The History of Six Flags
If we want to talk about the big chains in the amusement park industry, we have to talk about Six Flags and there is no better place to start than Six Flags Over Texas. The park in Arlington nearby Dallas opened its doors in 1961 after a short planning phase of just two years. The real estate developer Angus G. Wynne, Jr. wanted a park like the just opened Californian amusement park Disneyland in his home state of Texas. The initial idea of the park was to show Texas under six flags – the title quickly changed to Six Flags Over Texas, as Texas can’t be under anything. The six flags represent the six nations that have governed Texas during its history: Spain, France, Mexico, the Republic of Texas, the United States of America, and the Confederate States of America.
Interestingly, the park was never intended to last for long. With more than 8000 visitors on the first day of operation, Six Flags Over Texas was an initial success and was set to stay. With the investment of the Pennsylvania Railroad and the New York Central Railroad two more parks (Six Flags Over Georgia (1967) and Six Flags Over Mid-America (1971)) were constructed. In the following years Six Flags continued to grow by acquiring independent parks such as AstroWorld (1975), Great Adventure (1977) and Magic Mountain (1979). With the acquisition of Marriott’s Great America in Gurnee (1984), Six Flags obtained the rights to use the Looney Tunes characters by Time Warner.
In 1982 the Oklahoma based real estate company Tierco Group bought the theme park Frontier City. Plans for converting the park into a shopping centre quickly dropped due to an oil bust in Oklahoma City. By investing into the park and new family-friendly rides, the popularity increased. In 1992 Tierco acquired the Maryland based Wild World (now Six Flags America) and changed its name to Premier Parks. In 1995 Premier Parks acquired Funtime, Inc and their properties Geauga Lake, Wyandot Lake, Darien Lake and Lake Compounce. A year after, Elitch Gardens, Great Escape, River Side Park (now Six Flags New England) and the Waterworld USA parks were bought, while Lake Compounce was sold to Kennywood. In 1997, Premier purchased Kentucky Kingdom and Marine World (now Six Flags Discovery Kingdom). During the same time, Premier Parks agreed to buy 94% of the European Walibi Group, adding six more parks to the portfolio.
Six Flags being perfectly stable was sold to Premier Parks in 1998. Premier Parks continued its rapid growth by acquiring the German theme park Warner Bros. Movie World (now Movie Park Germany), the Mexican Reino Aventura (now Six Flags Mexico) and taking over a small share in the upcoming major theme park project Warner Bros. Movie World Madrid (now Parque Warner Madrid). It’s no surprise, that the European Division didn’t last for long. The increasing depts lead to the parks being sold to Palamon Capital Partners in 2004. Six Flags Worlds of Adventure (Geauga Lake) was sold to Cedar Fair, which led to its closure some years later. Six Flags Astro World was sold and cleared due to its real estate value but did not even made half of it and Six Flags New Orleans was destroyed by hurricane Katrina. Six Flags now fighting was hardly stroked by the financial crisis of 2007/08, which led to the reconstruction of the company.
Nowadays, Six Flags doesn’t grow as rapidly. Since this year the theme parks Frontier City and Darien Lake are back under Six Flags. A park in China will be licenced with the Six Flags name and the project of Six Flags Dubai has been finally cancelled.
Six Flags Over Texas
After this small history lesson, it is time to move on. I think you can understand the importance of this true giant in the amusement park industry. Although, I already visited all of the former Six Flags parks in Europe, my first visit to an actual Six Flags park was always intentioned to be at Six Flags Over Texas. Therefore, I looked forward to my visit for quite a long time.
After a short night in Wichita Falls, I drove all the way to Arlington and ended up spending quite some time in a traffic jam because of a giant interstate/turnpike road work. With best views of the Shock Wave roller coaster and the observation tower Oil Derrick, the anticipation of the visit changed to steadily into despair. It didn’t help that all the other roads towards the park were congested as well. With a fantastic view on Judge Roy Scream, I finally arrived at the parking. Due to my Six Flags membership, I did not have to pay for parking, which is a good thing regarding the parking fees at most of the American theme parks. After a while, I found a parking spot at the rear part of the parking lot.
