Six Flags New Orleans
Six Flags New Orleans is located in the Ninth Ward off Interstate I-510 in eastern New Orleans. The park originally opened as Jazzland on May 20th, 2000.
Jazzland was operated by Alfa Smartparks until Six Flags took over the lease in 2002. The featured ride of Jazzland was the Mega Zeph roller
coaster. The Mega Zeph has a wooden track built on a steel frame to prevent termite infestation and withstand hurricane force winds. The coaster was inspired by
the old Zephyr roller coaster at the now defunct Pontchartrain Beach Amusement Park. The intent was to rebuild the Mega Zeph to the exact
specifications of the old Zephyr. Since the original coaster was much smaller, the plans were scrapped for a larger version.
Most amusement parks are split into multiple sections which feature a specific genre. Six Flags in New Orleans is no exception. There are six different sections inside the park, and each one has a wide variety of rides and shops. A park map of Six Flags New Orleans is shown below.
The Mardi Gras section contains two roller coasters, the Jester and the park's signature ride, the Mega Zeph. The Jester was added to the park after Six Flags took over and coincided with the parks opening to the public on April 13th, 2003. The Jester was originally featured at Six Flags Fiesta Texas, as The Joker's Revenge , the first Vekoma Hurricane roller coaster in the United States. The Mega Zeph opened with the park's grand opening on May 20th, 2000. Today most of the wood has decayed and the steel has rusted, endangering the roller coaster. Other rides and attractions in the Mardi Gras section of the park, include but are not limited to, Dizzy Lizzy (Boomerang Ride), Jocco's Mardi Gras Madness (indoor ride), Spillway Splashout, Skycoaster, Mad Rex (Wipeout ride) and others.
The section of this park was named after the original park and featured a small beach where they held trick ski shows. Some of the rides included the Big Easy (Ferris Wheel) and the Zydeco Scream, a Vekoma Boomerang roller coaster. The Zydeco Scream was originally located at the former Parc de Montjuic in Barcelona, Spain. The roller coaster was relocated to Jazzland and opened to the park coinciding with the grand opening in 2000. When Six Flags took over the lease, the original name of the roller coaster was kept.
Here one could find the Muskrat Scrambler, a Wild Mouse Coaster. This ride opened along with Jazzland in 2000 and kept its original name when Six Flags took over. Also located in Cajun Country was Lafitte's Pirate Ship, Ozarka Splash (log flume ride), Gator Bait, and SpongeBob SquarePants The Ride, a motion simulator 3D Ride. SpongeBob was originally named Jean Lafitte's Pirate Adventure, but the name was changed by Six Flags at the end of 2002.
DC Comics Super Hero Adventures
When Six Flags took over from Alfa Smartparks, they added the DC Comics section which opened to the public on April 12th, 2003 featuring several new rides. Located in this part of the park is Joker's Jukebox, Lex Luthor's Invertatron and Gotham City Hall. An outdoor show was located at Gotham City Hall and was put on for the park guests everyday featuring Batman, The Joker, and Mr. Freeze. Batman: The Ride is a former steel inverted roller coaster that was relocated to Six Flags Fiesta Texas and renamed The Goliath after the park's closure from Hurricane Katrina. Most of the attractions in DC Comics came from a Japanese theme park Thrill Valley.
Looney Toon Adventures
This part of the park was originally named Kids Carnival at Jazzland and was renamed and rethemed when Six Flags took over the lease. Some of the rides include: Bugs Bunny Barnstormers, Pepe Le Pew & The Swings de Paris, Daffy Duck and the Backlot Tour Bus, Tweety's Treehouse and many more.
Main Street Square
As guests entered the park through the admission gates, they would come upon Main Street Square, which featured most of the park's shops and restaurants.
Hurricane Katrina Aftermath
The eastern neighborhoods of New Orleans suffered the most catastrophic damage from the flooding of Hurricane Katrina. The park was located in a low lying section that was built with an earthen flood berm along the perimeter. During Katrina, Lake Pontchartrain overflowed and submerged the park in 4 to 7 feet of corrosive and brackish water. The drainage pumps inside the park failed and it took over a month to drain the water out of the park.
