Six Flags spares Magic Mountain from sell-off

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The owner of Magic Mountain said Thursday it would continue operating the roller coaster theme park and its adjacent Hurricane Harbor water park in Valencia, excluding the properties from a $312 million theme park sell-off.

The move by New York-based Six Flags Inc., ends months of speculation on the fate of Magic Mountain, which last year appeared like it might be among a several theme parks destined for the auction block.

Six Flags announced Thursday it would sell seven of its 30 North American parks in a bid to improve its debt-laden balance sheet.

Magic Mountain and Hurricane Harbor will remain open for business this year and beyond, the company said.

Last year, real estate developers offered to buy Magic Mountain in hopes of razing it, but Six Flags ruled out any buyers who did not plan to keep the park open.

Attendance at Magic Mountain fell 12% during the key June through December period last year compared to the same period in 2005.

The company has blamed that attendance drop in large part to uncertainty about the park's future.

Six Flags, the nation's second-largest theme park operator in terms of attendance behind The Walt Disney Co., has spent tens of millions of dollars in recent years to pack Magic Mountain with gut-wrenching roller coasters with names such as Scream, Psyclone and Viper.

The strategy has helped attract more than 2 million visitors a year to the park 40 miles north of Los Angeles, pumping up its bottom line and making it a hot commodity for potential buyers.
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