Six Flags New England is a Six Flags theme park in Agawam, Massachusetts. Originally opened in 1870 as Riverside Park, the park was acquired by Six Flags Theme Parks in 1998 as part of the Time Warner/Premier Parks deal.
With ten distinctly themed areas featuring various attractions, restaurants, shops, and entertainment as well as the adjacent Hurricane Harbor water park, Six Flags New England is one of the most popular theme parks in the Northeastern United States as well as the most historic. The park pays homage to its long history with many references throughout.
Pre-Six Flags era (1870-1998)
Riverside Park era (1870-1911)
During the 20th century, the park that would later become Six Flags New England was known as Riverside Park. The park started as a picnic grove called Gallup's Grove in 1870, but was eventually renamed to Riverside Grove, and Riverside Park. Before 1900, most guests came via steamship. In 1900, the Springfield Street Railway extended its railroad line to the park, but the grove wasn't considered a trolley park because the Springfield Street Railway didn't own it.
In the early 1900's, a few rides and a carousel were added. The park was bought by Henry J. Perkins in 1911 and he turned the grove into the amusement park we know today. He built the first coaster, The Giant Dip, that opened 1912. They added another coaster, The Greyhound, in 1915 due to the success of the first coaster. The park continued to prosper under Perkins's ownership and they added more rides. One of them was the 300 foot diameter pool called Lake Takadip.The Giant Dip was replaced by a coaster twice its size in 1920, Lightning.Whirlwind Racer, the third coaster, was added in 1928.
The Wall Street Crash of 1929 hit the park hard and forced the park into foreclosure. In 1932, it was open Wednesday through Sunday, and closed in 1933. Attempts to reopen failed and was closed until 1939. The grounds, however, were used for company picnics. A drive-in movie theater operated in the parking lot from 1937 and 1939.
Post-Great Depression era (1939-1996)
The park, in 1939, was purchased by Edward Caroll Sr. and he reopened it on May 29, 1940.Carroll is given the credit of rescuing the park and turning it into the largest them park in New England.He bought plans and cars for the 1939 New York World's Fair Cyclone Roller Coaster and opened it in 1941. That coaster, Thunderbolt, is still standing and operating today. It is currently the oldest coaster within the Six Flags chain of parks.
Carroll started to like auto racing, a sport that gained popularity after World War II, and built the Riverside Park Speedway in 1948 which replaced and open air bandstand.
The park continued to add new rides and removed some older ones. The theater and bowling alley were removed in the late 1950s, making Riverside Park a seasonal attraction. The 1960's were a popular period for stock car racing at Riverside Park. NASCAR began to hold events at Riverside Park Speedway in 1976. The winner of the first NASCAR-organized event at Riverside was Bob Polverari.
In 1977, Riverside Park added its first looping roller coaster, The Loop Coaster, later known as Black Widow. The park continued to be successful throughout the 1970s, and a log flume ride was added in that period. By the 1980s, the park stopped selling individual ride tickets and began charging a "pay one price" admission.
In 1983, Riverside Park added its third roller coaster, which was also the park's second wooden coaster. The owners originally wanted a coaster exactly like the Coney Island Cyclone, but space was limited, so the coaster would need to take up less space and would have sharper twists and turns. It became known as the Riverside Cyclone.
In 1987, Riverside attempted to build a white-water rafting ride called the Lost River Water Ride. Plagued with problems, the attraction never opened and was subsequently abandoned. A majority of the ride was demolished in 1989 to make way for Wild River Falls, a waterslide complex consisting of three sets of slides: Riptide, Blue Lightning, and Pipeline. A popular attraction, Wild River Falls remained in operation until the opening of the Island Kingdom Waterpark in 1997.
In 1994, Riverside partnered with Lady Luck Gaming in a proposal to build a hotel and dockside casino complex at the park, one of several competing casino proposals in the state. The plan died after Agawam voters rejected a non-binding referendum in support of casino gambling in November.
Premier Parks era (1996-1998)
During the 1996 season, the track on the Musik Express was damaged and the attraction remained closed for a portion of the year. A Chance Chaos was ordered and was scheduled to open for the 1997 season. During the winter of 1996, the Carroll family was approached by Premier Parks of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, which subsequently purchased the park. Premier Parks renamed the park as Riverside: The Great Escape.
For the 1997 season, the new owners invested upward of $20 million on general improvements and several new attractions. Attractions included the Island Kingdom Waterpark, which featured children's water play area, several tube slides, a couple of body slides, and a wave pool. Other attractions included a Mind Eraser (a Vekoma Suspended Looping Coaster), Shipwreck Falls (a Shoot the Chute ride), Time Warp (a Vekoma Air Jumper), and Chaos, which was quickly replaced by Twister, (a HUSS Park Attractions TopSpin).
