Thursday, October 01, 2015

Vintage Postcards - Six Flags Over Texas

Hooray, today I have more vintage postcards from Ken Martinez! This time we'll pay our first visit to "Six Flags Over Texas", with more visits to come. Heeeeere's Ken:

Six Flags Over Texas, because "Texas isn't under anything"

Opened in August 1961, Six Flags Over Texas was the first successful theme park to open following the establishment of Disneyland. The six theme areas were based on the flags that flew in succession over the state of Texas; Spain, France, Mexico, Republic of Texas, the Confederacy and the United States. The park was designed by the firm of Randall Duell and Associates. Before the Six Flags project, Randall Duell collaborated with C.V. Wood on the design of Freedomland in New York. The first set of postcards feature the Mexico section of what would become the first of many Six Flags theme parks.

I find this card interesting because it shows different versions of some of the flags compared to what they look like today. Originally the park was to be named "Texas Under Six Flags" but the name was changed to "Six Flags Over Texas" because it was said that "Texas isn't under anything".

Gone long ago, the Fiesta Train ran from 1961-1978. Visitors boarded one of two  trains; "El Cho Cho" or "El Cha Cha" in sombrero covered vehicles pulled by trolley style locomotives. Various scenes along the route included dancing tamales and a bull fighting scene as seen in this postcard. By 1968 the ride was remodeled with new style trains and new scenes including a volcano of which I have postcards that I will share in the future.

Here's an image of one of the shops in the Mexico section. While the architectural detail isn't on the level of Disneyland, it is still effective in what it is trying to accomplish.

Here is what I assume is an interior shot of the shop shown in the previous postcard. Note the merchandise of which I doubt they sell at the park anymore. Like Disneyland, I'm sure it's all branded merchandise now.

Here we have a mariachi band performing on the streets of the Mexico section. It looks like a food establishment next to the band and the kids on the bench appear to be eating corndogs.

Because of the success of Six Flags Over Texas, non-Disney theme parks started pop up all across the U.S. and dotted the map by the time the 1970's came and went. It was within this golden era of theme park development that the coaster revival was born. Hope you enjoyed.

Information Source material:
The Great American Amusement Parks copyright 1975 by Gary Kyriazi
Funland U.S.A. copyright 1978 by Tim Onosko
The History of Six Flags Over Texas -

As always, a Big "Thank You" goes to Ken Martinez for all of his time and effort in putting together these fun posts. I knew basically nothing about Six Flags Over Texas, and look forward to more posts about it!


TokyoMagic! said...

The exterior and interior pics of that shop remind me a little of the early days of Fiesta Village at Knott's. I wonder if Marion Knott visited Six Flags Over Texas before deciding to build Fiesta Village in 1969?

Thanks for sharing more of your collection with us, Ken!

Nancy said...

awesome views today; thanks to Ken and the Major for sharing them!

My fave by far is the bull-fighting scene next to the railroad tracks. things were so simple and yet so fun back then.

I especially like seeing those two beautiful sky buckets in the background. Its like they are in the time-warp continuum (sp?) and a piece of the present is peaking thru into a view of the past thru a rip in the vortex. (okay, I watch a lot of Star Trek lol!!)

looking forward to the next installment! ;-)

Serge Gorodish said...

Ah, the dancing tamales. I had forgotten about those.

Chuck said...

These are wonderful, Ken! I love the early post-Disneyland era parks, especially when they were still new and close to their original themed concepts. It would be interesting to see what Freedomland would look like today if it had survived.

I went to SFoT several times in the '80's when I lived in SW Oklahoma (a trip to the DFW area was a HUGE deal, especially when the speed limit was 55 mph), and so much of the early theming was gone by then. On my last trip in '95, it was even harder to discern. So much of the steam train's right-of-way had been largely surrounded by attractions without any regard to theming that all I remember seeing were the backs of buildings, walls, and thrill ride supports (although watching a recent video - - tells me I'm only remembering the worst of it). A ride operator also teased me about my Disneyland t-shirt.