When walking towards the entrance, I admired the view on Titan, the biggest roller coaster of the park, and their cool bobsled coaster La Vibora. After standing in line for the security control for quite a while, I realised that I’ve left my wallet in my car. After a ten-minute walk back and forth, I was finally ready for my visit at Six Flags Over Texas. By scanning my voucher at the entrance and after a picture has been taken, I quickly had my membership card in my hands. The included member bottle for unlimited soft drinks could be picked up at the membership office, but the line was way to long to even consider it.
Stepping into the park you find yourself on a small plaza. From here you could begin your journey clockwise and counter-clockwise. You could also take a ride on the Silver Star Carousel which is located slightly above the plaza.
We start our journey in the clockwise direction, where we immediately find the Spanish theme area. The signature coaster of this area showed a rather long line and the beautiful swing boat ride Conquisador was down due to the construction on the Larson Giant Loop El Diablo Looping Coaster. Therefore, we moved on to the parks log flume El Aserradero.
El Asseradero was the first log flume ever build. Back in 1963 Arrow Development has created a new kind of ride, which quickly became the most desired attraction in every theme park around the globe. In Germany, the manufacturer Mack licenced the patent of Arrow to build the log flumes for the European market. Log flumes were everywhere. Some years after the first installation, the capacity of the ride was enhanced by building another one right next to the first one. Nowadays, the second flume is the one being in operation. Till 2019, the first log flume was used on crowded days. The remaining ride features a lot of curves and just one drop at the end of the ride. Unluckily, the ride was not in operation during my visit.
Following the pathways through the older section of the park, we quickly encounter the almighty Oil Derrick. This observation tower is one of the first projects of the ride manufacturer Intamin and features a great view at Six Flags Over Texas, the water park Hurricane Harbour in the distance and the surrounding area. Unluckily, due to strong winds the tower did not operated most of the day of my visit. It opened in the late evening and I had to rush to get a ride on the bobsleigh coaster La Vibora before the park’s closure.
Just behind the shiny tower, which just got a new coat of paint last year, you can find the entrance to the legendary roller coaster Shock Wave. This Schwarzkopf classic was the first roller coaster being constructed in regard of the heart line. This all new concept allowed for smoother ride for the ride passengers as their hearts would not experience any abrupt motion nor high lateral G-Forces. Due to this change, steeper curves and other manoeuvres were possible.
Nowadays, Shock Wave does look quite tame from the outside. The rides significant loops were placed right next to the interstate and feature a nice advertisement to the park, but apart from that the layout does not offer anything special. To be honest, this is true for most of the rides being build in the 70’s – but Shock Wave is indeed the perfect coaster.
After climbing the lift hill the train quickly gathers some speed before the big drop. Without any merci we quickly run over the hilltop and shoot down to gather some speed for the two inversions. Forcefully as always, the world keeps on turning upside down till we climb the next hill. Up here, we take another turn before we drop down once again. With a significant amount of negative G-Forces we are pulled out of our seats immediately. Back in the valley we experience very high positive G-forces. This delta of forces speaks for the ride. With a big smile on the face, we quickly pass through another curve above the station, before the game of G-Forces repeats itself several times. After a short lefthand curve, a descending straight and a very long righthand curve, we quickly approach the brake run of the ride. Shortly thereafter, the ride is done.
Shock Wave is a great coaster full of speed, powerful inversions, great ejector airtime and high positive G-Forces. The ride is just perfect, which should not come by surprise as this ride has been built by the famous ride manufacturer Schwarzkopf based in Münsterhausen, Germany (nowadays the site of Gerstlauer Amusement Rides). Although we basically invented the modern vertical loop, we always thought of an American invention. The world is rather strange.
After the brilliant ride of the Shock Wave and the great weather I wanted to cool down a little bit. Unfortunately, the big Intamin rapid ride Roaring Rapids just had a break down when I passed by. The ride itself does not offer anything special, apart of the loading system which uses two parallel stations and therefore requires two lift hills right next to each other.
