Thursday, November 26, 2015

Vintage Postcards - Six Flags Over Texas, Part II

It's time for another installment of vintage postcards from GDB pal Ken Martinez! Today we'll be "visiting" Six Flags Over Texas for a "part two". Here's Ken:

Six Flags Over Texas - Spain

In an earlier post I featured the Mexican section of Six Flags Over Texas in its early years. Today's postcards feature the Spanish section which represents the time when Texas was part of the Spanish empire. The area was quite small and opened with only one attraction. It was one of six themed areas representing Texas history with the other sections being Mexico, France, the Confederacy, Texas, and the United States.

An original attraction at Six Flags Over Texas, the Burro Ride only lasted two seasons. During its existence it was the only attraction for the Spanish section when the park opened. The attraction was removed to make way for the world's first log flume ride.

During the journey on the Burro Ride, guests were guided by a host dressed as a Spanish Conquistador through Palo Duro Canyon. The entrance to the attraction was a replica of the ruins of Mission San Francisco de los Tejas, the first Spanish mission of Texas.

Casa Magnetica opened in 1962, during the park's second season. It was similar to Knott's Haunted Schack and the Santa Cruz Mystery Spot, but with a Spanish theme. This part of the house is known as Don Juan's Dining Room where illusions of gravity were demonstrated.

"El Aserradero" (the saw mill) was the name of the first log flume ride in the world. To most guests it is simply referred to as the log ride. Built by Arrow Development and introduced at Six Flags Over Texas in 1963, it became so popular that a second flume was added in 1968. As with Disneyland, Arrow played a big role in developing rides for the park in its early years.

Here we have riders plunging down the drop of the world's first log ride. Since then flume rides have become a staple in the amusement park industry.

Well, that was the Spanish section back in the early days of America's first successful non-Disney theme park. Today, Six Flags Over Texas has changed much and the only attraction left from the early days of the Spanish section is the log ride. Hope you enjoyed another visit to Six Flags Over Texas of yesteryear. More to come!

Information source material:
The Great American Amusement Park, copyright 1976 by Gary Kyriazi
Funland U.S.A. copyright 1978 by Tim Onosko
The History of Six Flags Over Texas -

THANK YOU, Ken Martinez! I look forward to more installments from Six Flags Over Texas!


TokyoMagic! said...

Ken, I like the name, Casa Magnetica! So is it no longer at the park today?

Nanook said...


Good memories, again Ken. Interesting, Six Flags Texas "used" a burro ride and "slanted" shack, seen 'elsewhere' in the amusement/theme park business. But unlike other Disney/Knott's copycats, they survived quite nicely.

Thanks again, Ken, for sharing these images. And a happy Thanksgiving to you, The Major and all the GDB faithful.,

stu29573 said...

Casa Magnetica is still there. I wouldn't really call SFOT a "copycat." The theme was unique and it boasted several firsts (log flume, runaway mine ride, etc) It was only after it was sold and the theme forgotton that it became a cookie cutter amusement park. It's still successful, but although I live 30 minutes away from it, I havent been in over 10 years. Its just too sad.

Pegleg Pete said...

Thanks for these, Ken. I never realized that SFOT had the first log flume. Growing up in Tennessee, I went to Six Flags Over Georgia a few times and I was fascinated by the theming of it and the other two Six Flags parks. I never made it to the other locations and I suppose that nowadays none of those first three Six Flags parks adhere much at all to those original themes anyway. I certainly can't imagine a conquistador, for example, in any of the parks these days - what would be the merchandising tie-in, after all?

Chuck said...

Conquistadoorknobs, maybe?

On my first trip to SFOT with a church youth group when I was 16, a bunch of us ran from the bus to get in line for the Log Ride. We waited about 10 minutes before the line worked its way into a covered structure, and we were pretty excited that it was moving so fast. Then we discovered we were actually in line for Casa Magnetica.

I thought it was pretty cool (having sat in the chair on the wall at Knott's Haunted Shack years before), but if my compadres were impressed at all, they took great pains to hide it. Lots of snide remarks about a lame attraction after we finished the walk-through. That was probably the first inkling I had of what was in store for the entire theme park industry.

Thanks for sharing again, Ken, and happy Thanksgiving to you all!

K. Martinez said...

@TokyoMagic!, I like the name "Casa Magnetica" too! I also think the Spanish theme is cool. Looks likes stu29573 answered your question.

