|Six Flags New England|
Agawam, Massachusetts, USA
Six Flags New England, formerly called Riverside Amusement Park, is a Six Flags theme park located in Agawam, Massachusetts. It is the oldest of the Six Flags parks, though it did not originally open as a Six Flags park.
Six Flags New England is one of the Northeast's biggest parks and a must-visit among enthusiasts for extreme thrills such as the award-winning, Intamin hyper-coaster Superman: Ride of Steel. But, did this park start off with thrilling rides? Well, it began as a walk in a grove, literally. The park started way back in 1840 as Gallops Grove, a family picnic grove that would not have really seemed like a major park of the future. Later on, in the spot's history, it would become Riverside Grove, then Riverside Park. Soon enough, it began turning into a small amusement park.
The amusement began sometime in the 1910's when a coaster by the name of Giant Dip opened. Though the time frame of when it left the park is unknown, the Western New England Magazine in July 1913 quoted, "...merry shouts are heard from the 'Giant Dip roller coaster,' and there is always a long line of young people waiting for a chance to ride." Though barely any details are known on this coaster, the ride certainly planted the seed for the thrill park the park would become many years later.
For the park's 100th anniversary, coaster designer Joseph Drambour was hired to build a fairly simple, yet intense wooden coaster to draw visitors for the 1941 season. The result was the fan favorite Thunderbolt wooden roller coaster. The Thunderbolt runs along a simple figure-eight and oval layout, traveling through it in a mad and forceful dash. It may not be the height of thrills by today's standards, but it became a hit for families and younger thrill seekers.
The 1970s came and Riverside Park expanded a lot during this era. The first of these turned out to be a NASCAR Speedway adjacent to the amusement park, attracting racing fans to the park. Then, two more coasters arrived that certainly attracted more thrill seekers to the growing, yet traditional park. The first was a classic and forcefully-designed coaster by Schwarzkopf popular throughout the 1970's: pouncing out at the park was the WildCat, the park's first steel coaster. Built in 1974 and designed by Anton Schwarzkopf, notorious for some of the world's most forceful and compact rides, WildCat boasted a figure-eight layout and turned out to be forceful throughout the ride.
The second big addition in the 1970s came in 1977 as the Loop Coaster. During the mid-1970's, the demand for new looping coasters was high. Riverside's Loop Coaster was designed by Arrow Dynamics, well-known for designing the first inverting coaster, Corkscrew at Knott's Berry Farm (defunct). The ride was a clone of their popular Shuttle Loop model which launched riders at fourty miles per hour down a steep drop, into a loop and back up into a reversing area to prepare to launch in reverse back to the station. A simplistic ride, but one that attracted enthusiasts to the park. Later on, in the ride's history, it would be renamed Black Widow and the trains would receive spider themes.
The next year, 1978, the park got one of the biggest Ferris wheels in the world. Built by Vekoma, towering at 150 feet, and giving great views of the area was Colossus. In 1979, the park got a hit ride that many parks invested in and brought more thrills to the park: an Arrow Dynamics log flume known as Red River Rapids. Though it was not given a unique layout, it became the park's first water ride. In the Six Flags era twenty years later, the ride would become sponsored by Poland Springs water and be renamed Poland Springs Plunge. Today, it is still a hit among families during those hot summer days at Six Flags New England.
Six years after the opening of Black Widow, the Schwarzkopf masterpiece WildCat was removed and moved on to the late Rocky Point Park in Rhode Island. But in 1983, another coaster came and became a top reason to go to Riverside Park. It was none other than the Riverside Cyclone (now simply known as Cyclone), designed by William Cobb, also known for designing Six Flags Great Adventure's Rolling Thunder racing wooden coaster. What made this a world-class wooden coaster? Its insanely banked turns, twists, dips, and more. Though when Six Flags made changes in 2000, Cyclone became a tamer ride and lost its fan base, but remains a hit at the park. The park continuously grew throughout the eighties and nineties, but there were few new thrills during that time. That was until 1996, one of the park's biggest years in its history.
