August 2, 2012

Six Flags to close parachute ride, Flashback roller coaster

The Texas Chute Out and the Flashback roller coaster will close after Labor Day.

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ARLINGTON -- Hayden Stevens of Burleson isn't old enough to appreciate the Texas Chute Out's significance as a landmark, but he can attest to its entertainment value.

"It goes so high, you can see everything," Hayden, 6, who was visiting Six Flags Over Texas on his birthday Thursday, said of the parachute ride that has towered over the theme park since 1976.

Longtime fans of that attraction and of the adjacent Flashback roller coaster have just a few weeks to bid them farewell. Six Flags said Thursday that it will close the rides after Labor Day. The park will host a weekend-long send-off of the rides ending Sept. 3. Details have not been finalized, park spokeswoman Sharon Parker said.

Officials at Grand Prairie-based Six Flags Entertainment Corp., gave no reasons for the decision and declined to reveal plans for replacements. But Six Flags has been spending millions at its 19 theme parks nationwide to open new rides in an effort to boost attendance.

Last year, it spent $10 million to revamp the Texas Giant. Six Flags Chairman and CEO Jim Reid-Anderson said during the company's recent earnings call that Six Flags is working on new attractions for some of its parks, but he did not elaborate.

The Texas Chute Out was modeled after the former Coney Island ride called Parachute Jump, originally built for the 1939 World's Fair in New York. Although the ride closed in the mid-1960s, it still stands as a Brooklyn landmark.

Six Flags officials estimate that more than 29 million people have tried the Chute Out, which hoists riders 200 feet into the air and drops them in a brief free-fall.

Although the signature white tower is easily spotted from area highways, its thrill value may not be what it once was.

Flashback, which opened in 1989 and can reach 55 mph, is a boomerang-style steel coaster with a corkscrew-spiral layout that flips riders upside down three times going forward and three times during the return trip in reverse.

An estimated 17 million people have ridden it, including brothers Eli and Micah Ford of Bedford, who say it is their favorite ride at Six Flags. Now they'll fall back on their second favorites, the Texas Giant and the Shock Wave, respectively.

But they have suggestions for a new roller coaster, in case Six Flags is interested. Eli, 11, said it should be "long," and Micah, 9, said "tall."

To that, their mom, Lacy Ford, voiced a need for speed.

"The faster, the better," she said with a laugh. "We're old-school."

Patrick M. Walker,


Twitter: @patrickmwalker1

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