I recognize the twinkling lights, like icicles dangling from the candy-cane-striped trees. I recognize the Danny Elfman music emanating from the snow-lined path that’s dotted with ice sculptures of wild animals. I recognize the reindeer-led sleigh, rising high into the air, with the one and only Santa Claus at the helm. But this is Holidays in the Park Drive-Thru, and I have never experienced Magic Mountain quite like this – driving through the expansive and decorated paths of the majestic theme park in my car.
Like many other traditions in 2020, Magic Mountain’s yearly (since 2014) Holidays in the Park has been transformed from their traditional walk-thru winter celebration into a drive-thru experience. For approximately one hour, guests will drive single-file along a mile-long path through the theme park. With the usually-running behemoth roller-coasters shuttered this year, attendees will instead delight in the numerous light displays, several live performances, classic car displays, and jolly holiday music across eight areas; this is truly a unique opportunity to see from your car. Adhering to Covid-safety guidelines, Holidays in the Park Drive-Thru requires all guests to stay in their vehicles and wear their masks while their windows are down, and there is no personal interaction except at the gate upon entry.
Holidays in the Park Drive-Thru will be familiar to frequent attendees of the in-person event, with most of the décor carried over from previous years. The path through the park is divided into eight areas, each with varying themes. The Gleampunk District will awe, as always, with its clockwork snowman and stilts-walkers. Merry Lane’s oversized ornaments dance in time with the holiday music playing over the speakers outside of the monumental Hall of Justice. And the multi-colored trees lining Holiday Square highlight the falling “snow.” While these areas aren’t new to Holidays in the Park, entering Magic Mountain via the impressive DC Universe area during its holiday light show spectacular, and driving beneath the sparkling tunnel as the lights flicker to holiday carols, is something else entirely. It successfully begins the event with a highlight of the walk-thru experience. One area of the park – The Underground – is new this year, and features roughly five famous West Coast Customs show cars on display. This doesn’t appear to tie into the holiday season in any way, but it is a little something for car enthusiasts to enjoy.
Holidays in the Park Drive-Thru understandably does not have as many live performers as during a traditional in-person event, but those who are there make a concerted effort to bring cheerful holiday spirit. Several snow princesses wave to passersby from a safe distance, raggedy dolls dance among the gigantic wrapped presents, toy soldiers tower above the cars as they pose from atop their stilts, and elves busy themselves at both Mrs. Claus’s workshop and at Santa’s sleigh. Even the ushers lighting the way for guests waved and wished “happy holidays.” It is apparent that everyone participating in Holidays in the Park Drive-Thru is actively bringing their best cheer to brighten the experience for attendees.
While the majority of the music comes from outside speakers and not our internal car speakers, rotating live musical performers do dot the experience. During my trip, I saw an enthusiastic trio of drummers playing beneath a festive Christmas tree, and a dance group lighting up the main stage outside of Full Throttle. Some of the live music bled into the nearby recorded tracks, so it might be beneficial to lower the music in the areas where live performers will be. Since there is no stopping for the duration of the experience, guests do not get to sit and enjoy the entertainment, only getting a snippet as they pass. However, the actors and musicians bring a lively energy just by being present (like was missing from Happy Place Drive-Thru), and provide uplifting moments for guests.
While Magic Mountain’s Holidays in the Park Drive-Thru cannot live up to the in-person experience, it does an admirable job of adapting to the new safety requirements. Not only that, but Holidays in the Park Drive-Thru continues a tradition that is one for a reason. Holidays in the Park Drive-Thru will delight families looking for some holiday spirit; the lights, the music, and the friendly actors and ushers combine into a festive journey through a beautiful display.
Holidays in the Park Drive-Thru runs through January 3rd, 2021; check Magic Mountain’s website for dates, times, and ticket information. For more holiday events, check out our Event Guide and special Remote Experiences Guide.