The children's area, Kiddlie Land North, was re-themed and renovated as Startoon Studios. In the process, some older rides such as the Bayern Kurve were removed, leaving only the Bumper Buggies (kiddie bumper cars) in what was Kiddie Land South and the Flying Elephants, Kiddie Himilaya and Rickie's Little Twister coaster in Startoon Studies, which then added several rides from Zamperla; Speedtrap, Rio Grande train, Bigfoot Trucks, Crazy Bus, and Kiddie Swings.
In addition to new attractions, many parts of the park were renovated and themed: Main Street U.S.A. was given a makeover, and the Southern Center midway was themed to a 1950s city called Rockville. In the north section of the park, a Balloon Race attraction was installed, replacing the Wave Swinger, which was relocated to the center of the park in the former location of the park offices. Other improvements were a children's play structure called Paul Bunyan's Buzzsaw Company, which included kiddie rides, a new entrance plaza, and the Carousel being relocated to the front gate, also receiving a new building covering the ride.
In 1998, the park added several more attractions, improving the water park with new features that included Lazy River, another children's play structure named Hook's Lagoon, a speed slide tower called Cannonball, a family raft slide named Swiss Family Tobaggan, and a multi-slide tower called Big Kahuna. The water park expansion was added to the south end of the park next to the park's log flume, replacing two rides, Tri Star and Swiss Bobs. In addition, the park relocated the Spider next to Mind Eraser, and relocated the Mind Scrambler (which was enclosed) to the north end under the park's Sky Ride, where it sits now. With The Spider being moved next to Mind Eraser, the park's Sea Dragon was moved next to the Antique Cars.
In 1998, the park also added The Hellevator, an S&S Worldwide Turbo Drop tower that is 21 stories tall, which was originally painted red. The park also brought back Chaos and located it next to Mind Eraser, and installed a (HUSS Breakdance) named Barrels of Fun next to the kiddie bumper cars and the entrance to the waterpark. A new food court was added to the north end, located partially in Startoon Studios.
Six Flags era (1998-present)
Post-merger era (1998-2005)
In 1999 the park made a 50% expansion to the water park adding a new slide tower named Shark Attack and a second wave pool called Hurricane Bay. The park added a (Hopkins River Raft) named Blizzard River ride to the North End replacing a set of Dry Slides, the old Bumper Cars. Blizzard River was themed to incorporate the Penguin character from the Batman Franchise but the name of the ride was never changed when the park was allowed to use characters from DC Comics on their rides. An example can be seen at Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom. A new western area was added on a hill behind Shipwreck Falls named Crack Axle Canyon. Crack Axle Canyon included 4 rides, three of which new to the park. Barrels of Fun was moved and renamed Rodeo, which resided on the top of the hill next to the Tomahawk (Huss Frisbee) and Houdini's Great Escape (Vekoma Madhouse.) The fourth ride to the area was a new floor-powered Bumper Cars from (Zamperla.) The park added new additional rides to the South End of the park. The first was a (Chance Double Inverter) named Double Trouble located next to the newly placed Chaos and a (Zamperla) Tea Cups, which replaced the parks Slingshot (Flying Carpets) in front of the Colossus Ferris Wheel. Kontiki a (Chance Alipine Bobs) replaced Barrels of Fun.
At the end of the 1999 season, the racetrack was destroyed at that point for a major expansion in the very near future.
The turn of the millennium marked a huge change in the park. Riverside, like many Premier Parks was "flagged" or re-branded as a Six Flags Park. Some of the other parks kept their names with Six Flags branding. Others, like The Great Escape in Lake George, never did get re-branded, but are still Six Flags properties. Riverside Park, however, was re-branded as "Six Flags New England". The main street running through the park was renamed "Carroll Drive" in honor of the family that had owned it for much of its rise to a major New England park. With the re-branding of Six Flags the park added a new front gate plaza.
After the Riverside Park Speedway was removed in 1999, a brand-new section of the park was built, themed to DC Comics. The area had several new rides including Superman: Ride of Steel, the parks premier attraction, which was later rethemed to Bizarro, a steel hyper-coaster. It was designed by Intamin. The layout differs vastly from the other versions of Superman – The Ride Of Steel at sister parks Six Flags America and Darien Lake. A Batman Stunt Show arena was added to the area, a second coaster named Poison Ivy's Tangled Train (from Zierer, the coaster's new name is Catwoman's Whip), Nightwing (Huss Flyaway, the name is now used by the Slingshot), and Joker's Wildcard (Indoor Chance Wipeout, like what is in the building now.)
