Thursday, July 06, 2017

Vintage Postcards - Six Flags Over Texas

Ken Martinez has shared many vintage postcards from Six Flags Over Texas, and they have been very popular. Apparently a lot of readers managed to make their way to Arlington, TX! Take it away, Ken:

More Six Flags Over Texas

Today is a return visit to Six Flags Over Texas.  Instead of focusing on a single theme area, this time we'll hop around the park. 

Pictured here is an aerial view provided while riding the Astrolift.  The Astrolift traveled between the Modern section and Texas section of the park.  Below is the La Salle River Adventure.  Both attractions pictured here are long gone.


The Southern Palace Theatre was where the main musical shows would play featuring local talent.  It’s still operating to this day.


Gone long ago, the Fiesta Train ran from 1961-1978.  By 1968 the ride was remodeled with new style trains and new scenes designed by the team of Sid & Marty Kroft which included a trip through the center of a volcano, traveling through a little Mexican town complete with shoot out and a runaway bus.


Here’s an unusual shot of the Runaway Mine Train coasting through a rockwork tunnel and behind a blue waterfall.  I’m not sure if this waterfall even functions anymore or if the rockwork still exists.  Perhaps a reader can chime in with the answer.


Of course Six Flags over Texas became a huge success and the company added two more of its own theme parks before expanding by acquisition of existing theme parks. Hope you enjoyed the return visit to Six Flags over Texas.

Information Source material: 
The Great American Amusement Parks copyright 1976 by Gary Kyriazi
Funland U.S.A. copyright 1978 by Tim Onosko
The History of Six Flags Over Texas – www.ParkTimes.com

As always, MANY THANKS to Ken Martinez for scanning his cards and providing his text!

17 comments:

Nanook said...

Ken-

Great memories - once again.

Thanks.

TokyoMagic! said...

That volcano looks like a cross between Knott's Berry Farm's volcano and Disneyland's Matterhorn. I hope the Astrolift traveled through the center of it!

I'm enjoying learning about the history of this park! Thanks, Ken and Major!

Scott Lane said...

Thanks for sharing guys! So Disneyland wasn't the only place where one could see the backside of water.

Pegleg Pete said...

Thanks Ken and Major. These are some great images. As a child I only ever made it to Six Flags Over Georgia, but I was always fascinated by the other two parks in the franchise.

Mark H. Besotted said...

Thanks. I love the old days at Six Flags parks, even if I can't remember them. SFoGeorgia celebrated its fiftieth birthday last month, and their old music Hall (somehow still named The Crystal Pistol, where I got to see their Golden Horseshoe type show as a wee tyke) is hosting a celebration of the last 5 decades of pop music.

Not really my thing, but each chapter of the show has a backdrop of amazing footage of the park. They also have a new nostalgic (recorded) spiel on the train. All that, plus their second dark ride (which holds exactly one more animatronic than Toy Story Midway Mania), makes me optimistic about my home park.

Clyde Hughes said...

Hi Ken!
What a wonderful selection of vintage Six Flags Over Texas postcards! Thank you for sharing them with us.

I've got lots of special memories of SFOT, which was always the *cleanest* theme park I attended, for years, not to mention the general attitude of making it a very special place.
The first card is extra special because it's one I remember having as a kid. I remember riding La Salles' Riverboats, which featured animatronics and quite a few cool effects, including cannon fire and a parting waterfall over the final cave. The boat captain's speech was classic!

The Southern Palace was a cool (cool) place to cool off with great shows...always liked the theming and how the greenery blended in with it. An astrolift tower sat right on top of it (and we kids always wondered if it went through the building...we never could find it! LOL!).

