Part 1: Summer jobs
Part 2: Sketches of park and ride design


Best summer jobs ever: 1967-1970
Our family visited Disneyland in 1956, the second year it was open. The television show, Disneyland, had been on the air for several months and we had checked it regularly. Walt covered the new park, showed renderings of the lands and the rides, and interspersed that with tales of Davy Crockett, Spin & Marty, and other adventures. By the time my parents planned our big trip out west, we were primed and pumped to experience this brand new concept of a family theme park. I loved it even though I was just 6 years old. In 1961, Angus Wynne opened Six Flags over Texas as a copy of Disneyland for Texans. Originally, it was to be called Texas Under Six Flags, but Mr. Wynne declared, 'Texas ain't under nothing!' so the name was modified slightly. I went numerous times over the years and spent 4 summers working as a host in the park. It was one of the most fun jobs I have ever had. I felt a bit of guilt for getting paid for having a blast all summer long.

Promotions from that first year. Cover of a photo album - made of sections of bumper stickers. An article I wrote on the history of the park for the employee newsletter.

Department assignments
1967: Parking lot: bumper stickers, traffic control, tram driver, spiel announcer
1968: Sky Hook; carpooled to work
1969: Tower observation deck and superslide: worked doubles, won a scholarship
1970: Rover in Operations, a variety of rides
Hourly wage: $.90, then up to $1.25

Friends from Six Flags summers
• Carpool: Laird McDonald, Barbara Smith, Nancy Ayres, John Bookhout
• Cast members: Hollis Drake, Robert Cowsert, Charlie Wheeler, Karen Jessup, David Watson, Doug Ragsdale, Margie Robinson, Ray Bragg, Tommy Wolfe, Richard Stoddard, Susan Bottorff, David Slater, Kerry Howell, Dudley Hodgkins, Mike Glennan, Larry Wine

Parking lot, summer 1967

There was no Oil Derrick Tower in 1967, but the parking shuttle trams were the same.


Below: 1968, employee parking in middle right. Personnel office above new puppet theater.

The Sky Hook, summer 1968






The Mini Mine Train



The Astrolift




The Tower, summer of 1969

The Compound: Operations office, locker rooms, canteen, time cards








Left to right: Steve Turner, Jill Smith, Amy Fultz, Charles Mezzell, Marge Johnson, Mike Glennan, Leslie Whitely, Chuck Alcedo, Karen Sullivan, Beverly Dodd, James Waldon.
Top to bottom: Carlton Barker, Gloria Berryhill, Larry Wine, Karen Stephens, Larry Cox, Mary Wiggs.
Below: ?, Marge Johnson, Jim Watson, Marsha Duckworth, ?, Larry WIne, ?.






















The winners of a Six Flags college scholarship, summer 1969 season. I am in the middle of the back row. These were given out during a ceremony in the Southern Palace theater, after the park closed for the night. It was quite an honor and an award and an evening I still cherish.

The Southern Palace was formerly an amphitheater. For the 1968 season it was rebuilt as a large indoor theater with elaborate stage productions. Its first season showcased two shows: the day show was TV-BC, a comedic spoof on the ancient Roman-era; the evening show was a patriotic show - the Red, White & Blue Revue. I worked a lot of doubles that summer and would often slip into the back of the theater and watch those shows during breaks, between shifts, and after work. They became major parts of that eventful summer at Six Flags. I tracked down the cast album of the revue on Amazon and had it converted to mp3 to load onto my iPod players. Listening to it brings back so many memories of what may have been the best summer of my life.



Vintage postcards from the 1960s








Sketches for park and ride design
I worked in the park for 4 summers. Often, after my day shift ended, I would wander the park and think about how to improve the experience - traffic flow, locations of buildings, new rides, signage, and anything else I saw and imagined that could be done better. At home, I would sketch some of the ideas on a large map of the park. I painted out the areas to be redone and drew in the new attractions to mimic the style used on the original map.
Improvements
• Better traffic flow
• New entry
• Easier navigation with inner loop and spokes from central hub
• New rides

My first park layout map. Instead of the entryway providing only 2 options - left to Mexico and right to USA - this concept had a central plaza of flags and fountains from which each of the 6 lands radiated out. This provided a better way to orient oneself and see the various themed lands. New rides: a dark ride in the upper right and a roller coaster in the upper left.
Below: This version had moving sidewalks carrying guests from the entrance to the central plaza. There was a loop walk that connected the lands and allowed the guest to go to a new area without having to go back to the plaza.


Stylized maps showing the simpler layout of walkways. Green denotes the performance spaces.


A new vehicle entrance from the midway rest area on the turnpike. This plan brings the cars into the back of the lot through a grove of large trees and over a creek. The more natural surroundings provided a transition from the chaos of the city and the turnpike to a more tranquil, exotic escape; thereby setting the mood for a day in the park. Guests still take trams to the park entrance. The access in and out is improved with a much shorter and easier route to the turnpike.

A new entry walk with ticket booths underneath and a view towards the flags and fountain in the plaza. The sign letters are mounted on thin rods that poke through the waterfall.


A map of the area outside the loop railroad to the west. There is a Wild West show arena on the left, an Indian village, canoe ride, and a stagecoach ride.

Above and below: An area patterned after East Texas towns.


A redesign of BoomTown with an indoor attraction inside a mountain.



A ride inspired by Skull Rock on Skull Island where the cars are suspended from a cable high up in the trees. Shown in the lower right of the map above the sketches. The cars swing out as they go around the curves






An indoor dark ride in which guests sit inside capsule shapes and travel through time, seeing the history of mankind through the ages and on into the future.




Other amusement park sketches

Sea World had a confusing maze of numerous walkways. The revision below shows fewer paths, but wider and easier to navigate.


Above: redesign of the former Seven Seas park into a compact 'urban' theme park.
Below: Some other park plan sketch:


www.jamesrobertwatson.com/sixflagsphotos.html