In 1959, plans were being developed by the Great Southwest Corporation, investors from New York and Angus G. Wynne Jr. to build an amusement park in the Metroplex Area. The idea came about when Angus visited Disneyland in Anaheim California, where he then decided that his home state of Texas needed a similar attraction with the history of Texas mixed in. The park was modeled after the culture of the six flags that flew over Texas: Spain, France, Mexico, Texas Confederacy, Republic of Texas, and Texas as part of the United States, thus granting the name Six Flags Over Texas.
Construction for Six Flags Over Texas began in August of 1960, and had its official opening day on August 5 1961 with an attendance of 8,374. Originally the amusement park was never intended to last more than a few years. The Great Southwest Industrial District was going to use the park as a temporary money maker to fund other projects. Though after adding new attractions within the first few years after opening, attendance was reaching over close to 2 million visitors a year by the end of the 1960’s.
Six Flags Over Texas introduced several “firsts” in theme park standards around the world. It was the first Six Flags park, later followed the plans to develop Six Flags Over Georgia in 1965, with the opening in June of 1967. Six Flags Over Texas also introduced the “pay-one-price” model where there was a single admission price that included all rides and attractions, instead of having to pay admission as well as buying individual tickets for each ride or attraction. After introducing the pay-one-price model, Disney Land quietly followed suit in 1982.
In 1963, the log flume ride, El Asseradero (Saw Mill), was introduced becoming the first of its kind. The ride was engineered and constructed by Six Flags Over Texas technicians. Guests would ride in a fiberglass log through a replica of an early saw mill, the logs would be lifted and propelled through winding flumes by conveyor belts and rapid flowing water. The logs would be lifted up a hill to a height of 44 feet before dropping down a long slide at a 45 degree angle splashing into a flume at the end. The park would later introduce the first mine train roller coaster, Runaway Mine Train, in 1966, and then the first free fall ride, the Texas Cliffhanger in 1982 (later removed in 2007).
Throughout the past 50 years, many rides and attractions have come and go for various reason, as well as owners and investors. Unlike other Six Flags parks, Six Flags Over Texas in not owned by Six Flags Theme Parks Incorporated, instead the park is owned by over 120 limited partners.
More information on the parks history, ownership and other news about the park can be found at Guide to Six Flags over Texas.
-by Jaime Janda