Besides the DC Comics area the park added a third Coaster called Flashback (Vekoma Boomerang), which replaced the Black Widow and Rotor in the North Area. Flashback was actually built on the site of the kiddie coaster Rolling Thunder. Rolling Thunder, now named Great Chase, replaced the aging Rickie's Little Twister coaster in the renamed/rethemed Startoon Studios, which had been giving the name and theme of Looney Tunes Movie Town. The Flying Elephants were replaced by a similar ride themed to Marvin the Martian and a live stage show replaced the Kiddie Himilaya. Other additions were an expansion to the Hellevator adding two additional towers that were capable of a three-mode operating mode, which included the Turbo Drop, Space Shot, and Double-Shot modes. The original Hellevator tower can only operate in Turbo Drop mode. The parks Slingshot was brought back with a new paint job, theme, and name of Buzzsaw.
In 2001, the parking lot was moved across the road, and a bridge was built to allow access to the entrance of the park. There were a few changes with the Paul Bunyan's play structure becoming a small kiddie area called Tiny Timber Town with the addition of three new kiddie rides; a kiddie ferris wheel and helicopter built within the play area and a third (Zamperla LoliSwing) replacing the Sea Dragon. Buzzsaw's theme helped to blend in the theme of Tiny Timber Town, which had a logger theme.
Batman – The Dark Knight (B&M Floorless coaster) was added in 2002, the water park was doubled in size and renamed Hurricane Harbor in 2003, and two new rides were introduced for the 2005 season: the spinning coaster Pandemonium (originally themed to Mr. Six) and a water coaster named Typhoon.
Mark Shapiro era (2005-2010)
For the 2006 season, the SWAT flat ride from the now-defunct Six Flags AstroWorld (now renamed Catapult) and Diablo Falls, also from Astroworld (now renamed Splash Water Falls) were added to the park's ride lineup.
In 2007, two new kids areas were added, The Wiggles (Wiggles World) and Thomas the Tank Engine (Thomas Town). Wiggles World took over the Tiny Timber Town area retheming some of the existing rides and removing the play structure. Wiggles World also added new rides, wet and dry play elements, and a live stage show. Thomas Town was added next to the main entrance and included a train ride on Thomas and two new kiddie rides. The Hall of Justice was also built into the vacant building of the Joker's Wildcard near the Bizarro coaster. The space is now occupied by Cyborg: Hyper Drive.
In 2008, Six Flags New England was to open The Dark Knight, an indoor MACK Wild Mouse coaster based on the upcoming film of the same name. The park's other Batman-based attraction had its named changed from Batman – The Dark Knight to Batman: The Ride to avoid confusion. However, due to permit issues, the ride was cancelled and dismantled. The ride would have cost the park $7.5 million in exchange for bringing $280,000 in taxes for the state of Massachusetts. Thus the cancellation angered the city of Agawam, which stated the issues with the ride were not present. Instead, the park announced the new "Glow in the Park Parade". On November 8, 2008 the Town of Agawam approved Six Flags the right to build roller coasters up to the height of Template:Convert. This will pave the way for many new roller coasters in the future.
On September 15, 2008, Six Flags announced a makeover to the Superman roller coaster, adding an in-ride soundtrack and special effects, a makeover also undergoing with Medusa at Six Flags Great Adventure and similar to what was done with X in its conversion to X² in 2008 at Six Flags Magic Mountain. The ride is now called Bizarro, named after the Bizarro World counterpart of Superman. The makeover has included a re-paint of the track, which it is now purple. It is the same high-tech qualities of the old ride, just upgraded with pyrotechnics and special effects.
Post-bankruptcy era (2010-present)
In February 2010, it was announced that there would be a kiddie water park section added. It is called Mr. Six's Splash Island, which includes drenching thrills and relaxation for the entire family. It features a 30,000-gallon shaded wave pool designed specifically for little ones, and an interactive lazy river with dumping coconuts, rain curtains, and squirting water to keep the whole family cool. It also includes ten private cabanas. However, at the end of 2010, Six Flags dropped Mr. Six from rides in parks again and Mr. Six's Splash Island, just became Splash Island.
On September 1, 2010 the park announced that they would be receiving a new roller coaster to be added to the DC Comics section of the park. It is a standard wild mouse coaster that previously resided at Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom. They announced "Gotham City Gauntlet: Escape from Arkham Asylum" on February 7, 2011.
In late 2010, Six Flags began the process of removing licensed theming from attractions. They terminated several licenses including their licenses with The Wiggles and Thomas the Tank Engine. Thomas Town was reopened in 2013 as Whistlestop Park. Wiggles World was rethemed to KIDZOPOLIS.
In August 2011, several media sources reported that the park is going on building Déja Vu from Six Flags Magic Mountain, a Vekoma Giant Inverted Boomerang for the park's 2012 season. Then on September 1, 2011, Six Flags New England officially announced Goliath for the 2012 season, a Vekoma Giant Inverted Boomerang roller coaster, that will be located where the former Shipwreck Falls was.
