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austin_dern

September 2017

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Apr. 27th, 2017

While there was much we didn't research about the history of Six Flags Over Texas before we visited --- I failed to check the credits of The Banana Splits and Liddsville to see if there were any sites we might recognize --- there were some things we couldn't help knowing. One was that their carousel is historic. The Silver Star Carousel, now located just past the entrance of the park, was the last carousel built by the renowned William Dentzel.

It's a handsome carousel of course, and it's got two dragon-bearing chariots. Despite its prominent and elevated location it's hard to see. The park has set up a performance stage in front of the carousel, for one. There were shows going on several times through the day, and the ride would close early for the evening concert. But the backdrop for it covers the front of the ride.

As for the ride, well, you know the part where a carousel's accelerated to some speed and it turns around a while? They don't do that so much. It's horribly slow. I didn't time it since I didn't realize it had got up to full speed; I'd estimate it's running something like two rotation per minute. Certainly not more than three. How's somebody supposed to like carousels when they're made disappointing?

The first substantial line we were on was in the Mexico section, on a trabant --- one of those spinning disc type rides --- called El Sombrero. Yes, just like you'd name if you were writing a middling Simpsons episode about a Mexico-themed amusement park. The cars and the center structure of the ride are made up so it looks like a sombrero. Yes, just like you'd do if you were writing the solid joke in a middling Simpson episode about a Mexico-themed amusement park. The ride, it turns out, dates to 1965 and apparently it's a beloved local piece. We get that. A trabant's a good ride anyway, and the theming is delightfully goofy.

The second substantial line we were on was also in the Mexico section. I think. Mexico and Spain blend together in the park, much as they do in white-American-pop-culture imaginations. At least in mine. Anyway, it was a roller coaster, the bobsled coaster La Vibora. That it's a bobsled coaster made us think of Cedar Point's defunct Disaster Transport, and when the ride ended I did quip, ``Welcome to Alaska'' like that ride was supposed to do. It also made me think of Great Adventure's Sarajevo Bobsled and Wikipedia tells me that La Vibora used to be the Sarajevo Bobsled at Six Flags Magic Mountain. (Great Adventure's Sarajevo Bobsled has since moved to Six Flags's unbranded Great Escape, in upstate New York.) As for why the name, well, bobsleds were big in the mid-80s and everybody was wowed by the 1984 Winter Olympics.

La Vibora is very stylishly painted in black, yellow, and red. The half-pipes of the ride give it a very plausible serpentine look. It was the first ride we noticed, as it was just over the fence from our parking lot. And, as I say, the line was long and took it felt like forever to get through, but we couldn't fault operations on this particularly. Bobsled coasters don't have much capacity; their trains can't be too long and can't carry all that many people at once.

Not ridden by us: El Aserradero. It's of historic import, as the first log flume in the world. But it was a busy day at the park, and it was a bright, sunny, hot day, certainly in the mid-80s. The queue for it could not have been anything but impossibly long, and we're not that enthusiastic about log flume rides.

Also not ridden, and a genuine disappointment, in the Texas section: Titan. It's their hypercoaster, 245 feet tall and looking, from photos, like a slightly taller, slightly crazier version of Cedar Point's Magnum XL-200. Apparently it's a particularly crazy ride: its Wikipedia entry says people complain about greyouts or blackouts during the ride, and the ride now heavily brakes at mid-course in order to reduce the helix's extremeness. Sounds wild, doesn't it?

Well, the ride wasn't easy to find. The only path to it, as best we could work out, was a narrow lane behind some food stands, and then down a path through the picnic pavilion. There were sawhorses put across the path and a couple park workers standing guard, turning people away. They didn't explain why Titan was closed, which is normal enough. (I think the only reason park workers will ever tell you why a ride is down is ``someone threw up and they have to clean it''.) They also didn't volunteer when the ride might be running again, which is again normal.

So why was it closed? No idea. Maybe maintenance. Maybe they didn't have enough staff this early in the season to run it, at least not at the volume they'd need for the crowd. Maybe something was going on with the picnic pavilions that needed to be fenced off and that left the roller coaster out.

While wandering around looking for access to this ride we saw a karaoke stage. They had the show slated for just about all day. I haven't seen that at parks before, but I love the idea. Good work on their parts.

We were about to get into some of the really huge waits.

Trivia: In the mid-19th century about 2.2 percent of the French population was Protestant. Four-fifths of them were concentrated in Alsace (Lutherans), in Nîmes and western Provence, and in a narrow crescent from Montpellier to La Rochelle and Poitou (Calvinists). Source: The Discovery of France: A Historical Geography, Graham Robb.

Currently Reading: Shipping Container, Craig Martin.

PS: What Do I Need To Get A B This Semester? (May 2017 Edition), my regular nagging of people to not try to do it all in one test for crying out loud.

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