Six Flags Entertainment Corporation, founded in 1961, is a corporate entity overseeing the operation of many theme parks and water parks. The company is based in Grand Prairie, Texas, mere miles from its first namesake park, Six Flags Over Texas in neighboring Arlington.The first Six Flags parks were built by the Great Southwest Corporation, which was purchased by the Pennsylvania Railroad, which would become Penn Central Corporation in a couple of years. Time Warner gradually gained ownership in the corporation by 1993, then sold it to Premier Parks in 1998. Premier then changed its name to Six Flags Theme Parks Inc. in 2000. Six Flags filed for bankruptcy in June of 2009, but then reorganized and emerged from bankruptcy in May of 2010, selling off many of its parks in the process.
Current Six Flags-owned parks:
Six Flags Over Texas — Arlington, TX, opened 1961
With Hurricane Harbor water park
Six Flags Over Georgia — Atlanta, GA, opened 1967
With White Water water park
Six Flags St. Louis — Eureka, MO, opened 1971 (formerly Six Flags Over Mid-America)
Six Flags Great Adventure — Jackson, NJ, opened 1974, acquired by SF in 1977
With Hurricane Harbor water park & Wild Safari zoological preserve
Six Flags Magic Mountain & Hurricane Harbor — Valencia, CA, opened 1971, acquired by SF in 1979
Six Flags Great America — Gurnee, IL, opened 1976, acquired by SF in 1984
Six Flags America — Mitchellville, MD, opened 1973, acquired by Premier in 1992
Six Flags Fiesta Texas — San Antonio, TX, opened 1992, acquired by SF in 1996
The Great Escape — Queensbury, NY, opened 1954, acquired by Premier in 1996
With Splashwater Kingdom water park & Great Escape Lodge hotel / indoor water park
Six Flags Discovery Kingdom — Vallejo, CA, opened 1968, acquired by Premier in 1997
Six Flags New England — Agawam, MA, opened 1940, acquired by Premier in 1997
La Ronde — Montreal, Canada, opened for the 1967 World's Fair, acquired by SF in 2000
Six Flags Mexico — Mexico City, Mexico, opened 1982, acquired by SF in 2000
Tropes associated with Six Flags:
Abandoned Playground: Six Flags New Orleans. Opened as Jazzland in 2000 and acquired by Six Flags in 2002, the park was severely damaged by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and hasn't been open ever since. Plans are in the works to turn the park into an outlet mall.
The aforementioned Six Flags New Orleans, which may have served as the inspiration for the Dark Carnival level in Left 4 Dead 2.
The Artifact: At Six Flags Over Texas, the red oil derrick observation tower. It used to have slides attached to it, and up top, there were two levels of observation decks. Now only one is barely open during the entire season (it has to be closed if the wind blows too much), and it's not even the tallest landmark at the park anymore.
Artifact Title: At any Six Flags park outside of Texas, the brand name loses much of its meaning, originally referring to the six countries that have flown their flags over Texas: Spain, Mexico, France, the Republic of Texas, the Confederate States of America, and the United States of America.
Cool Old Guy: "Mr. Six", the bald bespectacled elderly character that was first seen in an oddball ad campaign in 2004, but would then serve as Six Flags' mascot for the next several years after that. Once you see him, you'll practically hear that Vengaboys song in your head.
Fan Nickname: The Avalanche Bobsled at Six Flags Over Texas was renamed "La Vibora" to better fit in with the Spain theme area, but most people still refer to it as "the bobsled".
Hey, It's That Place!: Magic Mountain, no doubt due to its close proximity to Hollywood, was the setting for many movies and TV show episodes; most notably as "Walley World" in National Lampoon's Vacation, the opening credits of Step by Step (a body of water was digitally added over the parking lot), and the park in question in KISS Meets The Phantom Of The Park.
Last Of Its Kind: Whizzer at Six Flags Great America: one of only two "Speedracer" coasters still in operation.
Long-Lost Relative: In a sense. Great America used to have a sister park in Santa Clara, California; also called Great America. Somewhere along the line, the parks were sold to different companies, and the Illinois park wound up with Six Flags. (The California park's still in operation and now sits next to the San Francisco Forty-Niners' new stadium.)
Mine Cart Madness: The Runaway Mine Train at Six Flags Over Texas. Notable for being the first tubular-steel coaster in the nation, having opened in 1966.
On a Scale from One to Ten: The short-lived "More Flags, More Fun!" ad campaign in the late Noughties, where some lame, boring or squicky activity would be shown, along with a "flag meter" that would give it "One flag!" or "Two flags!" Meanwhile, of course, riding something at a Six Flags park merits "Six flags!"
Politically Correct History: The original layout of Six Flags Over Texas was based on the six nations that laid claim to all or part of Texas. This included the Confederate States of America, whose area was known as the "Confederacy" until the 1990s, when it was bowdlerized into "Old South", presumably to avoid any Unfortunate Implications of racism.
To their credit, the "Stars & Bars" Confederate flag, and not the more notorious "Rebel flag", has been flown at the theme park since its 1961 opening.
Prop Recycling: At Six Flags Over Texas, some figures and decorations from long-gone attractions have been set up along the park's railroad track to add to the scenery for train passengers.
Retraux: Both the "Good Times" section at Six Flags Over Texas and "Rockville" at Fiesta Texas are themed after The Fifties.
Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: The basic premise behind their Flash Pass. Pay upwards of $40 for the privilege of reserving specific times to bypass the long lines and ride the most popular rides.
Shaped Like Itself / The Theme Park Version: The old-fashioned carnival section of Six Flags St. Louis is called "1904 World's Fair". And true to the nature of the latter trope, everything's safer and more sanitized than the original version may well have been.