The Fiesta Train brings back many fond memories. The park was so well designed, with the expertly planted vegetation and gracefully sloping berms, which created mini-environs within the park...the Fiesta Train was truly a small country of its own. Later, when Sid and Marty Krofft redesigned the trains on the Fiesta Train, they also redesigned other aspects of the train, including animatronics and other scenery. They added an animated volcano, which operated from an actual spark plug! It would 'erupt' periodically...not sure if it was triggered by a timer or a train running through it. It would take a while to erupt...in other words, it was more of an authentically-styled 'eruption' with smoke gradually emerging, sparks, and the recorded sound. The Kroffts also added a Mayan pyramid, a village with a puppet shootout, a runaway car, and other unique items, to the Fiesta Train. I believe this postcard depicts the loading platform. There was also a huge stone face, the mouth of which you passed through...

A good friend of mine worked at Six Flags Over Texas in the early 70s and remembers working on this ride...sometimes the trains would jump the tracks in the volcano and the employees would have to rock them back onto the tracks or evacuate the train from within the volcano!

Clyde Hughes said...

The Runaway Mine Train was and always will be a classic, as one of the first rollercoasters to use tubular steel track, the first mine-train themed coaster, and one of Arrow Design's (and Ron Toomer's) first coasters. (The Matterhorn was, I believe, the first tubular steel coaster, although it was classified as a bobsled, rather than a coaster, by purists...well, anyway, two of my favorite-themed coasters.).
This postcard is so cool, because the coaster is going through the cave, with a waterfall 'window' (which you can kind of see from this angle. This feature was another put into place by the Krofft brothers, in 1968, when they did the other park remod's, such as those for the Fiesta Train, detailed above. Prior to the waterfall, the Runaway Mine Train had existed for a few seasons at Six Flags with an interesting (and little-remembered) first season feature: just after the second lift hill, the track made a broad left turn, then a quicker left turn, down to a series of bunny hops by the property fence, before jerking, quite roughly (according to accounts), back to the track. Ron Toomer said that they made
changes to that section, due to some complaints about the rough ride, but then people complained after they made the changes, so they left the ride alone from 1967, on. The waterfall feature was swept away by a flood, back in the late 80s, I think. In spite of this sad fact, there remains an abundance of good theming on the Runaway mine train: tall grasses and vegetation which isolate areas of action, large timber trestles which support the ride for its duration, the
smell of wood, which gives it a definite air of authenticity (mining/forestry), plus the large mine cars that ride well throughout.

Additional Krofft features to Six Flags Over Texas included a tunnel over log flume chute number 2, along with other theming for the log ride (El Asseraderro), such as an animatronic lumber jack chopping a giant axe over the first lift of chute 1, and a villain sawing the wood over your head on chute 2.

The Kroffts also had a puppet theatre (of course!) at Six Flags...there may have been other features as well..

Thanks again, Ken!

Anonymous said...

I was lucky enough to visit 6FoT 2 or 3 times circa '64-'66. The Runaway Mine Train also careened thru a saloon and dove into a tunnel in the middle of a lake. Disney's train was definitely "inspired by" 6Flags'. The La Salle river ride featured a "whirlpool" complete with a hand clutching a bit of wood spinning in the center. The spelunker's cave floating ride initially had unique circular "barrel" boats with a single seat in the center which sat 3. The boats would spin randomly as they floated along, and were inherently unstable. Very fun. The park also had a Skull Rock the size of a small house, with a slide exit. The jewel in the 6Flags crown was the very first log flume ride in the world. The first couple of times I went the ride vehicles were still shaped cylindrically, like actual logs, with a four-person single bench seat in the center that was straddled, and were tippy enough to take on water fairly constantly. Totally marvelous and very exciting. Thanks for the memories!
--Tarzman

Chuck said...

Ken, just soaking in the pictures and comments. Nothing further to add but "thanks again - these are awesome!"

K. Martinez said...

Nanook, glad you enjoyed.

TokyoMagic!, if only the AstroLift did not go through the Volcano. Speaking of the Skyway/Matterhorn, Tim Burton's "Batman Returns" and "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" both have references to the Skyway going through the Matterhorn at Disneyland.

