Six Flags Over Texas sparks nostalgia for many who have enjoyed this famous landmark through the last 50 years.
Texas oilman Angus G. Wynne, Jr. first opened the 105-acre theme park on August 5, 1961. The original go-to destination of fun in Arlington has grown to 212 acres and over 100 rides and grown the company to create other Six Flags in the U.S. and overseas. Now the theme park is celebrating a 50-year anniversary in a very big way.
“We’re very excited about our 50th anniversary,” said Steve Martindale, President of Six Flags Over Texas. “We’re going to have a year long celebration with nostalgic photographs around the park, special shows and special events culminating with the August 5th birthday party.”
Six Flags Over Texas kicks off the anniversary with a “Giant Celebration." The opening day ceremony begins at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, March 5 launching a year’s worth of festivities. Opening day will feature members of the Wynne family, current and former city of Arlington Mayors and the park’s president, Steve Martindale. Tickets for the 50th Anniversary Giant Celebration are available online and only valid on March 5, 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday, March 6, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Six Flags has also partnered with the University of Texas at Arlington Library for the Special Collections exhibit, “What You Wish the World Could Be: The Early Years of Six Flags Over Texas."
The free, interactive exhibit, located on the 6th floor of the UTA Central Library, is open to the public now through March 14 from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Mondays and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays.
Showcased memorabilia include an original Spee-Lunker from the old Spee-Lunker’s Cave ride and a Silver Star carousel horse. With help from exhibit designer, Erin O'Malley, curators and UTA Librarians, Evelyn Barker and Lea Worcester, took six months to create the exhibit which also displays numerous photos from archived collections of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and Arlington Citizen-Journal.
“It will show people how important the park has been to Arlington, the city’s growth and development, ” Barker said.
The highly anticipated prize of the anniversary celebration is the opening of the new Texas Giant near the end of Spring. An exact opening date has not yet been released for new the one-of-a kind wood and steel hybrid roller coaster. The previously all wooden roller coaster closed at the end of 2009 for renovations which included raising the lift hill height to 153 feet, steepening the drop to a record 79 degrees, and creating turns up to record 95 degrees. The new custom-designed steel track will enable a much smoother ride.
Saturday, June 18 marks the beginning of “50 Days of Fun.” Several special events are planned including the re-opening of the fan favorite Casa Magnetica which closed in 2007. The tilt house will reopen from June 18 to August 7. Commemorative t-shirts and other giveaways will be given to guests as a token of appreciation for 50 years of guest loyalty. The 50 days will end with a closing show by the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders.
On the day of the Six Flags Over Texas golden 50th anniversary, August 5, the park will host a two-day-long birthday bash.
“I think the city and North Texas is excited about the idea that Six Flags has been here for fifty years," said park president Steve Martindale. “So many people have come through Six Flags as employees or guests of the park that it has become interwoven into the fabric of the culture of North Texas and beyond.”
INTERESTING PARK HISTORY:
- The theme park first opened on August 5, 1961 with an admission price of $2.75 for adults and $2.25 for children. At that time, it was the only theme park that allowed one ticket for all rides.
- Six Flags Over Texas in Arlington is the original Six Flags Theme Park and the home of many firsts including the first log flume ride, El Aserradero, in 1963 and the first roller coaster with consecutive loops, the Shock Wave, in 1978.
- The park holds the record for the tallest and fastest roller coaster in Texas, Titan, and the tallest freefall combo tower in the world the 325 ft tall Superman: Tower of Power
- Legendary Arlington Mayor Tom Vandergriff, who died in December, and Great Southwest President Angus G. Wynne, Jr. came up with the idea of Six Flags Over Texas originally as a means to help pay for Wynne’s Great Southwest Industrial District infrastructure.
- The $10 million park’s first season welcomed over half a million visitors from all 50 states.
- Legend has it that Wynne originally wanted to name the park "Texas under Six Flags", until his wife argued "Texas isn’t under anything."
- Unlike other parks, the theme of Six Flags Over Texas centers on Texas history.