Hot Springs, Arkansas sits in the middle of a National Park. The city is known for its horse racing, its natural beauty, its rich history…and now Magic Springs!
Built into the foothills of the Ouachita Mountains, this great park offers 26 acres of rides, food and attractions. It was named as one of the Top 3 Better Homes and Garden’s Family Friendly Amusement Parks in the United States for very good reasons! With another 200 acres in their possession, there is lots of room for expansion and growth. The parks owner has a goal to add at least one new attraction each operating year, either in the amusement park, or the adjoining Crystal Falls Water Park.
Employees are drilled on two components: Safety and Fun. Provide a safe place for parents to bring their children, and they will have fun! It’s a simple philosophy that has obviously caught on, because last year, the park saw just under 500,000 patrons pass through it’s gates.
The 2006 season boasted a 97% operating rate. That means that only 3% of the time from April-October saw any ride shut down for anything other than weather related issues. Remember that safety thing? Anytime there is lightening in the area, the taller rides and coasters, and all the water rides are shut down immediately.
The park begins operations in April and is open on weekends until Memorial Day. You can enjoy the attractions 7 days a week until Labor Day, when most of its high school and college employees have returned to school. The park employees 1500 local youth and adults to run rides, operate cash registers, and serve food. Weekends in October include “Magic Screams” a Halloween Festival that includes all the rides, plus some holiday fun like a haunted house, and trick-or-treating for the kiddos.
But that’s just numbers! What about the rides?
Magic Springs has, in my opinion, some of the most thrilling roller coasters in the business. Starting with:
The Gauntlet. Even its name is ominous! Sit in the seats and your feet dangle in mid-air as you soar 100 feet high, dip along 2200 feet of track and fly through 5 (Yes, I said 5) inverted loops; and all of this at 60 miles an hour. My stomach is doing loop-ti-loops just thinking about it. Last summer, my 18 year old son rode this ride 28 times in one day. He and his friends were trying to set a record of who could ride it the most without throwing up. He didn’t win.
The X-Coaster. It sounds like something out of a horror movie doesn’t it? If you aren’t into really fast, really heart stopping roller coasters…then it would be a horror movie for you. This one just opened the summer of 2006, but it’s already a park favorite. The monster shoots you up 150 feet in the air on the outside of a tower. Then it flips you upside down, and dumps you towards the ground in a corkscrew roll at 65 miles an hour. Don’t eat before you ride this one.
The Arkansas Twister. This is probably my favorite coaster. It’s a classic wooden roller coaster that lifts you 100 feet in the air and drops you back down into the trees of the Ouachita Mountains. It’s similar to the Judge Roy Scream at Six Flags Theme Parks. There’s just something about hearing the cars crash down the tracks of that wooden monster that makes you want to get back in line again and again. Go ahead…they’ll let you.
And there are some smaller coasters for those who just can’t handle the monsters.
Big Bad John has 3 smaller lift hills, and ends with a heart stopping drop into a tunnel before ending at the loading spot.
Diamond Mine Coaster is one primarily for the younger ones…but it has enough drops for some adults. The largest hill will lift and drop you about 10 feet.
Twist and Shout has individual cars that hold four people. It’s a zig zag roller coaster with several “tummy tickling” drops.
Aren’t into roller coasters, but still like fast and fun rides? Magic Springs has you covered. All you have to do is meander through the park until you reach
The Hawk. It sounds like such a tame thing. Don’t let the name fool you. This ride will have you screaming for your mommy in no time. The first time I watched it, I thought there is no way I’m getting on that thing. The giant arm begins to move with a gentle swinging motion back and forth. The swinging gets larger and higher. Before you realize it, you are going over the top in a complete 360* circle. The way the seats are designed, with everyone facing out from the middle on both sides, you may be doing this backwards! Then, after a couple of huge circles, they slow it down, and begin to swing you the other way. So, if you were going over the top forwards last time, now you really are doing it backwards!
Dr. Dean’s Rocket Machine will shoot you 100 feet in the air and then drop you to allow you to free fall back down to earth.
Wild Thang flips, twists and spins up to 24 riders in 3 rotations. 2 of them are motor driven…the third relies purely on gravity. So every ride is unique depending on how many riders and weight.
There are also family rides, for those with younger children, and those that are faint at heart: Or in other words roller coaster sissies. These include your typical carousel, swings, ferris wheel, antique cars and bumper cars. But there are some fun things too!
Rum Runner Pirate Ship swings you back and forth in the comfort of your seats. Sit in the very back seats for the optimum height thrills
Pirates Rock is a fun little ride that will sling you round and round and up and down in your pirate ship.
The Log Flume will raise you up and slide you down into the water below; guaranteed to cool you off on those hot July days in Arkansas.
But for the ultimate water ride, I recommend Plummit Summit. Remember the “Step by Step” sit-com with Suzanne Summers and Patrick Duffy? When the show is coming on, the cast is at an Amusement park. The kids are riding in the boat and when they hit the bottom of the launch, it drenches those standing on the bridge? Plummit Summit is the same ride. You get wet in the boat, and you get wet standing on the bridge watching the boat. Arkansas summer temperatures top 100 degrees most days. This is the ride you want when the thermometer hits the triple digits.
The park also has a large children’s section with smaller versions of some of the larger rides. Lil’ leapin Lizards is the same as Dr. Dean’s Rocket Machine, Bugga Booga Wheel is a cute ferris wheel and the Kit and Kaboodle Express is a great train ride for the little ones.
Day passes are available for $44.99 for those over 52″ tall. Those under 52″ and senior citizens are just $34.99. Active Military Personnel are admitted free with a valid i.d. Children 2 and under are free.
Parking is $8. A picnic area is available outside the park, though no ice chests are allowed inside the park.
Group rates are available for those with more than 15 in a party. You can also rent single and double strollers, wheelchairs, and motorized scooters from the park’s courtesy booth.
Add to the great rides, a fabulous summer concert season, which is included in the price of admission, an adjoining water park and some of the best food you’ll ever put into your mouth: Magic Springs is a sure thing for your family this summer.