The year 1996 came, and growing park chain Premier Parks ended up becoming a sudden force in the industry after buying out the Funtime Parks chain which consisted of New York's Darien Lake (now Six Flags Darien Lake), Ohio's Geauga Lake and Wynadot Lake, and Maryland's Wild World (later renamed Adventure World, then Six Flags America). Premier then ended up buying Riverside Park and began turning the small, traditional park into the thrill park it is today. The immediate future brought nothing major, but a new kiddy coaster by Miler called Rolling Thunder. Rolling Thunder would be renamed Great Chase four years later and given a Looney Tunes theme.
1997, However, turned out to be the year that the park finally got another major coaster. Though nothing unique, a Vekoma Suspended Looping coaster named Mind Eraser joined similar clones at other parks in the Premier chain. Mind Eraser boasted a compact thrill with five inversions, a height towering over 100 feet, and a thrill to certainly erase riders' minds! Along with the new coaster, new flat rides provided more new thrills since the Riverside Cyclone's debut. The first was another standard fixture in the Premier chain, a Vekoma Air Jumper flat ride known as Time Warp resembling two inverting ship rides, only floorless and arranged back-to-back with each other. The second new flat ride was a Huss Top Spin known as Twister, and a third was Chaos, a Chance Chaos ride. The fifth and final installment that year was an Intamin Spillwater shoot-the-chutes ride called Shipwreck Falls, which ended up being cloned later on at other Six Flags parks.
Riverside Park did more catching up to become more like the average modern park. A water park was finally built, known as Island Kingdom (now Hurricane Harbor). Over twenty million dollars was put into making the Island Kingdom the premier New England water park, which meant nine water slides, a Six Flags-standard family water area known as Hook's Lagoon, a wave pool, lazy river, and children’s play area. The next year, 1999, brought a Hopkins-made River Rapids ride known as Blizzard River (not to be confused with Penguin's Blizzard River). The rafting adventure certainly became another hit for families, as well as the Island Kingdom water park. But next year brought the park its biggest addition and its biggest change since Premier's ownership in 1996.
The year 2000 came and Riverside Park would change its name to Six Flags New England after Premier bought out a majority of Six Flags and Premier themselves changed their name to Six Flags. But what would the new millennium bring for thrill seekers and families? In 1999, two park classics had been removed, the first being Little Rickie's Little Twister, an old Herschell Little Dipper kiddie coaster, and the old Arrow Shuttle Loop Black Widow. Both coasters saw the end forever as they rotted out in a field in Indiana for four years until meeting the boilers. But many big additions and rethemes would occur.
2000's Biggest addition and what would become the park's signature attraction was Superman: Ride of Steel. Boasting a unique layout compared to two rides of the same name at other Six Flags parks, Six Flags New England's airtime-filled course would receive many high marks and even international recognition with awards such as "Best Steel Coaster". Manufactured by the famed Intamin AG of Switzerland, Superman boasted a height towering as the tallest structure in the park at 210 feet, a 221-foot long drop, and a speed approaching eighty miles per hour. Superman: Ride of Steel became the park's main attraction.
Alongside the Man of Steel, one of Batman's foes also touched down in 2000: a Zierer family twister coaster known as Poison Ivy's Tangled Train. Also in 2000, to replace the void of a shuttle coaster in the park, a Vekoma Boomerang from Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom opened as Flashback. The ride is simplistic: riders reverse up a steep lift and drop down to speed forward, up a cobra roll, and into a loop before hitting the second reversing spike and coming down backward through the ride, again. All three coasters attracted more people to the premier thrill spot of New England.
The coasters weren't the only new rides added in 2000 - even more rides galore included an S&S Triple Shot tower was built, named Scream! and towering at 205 feet with 180-foot drops. Nightwing became one of the first Huss Flyaways to open, with a similar design to an enterprise ride, only ridden in a flying position. Joker's Wildcard was another flat ride built in 2000 and gave riders the experience of a Chance Wipeout enclosed in a building face to face with the Joker himself. 2000 Was certainly a big year for the park and also saw many new themed sections with the big rides. They included Crackaxle Canyon, DC Superheroes Adventure, Looney Tunes Movie Town, Main Street, North End, South End, Rockville USA, and Tiny Timber Town.
