Magic Springs is a park I've been meaning to hit up for years. It's just a bit outside of my usual weekend trip travel range at over 4 hours of driving from Tulsa. Even with all the driving though, this park is in a beautiful little piece of the country and there are a lot of little interesting things along the way such as the Ouachita National Forest, little BBQ joints, rock shops and crystal mines, etc. Definitely worth the trip if you can drive in from the West.
I was actually pretty impressed with Magic Springs. Just like Frontier City it seems that Premier management has gone through every surface of the park with a paint brush or trowel to make it look like a brand new place. Everything is fresh and bright and the flower gardens are in perfect order. The rides and slides look great as well, and there's been obvious work on things such as stations and restaurants to fix them up.
The only thing they haven't worked on is the actual ride experience on the coasters. I mean DAMN. It's like the theme of this park is coasters that beat the absolute crap out of you. I couldn't believe they put all this work into fixing the place up and left some of the star attractions in such a sorry state. But perhaps they don't plan on keeping the coasters around much longer? I will say that I managed to enjoy the coasters even though they were all rough. Once you get in the groove of riding them and know how to sit right, they can be enjoyable in small doses. X-Coaster is actually pretty nice, but psychologically unnerving especially since it really has gotten stuck upside down before. Big Bad John is just bumpy, Gauntlet is a typical SLC, and Arkansas Twister is an old wooden coaster that's seemingly been run without any track maintenance at all for a few years.
Arkansas Twister is really standout because of how crazy it felt. I have been on some big rough woodies before, but nothing like this. I actually got scared on my first ride because I thought the car was going to come off the rails. The jackhammering was so bad I think I actually bruised my balls because they were knocking together. On the other hand though, once I knew how to anticipate the bad sections and knew how to sit slightly up and out of the seat, it was a lot of fun. I rode it over and over again after the water park closed down. I really like this coaster, and it would be really nice if it got some track work. I feel like it's at the point where they will have to either put a lot of money into it or take it down completely...
There are some persistent rumors that CNL will cannibalize the park for it's dry rides and transition it into almost entirely a water park. They've already been doing this, as at least three rides have been removed recently (two at the beginning of this season!) in order to give other parks in the CNL portfolio "new" rides. The dry side of the park certainly feels a little incomplete at this point without the two big thrill rides (a Zamperla power surge and a S&S shot tower) that they lost this year. I hope they don't loose any more, because there's not much more to take other than the kiddie rides and the Zamperla hawk.
I understand why they are focusing on the water park though. It was hellishly hot and humid on this early August day. It was so hot in the early afternoon that I briefly considered giving up on my initial credit run and just diving into the pool in my clothes. Thankfully god sent a heat storm to cool things off. The whole park shut down a couple of times for an hour a piece due to the random little spurts of lightning, but it was worth it for the cool down. It simply gets too hot to enjoy the dry rides all day during the summer. I guess this is why there aren't more parks in the area of the South where they get true southern heat.
I did end up spending a few hours in the water park as well, which was nice. It's a little awkward with how the new section is kind of separated from the old, and there's an even newer kids area thats down in the dry park which you have to change back into dry clothes in order to get to since they don't allow swim suits in the dry ride park.
I guess they'll eventually merge all of this together somehow. The only real negative is that the lazy river doesn't have a good drainage system so there's tons of leaves and debris floating around in it. They also didn't have any of the former effects and waterfalls working.
This is a park that seems to be in the middle of a metamorphosis, similar in some ways to the Hot Springs area in general. I guess only time will tell how it will work out.