Nanook, yes I have good memories of Six Flags over Texas as well. I just wish I visited the park a little bit earlier to catch some of the lost classics like the Fiesta Train and Big Bend.

stu9573, Thanks for answering TM's question. Six Flags was definitely original in that it introduced several new and innovative rides to the world as well as becoming the first successful non-Disney theme park. In fact, it's my opinion that Disney's Big Thunder Mountain Railroad owes quite a bit to the Runaway Mine Train Six Flags helped develop. It is similar in track layout with its many turns and multiple-lifts as well as thematic concepts of a runaway mine train. I also think Splash Mountain owes a lot to Knott's Timber Mountain Log Ride.

What I find interesting is that both Six Flags over Texas and Six Flags over Georgia are the only parks that are managed, but not owned by the Six Flags Corp. They are but instead owned by a group of limited partners (some heirs to Angus Wynne).

Pegleg Pete, Glad these brought back some good memories for you and yes, it’s sad that they got away from the American themes.

Chuck, that’s a funny story about waiting in line for the Log Ride and finding out your in line for Casa Magnetic instead. And yes, guest reaction is the reality of why attractions come and go and the types of rides and thrill levels change to accommodate the tastes of new generations of visitors.

Since it's Thanksgiving Day I'd like to give thanks for having a cool place like Gorillas Don't Blog to converse with my "pen pals" about all things Disneyland, Walt Disney World, theme parks and automobiles. Almost forgot! And the Star Wars Holiday Special too!

Have a safe and Happy Thanksgiving!

Major Pepperidge said...

TokyoMagic!, the name reminds me of a trip to The Mystery Spot, where they said that the freaky illusions were due to a "gravitational anomaly".

Nanook, Happy Thanksgiving to you too!

stu29573, I miss the days when a park like SFOT would actually care enough to theme attractions and environments. I guess the average park-goer doesn't care about that anymore? Based on the response to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, I don't think that's true!

Pegleg Pete, I thought about what you said about conquistador merchandise, and all of my ideas were more 1960's than 2015! Maybe it wouldn't work now. They could make it at RAD conquistador who wears Ray Bans and rides a skateboard.

Chuck, I hope you vowed to shun those people for the rest of their miserable lives! That's what I would have done.

K. Martinez, I hope all of the GDB readers know how much I appreciate all of your contributions!

TokyoMagic! said...

Someone can probably tell this story better, but from what I remember hearing (and maybe it's even in the "Knott's Preserved" book), was that Bud Hurlbut proposed his original Log Ride design to Walter Knott first. Walter Knott supposedly asked Bud if one had ever been built before and since the answer was no, it hadn't, Walter Knott passed on the idea because he wanted to know for sure that it would work. I believe it was at that time that Bud Hurlbut sold his idea to Arrow Development and that's when Arrow built the first Log Ride for Six Flags Over Texas.

K. Martinez said...

TokyoMagic! Thanks for that extra bit of info. Here's the log ride article from the official Knott's website:

Very interesting. I didn't know the Timber Mountain Log Ride was conceived as a roller coater first. Apparently Walter Knott kept turning down the log flume idea until Arrow fine-tuned it for Six Flags over Texas. It took Bud Hurlbut three times to pitch the idea to Walt before he would buy into it. It sounds like Hurlbut had a hand in the creation of the Log Ride. I learn something new everyday.

TokyoMagic! said...

Ken, thanks for that link. That tells the story much more completely. There was a long period of time (from 1999 - 2013) when a plaque hung in the loading area of the Log Ride at Knott's that explained how Walter Knott built the Log Ride. It always bothered me. Fortunately, they removed the plaque during the recent redo of the attraction!

stu29573 said...

I just had one more thought; since I experienced SFOT in all its themed glory as a kid, I can't understand how people would want to go now...But, I was lucky. The folks that hang out there now have no idea how wonderful it once was. They have nothing to compare it to. So, in the spirit of the day, I would like to say that I am truely thankful for my 1960's Texas childhood that allowed me to experience the REAL SFOT! ....and God bless us everyone!

Clyde Hughes said...

A belated thank you for part 2 of the great Six Flags Over Texas posts! I, too, missed some of the earlier themed rides there, although I caught other greats, such as La Salle's Riverboat Adventure as well as the Speelunker Cave. Upon a trip a few years ago, although the 'bones' of the park were present, it seemed kind of 'empty.'
We can hope that this theming may return at some point!