Don't get me wrong - a day at a Six Flags park is still a lot of fun, and SFoT is my favorite of the Six Flags parks I've visited - but it's a completely different approach than a Disney park. Both approaches are valuable and provide enjoyment for their guests, but given a choice, I'll pick coherent theming and lush plantings over a canopy of coasters any day.

stu29573 said...

Having lived in North Texas all my life, I remember this Six Flags well! It was a wonderful place to go in the summer! The theming was great and the attractions (the "Speelunkers" Cave, La Salle's River Boats, The Log Ride, The Runaway Mine Train, etc) were first rate! Unfortunately, that Six Flags is long gone. After they were bought out, the theme (and all originality) was chucked. Sometimes when the wife and I are driving down I-30, I will say, "I want to go to the old Six Flags..." But, of course, that can't be. I haven't been there in about 10 years, even though I live about 30 minutes away.

BTW, I can still remember the Mexican Train song, "La la la la la la- Fiesta!!!" Good memories...Sigh...

K. Martinez said...

TokyoMagic!, Knott's Fiesta Village and Roaring 20's Airfield remind me a lot of the 1970's theme park architecture in general. Not super detailed or as authentic as Disney does, but enough to give the idea of a place or time and to organize the park in sections. Randall Duell and Associates designed Six Flags Over Texas as well as many other theme parks from the 60's & 70's including Magic Mountain, Valencia and 1970's Universal Studios Visitors Center. Since all these people probably knew each other, it could've very well influenced Knott's design of Fiesta Village.

Nancy, Yes, the simple pleasures of those days were something special. Not in your face loud, but just relaxing and enjoyable. That certainly isn't Six Flags of today.

Serge Gorodish, Glad you enjoyed these. I do have some pics of the Dancing Tamales somewhere. Perhaps I will post those sometime down the road.

Chuck, The 60-70's era of theme parks was my favorite, even for the Disney Parks. It was the peak for theme parks in which theming actually played a part. Now Six Flags and most other parks are about the thrills. I doubt most of the visitors even know what the meaning behind the Six Flags name is anymore.

stu29573, Glad you enjoyed the jog down memory lane. Unfortunately by the time I got to SFoT in the early 1980's most of the cool stuff was gone. The Log Ride and Runaway Mine Train are still there though.

Chuck said...

Ken, I think you're absolutely right about visitors not understanding the significance of the Six Flags name. Only the three original Six Flags parks - SFO Texas, SFO Georgia, and SFO Mid-America (now SFO St Louis) - were designed with the "six flags of local history" in mind to begin with, and those parks have mutated so far beyond the original concept that you really have to know the history to "get" it. There's no such history in the other currently-Six Flags-branded parks that the company has purchased over the years, which leaves most guests understanding the name "Six Flags" as nothing more than a company trademark like "Chevrolet," "Carnation," or - dare I say it - "Disney."

Clyde Hughes said...

Thanks so much for the wonderful post cards. Yes, when I visited SFOT in the 70s, it was so much more a themed park, with regard for space and theming.
Regarding the Fiesta Train and its 1968 re-design, Sid and Marty Krofft actually were enlisted to introduce theming on the Fiesta Train (the addition of the volcano, pyramid, train engine hoods, etc). There was even a Krofft Puppet Theatre at that time.
Interestingly, there is a connection between Six Flags Over Texas and the boom in Tex Mex food in the 60s. Angus Wynne, founder of SFOT, 'discovered' the Cuellar family's restaurants in Dallas ("El Chico") and subsequently took them to the 1964 NY Worlds Fair (Texas Pavilion). The postcard with the musicians was taken next to the El Chico, located just next to the Fiesta Train.
I do hope that SFOT returns...

Unknown said...

I'm wondering if anyone was a weekend warrior at Six Flag over Texas in the mid 80s? Like 1984 and 1985 summers? We hung out mostly in the western part of the park at the game room where the gunfights took place. There was also a wire jewelry maker that had a shop in that same area, he would twist wire into just about any design you wanted and for a pretty reasonable price.