Six Flags Amusement Parks | Located throughout the United States
On August 1, 1961, amusement park lovers “head for the thrills” as Six Flags Over Texas, the first park in the Six Flags chain, has its soft opening. 5 days later, on August 5, the park had its grand opening. Located on 212 acres in Arlington, Texas, the park was the first to feature log flume and mine train rides and later, the first 360-degree looping roller coaster, modern parachute drop and man-made river rapids ride. The park also pioneered the concept of all-inclusive admission price; until then, separate entrance fees and individual ride tickets were the standard. During its opening year, a day at Six Flags cost $2.75 for an adult and $2.25 for a child. A hamburger sold for 50 cents and a soda set the buyer back a dime.
The park, which took a year and $10 million to build, was the brainchild of Texas real estate developer and oilman Angus Wynne Jr., who viewed it as a short-term way to make a buck from some vacant land before turning it into an industrial complex. Wynne reportedly recouped his personal investment of $3.5 million within 18 months and changed his mind about the park’s temporary status. With 17.5 million visitors in its first 10 years, the park became the Lone Star State’s top for-profit tourist attraction. Today, average annual attendance at the park is over 3 million.
One of Six Flags’ unique aspects was that it wasn’t just a random collection of rides; it was developed around a theme: the history of Texas. The park’s name was a nod to the six flags that had flown over the state at various times–France, Spain, Mexico, the Confederacy, Texas and the United States. The park’s rides and attractions were grouped into six themed sections that represented the cultures of these governments and enabled visitors to experience everything from cowboy culture to Southern belles and pirates. Originally, the park was to be called Texas Under Six Flags, before it was decided that Texas should never be under anything.
Home to one of the companies original three parks, Six Flags St. Louis, in Eureka, Missouri was announced on July 16, 1969, which would be called Six Flags Over Mid-America. The park opened on June 5, 1971, the third and last of the three "true" Six Flags parks as envisioned by Angus G. Wynne. The park was divided into six uniquely themed sections, the namesake "Six Flags" over Mid-America:
- Missouri (now 1904 World's Fair), the main area of the park, themed after the St. Louis World's Fair of 1904,
- U.S.A. (replaced by Time Warner Studios in 1995), located at the southeast of the park and themed after the United States.
- France (now Chouteau's Market), located to the east across from U.S.A., and themed after a colonial French trading post.
- Spain (replaced by DC Comics Plaza in 1997), located at the southwest of the park, with Spanish-themed architecture and restaurants,
- England (now Britannia), located in the northwest of the park and themed after a village in Medieval England.
- Old Chicago (also known as Illinois, its current name), located in the northeast of the park and themed after the city of Chicago in the early 1900s.
On June 5, 1999, the 12-acre Six Flags Hurricane Harbor water park opened adjacent to the main park. At a cost of $17 million, it was the largest single investment in Six Flags St. Louis' history.
In 2014, Six Flags sold 180 acres of undeveloped land east of the park to home developer McBride & Sons, reducing the land owned from 503 acres to 323 acres. According to the Six Flags 2015 Annual Report, the park now owns 323 acres of land (283 acres of land are used by the park with an additional 40 acres of undeveloped land).
In January 2020, construction began on a renovated entry plaza, removing the original ticket booths that had been at the park since its opening in 1971. In March, Six Flags St. Louis announced that the opening of the 2020 season would be delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Six Flags Theme Parks, Inc., is the second-largest theme park operation in the United States. Marketing itself as “Bigger than Disneyland, closer to home,” the company has ten parks spread throughout the country and draws an estimated 22 million patrons per year.
According to the company’s marketing slogan, 85 percent of the U.S. population lives within a day’s drive of one of the company’s parks. Long known for introducing the public to the latest in thrill ride technology, Six Flags boasts some of the tallest and fastest roller coasters in the world. In addition to its hallmark thrill rides, the company is known for its affiliation with Time Warner, which can be seen in the many Looney Tunes characters and Warner Brothers film properties that have become increasingly prominent in the park during the 1990s.