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UPDATED: Magic Mountain president to leave

Jay Thomas, park president since 2007, may take a position at a corporate office in Dallas

Posted: August 25, 2010 5:00 a.m.
Updated: August 25, 2010 5:00 a.m.

Jay Thomas is leaving Six Flags Magic Mountain and Hurricane Harbor as park president, potentially taking a position at the theme park's corporate office in Dallas, a spokeswoman said Tuesday.

Six Flags Magic Mountain spokeswoman Sue Carpenter denied other media reports that the park president had been fired from the company. There was no word Tuesday night on who would replace Thomas.

Thomas was appointed park president in 2007 and navigated the theme park - one of the Santa Clarita Valley's largest employers - through the economic recession and financial setbacks facing the New York-based amusement park company.

In 2009, Six Flags filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection with the goal of reorganizing and shedding $1.8 billion of its $2.4 billion debt.

Despite the economic challenges, Thomas and the theme park heralded the opening of its roller coasters X2 in 2008 and "Terminator: Salvation" The Ride in 2009. That all followed a $10 million revamp of the five-year-old rollercoaster, X.

Thomas oversaw the park as it reintroduced itself as a family-friendly destination, evident by the launch of the new children's area, Thomas Town, which is based on the character Thomas the Tank Engine.

The park also began enforcing code-of-conduct rules at the entrance to rides and popular destinations, prohibiting smoking, profanity and other behavior deemed not family-friendly.

Outside of running the theme park, Thomas immersed himself in the Santa Clarita Valley community, joining a series of nonprofit organizations like the Boys & Girls Club of Santa Clarita Valley.

"Jay never had the kind of airs that corporate people do - he is a genuine, good human being. It's hard to find those kinds of people today," said John Mahaffey, former interim director of the Boys & Girls Club of SCV Foundation and owner of SC Construction Company.

"His departure is a devastating loss," Mahaffey said. "He's been a great member of this community. No one has done as much personally as he has done in support of the nonprofits."

Thomas and the theme park received numerous awards for a dedication to the community. In 2009, Thomas accepted the Economic Impact Award during the Santa Clarita Valley Business Leadership Awards.

Earlier this year, local leaders "roasted" Thomas as part of the Elks Roast, which raised nearly $35,000 for the Samuel Dixon Family Health Centers.

"Jay Thomas is a fine executive and leader," Signal Publisher Ian Lamont said. "He is greatly respected and admired and his next community is going to love him."

Signal Business Editor Jana Adkins contributed to this report.


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