Going to Six Flags as an adult with children is so very much different than when I went as a jortsy teenager with my high school friends. Nobody shows up with an empty Coke can in her hand to get $5 off admission anymore. Now you change your cash into a card when you enter the park, and every ride is set to YOU DIE, OK. Even the Dippin’ Dots (aka the Ice Cream of the Future since 1988) have evolved. Mint chocolate has been overtaken by banana split.
The six flags that fly at the entrance—the Six Flags Over Texas—are now American flags. Someone in the marketing department figured that maybe they shouldn’t have some of those six flags up there anymore, given, um, the cultural climate, which is great. But now the name of this screamblast doompark takes even more time to explain than it did before. (Six Flags Importants, if you’re listening, screamblastdoompark.com is currently an available domain.)
Upon entering the park, you can’t help but smile at the carousel nobody ever rides as you see that nobody is still ever riding it, and a wave of nostalgia hits as you play a classic Six Flags Over Texas game of “What’s that smell? Is it a dead animal? It’s a dead animal.”
Line up to wait in the foreverline to get onto one of these Bugs Bunny forsaken roller coasters, and you’ll be entertained by what seems to be a relatively new safety video, based on the early 2000s fashions on the hired actors. The video essentially says, “Hey, if this ride stops while you’re on it, don’t panic. It’s meant to do that if something malfunctions. And it won’t stop in a bad spot, despite what you may have seen on the news.” At which point, I’m thinking, my heart rate is high enough. We’re set. I don’t need to ride this ride. But my kid wanted more. I’m so mad I had a kid. Don’t have them, everybody.
As they strap me into the Mini Mine Train at Six Flags Over Texas, I realize that I no longer seek these kinds of “thrills.”
In the fleeting moments before the ride begins, the Six Flags employee yellspeaks words into a microphone pushed so hard against his mouth that he must have swallowed it. All I can make out is “THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT,” followed by the opposite of white noise. Cool. It hits hard that I have placed my safety in the hands of this 16-year-old part-time employee with a wolf cut. For the love of funnel cakes and giant stuffed animals, what have I done? And whose mom decided we shouldn’t be wearing helmets on this ride? Wouldn’t this ride be so much more fun if you knew you were somewhat protected against getting fully concussed? Isn’t following safety a warm hug of comfort? I don’t know about you, but if I’m going to be going several fives of miles per hour, I’d at least like the option. They would make sense, and not just safety-wise. It’s a mine, you guys. A helmet would be so aligned with the theme.
Did we all die in that mini mine 30 seconds later, like my mind was telling me we surely, absolutely, very most definitely would? Of course not. But that’s not the point.
Somewhere in that mine, I found my truth: the thrill of potentially losing my head in a saloon filled with crusty, unblinking mannequins who haven’t changed clothes in 20 years just doesn’t do it for me anymore.
Halfway through the ride, when we hit that health inspector’s nightmare of a Grade F saloon, all I could think was “Can we get Queer Eye out here to help spruce things up?” Give Bobby Berk a budget and a band saw, and we could glow-up from dumpy bar to Culture Eater’s Best Place to See and Be Seen in Dallas 2022. We have to try harder, Six Flags. This is Dallas. Where’s the mixologist in a three-piece suit with a chain wallet (Brandathon is an edgy Scorpio) mixing Porch Swings made with local 76011 honey? (There’s no way any of these bartenders have kept their TABC certs up to date. You can smell it in their fading, chipped, painted-on beards.) Where’s the fake foliage wall with a pink neon sign that says “It’s a vibe” so that your influencer mannequins know where to take photos holding drinks that match their powder-dipped nails? Invite a mannequin-John Tesar to serve Mini Mine Train sliders on Thursday nights “until we run out,” and this mid-ride saloon will be Michelin-starred in a month. Get it together, Mini Mine Train.
I wasn’t always this way. I used to ride everything from the Judge Roy Scream and the Cliffhanger to the Texas Giant and the dang Flashback. Is it that I didn’t have fears back then (as evidenced by the fact that I wore jorts in the summer and immediately rode the log ride, all-day jort-chafing be damned!) or that I didn’t have as much terror in my everyday life as I do now?
It hits hard that I have placed my safety in the hands of this 16-year-old part-time employee with a wolf cut. For the love of funnel cakes and giant stuffed animals, what have I done?
I think it’s safe to say that if your happiest moment of your adventure at Six Flags is when half the rides are shut down due to “excessive wind,” maybe the theme of this park ain’t for you. All I know is, after I got home from my Six Flags visit, the Dallas Morning News served up a story that will feature heavily in my anxietymares.
There was a fire in the “tunnel portion” of the Mr. Freeze ride. FULL PASS. One employee sustained minor injuries, and six Six Flagsers were sent to the hospital “out of an abundance of caution.” Is it really “abundant caution” if people were in a fire? Sounds pretty “regular caution” to me.
While Mr. Freeze is closed due to the aforementioned cautionfest, here’s a list of rides Six Flags should replace it with in 2023. I promise these rides would be more than enough stress and thrill for most of us:
Out of an Abundance of Caution: Thrill-seekers, unite! We’re taking you inside a tunnel and immediately putting you in an ambulance for a two-hour adventure to the hospital. You’ll have your blood pressure checked, and after an hourlong wait in a room without your phone, a doctor (well, a Ph.D. in whale calls) will enter the room to tell you you’re fine. You’ll need a ride to pick you up.
The Heartbreaker: You turn a corner, and you know it sees you. You can feel its eyes piercing through you, and there’s no escape. You made the mistake of making eye contact with this stray dog, and now you must save it. You can’t leave her out here in the perfect Texas weather to fend for herself. She has only you. And you have 20 minutes to scour Nextdoor for her family. Find her owner before the buzzer buzzes, and she reunites with her family at last. Fail, and you go home with a free dog. Forever.
The Line Is the Ride: It’s three hours. The Flash Pass you paid $100 for will somehow get you through this line slower? When it’s over, they’ll send you home with a list of tasks you could have completed and a list of places you could have driven to in the same amount of time, plus a list of qualified therapists willing to talk to you about this life choice.
Too Many Items in the Express Lane: The injustice is clear, and it’s your job to save the day. Someone has more than 10 items in the express self-checkout lane. Are you the hero we all need, or is Central Market just bonkers now?
Don’t Engage: It’s just you, your phone, and your social media apps in this terrifying emotional roller coaster for only the bravest of your thrill-seeking bunch! Walk into the Oh No Chamber, and every person you have ever friended on social media is suddenly back on your pages, unmuted, and you’ll be forced to scroll through their posts for 59 minutes. (Studies have shown irreparable harm begins at the one-hour mark and beyond.) Manage to leave zero comments, angry emojis, or sarcastic “cares,” and you take home 1 million room-temp Zimas. There are no winners here.
You’re Probably Underdressed, But It’s Hard to Tell: The invite said “black tie optional,” so you opted out of black tie. But 60 percent of the people here are in tuxedos. You get to stress-sweat for 20 minutes before we release you from this party prison.
I eagerly await the day that Six Flags adds these rides to their thrillpalace. Feels likely. Until then, they should at least rename the place. Really feels like Screamblast Doompark could speak to generations of teenage jorts-wearers.