In July 2012, Six Flags New England began seeking to build the world's largest swing set. The park proposed to build a tall Funtime Star Flyer ride, similar to the SkyScreamer found at other Six Flags parks. The new swing ride was approved by the city of Agawam on July 30, 2012. The city also announced that the park can also build onto the tower to Template:Convert, to keep it the worlds tallest. The Star Flyer is expected to replace the Taz's Dare Devil Dive skycoaster.
Six Flags announced on August 30, 2012, that Six Flags New England will be adding Bonzai Pipelines a SplashTacular DownUnder water slide at their water park Hurricane Harbor. Bonzai Pipelines will feature six different slides on one complex tower with each of theme going different directions.
In February 2013, Six Flags New England announced that they would be removing the SWAT ride, Catapult, from the park's ride lineup and bringing back the former Thomas Town that operated from 2007 to 2010 for the 2013 season as Whistlestop Park.
On August 29, 2013, Six Flags officially announced the addition of New England SkyScreamer for the 2014 season. New England SkyScreamer is dubbed as the world's tallest Swing ride at over Template:Convert manufactured by Funtime. The swing ride was installed in the North End section of the park, replacing Taz's Dare Devil Dive, with the queue going where Catapult was located.
On September 3, 2015, Six Flags announced they would open Fireball, a Larson Super Loop, and retheme Bizarro back to Superman and rename the coaster: Superman: The Ride. They later announced that Superman would feature Virtual Reality starting in June 2016.
On September 1, 2016, the park announced the addition of The Joker, an S&S 4D free fly coaster.
Main Street Plaza
- Main article: Main Street Plaza
- Main article: Crackaxle Canyon
- Main article: North End
- Pandemonium (Six Flags New England)
- New England SkyScreamer
- Balloon Race
- Blizzard River
- Main article: Rockville (Six Flags New England)
DC Super Hero Adventures
- Main article: DC Super Hero Adventures
- Main article: Gotham City (Six Flags New England)
- Batman: The Dark Knight
- Harley Quinn Spinsanity
- The Riddler Revenge
- The Joker
- Gotham City Crime Wave
- ↑ Cecchi, David. "Images of America Riverside Park". Arcadia Publishing, 2011, pg.7
- ↑ Cecchi, pg. 22–24.
- ↑ Cecchi, pg. 51–54.
- ↑ Cecchi, pg. 25.
- ↑ Cecchi, pg. 8–9.
- ↑ Cecchi, p. 9
- ↑ Cecchi, p. 70
- ↑ Cecchi, David. "Images of America Riverside Park". Arcadia Publishing, 2011, p. 81
- ↑ Commemorative plaque at park from American Coaster Enthusiasts
- ↑ Weld approves WMass casino
- ↑ Casinos vote final, Weld says
- ↑ http://www.coastergallery.com/sf/sfne.html
- ↑ Six Flags' Dark Knight Coaster Goes Dark. Themeparks.about.com (2008-04-18). Retrieved on March 17, 2013.
- ↑ File photo by Michael S. Gordon / The Republican. Agawam OKs new highs for Six Flags roller coasters. masslive.com. Retrieved on March 17, 2013.
- ↑ Template:Cite news
- ↑ Kids' Rides: Six Flags New England. Sixflags.com. Retrieved on March 17, 2013.
- ↑ Constantine, Sandra (August 16, 2011). Six Flags New England working to add new roller coaster ride to its Agawam amusement park. News Article. MassLive.com.
- ↑ Hagist, Jenna (August 18, 2011). Six Flags Adds New Coaster. News Article. Wggb.com.
- ↑ Template:Cite news
- ↑ Six Flags New England (September 1, 2011). Six Flags New England Announces Goliath – A Coaster Of Epic Proportions For The 2012 Season. Press Release. Six Flags. Retrieved on September 3, 2011.
- ↑ Six Flags New England (September 3, 2011). Last Chance to ride.... Facebook. Retrieved on September 4, 2011.
- ↑ Constantine, Sandra (July 23, 2012). Six Flags New England seeks to build world's tallest swing set ride in Agawam. News Article. MassLive.com.
- ↑ Constantine, Sandra (July 30, 2012). Six Flags New England gets Agawam OK to build highest swing set ride in world. News Article. MassLive.com.
- ↑ THE POWER OF SIX HITS THE EAST COAST. SplashTacular. Retrieved on October 8, 2012.
- ↑ Going Big in 2013 — Bonzai Pipelines Coming to Hurricane Harbor. SixFlags.com. Retrieved on August 30, 2013.
- ↑ New for 2014 (August 29, 2013). Retrieved on August 29, 2013.
- ↑ Cyclone at Six Flags ends 31-year ride.