Magic Mountain Is All About the Rides

magic mountain entrance

I’ve lived in the Los Angeles area for a long time and I had never gone to Magic Mountain before this fall. I don’t know why – I always just found other things to do. Oh, and then there was the whole “…but Magic Mountain is full of gangs” reputation that it had.

But now I have a kid who loves roller coasters and pretty much all thrill rides. He actually went to Magic Mountain with the YMCA summer camp but he only got to go on one ride. I know, I can’t really understand it either, but I was told that it was a very crowded day and it was tough to keep all the kids together. After that sad experiment, I promised him I would take him back, just the two of us.

mom and son before magic mountain

Oh, and a friend and her kid. That made a perfect arrangement for rides. Two 7-year-olds, two moms. One mom hates spinning rides, one hates high, dropping rides. Great, we’ll switch off. The kids had each other, and my friend and I got to spend the day catching up and hanging out.

The most awesome thing about Magic Mountain that day was the lack of other people. It was a Saturday after school had started, so we anticipated crowds and long lines, but the longest line we encountered was for the Apocalypse roller coaster – a worker told us it was 90 minutes! – but we just came back later and it was doable. Some rides had such short lines that we went on them (or sent the kids) over and over again! I didn’t see any roving bands of ruffians, but I’m not really up on my gang info, so people could have been in them but I wouldn’t have known. It seemed safe enough to me.

we did not go on this

I was worried about feeling sick on roller coasters because I have gotten a little bit more…delicate…over the years, but I was willing to suck it up for my kid. It was okay though. I actually had a good time. We went on almost every ride that my son was tall enough to ride (or he went with my friend or the other little boy). My favorite rides were the Ninja – which is a roller coaster that hangs down from a track instead of rolling on top of one, and makes for a smooth ride – and the Apocalypse because it was really fast and I liked the artistry.

entrance to the ninja

We got there shortly after it opened and stayed until the bitter end. We did bring some snacks in (not advised by the park) but wound up purchasing lunch and dinner on site, it was just easier that way because you really don’t want to haul your bags around all day. I did, and there was one ride that didn’t have a place for you to stash your stuff. Oddly, it was the super-splashy ride, Tidal Wave.

splash at magic moutain

My son loved this ride but not the ride itself – the platform where you watch the boat come down was his favorite spot in the whole park and he spent a long time there getting splashed! It was a hot day, so he dried out fairly quickly, and to me it was worth seeing the joy on his face.


Magic Mountain is only about a 40 minute ride away, and half the cost of Disneyland. I don’t know what the deal was with the missing crowds that day, but I felt like we struck amusement park gold. After the sun set and as people left the park for closing time, I can see it being a little creepy to some people, especially if they are not there in a group, because there wasn’t much in the way of security or personnel in the far, dark corners.


The one thing that I noticed everywhere and it actually distracted me was the omnipresence of ads. There were commercials played on the PA system, and posters everywhere for cell phone services, candy, chips, credit cards, and more. I guess they had to subsidize the lower ticket cost somehow?

While other local amusement parks have rides, they also have shows, stores, and other things that distract you from the rides. My son loved the shows at Knott’s Berry Farm, but since the rides are pretty much the whole point at Magic Mountain, it was easy enough to focus on them (harder to distract him from the pricey carnival games but I put my foot down. No deal.) and experience many of them on this day.

Magic Mountain
26101 Magic Mountain Parkway
Valencia, CA 91355
3-day advance tickets purchased online were $46.99 each, and parking was $20

Villa Metro, The Newest Neighborhood in Awesometown

This post is sponsored by Villa Metro.

view at villa metro

The first thing I thought when I walked through a model home in the new Villa Metro community in Valencia was “I want my parents to move here.” Every home, when the community is ready for move-in in December, will be brand new, custom-made to each owner’s liking, and have minimal yards. Several of the models have mini apartments on one floor. Perfect for empty-nesters whose grandchildren would love to come and stay overnight and use the community park or pool or rec center.

beach house kitchen

The second thing I thought was “I would like to move here.” That is, when my husband and i have our own empty nest. Even the smallest model home – the Plan One version of the Aqua neighborhood – felt spacious and roomy. All of the nine different home designs are bathed in light from the many large windows, even in some of the big walk-in closets! So 1,081 square feet with a huge open kitchen/living area above a second bedroom and garage below? The whole thing felt like a beach house and seems perfect for an empty nester couple who spends more time exploring the world than at home, but when they are home they want lovely comfortable digs. That, obviously, is how I imagine my life after the kids leave home.

custom choices

But I’m getting ahead of myself here.

