Magic Mountain Physics

Author(s): George Lyle
Field Trip - Teacher's Guide
SED 695B; Fall 2005

Topics addressed

Most physics topics, including kinematics, energy, momentum, fluids, electricity, and optics

Description of Field Trip

This is a very common field trip for high school physics classes in Southern California. Magic Mountain is a "group friendly" venue, if you know how to work their system. Here are some hints:

  • The Official Magic Mountain Physics Day is on Sunday, March 12, 2006. However, this is on a Sunday, so I find it difficult to attend that day. I prefer to go on a Monday, usually on the first day that the park is open during the week in March. This day usually has light attendence.
  • The least expensive tickets are "Early Bird" tickets that must be ordered before March 31st. and cost $21.50 with a minimum group size of 10. Call group sales at 661-255-4500 or 1-800-342-3606. For larger groups, Magic Mountain throws in a free "Chaperone Ticket" (really just a complementary ticket) for each 20 tickets you buy. They will also give a complementary ticket to the driver of each bus.
  • The "Early Bird" tickets are good until the end of the year and do not all have to be used the same day. I put out the word to my school staff that I am getting group tickets, and the staff usually buys quite a few. It's a nice goodwill gesture, and you can get a couple more chaperone tickets that way.
  • It's not a good idea to mention the word "Physics" when talking to the sales representative. If you do, they might accidently send you the more restrictive "Physics Day" tickets. Be sure to tell them that you want the "Early Bird" tickets and they can't make the mistake
  • If you're not sure of the exact number of student who will attend, buy a few less tickets than you actually need. Go to the Will Call window with your receipt and they will sell you additional tickets at the Early Bird rate. Expect to wait in line for a half-hour, though!
  • When you enter the park, go to Guest Relations, identify yourself, and give them your cell phone number. This makes it easier for them to get in touch with you if needed.


Most California Physics Standards


Study Guide:

See my activity guide here
See my measurement hints here



See the above links

Have students wear comfortable clothes. They will do a lot of walking, so this isn't the place for spike heels! Hats and sunscreen are musts.
Magic Mountain is always opening new rides such as Scream. This means that the teacher needs to update their activities to match. Magic Mountain has ready-made activity packets available for the asking, but they are somewhat out of date.
Students should not have to go on rides to complete some of your activities. Some rides, like Tidal Wave pictured here, have observation points that allow students to observe without actually riding.
Keep the equipment simple. It will get beat up in the rides and with students walking around. Waterproof bags are a good idea, but you can't rely on them keeping things completely dry.
Superman is a popular ride for physics experiments. It is interesting to calculate its performance and compare those numbers to those published by the park.

References & Links:

Magic Mountain Website

Pasco Amusement Park Physics Instruments are the best ones I've used.