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Six Flags Over Texas

From Academic Kids

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Six Flags Over Texas is a major amusement park located in Arlington, Texas and was the first park of the Six Flags chain. The park opened on August 1, 1961 following just a year of construction and an initial investment of $10 million by real estate developer and oil baron 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.

Contents

History

Following a visit to the recently opened Disneyland in Anaheim, California, wealthy oil tycoon and 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, Spain, Mexico, 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 split into separate regions, such as the Spain and Mexico section featuring Spanish-themed rides, attractions and buildings.

Free publicity

During construction, the fence surrounding the park was of the chainlink type. Slats of wood placed vertically in the links left small spaces which allowed one to see through them. Although the fence seemed as if it were intended to block the view of construction, if a vehicle were travelling alongside the fence, on the adjacent road, a "stroboscopic" view of the park was clearly afforded to the occupants. This had a promotional effect on the local residents, and driving this road became a popular weekend activity in some households. Thus, without much advertising, the park became a popular attraction, even before the date of its opening. Also the opening credits of the 70's children's show, Banana Splits, feature the log ride and giant slide (which you rode down in a burlap sack).

Silver Star Carousel

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The Shockwave roller coaster.
The Silver Star Carousel at Six Flags Over Texas opened in 1963. The ride was built in 1925 by the Dentzel Carousel Company in Philadelphia, using some wooden horses on the carousel that were hand-crafted around 1900. In the decades since it was installed at the park, The Silver Star Carousel has changed locations several times, and is currently located at the park's front gate behind the entry plaza fountains.

Six Flags Over Texas Railroad

The Six Flags Over Texas Railroad is the only attraction still operating from the park's inaugural 1961 season. Two engines transport guests on a one mile journey around the park with stops at two stations located on opposite sides of the park for entering and exiting riders. Both train engines were originally built at the turn of the century for a sugar cane plantation in Louisiana. Engine #1, known as the "Green Train" (due to its color scheme) or the "Mary Ann," was built in 1901 by the American Locomotive Company. The smaller engine #2, known as the "Red Train" or "Lydia," was created for the plantation in 1897 by the Porter Company.

The engines were later rebuilt for $50,000, and renamed the "General Sam Houston" (originally the 'Mary Ann') and the "Mirabeau B. Lamar" (originally the 'Lydia') in honor of these Texan heroes. The rebuilding also involved several minor changes, including the conversion of the wood-burning steam engines to oil-burning steam engines. Photos of the original engines can be found at the train station in the 'Texas' section of the park.

The railroad continues to run at the park daily, operating much the same as it did more than 40 years ago when the attraction first opened. Six Flags maintains the trains as close as possible to their original specifications. In fact, despite a popular movement to transform theme park railroad engines from steam-powered to the newer diesel-powered trains for lower maintenance and operating costs, Six Flags Over Texas has resisted to favor a more authentic experience.

Firsts

Six Flags Over Texas has also been home to many of theme park "firsts" including:

*This is often disputed with Geauga Lake’s Double Loop[1] (http://www.rcdb.com/locationdetail58.htm) roller coaster, despite Six Flags claiming it publicly on their website[2] (http://www.sixflags.com/parks/overtexas/Rides/list.html).

Events

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.
  • Texas Heritage 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.
  • Fright Fest – 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 “haunted” attraction.
  • 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).

Major attractions

Superman Tower of Power – The Superman Tower of Power ride was introduced to the park in 2003 as a combination freefall/launch tower created by S&S Power with a Superman theme.

Titan – Titan is a massive, orange, 255-foot tall steel roller coaster which combines tall, swooping drops with tight helixes. The ride was designed and built by Giovanola.

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Batman the Ride at Six Flags Over Texas.
Texas Giant – The world-renowned Texas Giant wooden roller coaster has consistently ranked at the top of wooden coaster ranking lists such as Amusement Today’s Golden Ticket Awards[3] (http://www.amusementtoday.com/2004gtawood.html).

Mr. Freeze – Themed to Batman's arch nemesis, Mr. Freeze launches riders at 70 m.p.h. into a top hat inversion and overbanked turn before rising up a 242-foot tall vertical tower, subsequently repelling the train back down and through the course in reverse.

Batman the Ride – One of the cloned (same layout) Batman the Ride inverted roller coasters, the Bolliger & Mabillard-designed roller coaster sends riders through 5 inversions with nothing but air beneath the train and riders’ legs.

Shockwave – Shockwave is a Schwarzkopf-designed steel roller coaster, often considered to be one of the few rides in the world to successfully combine inversions (with its two vertical loops) and airtime (the sensation caused by negative G’s) with only a lap bar used as a restraining device.

Runaway Mountain – Billed as "the coaster that dares the darkness," Runaway Mountain sends passengers on a ride course filled with tight turns, helixes, drops, and hills – all in the complete dark.

Judge Roy Scream – A smaller wooden roller coaster catering mostly to the family, Judge Roy Scream is offset from the rest of the park and resides next to the parks large entry lake.

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The Oil Derrick observation tower.

Minor attractions

Mine Train – Originally called the "Runaway Mine Train," the Mine Train takes riders both old and young on a ride through a themed mining town, complete with a surprising finale.

Mini Mine Train – A miniature version of the Mine Train takes children, still too small to experience its bigger brother’s thrills, on a smaller roller coaster ride.

Flashback – Flashback is a shuttle coaster, built by Vekoma, which takes riders through three inversions, up a steep incline, and then through the same three inversions in reverse for a total of six inversions.

La Vibora – A bobsled roller coaster located in the Spain & Mexico section of the park that takes riders on a trackless adventure through a trough.

Oil Derrick – The Oil Derrick observation tower opened in 1969 providing a view of both the downtown Dallas and Fort Worth skylines at 300 feet above the park.

Looney Tunes USA - The Looney Tunes USA section of the park features several rides and attractions designed for kids under the height of 54 inches. Several Looney Tunes cartoon characters can also be spotted patrolling the area regularly, greeting the kids and providing photo opportunities.

Crazy Horse Saloon - Always wild and wacky, the Crazy Horse Saloon has provided over 40 years of live entertainment. Cowboys and Saloon Girls star in hilarious family fun.

David Blackburn Southern Palace - The oldest theater at Six Flags Over Texas. This venue houses all types of singing and dancing shows. The 2005 Summer Season will have world famous Chinese Acrobats performing in the venue.

References

  • Jordan, Scott L. MousePlanet - This Old Park (http://www.mouseplanet.com/scott/072400.htm). Retrieved Sep. 21, 2004.
  • McCown, Davis. ParkTimes (http://parktimes.com). Retrieved Sep. 21, 2004.
  • Rogers, Joel A. CoasterGallery.com (http://www.coastergallery.com/2001T/SFOT.html). Retrieved Sep. 21, 2004.
  • Six Flags - Media Info (http://www.sixflags.com/media_info.asp). Retrieved Sep. 21, 2004.

See also

External links

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