I love Six Flags. I love amusement parks in general, but my love stems from Six Flags I’d say. As some of you may know, there’s a chance it could just be in my blood. My Grandfather, Angus Gilchrist Wynne Jr, opened the gates on Six Flags Over Texas on August 1st, 1961. A friend on Facebook William Joseph Gabriel shared:
“On this day in history in 1961, Texans head for the thrills at Six Flags. Amusement park lovers “head for the thrills” as Six Flags Over Texas, the first park in the Six Flags chain, opens. Located on 212 acres in Arlington, Texas, the park was the first to feature log flume and mine train rides and later, the first 360-degree looping roller coaster, modern parachute drop and man-made river rapids ride. The park also pioneered the concept of all-inclusive admission price; until then, separate entrance fees and individual ride tickets were the standard. During its opening year, a day at Six Flags cost $2.75 for an adult and $2.25 for a child. A hamburger sold for 50 cents and a soda set the buyer back a dime. The park, which took a year and $10 million to build, was the brainchild of Texas real estate developer and oilman Angus Wynne Jr., who viewed it as a short-term way to make a buck from some vacant land before turning it into an industrial complex. Wynne reportedly recouped his personal investment of $3.5 million within 18 months and changed his mind about the park’s temporary status. With 17.5 million visitors in its first 10 years, the park became the Lone Star State’s top for-profit tourist attraction. Today, average annual attendance at the park is over 3 million.
One of Six Flags’ unique aspects was that it wasn’t just a random collection of rides; it was developed around a theme: the history of Texas. The park’s name was a nod to the six flags that had flown over the state at various times–France, Spain, Mexico, the Confederacy, Texas and the United States. The park’s rides and attractions were grouped into six themed sections that represented the cultures of these governments and enabled visitors to experience everything from cowboy culture to Southern belles and pirates. Originally, the park was to be called Texas Under Six Flags, before it was decided that Texas should never be under anything. “
I can’t summarize the history any better than that, so I’ll just leave it there. It’s been amazing to watch it change over the years. It’s also fun for me to see the commitment to history, and see the juxtaposition of the new Gotham rides right next to mini mine train and the sombrero ride. I’m saddened that the Flashback is no longer there, and I certainly miss setting a penny on my knee and watching it float up as the Cliffhanger gave way beneath us.
Melissa and I bought season passes this year, and have had fun trips alone as well as with our friends Jeff and Alecia and their 2 and 4 year olds. Apparently there’s a parent swap rule they just learned about, for all you folks with kids too small to ride. Originally we planned out trips trying to find the slower days, but after this last visit I’m starting to think they are all slower days.
A few rides like Batman here had literally zero line, and were able to ride a couple times in a row. If you haven’t been in a while, I suggest you check it out. They shortened their hours recently, even shorter than they had posted they would be open a few weeks ago, so I’m afraid they aren’t doing well. For the record, my family is not longer involved in the company, so I don’t really know. However, if you like rides, I suggest you think about making a visit. The weather is cooling off, and during the fall they are only open on the weekends, but still have Fright Fest and other cool events like that coming up. Summer hours are over, but Mel and I were able to go after work, get there by 6:30pm and feel fulfilled leaving before the park closed at 10. If you have any cool old pictures of Six Flags or even fond memories, I’d love to hear about it. I definitely think that having a killer theme park within a half hours drive is a big part of why Dallas Kicks Ass.