Six Flags Over Texas
is a major amusement park
located in Arlington
), east of Fort Worth
and about west of Dallas
. It is the oldest park of the Six Flags
chain. The park opened on August 1
following just a year of construction and an initial investment
million by real estate
developer Angus G. Wynne, Jr
Since its opening, Six Flags Over Texas has consistently performed well in terms of attendance and revenue, despite its history of ever-changing owners and expansions. The park currently has several amusement rides and attractions, bringing in thousands of visitors daily.
The park is not owned by the Six Flags Theme Parks corporation. In an arrangement similar to that for Six Flags Over Georgia, it is owned by a group of approximately 120 limited partners and is managed by the corporation in exchange for rights to use the Six Flags name. In years past, this arrangement has caused significant friction.
Initial planning and construction
Following a visit to the recently opened Disneyland
in Anaheim, California
, wealthy real estate developer Angus G. Wynne
, Jr. decided that his home state of Texas
should have a local park for entertainment. Planning for such a place began in 1959, under the leadership of Wynne and the Great Southwest Corporation
, along with the backing of various New York
investors. Construction on the park began in August, 1960.
Origin of the name
The park's name "Six Flags Over Texas" stands for the six different nations' flags
which have governed Texas, including: France
, The Republic of Texas
, The Confederate States of America
, and the United States of America
. The story goes that Wynne originally intended to name the park "Texas under Six Flags", until his wife objected stating that "Texas isn’t under
anything." The original park was (and still is) split into separate regions, such as the Spain and Mexico
section which featured Spanish-themed rides, attractions and buildings.
Six Flags Over Texas opened its gates to the public on Tuesday, August 1
as part of a "soft-test opening". The park held its grand opening ceremonies on Saturday, August 5
. Park attendance reached 8,374. Admission was $2.75 for adults and $2.25 for children; parking was 50 cents; hamburgers were 35 cents, and soft drinks were 10 cents. On opening day, guests could visit the six original themed sections: Mexico
, The Confederacy
, and Modern. They could also enjoy over 20 attractions including classic rides, shows, and exhibits.
The park's first season was a success with over 500,000 visitors which ended on November 25, 1961.
The 1960s were a growing decade for Six Flags Over Texas. The park added numerous attractions including two new sections: Boomtown
, named after the boomtowns that sprang up rather quickly during Texas' oil boom era, and the "Tower Section", named after the Oil Derrick
observation tower built in 1969. The park also witnessed the birth of two classic theme park attractions: the log flume
in 1963 and the Runaway Mine Train roller coaster in 1966. Attendance reached close to 2 million visitors a year by the end of the decade. In 1969, Six Flags Over Texas was sold by Angus G. Wynne
for a limited partnership with Jack Knox.
The park saw continuing growth and expansion through the 1970s. The park underwent new management in 1971 with the Penn Central Railroad. The park added two new roller coasters, more rides, and a new section called "Goodtimes Square". The park also removed many of its less popular aging attractions in this decade as well. In 1975, a new mascot, Cyrus Cosmo - the inventor - was created and led many ad campaigns. By 1978, Six Flags Over Texas had had over 30 million visitors.
The 1980s were another period of change for Six Flags Over Texas. The park added three roller coasters as well as a children's section themed after Pac-Man
in 1983 and later changed to Looney Tunes
in 1985. Six Flags Over Texas also introduced three popular festivals in this decade. Spring Breakout, introduced in 1984, brought live bands and excitement to the park for students on Spring Break. Six Flags also introduced Fright Fest and Holiday in the Park to increase attendance and extend the season.
The 1990s was a rather rough decade in comparison from decades past. The decade started off with a bang when Six Flags Over Texas introduced the Texas Giant
roller coaster. After a record year, Six Flags Over Texas went into a lull with management changes and name changes as the Looney Tunes characters began to take over starting in 1991. The Speelunker's Cave, a flume-based darkride often said to have inspired Disney to create It's a small world, was restructured to feature Looney Tunes characters in place of the Spee's who had inhabited the ride since the early days of the park -- the park was managed by Time Warner Entertainment
. The partners sued Time Warner in 1997, claiming that they had neglected to invest in the park and overcharged the partners for the improvements it did receive. A Gwinnett County
civil court jury agreed and awarded the partners damages in excess of US$600 million. In 1998, Time Warner sold its interests in the Six Flags parks to Premier Parks
of Oklahoma City
, which later changed its name to Six Flags Theme Parks, Inc.
