One Month Before Six Flags Shuts it Down, an Ode to the Flashback

Categories: Park and Rec

Flashback.jpg
Six Flags was a summer ritual when I grew up in North Texas. Getting dropped off by parents as far from the gate as possible, stuffing oneself with overpriced, sticky-sweet funnel cakes, trying to get a basketball through an undersized and slightly lopsided hoop for the plush Looney Toons character.

All that seemed great at the time, but it wasn't why you made your mother drive an hour to Arlington and risked heat stroke for 10 hours in the merciless Texas sun. What made it all worth it, and what gave Six Flags a reason to exist, were the roller coasters. You rode the Texas Giant, of course, the adrenaline rush enhanced by the rickety wooden scaffolding that seemed on the verge of collapse and the whispered legend about how your friend's cousin's best friend's car got stuck at the top of the hill for hours, and everyone had to climb down. The Shockwave had a loop and was decently cool, especially since it was tucked in a far corner of the park and had reliably short lines. Then there was Judge Roy Bean Scream, which was neither fast nor loopy but which you rode anyway just to say you'd hit for the cycle.

The perennial king of the coasters, in my mind at least, was the Flashback. It's a twisting, vaguely serpentine track of rust-red steel with a single loop that, to the casual onlooker, probably seemed about the same as the Shockwave, but it wasn't even close. The Flashback was faster and it went backwards. To a 12-year-old kid, it seemed the Platonic ideal of a roller coaster. If coasters could duel, the Shockwave would be reaching for the holster while the Flashback would have already invented a futuristic laser gun, fired and went to grab a beer.

I lost interest in Six Flags when I was maybe 15, just in time to take a single ride on Mr. Freeze. Maybe I could sense that the world was entering an age in which every single coaster anywhere would be part of a superhero movie marketing campaign and yearned for simpler times, or maybe I was dismayed by the existence of a movie as execrable as Batman & Robin. Probably I just realized that amusement parks were way overpriced and a generally miserable experience for anyone past puberty.

Still, I couldn't suppress a twinge of nostalgia when Six Flags announced today that it will be permanently closing the Flashback on September 3. No specific memories are conjured by the Flashback. Nothing like Jim, who told me he and his future wife rode the coaster on their first date (turns out it was actually the Shockwave. Sorry, Mariana) or Nick, our web editor, who vomited in his hands after his friends forced him to ride eight times in a row. Even so, the Flashback sticks in my mind as an important part of my adolescence. It wasn't, of course, but it's a totem, something to remind me that being a teenager didn't suck quite as much when I was traveling, backwards and upside down, at highway speeds.

So farewell, Flashback. Don't take it too hard that you're being shunted to clear up real estate for a younger, more lucrative ride that will be built once they make a big-budget movie that's sufficiently terrible. We salute your 23 years of faithful service. Six Flags won't be the same without you.



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21 comments
JRT9584
JRT9584

I had an acid flashback while riding the 'Flashback.' Irony anyone?

Tim Hystad
Tim Hystad

My ode to Flashback: Oh! Flashback! Oh, Flashback! What a thrill you gave all. We suffered in line, for a rush and a thrall, Smelling teenager smell, hormonal gall. Again and again we rode it some more, All except me, and my Flashbacked C-4.

overit
overit

Good riddance!! Last time I rode the Flashback, it stalled. We were stranded, on the slant, in the heat, after waiting in an endless line, for over an hour! 

Blanca F. Banda
Blanca F. Banda

Loved that ride I can't believe they are shutting down!!!

Lara Parker
Lara Parker

After reading this A + for alliteration article, I just realized how fucking old I've become...

Danny Alcazar
Danny Alcazar

Remember how it was sponsored by L.A. Gear at first.

That70sShow
That70sShow

blew some turf on the sky-lift once. some security guy yelled at us upon exiting the cabin. 

cheeseburger
cheeseburger

If I remember correctly, since the flashback ran backwards and forwards, there could only be one set of cars on the track.  This made the line move much too slowly.  It was a fun ride, but the wait really sucked and I'd avoid it.  

GeneParmesan
GeneParmesan

I much prefer the ride directly to the north of The Flashback: El Conquistador.  It was all fun and games until someone dropped a tennis ball from the very back row at the boat's apex.

chrisfullermd
chrisfullermd

Not to be critical -- and maybe this is a generational thing -- but I doubt many park goers regard The Flashback with much nostalgia. The original 'Big 3' (as I recall it) were the Judge Roy Scream (Beam?!?), the double-looped Shock Wave, and The Cliffhanger. Can't argue with Scott's fondness for the Mine Train as well... not a bad little ride.

Sharon_Moreanus
Sharon_Moreanus topcommenter

I haven't been to SFOT for years. No reason to, unless you have kids. We travel to Cali, Ohio, Virginia, and New Jersey to ride coasters. Why do the SF parks in Texas lack when corp. is local?

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

I thought the Shockwave had 2 loops.  And, no love for the mine train?   And, you don't remember Big Bend, the most notorious roller coaster in the park. 

ImaginaryQB
ImaginaryQB

My dad went blind on Flashback in '95

ChrisDangerShow
ChrisDangerShow

Flashback wasnt bad for its time, it helped me get over my fear of looped coasters, which im eternally greatful. Here's hoping they use the area for a better ride

nick.rallo
nick.rallo moderator

Vomited right in my hands. Like a basket of hurl. 

MushMouth1
MushMouth1

 @chrisfullermd The Big Bend built in 1971 was the first one after the Runaway Mine Train. Torn down because it was so popular and poorly planned that it caused congestion at the park entrance. After it came down they extended the park boundary to construct the Judge Roy Scream.

 

/old Six Flags employee mid-1970's

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