50 years of Six Flags: Looking back at the highs and lows

Like a roller coaster, there have been highs (opening the world’s first triple-loop coaster) and there have been lows (looking at you, Mr. Six)
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Four years before Orlando welcomed Walt Disney World, the Southeast’s first theme park—Six Flags Over Georgia—debuted. Now roughly 300 acres, the park counts 12 roller coasters and a half-century of highs (and a few lows).

Dahlonega Mine Train
Dahlonega Mine Train

Photograph courtesy of Six Flags over Georgia

1967
The opening-day crowd of 3,325 pays $3.95 for admission to attractions such as Dahlonega Mine Train (one of three original rides still operating).

Great American Scream Machine
Great American Scream Machine

Photograph courtesy of Six Flags over Georgia

1973
The Great American Scream Machine opens as the fastest and tallest coaster on earth. Riders are issued buttons that read “Red Badge of Courage.”

Mind Bender
Mind Bender

Photograph courtesy of Six Flags over Georgia

1978
The Mind Bender opens, billed as the world’s first triple-looping coaster.

Beach Boys

Photograph by ©ImageCollect.com/GlobePhotosArchival

1981
The Beach Boys perform at Southern Star Amphitheater, a venue that attracts numerous musical icons throughout the 1980s.

R.E.M. album

Photograph by I.R.S. Records

1983
Three years after forming, R.E.M. play the amphitheater.

1989
An 11-year-old boy dies after becoming unconscious on the park’s Z-Force ride. Although the cause of death is never linked to Z-Force, the ride is shuttered the following year.

1998
Three 20-somethings ride the Scream Machine for 61 straight days (with short breaks), smashing the world record for consecutive roller coaster riding (23 days).

Mr. Six
Mr. Six

Photograph (c) Peanutroaster | Dreamstime.com

2004
Six Flags unleashes a groan-inducing national advertising campaign featuring Mr. Six, a geriatric character who shakes his hips to the 1990s dance hit “We Like to Party.”

Scream Machine submerged
Scream Machine submerged

Photograph by Erik S. Lesser/EPA/REX/Shutterstock (7602596f)

2009
Much of the park, including a large portion of the Scream Machine, is submerged when record rainfall results in massive floods across the metro area.

Six Flags waterpark

Photograph courtesy of Six Flags over Georgia

2013
The park’s amphitheater closes to make way for a water park.

2017
It’s estimated that Six Flags’s economic impact on Cobb County in 2016 was north of $300 million—more than Super Bowl 50’s impact on San Francisco.

2017
Justice League: Battle for Metropolis, a 4-D ride incorporating fire, mist, and fog effects, opens to celebrate the park’s 50th anniversary.

This article originally appeared in our June 2017 issue.

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