In the late 90s, the park experienced a period of growth by adding new coasters and rides. Six Flags Over Texas also introduced FastLane
, later FlashPass
, which was similar to FastPass
theme parks. Many of these new additions (including the new Gotham City section) were far from the original Six Flags Over Texas theme. By the end of the decade, Six Flags Over Texas was packed with ten thrilling roller coasters.
The 21st century
As the 21st Century
rolled around, Six Flags Over Texas started it off with its addition of Titan
and a redone Looney Tunes USA. In 2002, the park kicked off the Best of Texas Festival which brought Texas history back to the park. The park has also made steps toward bringing back the past when they reopened Casa Magnetica. In 2006, the park celebrated its 45th Anniversary by adding ten new attractions geared toward families. Since then, Six Flags Over Texas has placed more emphasis on families by offering a daily parade, Brunch with Bugs, and more characters (including Scooby-Doo
and the Justice League.) Six Flags Over Texas also introduced Festival Latino. In 2007, Six Flags over Texas debuted "Cirque Dreams Coobrila", a high energy cirque acrobatic type show housed in the Music Mill outdoor amphitheater. In the words from Six Flags: "This original production combines three key characters... the "COOler", the "BRIghter", and the "LAter." These three key elements help to describe what the summer nights at Six Flags Over Texas are all about. "Cooler" represents the cooler evenings, "Brighter" speaks to the amazing light treatments that illuminate the show and "Later" means later hours, more time for guests to enjoy all that Six Flags Over Texas has to offer." On May 17, 2008, Six Flags over Texas introduced its first roller coaster in seven years called Tony Hawk's Big Spin.
Firsts, bests, and other records
Firsts and one of a kinds
- First Six Flags Theme Park (1961)
- First Log Flume – El Aserradero (1963)
- First Mine Train Roller Coaster – The Runaway Mine Train (1966)
- First Roller Coaster with Consecutive Loops* – Shock Wave (1978)
- First Freefall Ride - Texas Cliffhanger (later renamed Wildcatter) (1982) Removed in 2007.
*This is often disputed with Geauga Lake’s Double Loop roller coaster, despite Six Flags claiming it publicly on their website
- World's Best Wooden Roller Coaster of 1999 - Texas Giant
- A 28-year-old Arkansas woman drowned on the Roaring Rapids water ride.
- In March 2006, Texas Tornado (currently Gunslinger) malfunctioned and its operator brought it to an emergency stop, causing several swing chairs to collide at speeds approximating 15 mph. Several riders suffered minor injuries.
Six Flags Over Texas hosts several seasonal events throughout the year including:
- Spring Break Out – Taking place in the month of March, the Spring Break Out event welcomes the warm Texas weather with plenty of outdoor attractions, events, games, and concert performances. The event usually takes place over a couple of weeks, allowing various local schools’ differing spring break holidays to coincide with one of the event's weeks. It has been a park tradition since 1984.
- Festival Latino - In April, Hispanic and Latino heritage is celebrated throughout the park. The park alive with arts, crafts, performances by bands and dancers, as well as authentic cuisine including fajitas, sweet corn, churros, and tacos. The annual event started in 2006.
- Best of Texas Festival – Texas heritage is celebrated during this event in September. The park is decorated with pumpkins, hay bales, and scarecrows and filled with skilled artisans and Texas souvenirs such as woodcarvings, homemade soaps, and hand-crafted leather boots. Several authentic Texas foods are also popular at the event, including homemade breads, kettle corn, skillet potatoes, and fried green tomatoes. Originally called the Texas Heritage Festival, it was renamed the 'Best of Texas' festival for the 2006 season and the parks 45th anniversary.
- Fright Fest – Originally only one night in October called 'Fright Night', Fright Fest is the annual Halloween festival at Six Flags Over Texas, Fright Fest, takes place throughout the month of October and features several specialized additions to the park. Haunted houses, decorated pathways, patrolling ghouls, and spooky music all contribute to the park’s transformation into a giant 'scream' park.