Passing by the beautiful looking Zamperla Rockin’ Tug Caddo Lake Barge, I quickly hopped on a ride of the Superman Tower of Power, which offered a great view at the park and a hint of airtime. Apart of the massive tower, the ride does not fit in greatly. The theme is negligible and looks rather off. Especially since the DC universe part of the park is located at a different corner of the park.
The roller coaster Runaway Mine Train certainly looks better. The second oldest roller coaster based on tubular steel pipes does a great job. It is the first true mine train roller coaster and defined every element still being popular on modern roller coasters of this type of ride.
After boarding the ride, the operator wishes us fun on a mine train of one of the Six Flags parks before releasing the train. This is kind of geeky, but I had my fun. The ride starts with a small lefthand curve out of the station. After passing the transfer track, the first lift hill is reached. Arrived at the top, the ride builds up some speed during a descent of alternating left- and righthand curves. When passing by the roller coaster Mr. Freeze Reverse Blast the train crosses a hill and dives into a helix. This is followed by a wild ride over hill and dale, which also passes through a tunnel. After another curve, the second lift hill is reached.
After a short hill climb, the track starts its very flat descent. It basically takes a while passing some right and left turns and lots of straight track until the train gets some speed. After passing a building and a righthand curve, the third lift hill is reached. Things reach their climax when we pass through a saloon and dive directly into a tunnel. This is were we hit the last curve before we reach the brake run of the ride.
The Runaway Mine Train is a fantastic family coaster. The ride is not fast nor high, but it delivers many great moments of pure fun. The wacky and way to narrow curves, the small hills and the tunnels all come together for a complete roller coaster package, which somehow looks kind of odd when seeing onride footages of the ride. For me, the ride was a complete surprise and one of the best roller coasters of the park.
Therefore, it doesn’t surprise me that the Runaway Mine Train was a complete hit among the park visitors. Many similar rides where build in a similar fashion in parks all around America in the following years. Due to its popularity, Six Flags Over Texas even built a smaller version of the ride right next door: The Mini Mine Train.
While the name of the roller coaster is not really creative, the ride certainly is. Even though it looks kind of unremarkable from the outside. After climbing the lift hill, the ride starts with a small and flat descent into a left turn. After a short straight the train then enters a tunnel followed by a small righthand curve. When leaving the tunnel, the ride surprises by one of the best views onto the roller coaster Mr. Freeze Reverse Blast you could ever imagine. This moment is simply amazing, especially at night. After a small drop and another tunnel and passing through another curve the train quickly crosses over a hill and dives into the final curve of the ride before it reaches the brake run. Although, the ride is a rather short one, it is a fun one as well and should not be missed.
Passing by the wave swinger The Gunslinger, we quickly change the theme when entering Gotham City. Here we find a lot of rides allocated to the dark knight and his villains. This area was expended in the last years, but it surprisingly started by the launch of the LIM Shuttle Loop Coaster Mr. Freeze in 1998 by Premier Rides.
Initially the trains were launched with the riders facing forward. Interestingly, the ride featured over the shoulder restrains for the first years until they got removed on all the Premier Rides installations in all the Six Flags parks back in 2002. The second big change happened during the year 2012 when the trains got rotated to face the first half of the ride backwards. A change that was set to stay, as it enhances the ride experience like nothing else.
Being launched backwards is kind of an amazing feeling, as there is only the lap bar to be pushed in rather the whole back of your seat. After reaching full speed the train quickly climbs the inside Top Hat element, where the riders experience an intense upside-down moment before falling to the ground. With full speed a large steep turn is being taken before the train climbs the vertical spike at the end of the ride. The train is now pushed upwards by linear induction motors in order to have enough energy to be able to finish the cycle. At the same time, the riders are experience a great moment of pure weightlessness by facing ground forward. Back on the ground the train takes the large turn once again and climbs back into the Top Hat, where it just passes it without getting stuck upside down. Soon after, the train slows down on the launch track. When entering the station, the train then get transferred to the loading position.
