Thursday, September 01, 2005


Magic Landing opened on July 4th 1984, with most of its rides not operable. There are several reports of the park not having the required insurance policies on all of its rides at the time it opened, but managed to open without these policies to make the scheduled open. Another problem the park faced was its open date. Most of the rides weren't fully constructed & inspected by the time the park opened, which prompted the insurance companies to not let the rides operate on its opening day. For the first few months the park was moderately successful, spawning some small concerts (local bands) and fireworks fesitivies every Friday. As we (El Pasoans) know now, fireworks have always been banned inside the city limits, so when the park offered fireworks every week, it was an added incentive.

I do not have an accurate timeline of events that caused the park to close, but I do know of the incidents at the park that caused lawsuits and its eventual demise. The most noted was the accident on the rollercoaster. The Wildcat was a steel rollercoaster that was bought from Six Flags Magic Mountain after that park decided to get rid of it. Rebuilt in El Paso, the death on the ride happened when the ride operator was trying to retrieve a baseball cap blown off of a park patron. The operator's arm was cut off as he forgot where some of the active parts of the ride were and an oncoming car cut it off. He subsequently bled to death en route to the hospital.

An interesting side note, after the park was shut down permanently in 1988, the rollercoaster stood at the park until 1990, when it, along with most other rides were taken down and placed in storage, or set up for sale. The Wildcat was bought and has been in operation in Durango Mexico at one of their major amusement parks since 1993.

Another accident (a story that seems to be collaborated by too many people but no news articles in any newspaper) happened on the Ferris wheel. The one at Magic Landing was the largest free standing Ferris wheel in the state of Texas, but unknown if it was also the largest one in the 48 contingent United States. The park had at one point been able to sell alcohol to park patrons, and its unclear whether or not this woman's unstable mental capacitites had anything to do with it, freaked out while on the Ferris wheel. With no restraints, and an open gondola design, she stood up and tried to jump off the ride. She ended up falling to the car below her, and was seriously injured.

Also involving alcohol, there was an instance where during a concert, there was several park patrons who got too drunk and started fighting. There are conflicting reports (found in several newspaper clippings) what misc. weapons were used in this altercation, but most accounts have them as either an axe, ice pick or baseball bat.

Now with this said, we can see that there are several lawsuits spurring up from this. There are some other bits of insight that were told to the El Paso Inc. by the owner of Western Playland, Pat Thompson.

E.P.I.-Why does Western Playland succeed where Magic Landing failed?

P.T.-Magic Landing was trying to be a theme park. El Paso wasn't really ready for one. It doesn't have the population or the family income levels to support a theme park. When people go on vacation, they're willing to spend extra money on theme parks. But, see, you wouldn't do it here (or) even in California. Disneyland can't get the locals to come out. They have to give big discounts to draw them out. Western Playland isn't here for the tourists. It can't be. There's not enough tourist traffic in El Paso.
When you look back at all of this, you see that Magic Landing was doomed. Couple this with numerous lawsuits filed by the victim's family and poor word-of-mouth advertising and you see that there was no chance for the park to re-open anytime soon. There was some hope, however.

Six Flags Magic Landing
*photo removed by The Archivist

When Magic Landing went under, developers for the Six Flags corporation came to El Paso to see if they could build a new amusement park in town. When they first saw the land and the existing yet closed park, they saw potential. In their demographic surveys, a 300 mile radius around El Paso showed that cities such as Albuquerque, Tucson, Midland and Las Cruces -- not to mention the fact it was on the border with Mexico & Juarez, the park would warrant the sort of tourist dollars they were looking for to build in El Paso and become a tourist hot-spot. Land owners of the park [Magic Landing] refused to sell to Six Flags Corp. and they in turn went to the city of El Paso to possibly get land tax free in exchange for the boom in tourist dollars.

El Paso City Counsel rejected their request.

El Paso has now lost Western Playland to Sunland Park, New Mexico.

Makes you a little mad, doesn't it?

*content has been modified by The Archivist*


Blogger fescobej said...

Great read. I remember Magic Landing vividly although ironically I never went. My friends frequent visits and their description of the park are what I remember. Do you know who the owners of the park were and what plans the city or current owners have for the land? Thanks

9/09/2005 12:53 PM  
Blogger The Archivist said...

The park belongs to Michael & George Dipp. The brothers own several high profile buildings in El Paso, including one of the buildings downtown (The Plaza Hotel). They have had no plans to sell the land to the city, nor to sell to any individual person or entity. They keep their buisness to themselves and rarely raise too much of an uproar about themselves.

As for plans for the land, the owners seem to be happy with the park in its state of ruin. There are some government tax breaks for ventures & buisnesses that fail, and its believed (without facts from the people its just hearsay) that the owners of Magic Landing are letting the park remain closed to collect tax breaks offered by the government.

Odds are the reason that the park's owners do not sell it is because they are getting paid to have the park remain a failure. It makes perfect sense considering the other building (the aforementioned Plaza Hotel) is itself closed. How can a buisness man keep his ventures profitable if they're closed unless getting subsidies from the government for still holding onto failed buisnesses...

Makes you think...