- Holiday in the Park – A tradition started in 1985, Holiday in the Park is now one of the park’s most popular seasonal events as the park’s season winds down towards the end of November and throughout December. Hundreds of thousands of Christmas lights are strung around the park buildings and rides, and an authentic snow hill is available for visitors to sled down (made possible in the usually mild Texas winter by a specialized refrigeration machine under the attraction). Festive holiday shows, arts & crafts, and delicious seasonal food also bring the holidays to Six Flags Over Texas
- Texas (1961)
- Spain (1961)
- Mexico (1961)
- France (1961)
- USA (1961 - originally known as the Modern section)
- Old South (1961 - originally known as the Confederacy)
- Star Mall (1961 - often not referred to as a section of the park but rather the Front Gate or part of the USA section)
- Boomtown (1963)
- Tower (1969 - named after the Oil Derrick observation tower)
- Goodtimes Square (1973)
- Looney Tunes USA (1983 - originally known as Pac-Man Land & Looney Tunes Land)
- Gotham City (1999)
Rides and attractions
Current adult and family rides
- Six Flags Railroad (train ride around the park) - opened in 1961; stations are the Texas Depot and Boomtown Depot
- El Sombrero (Chance Rides trabant) - opened in 1965; located in Mexico section
- Conquistador (Intamin Bounty/swinging ship) - opened in 1981; located in Spain section
- El Asseradero (2 separate Areo Dynamics log flume water rides) - 1 opened in 1963 and the other in 1968; located in Spain section
- La Fiesta de Las Tazas (Zamperla teacups) - opened in 2006; located in Spain section
- Yosemite Sam & The Gold River Adventure (a dark ride where guests float in boats past scenes of Yosemite Sam, Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, and friends) - opened in 1992; located in Texas section. Also see River Caves.
- Chapparral Antique Cars (Arrow Dynamics antique cars) - opened in 1962; located in Texas section
- Rodeo (Huss Rodeo/Breakdance ride) - opened in 2006; located in Texas section; moved from Six Flags Great Adventure
- Sidewinder (Eli Bridge scrambler) - opened in 2006; located in Texas section; moved from Six Flags Astroworld
- Boot Scootin' (Zamperla boot themed Turtle Parade) - opened in 2006; located in Texas section
- Oil Derrick (Intamin observation tower) - opened in 1969; located in Tower section
- Superman Tower Of Power (3 S & S Power Combo Towers) - opened in 2003; located in Tower section
- Roaring Rapids (Intamin Rapids water ride) - opened in 1983; located in Tower section
- Caddo Lake Barge (Zamperla Rockin' Tug) - opened in 2006; located in Tower section
- Silver Star Carousel (Dentzel carousel) - opened in 1963; located in USA section
- Aquaman's Splashdown (Intamin Shoot-the-Chutes water ride) - opened in 1987; located in USA section; was named Splash Water Falls
- Fly Me to the Moon (motion simulator theater) - ride opened in 1995, movie began in 2008; located in USA section.
- ACME Rock-N-Rocket (Intamin Looping Starship) - opened in 2006; located in USA section; moved from Six Flags Over Georgia
- Gunslinger (Chance Ride Yo-Yo) - opened in 1983; located in Boomtown section, previously known as Texas Tornado
- Texas Chute-Out (Intamin parachute tower) - opened in 1976; located in Goodtimes Square section. (Also see Great Gasp)
- Crazy Legs (Huss troika) - opened in 2006; located in Goodtimes Square section; moved from Six Flags Astroworld
- Cloud Bouncer (Zamperla Samba balloon tower) - opened in 2006; located in Goodtimes Square section
- Batwing (Zamperla Telecombat) - opened in 2006; located in Gotham City section
- Gotham City Spray Ground (Waterworks International interactive water playground) - opened in 2006; located in Gotham City section
Current kiddie rides
(located in Looney Tunes USA
- Bug's Bunny's Spirit of St. Louie (Zamperla mini airplane ride) - opened in ?
- Elmer Fudd's 'America the Beautiful' Railway (Zamperla Rio Grande/kiddie train ride) - opened in ?