Villa Metro, like many of the new communities in Valencia, is what it would be like if your neighborhood was built by Disneyland. By that I mean that everything is planned. The main road into the community will be lined by “light professional” buildings – you can buy one of these homes and live on the top floor and use the bottom as a retail or work space. At the end of that road is the community rec center, or Villa, where you can have parties and gatherings, behind which is a lovely pool and spa area that overlooks the starkly beautiful Santa Clara River wash. Off to the sides are the gated parts of the community, with three neighborhoods arranged along a wedge of land that stretches along Soledad Canyon Road north of the Santa Clarita Metrolink station and just east of Golden Valley Road. Homes are arranged in courtyards. There will be a “Tot Lot,” a community garden, and easy access to Valencia’s paseos, the much touted network of bike/hiking paths.

villa metro exterior

Most notably, though, is that everything is pristine. Of course, because it’s brand new, and many parts aren’t even finished yet. But the attention to detail is what struck me. There are iron balconies with window boxes on the upstairs windows. Beautiful heavy front doors inside arched porticoes. Planters flank each garage door.

sol plan three

Inside, the models are staged with bright colors and tasteful decor and even details like a teen boy’s backpack and baseball capped tossed “casually” on the daybed in a bedroom. I stood in each kitchen, assuming my normal position in this imaginary household, and looked out over each fiefdom, easily picturing my boisterous, messy family inhabiting the spaces. But with way nicer appliances than than ones I have now. It’s an easy daydream, too, because the prices of these homes all start in the $300,000’s. Even the largest home, Plan Three of the Sol neighborhood at 1,998 square feet (pictured above), starts in “the High $300s.” Of course, all of the different options are upgrades, from the floor coverings to the countertops you can choose your own adventure. You can even have the second-floor bonus room turned into a fifth bedroom!

You can see it for yourself this weekend: from 10AM to 4PM each day the model homes will be open and there will be refreshments, giveaways, music, and even a Mediterranean street festival on Saturday. Villa Metro will be taking orders soon, with the first move-in’s expected to happen in December. Great schools are nearby, and plenty of outdoor adventure, shopping and entertainment facilities, the Metro to take you into the city for work, and of course, Magic Mountain, where the whole world of Valencia started.

For more information about Villa Metro and Valencia (aka “Awesometown”) visit


Valencia, The Other West Hills

WestHills Sign copy

I’m not so much of a bubble snob as to turn my nose up at the other pockets of good living in and around Los Angeles.  There are other ideal places to live and raise a family in comfort around here. People do it everywhere, of course, and what’s comfortable for one family might not be so for another. But the universal goal is to find a place that has affordable homes, good schools, and access to shops and recreation areas. (And I would add plenty of parking, please.)

Whenever I go out of my house, drive around Agoura Hills in my car, take a hike in one of our surrounding hills, or simply look out of my office window at Ladyface Mountain, I marvel at the beauty of this area, and I mentally pinch myself (because actually pinching myself would hurt) because it seems like a dream that we landed here.

Valencia’s planned communities seem custom-made to welcome people and make them feel at home in a similar way.


Valencia, otherwise known as “Awesometown,” is north of the San Fernando Valley on the 5 freeway. You might have heard of Magic Mountain? Yeah, it’s up that way. The town prides itself for having the nice neighborhoods, the dubious access to Los Angeles area jobs (you know, despite the traffic) and a growing center of industry right in town, and top-rated public schools. We have family friends who live there. I have seen the beautifully maintained planned walkways and community pools and lovely homes that foster neighborhood activity and outdoor living – if our friends’ kids are any proof, the children in Valencia play a lot of sports. There are more than 30 miles of walkways in Valencia.

Paseo - Copy


Three new neighborhoods in the West Hills section of Valencia are being unveiled by builder D.R. Horton next Saturday, April 20, at the Al Fresco Street Festival, which will feature live music, prizes, and model home tours. Some of my pals from the blogging world will be there giving presentations on style, decor, and entertaining!

west hills valencia homes

Highgate in West Hills will feature spacious single–family homes priced from the high $500s with three to five bedrooms, three and one-half to four and one-half bathrooms and approximately 2,638 to 2,994 square feet of living space – these homes are perfect for a growing family.

Priced from the mid $600s, single-family homes at Belmont in West Hills feature approximately 2,892 to 3,705 square feet of living space with three to six bedrooms and two and one-half to five and one-half bathrooms. In addition, new homes at Belmont in West Hills offer D.R. Horton’s HomeShare home, which includes a separate living suite, including a bedroom, full bath, kitchenette and living room with a private entry – perfect for extended family or visiting guests.

Monument in West Hills offers single-family homes ranging from approximately 3,519 to 3,949 square feet of living space from the low $700s. With four to six bedrooms, three and one-half to five and one-half bathrooms and D.R. Horton’s HomeShare home with separate living suite and private entry – these homes are functional for the entire family.

All of these neighborhoods come complete with a new paseo – the carefully crafted network of trails, walkways, and bridges that Valencia is known for.  For more information about the Al Fresco Street Festival or to poke around and dream about living in such a gorgeous new home, visit Valencia’s blog.

This is a sponsored post. And how awesome that I get to use “Awesometown” in a sentence!