9/10/2005 4:03 PM  
Blogger fescobej said...

Your right. It does make you think and in fact upsets me. I believe it is that type of business mentality that has kept El Paso the city it is. Never being able to turn the corner and never really knowing what our full potential is. The people with the money, don't want to invest money in our city!

9/12/2005 5:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I go to Socorro High School which u may all may know is right ijn front of the place where Magic Landing was or in this case is. Ive hear many things about this place and Ive visited it a couple of times when i go out on runs over there. So the deaths and stuff really did happen? I know I wasnt born yet so I have know knowledge but I really want in depth specific information. That place was just abandoned. I mean I went in there and there were still vending machines and some teddy bears on shelves. It was very creepy.Well i jus wanted to know if there was someway you could tell me. Oh yeah by the way cool site thingy.

1/05/2006 3:36 AM  
Anonymous Duke said...

Who wrote the post above? An infant??

1/15/2006 3:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The concept map posted above is fake. It is a map of Blackpool Pleasure Beach in the U.K. (the map can be found on the internet). It also incorporates the new Six Flags logo that wasn't in use until 1999.

Also, SeaWorld was never a corporate partner of Six Flags. It has always been a competitor and is currently owned by Busch.

Finally, SeaWorld did not follow Six Flags to San Antonio - it was built in 1988. That's four years earlier than Fiesta Texas was built and eight years before Fiesta Texas was bought by Six Flags.

8/19/2006 11:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with the above post, I have found that the concept map above is indeed a fake.I believe that the Six Flags company did want to build a park here, but that is not the map of how they intended it to look like. So how did that map ended up being labled as the drawing board for "Six Flags Magic Landing" when it is just a map of an already existing park in England? What, did they plan to make an exact duplicate of that park, or who is the prankster behind that joke? To the person who created this whole site, care to provide some answers to these questions?

9/19/2006 9:32 PM  
Blogger The Archivist said...

Anonymous, you are right. When I tried searching for photos of the park this photo was found on a different website (and at least one person who emailed the same photo) and I blindly accepted the photo as fact.

It is indeed a fake photo, and the timeline identifying Fiesta Texas, Sea World and their reported affiliation are also incorrect.

Those will be removed immediately.

Might I add, I nave never said I have all the answers to what happened that tract of land out in the county of El Paso. The information that surfaces is hard to prove due to the inability of owners, partners and participants to come forward and give their accounts of the history that happened out there some 14 years ago. has always been intended on being a BLOG about the photographs I took inside the park and telling a little side story or two which are the views and opinions of the moderators and contributors alone, and do not in any way represent the truth of what happened unless noted *with* newspaper articles or first hand accounts with workers of the park.

With that said, I will be more attentive in information posted here.

9/21/2006 9:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Michel and George you sould make a new Magic Landing, please it's cool.Because I never had the oportunity to go,if you do it I goin to go evry day,but do it on El Paso Tx.

12/01/2007 7:10 PM  
Blogger The Archivist said...


Comment deleted by request.

10/18/2008 8:11 PM  
Anonymous X9 said...

I am glad this site was made. I have always been in wonder towards Magic Landing... Now I know what happened....

On another note that really irritated me about El Paso denying Six Flags a deal to bring that attraction here. I believe it would have helped El Paso get bigger in a very positive way. Wholesome family entertainment.

Also a bit annoyed by El Paso losing Western Playland, I liked that spot, now that its in Sundland Park I feel its not that good... This city annoys me...

2/13/2009 11:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I worked at Magic Landing the first year it was open. It was a great place with great potential. The biggest thing going against the park from the get-go, was it's owner George Dipp. He was a cheap and dis-honest individual who cut corners left and right. He was dis-respectful towards employees as well as his own management team. It didn't take long for everyone to catch on-and lose faith in the venture. In the end employees were stealing from the park like crazy; free food, product etc . . . I personally took my weight in Magic tricks from the magic shop where I worked. We all saw it as compensation for the ill treatment on behalf of The big Dipper, and he was too ignorant to know what was going on. If he had simply been a decent human being, who knows how big ML could have been. He's now just a -sadtwitchy old bastard

2/14/2010 10:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I live in El Paso but I never went to Magic Landing (I was born in 85) I really wanted to know the story behind it. I just remember my family would refer to it as "Tragic Landing". I actually want to see how it looks now. I know there are a bunch of trailers parked there and I cant really go in there (damn u criminal trespassing law! haha). A few of my friends snuck in back in high school and managed to snag a few tshirts.

3/07/2011 2:07 PM  
Blogger J said...

Someone has uploaded a video of Magic Landing from their own personal home video collection, circa 1980's. Search "Magic landing" in youtube...comes right up.

4/28/2011 11:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, I loved the read. I have very fond memories of Magic Landing from when I was a kid and since I was young, never really knew what happened, I just knew it wasn't open anymore. then the crazy rumors started and really didn't know what happened. it was very interesting to stroll down memory lane. Too bad my kids never got to go. (At least there's Western playland.. CUZ IT'S STILL THE SAME! actually since it moved, its worse-but hey I'm glad there's at least something :)

4/20/2012 11:35 PM  

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