Mr. Freeze Reverse Blast is a heck of a ride. The ride is extremely intense and features many great moments. The inside Top Hat is simply amazing and the vertical Spike at the end of the ride is just awesome when facing to the ground. Unfortunately, the ride is also kind of shaky. I’m glad to not have experienced this ride with over the shoulder harnesses, as it is simply not a smooth ride. The whole experience is great, but it also could be better at the same time. Nevertheless, Mr. Freeze Reverse Blast is one of the most intense roller coasters I’ve been on.
Seven years after the first Batman: The ride was built in Six Flags Great America and another copy was already established in Texas, the dark knight finally found its place in Six Flags Over Texas in 1999.
After climbing the lift hill, a pre-drop awaits its passengers before the train finally plunges down the first drop in a steep turn. When passing the valley high G-Forces awaits the passengers before entering the first loop. In the twinkling of an eye the second inversion, a Zero-G Roll, is taken. Another loop follows. The blood pressure in your feet suddenly increases when passing through an upward helix and a straight section of the ride. Without merci, we drop down toward the ground level, whereupon the first corkscrew awaits. This element is just pure madness when riding in the back of the train, as the acceleration suddenly changes. After a short righthand turn, the second corkscrew is taken. This is followed by a left turn into the brake run.
Batman: The ride is still one of the best inverted roller coasters out there. The ride offers an intense ride layout with a lot of positive G-Forces on a rather small footprint. Apart of the theming, the ride experience does not vary between the different installations, which is a good sign. Due to the more immersive experience I prefer Batman: Arkham Asylum in Parque Warner Madrid but this is just personal taste.
The flat rides of Gotham City
Passing by the Telecombat Batflyer, we quickly enter the new part of Gotham City where most of the other villains found their home and got some great amusement rides. Personally, I don’t like this area as all the rides were just placed on a big concrete filled place with no theme at all. The rides themselves are solid. Catwoman Whip is a Zamperla Endeavor and therefore a fancy enterprise style ride, which HUSS would like to sell to somebody someday. Riddler Revenge is a Giant Discovery – also by Zamperla – and therefore automatically a good ride, which at some day was the biggest one of its kind. Harley Quinn Spinsanity however was once a HUSS Troika and is now an ABC Rides Tourbillion (the name is great, so why not keep it) which I would like to have tested. This new kind of multiaxial Top Spin ride was down on the day of my visit.
The last ride being left in this area is the S&S Free Spin roller coaster The Joker. After riding the similar roller coaster Arashi at the Japanese theme park Nagashima Spa Land I was not looking forward for a ride on The Joker, as the ride was uncomfortable and rather boring. I nearly skipped it. As I’m also a curious person, I wanted to make sure that my feelings regarding this type of ride were right.
As a single rider, I met a nice woman and had a great chat with her before boarding. Whilst on the ride, our vehicle flipped itself over a dozen of times offering a ride of a lifetime. At the end of the ride, we were rushed by all the adrenalin pumped into our body and left the ride with a big smile on our faces. It is hard to say that the marble run roller coaster The Joker could not convince me. The ride is epic!
Do you remember the roller coaster we saw just when entering the parking lot? Well, I nearly missed it as I couldn’t find the entrance to it. Even a look on the map does not really help you out, as there is only a small sign above a small tunnel which gives you a hint where the roller coaster is located. If you are coming from Gotham City and passes by the now demolished Shoot the Chutes Aquaman Splash Down you already missed it. It is easier if you just want to take a ride on the giant Funtime Star Flyer Texas Sky Screamer, as the entrance to Judge Roy Scream is right next to it.
The roller coaster with the unusual name is named after Phantly Roy Bean, Jr. better known as the justice of the peace (Judge) Roy Bean. Back in the days, Judge Roy Bean used his saloon as a court and officially sentences two man to death by hanging, one of them escaped. In Western movies he is usually referred as the hanging judge; what a pleasant theme for a family roller coaster, isn’t it?
Nevertheless, the name is creative and original. The layout of the ride on the other hand is quite normal for an Out & Back Woody. After the climb and the first drop, the train runs over a series of airtime hills before turning in a large curve at the other end of the ride. The return itself also features a bunch of smaller hills, which indeed makes it a perfect family roller coaster.
