Los Angeles. The company said in a call with analysts that the Magic Mountain park—and its 17 roller coasters—is increasingly attracting that most incorrigible of customer—rowdy teenagers.

Opened in 1971, Six Flag bought the Magic Mountain park in 1979. A longtime Southern California favorite, the park has been featured in films like National Lampoon’s Vacation, the TV movie KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park and the opening credits of the situation comedy Step-by-Step.

The teens are not only drawn to the cheap thrills of the park’s rides, they also don’t spend any money. And worse than that, according to Six Flags’ chief executive officer Mark Shapiro, they scare off the more lucrative family demographic. “Once you burn mom, she is not rushing back,” Shapiro said on the call.

Six Flags, which is suffering from a decline in attendance, could trade in the

The real estate angle might be overrated.

Dave Omel, VP, Palace Entertainment

surly teens now sulking around the park for an injection of cold, hard cash. Real estate developers are chomping at the bit for the chance to convert the sites to retail or housing, particularly the site in Suburban Valencia.

Michael Adler of Adler Realty Investments in nearby Woodland Hills estimated that developable land in the suburb could fetch between $750,000 (€596,000) and $1 million an acre. With 250 acres of real estate, the land underneath Magic Mountain could be a gold mine for the ailing park operator.

Once you burn mom, she is not rushing back.

Mark Shaprio, CEO, Six Flags

However, in late August, Six Flags announced that it was looking to sell all six properties in a single transaction, reducing the possibility that a real estate developer would be interested. Additionally, Shapiro said that Six Flags may still hold on to the properties if the company did not get a good enough price.

“The real estate angle might be overrated,” said Dave Omel, vice president of operations for theme park operator Palace Entertainment, in The Los Angeles Times. “If they did some work, these would be very viable theme parks.”

Maybe the kids will be okay after all.