After a big year, 2001 did not bring more big thrills to the park. But another flat ride was built, a Huss Flying Carpet ride named Buzzsaw. But next year, the Dark Knight touched down. 2002 Brought the B&M Floorless coaster Batman: the Dark Knight, with its purple, blue, and black paint job. Boasting five inversions, 117 feet in height, and a speed of fifty-five miles per hour, the Dark Knight became a hit at the park. In 2003, Six Flags New England got a renovated water park replacing Island Kingdom. The park added, even more, slides, nine more slides in total, and a new entrance under Batman: the Dark Knight. These new slides consisted of the very first Proslide Tornado, named Tornado, with its unique charm being a gigantic funnel riders encounter before splashing down. Hurricane Falls, a complex of six completely unique slides, opened. The six slides are named after historic hurricanes: Agnes, Bertha, Lola, Marge, Myrtle, and Nellie. Even two more tubing slides were included: Geronimo Falls and Zooma Falls, both wet family tubed water slides.
After a huge year in Six Flags New England's water park, no new additions came with 2004, but 2005 is bringing more family thrills, the first being a new Gerstlauer Spinning Coaster themed after Six Flags' new mascot Mr. Six called Mr. Six's Pandemonium. The second big addition for 2005 is a new kind of water slide that is identical to Master Blaster slides. Typhoon is added to the Hurricane Harbor section to the park as a new water slide featuring numerous conveyor belts to rocket riders around a roller coaster like course. The third addition would have been an S&S Slingshot ride, but local planners turned down the plans for the ride being built at the park. The Slingshot ride originally operated at Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom.
The next year, Six Flags New England is ripping out the park's longtime family favorite log flume, Poland Springs Plunge, for two new rides from the defunct Six Flags Astroworld park in Houston. The first new ride is Splashwater Falls, a wet and wild spinning rapids ride from White Water West. The ride is bound to get families soaked, but for the extreme thrill seeker, Catapult would be built nearby. Catapult is the very first S&S SkySwat ride ever made and flips riders around towards the ground or up into the sky.
Present Rides (14)
|1909 Illions Carousel||M. C. Illions Carousel||Carousel||1940||Main Street||Open|
|Balloon Race||Zamperla||Balloon Race||1989||North End||Open|
|Batman - The Dark Knight||Bolliger & Mabillard||Floorless||2002||South End||Open|
|Superman the Ride||Intamin AG||Hyper Coaster||2000||DC Super Hero Adventures||Open|
|Blizzard River||Hopkins Rides||River Rapids||1999||North End||Open|
|Catwoman's Whip||Zierer||Family||2000||DC Super Hero Adventures||Open|
|Cyclone||William Cobb||Wooden||1983||North End||Open|
|Gotham City Gauntlet||Maurer Söhne||Wild Mouse/Family||2011||DC Super Hero Adventures||Open|
|Great Chase||E&F Miler Industries||Kiddie||1996||Looney Tunes Movie Town||Open|
|Mind Eraser||Vekoma||Inverted||1997||South End||Open|
|Thunderbolt||Joseph E. Drambour||Wooden||1941||Main Street||Open|
|Adventure River||Lazy River||1998||Open|
Past Roller Coasters (9)
|Black Widow||Arrow Dynamics||Shuttle||1977||1999||Old Indiana Fun-n-Water Park|
|Dark Knight||Mack Rides||Indoor||2008||2008||Six Flags Mexico|
|Little Rickie's Little Twister||Allan Herschell||Kiddie||1978||1999||Old Indiana Fun-n-Water Park|
|Whirlwind Racer||Harry G. Traver||Wooden||1928||1933||No|
|Wild Mouse||B.A. Schiff & Associates||Wild Mouse||1957||Unknown||No|
|WildCat||Schwarzkopf||Sit-Down||1974||1983||Rocky Point Park|