After I finally found the entrance to the ride, I really enjoyed my rides on Judge Roy Scream. It is not the perfect airtime machine, but it is a classical wooden roller coaster offering a lot of great moments. During my last rides on the Judge, I was sitting next to a small boy who could otherwise not ride alone. He reported me everything about his visit and his family in just around 3 minutes in a deep southern accent. This pretty much made my day 😊.
Another interesting encounter happened at the Gerstlauer Spinning Coaster Pandemonium, where an employee immediately identified by Dragon Khan shirt and asked me some questions about Port Aventura, as he planned a coaster trip during the summer. I ended up recommending him the fast pass of the park, as Port Aventura truly isn’t any fun without.
After climbing to the top of the lift, the ride immediately starts with a curvy drop which sets the cars into rotation. Two small hairpin curves then enhance the spin before two helices in style of a figure eight are taken along. After a small drop, a large Bayernkurve follows. With a good spin, a larger drop follows with a funny camelback hill right after. A final upward helix joins in, before the brakes are being hit and the funny ride comes to its end.
Justice League: Battle for Metropolis and Looney Tunes Boom Town
Passing by the extraordinary dark ride Justice League: Battle for Metropolis and the rather ugly kids area Looney Tunes Boom Town with its coaster Wile E. Coyote’s Grand Canyon Blaster – which I have not tested – we quickly make our way to the other side of the park where La Vibora still needs to be tested.
As a big fan of the now demolished Bobbaan of the dutch theme park Efteling, I was looking forward for my ride on La Vibora. Even in Roller Coaster Tycoon 2, the ride was one of my favourites to be placed in every scenario where possible due to its beautiful looking alternating colour scheme resembling the German flag.
After reaching the top of the lift hill, the train rapidly descent in a right bend. The valley is driven through with an absurd force with the first change of direction directly following. A helix then leads you up into the first brake run. Another curvy drop follows and leads you into another powerful valley. A swinging S-curve combination adds itself and leads you into the second block brake run. This game now repeats itself in the same brilliant manner. After the third and final block brake, the train swipes down a lefthand curve and into the final upward helix. Shortly thereafter, the brake run of the ride is reached.
La Vibora is an extraordinary coaster. Due to its train design (it features the trains used on the Bob in Efteling before its change to the two-seater rows) the ride is even wilder than I could ever imagine. This train design adds a lot to the thrills, as you are always in fear to fall over. The rest of the ride is quite forceful and offers a great and fun experience. Thanks, Six Flags Over Texas for keeping this ride alive.
In search of the roller coaster Runaway Mountain we pass by basically every corner of the old section of the park. At our way we meet the HUSS break dance Rodeo and the Chance Trabant El Sombrero, but don’t bother a ride. Finally, we stand in front of a giant and impressively decorated rock face covering the hall of the park’s only indoor roller coaster.
Runaway Mountain is basically a copycat of the Italian coaster model Hurricane by S.D.C. build by Premier Rides in 1996. It therefore features a rather compact layout with a very interesting element in the middle of the ride. As the hall is not perfectly dark and no theming elements can be found within the cave, let’s focus on the ride’s layout.
Right after climbing the lift hill, the train takes a gentle descent in a left turn and runs over a small hill. On the other side of the ride the train gains some height before plunging down the big drop. After an uphill curve, a very steep drop follows quite surprisingly. In the same motion an even steeper ascent adheres twisting the riders like crazy. After a small even section, the train takes a downhill helix into a small drop. Another helix at the other side of the rides acts like the grand finale of the ride before the brake run is reached and the fun ride comes to an end.
As everything is bigger in Texas, it doesn’t come by surprise that the park featured once the biggest wooden roller coaster on earth. The ride was massive and although it had a brilliant reputation during the first seasons, the ride’s comfort got worse with time. The construction company Rocky Mountain Construction just provided a new solution for typical wooden roller coaster problems and Six Flags Over Texas was pleased to try it out. The rest of the story is coaster history and led to one of the biggest success stories in the amusement park industry. RMC was set to stay and to become a market leader.