- Route 66 Bumper Cars (SBF mini bumper cars) - opened in 2001
- Sylvester & Tweety's State Fair-is Wheel (Zamperla mini ferris wheel) - opened in 2001
- Daffy's Capitol Tours (SBF kiddie crazy bus ride) - opened in 2001
- Michigan J. Frog's Tinsel Town Revue (Zamperla mini swinger ride) - opened in ?
- Speedy's Truckin' Across America (kiddie convoy/truck ride) - opened in ?
- Taz's New York Adventure (SBF kiddie drop ride) - opened in 2001
- Yosemite Sam's Texas Tea Cups (SBF mini teacups) - opened in 2001
- Six Flags Speedway Go-Karts (J & J Amusements go karts) - opened in 1999; located in Tower section
- Dive Bomber Alley (Skycoaster) - opened in 1996; located in Tower section
Theaters & stages
- David Blackburn Southern Palace Theater - The largest indoor theater at Six Flags Over Texas. This venue houses all types of musical and dance shows.
- Majestic Theater - Originally the Krofft Puppet Circus & Goodtimes Theater, this venue houses all types of musical, dance, and specialty shows.
- Lone Star Theater- This venue usually house specialty shows.
- Crazy Horse Saloon -The Crazy Horse Saloon has provided live entertainment for over 40 years, featuring cowboys and saloon girls. This is the oldest theater in the park.
- AT&T Music Mill Amphitheater - The park's large outdoor amphitheater. This venue houses concerts and other live entertainment.
- Back Porch Stage - This venue houses live bands during certain times of the year.
- Texas Arena - This is the park's stunt show theater. In 2008, the Thursday Night Starburst Concert Series will perform here.
Shopping and dining
- Pedro's Painted Shirts
- Casa De Six Flags
- El Mercado De La Plaza
- Ashley's Antique Photorium
- Miss Abagail's Emporium
- Les De Caricatures
- Airbrush Artistry
- The Ole' Woodcutter Shop
- Texas Glass Blower
- Longhorn 3D Crystal
- Big Tex's Tattoo Parlor
- Indian Village Trading Post
- Texas Gifts
- Attitudes AND Attitudes 2
- Cartoon Candy Kitchen
- Looney Tunes Mall
- The Flash Pass Ride Reservation Center
- Dry Hole Charlie's
- Dusty Dan's Waterin' Hole
- Specialty Hot Dawgs
- Goodtimes Refreshments
- Cactus Cantina
- Flags Funnel Cakes
- Old Fashioned Ice Cream Bars
- Smoothies Sensacion Tropical
- Gator McGee's Mountain Grill
- Ben & Jerry's
- Annabelle's Southern Treats
- Aunt Addie's Shaved Ice
- Papa John's Pizza
- Uncle Bub's Smokehouse
- Bubba's Texas Sized Hot Dogs
- Newman's Corn Dog Cafe
- E.G. Sugarwater's Old Time Parlour
- Lone Star Twisters
- Rose's Cantina
- Salt Water Taffy
- Red River Dogs & Fries
- Newman's Cafe
- Six Flags All American Cafe (formerly USA Food Court in 2007)
- Granny's Funnel Cakes
- Pink Things
- Panda Express (formerly East Texas BBQ in 2006)
- Cold Stone Creamery (formerly Chuckwagon Grill in 2006) (formerly American Freezes in 2007)
- Johnny Rockets (formerly Chubbie's in 2006)
Six Flags Over Texas continues to add new attractions and additions on a competitive basis, in order to increase guest attendance and remain profitable. Some speculation has led to the belief that the park will have increasing difficulty with future projects due to the park's location where it is literally "boxed-in" by local roads and businesses surrounding the park, and lack of free land. Park management continues to deny this, claiming that space is available not only within the park (by removal of older rides or in various other free areas) but also in other locations, such as the park's large parking lot (which was expanded into to build the roller coaster Titan
Past park president Steve Calloway repeatedly expressed his desire at various events to implement past favorites of the park to bring back some nostalgia. His goal was partially completed with the reopening of the long-defunct Casa Magnetica funhouse in 2004.