Scott Lane, I see the backside of water quite a bit during the winter storms when my drainage pipes overflow.

Pegleg Pete, I always found the original three Six Flags parks the most interesting. In some ways I wish they return the original theming.

Mark H Besotted, I'd forgotten this year was SFOG's 50th. I remember reading about the park when it was only a couple years old. Time flies way too fast.

Clyde Hughes, WOW!!! You've elevated the quality of today's post by 1000% Thanks for sharing all those detailed memories of your visits to SFOT. I've never heard from someone who actually grew up with the park. Your descriptions of the park and its separate environments is amazing. Makes me want to hop in the Way-back Machine.

Tarzman, You were there in the early years. That must've been cool seeing it in it's original incarnation when the "Six Flags" actually meant something.

Chuck, Thanks for dropping in and glad you enjoyed today's pics and comments.

Thanks all, more to come!

Anonymous said...

@Ken, What Chuck Said.

This is really fun to look at and read about. Never knew any of this existed.

JG

stu29573 said...

Ok, random thoughts from someone who visited this park quite a bit...

The Fiesta Train had a song that could get stuck in your head even worse than IASW. "Fa la la la la la...Fiesta!" still haunts me to this day.
The spark plug volcano was triggered by an electrical contact on the train track.
The dive out of the saloon and into the lake tunnel was beyond cool.
Right next to the Southern Palace was a place that sold fantastic fried chicken.
They also had an ice trough with whole watermelons "swimming" in it. Best watermelon I've ever tasted!
The Speelunkers Cave was weird, creepy, and magical in a way I can't really describe. A true classic dark ride!
If your whole log full of folks leaned into the turns on the log flume, you would go faster and you could actually catch the log in front of you. They would stop you before you went up the lift.
When I was in high school, we were on LaSalle's Riverboats late on a "Senior Night" and were all reciting the skipper's speil. The skipper gave up early on and just let us do it!
I worked at Mustards Last Stand as a fundraiser for my class.
That's all I got off the top of my head, other than to say they completely ruined that park with thrill rides. I haven't been in over ten years...

K. Martinez said...

JG, what I said to Chuck,

stu29573, That's quite a bit you shared off the top of your head. Sounds like some awesome memories. Never heard of Mustards Last Stand, but that's a pretty cool name for a food concession. As far as Six Flags Corp completely ruining the park with thrills rides, there's a longtime GDB reader who would say "They ruin everything".

Patrick Devlin said...

Thanks Ken for sharing a bunch of which I knew nothing. Now I'm a smart feller.

TokyoMagic! said...

Ken, it's true! They really do! I think I need to put that on a T-shirt or a button!

Clyde Hughes said...

I agree! When Angus Wynne sold his share in Six Flags Over Texas, the vision was out of the hands of the 'master.' While there is a difference between the 'original' Six Flags Over Texas ownership and the other Six Flags park (a 'committee' of sorts that was instituted back in Mr. Wynne's day), I think lack of vision has (as has been seen at other theme parks) led to some truly monumental losses in historic rides and attractions...not to mention general theming.
When you think 'one-of-a-kind' rides, you can recall a long series of uniquely innovative and imaginative rides we have lost, such as La Salle's Riverboat Adventure, the Ferrocarril Fiesta Train, the original theming of the Speelunker's Cave, the Big Bend, et al.
I know a few of the Cuellar family who started the El Chico restaurant chain in Dallas in the 1940s. They had their 9th restaurant open in Six Flags Over Texas when it opened, in the Mexico section, which lasted about 10 years... The Wynne family and the Cuellar family go way back, and this benefited the park greatly, as the innovation of Tex-Mex cuisine was still in its infancy.
Clearly, Six Flags Over Texas was a very different place during the first 10-15 years it was open, and Mr. Wynne was very much in touch with the park on a regular basis.

Matt Strom said...

Searching everywhere for that la la fiesta song, living in a world where everything can be found on the internet except for that dadgum song.