Due to technical difficulties, the New Texas Giant was the only ride in the park running with one train only which led to a waiting time of around two hours. It did not help, that the team working on the roller coaster was not in their best mood and worked rather slow. Overall, the New Texas Giant was the only roller coaster in the park with dispatching times of up to six minutes. Apart of the many downtimes on the day of my visit, every other ride did very well.
After finally taken my place at the back of the train, the ride is about to start. After a small turnover at the end of the transfer track we reach the ride’s lift hill. At a height of 153 ft (~47m) we suddenly fall down a fantastic 79° drop. With full speed we jump over a hill and continue our way upwards in a long and heavily banked curve. At the peak of the hill we take another drop down. In the same manner as the first hill, we bank ourselves sideways in the upcoming hill before falling back to the ground. Once again with full speed we climb a slightly overbanked turn before flying over a small hill after which we hit the first brake run.
Without losing any speed, we drop back into the action by flying over a series of airtime hills towards the other side of the ride. Next to the final brake run and the station, we surpass the rides support structure in a curve at ground level after which we continue our way through out another series of airtime hills. Suddenly we enter three tunnels in a row, each having their own dips and turns. Back into sunlight, we pass over another two airtime hills before we reach the final brake run of the ride.
The roller coaster New Texas Giant is a surprisingly tame RMC coaster providing a pleasant re-rideability to the overall madness experience. All the hills offer an excellent floating airtime, which lets you fly over each of the countless camelbacks and bumps. The first drop is brilliant, and the large curves provides a good feeling of pacing. You simply can’t do anything wrong when boarding this great ride.
Passing by the Scrambler Sidewinder, we quickly encounter the last ride of Six Flags Over Texas we need to talk about: the almighty Titan. One year after Goliath at Six Flags Magic Mountain was being build, a bigger roller coaster had to come to Six Flags Over Texas. It is the second hyper coaster ever built by Giovanola (former subcontractor of Intamin and B&M) and the last out of the three coasters built by the company before going bankrupt.
After riding the New Texas Giant, I was kind of worried about the dispatch of the biggest roller coaster of Six Flags Over Texas, but I was wrong. Apart of a small down time, the line moved surprisingly quick. Every now and then, a train left the station and it didn’t take long until I could ride it in the back of the train.
Leaving the station, the train takes a right turn whereupon we hit the lift hill of the ride. When reaching a height of 245ft (~ 75m) the train starts its long and amazing descent into a tunnel leading to an overall height difference of 255ft (~78m). With a speed of 85 mph (~137kph) the train head upwards into an impressive looking overbanked turn. After completing the turn, the train heads down another drop which is followed by a fantastic airtime hill. A long ascent then leads into a forceful upward helix. At the end of the helix, the train hits the mid-course brake run and got slowed down to near standstill.
The train continues its journey in a slow pace, before it finally gets some speed in a hard left turn. In a fluent motion, the train changes its direction and we drop down towards the ground level. This is followed by a powerful and insane 585° helix. Then, the track turns upwards and banks to the left. After another powerful valley, the train takes an ascending right turn which leads us into the final brake run of the ride.
What a ride! Titan is a beast of a roller coaster. It is forceful, fast and perfectly paced. I cannot even describe how much I admire this roller coaster, as it jumped directly into the Top 10 of my favourite roller coasters. It is by far the best hyper coaster, I’ve ever ridden. Man, I love this ride. Unluckily, I could only ride it twice in a row. But there will be a next time in Six Flags Over Texas and I’m already looking forward for some more rides on the Titan.
Pictures Six Flags Over Texas
Conclusion Six Flags Over Texas
Although my first impressions of Six Flags Over Texas were flawed by the many down times during the first half of my visit, I managed to get all the rides I wanted to ride. Especially in the late evening, I could ride a lot of rides without any big waiting times. Overall, I really enjoyed the park. It has a lot of charming places and a bunch of great rides. While Six Flags Over Texas is not a flawless park, it tries its best to be one. Therefore, I’m looking forward to my next visit. Your new for 2020 roller coaster could be a reason, as Pulsar of Walibi Belgium (ex Six Flags Belgium) is a blast of a ride.
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