Six Flags inspected the park and said eighty percent of the buildings were demolished and all the rides were destroyed by long term saltwater corrosion. The Mega Zeph was damaged beyond any hope of repair. The only ride that made it was the Batman: The Ride, which sat elevated and had a corrosion-resistant support structure.
Six Flags announced on July 1st, 2006 that the damage assessments were completed and declared the park to be an "effective and total loss" with no intent to rebuild. They immediately began to start on negations with the city of New Orleans on exiting their 75 year lease early. Then Mayor Ray Nagin said he planned to hold Six Flags to the lease agreement. Six Flags was legally obligated to rebuild the park on the same property, but only to the extent of the insurance money that they received. The damage to the park was estimated to be in the range of $32.5 million, and Six Flags had so far only collected $11.5 million in insurance money. Six Flags then filed a lawsuit against their insurance company to collect the remaining $175 million in coverage.
The park had been one of the least profitable for Six Flags. Its isolated location and the heavy crime in the area kept people away. On December 15th, 2006, Six Flags stated they would be removing Batman: The Ride, their large lighted sign from the park entrance and any other salvageable items.
A New Hope
April 2008:Southern Star Amusement, Inc. (SSA) proposed to take over the site lease and expand the park to 60 rides and complete a water park and add a RV Park. The park would be reopened as Legend City Adventure Park by the summer of 2009.
September 2008:SSA stated that they would no longer try to revive the park.
February 2009:SSA revived their original idea, but to open it and slowly expand the park, therefore saving money. They also in turn asked Six Flags to return items to the park and to stop removal of all items.
August 2009:Announcement stating the land would be developed into a Nickelodeon branded water/theme park.
September 2009:City of New Orleans fines Six Flags $3 million and orders them to vacate the lease.
Early 2010:Brush is cleared, and leftover debris is starting to be cleaned up.
April 2010:The Nickelodeon idea is scrapped. The city now owns the property.
January 2011:SSA once again revives their plan and posts it on their website. The park would be revamped to reflect Louisiana's heritage and history.
August 2011:City of New Orleans calls for proposals to redevelop the site. In all, eight proposals are submitted.
November 2011:The city council chooses two of the eight projects. One is for an outlet mall, the other is for a green theme park.
February 2012:The plan for the green theme park is rejected and the council accepts the proposal to build an outlet mall.
March 2012:The city of New Orleans gives the green light to build the Jazzland Outlet Mall, a 400,000 square foot upscale mall and entertainment boardwalk. The plans called to use some of the remaining rides. The developers would have two years to wait, after that; they could either build or walk away.
Summer of 2012:City of New Orleans allows 20th Century Fox to film 'Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters' at the park.
A Look into the Past
Forgotten Southeast had the opportunity to sit down with Victoria Henry, a native of New Orleans. She, along with her family, were annual pass holders for what was then Jazzland.
She said she enjoyed Jazzland because it was special to New Orleans. She attributes Six Flags coming in like Walmart coming into a town. Although Six Flags did revive the park, adding a new area and several new rides, and added attractions like concerts and Fright Fest, she felt it was just not as original to New Orleans.
But she said there was always something to do, the park never got old. Single day prices were in the mid $20 range, and season passes were $49.99 if you bought them early.
Thank you to Victoria Henry and her family for sitting down and sharing some past memories and photos with us. You may see her and other pre-Katrina pictures of the park in the photo gallery below, followed by pictures of how Six Flags New Orleans looks today.
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Amusement Park Awaits the City's next Move." The Times-Picayune
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13. White, Jaquetta. "Six Flags Redevelopment Committee Narrows Field to Upscale Outlet Mall."
The Times-Picayune [New Orleans] 6 Feb. 2012: n. pag. Print.
14. White, Jaquetta. "City to Move Forward with Outlet Mall at Six Flags Site."
The Times-Picayune [New Orleans] 6 Mar. 2012: n. pag. Print.
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