Six Flags New Orleans

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Six Flags New Orleans
Six Flags New Orleans 2004 - Main Gate.jpg
Six Flags New Orleans entrance, June 2004
Location New Orleans, Louisiana, United States
Coordinates 30°3′4.0″N 89°56′3.9″W / 30.051111°N 89.934417°W / 30.051111; -89.934417Coordinates: 30°3′4.0″N 89°56′3.9″W / 30.051111°N 89.934417°W / 30.051111; -89.934417
Owner City of New Orleans
Opened

May 20, 2000 (as Jazzland)

April 12, 2003 (as Six Flags New Orleans)[1]
Closed August 21, 2005[2]
Previous names Jazzland (2000–2002)
Rides
Total 20
Roller coasters 4
Water rides 2

Six Flags New Orleans, also abbreviated to SFNO, is an abandoned theme park in New Orleans, Louisiana that has been closed since just before Hurricane Katrina struck in August 2005 and is currently owned by the city of New Orleans. Six Flags had previously owned the park since March 2002, but after assessing the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina and the related exorbitant expenses of repairing the damage, sought to terminate their 75-year lease with the city, beginning in July 2006 and finally succeeding in September 2009.[3] The park is located in Eastern New Orleans, in the Ninth Ward of the city, off Interstate 10. Despite various announced plans to redevelop the site, as of 2014, it is still an abandoned amusement park in extremely poor condition. It is a well-known urban exploration destination.

Functioning amusement park, 2000–2005[edit]

Jazzland (2000–2002)[edit]

The park first opened under the name Jazzland in 2000, operated by Alfa Smartparks (later Odgen Entertainment and now known as Palace Entertainment but owned by a Spanish company called Parques Reunidos). Rides included the Mega Zeph, a wooden roller coaster track built on a steel frame to prevent termite infestation and withstand hurricane force winds. The Mega Zeph was inspired by the old Zephyr roller coaster at the closed Pontchartrain Beach Amusement Park that was located next to Lake Pontchartrain by the University of New Orleans. The original intent was to rebuild the Zephyr but it was a smaller roller coaster so that idea was scrapped in favor of the current larger Mega Zeph. Other rides included a junior steel coaster called Rex's Rail Runner, a wild mouse steel coaster, and a common steel shuttle looping Vekoma boomerang rollercoaster called a Zydeco Scream (there are well over a dozen of these identical coasters in parks nationwide). The park had a Log Flume and a Splashwater falls ride called Spillway Splashout. In addition, the park had common amusement park spinning rides and a Carousel Merry Go-Round. The park was not profitable, as Alpha Smart Parks specialized in running water parks and smaller amusement arcade centers. In 2001, the lease was put up for sale and in March 2002, Six Flags purchased the lease. The park was run in 2002 as Jazzland.

Six Flags New Orleans (2003–2005)[edit]

Batman ride at Six Flags New Orleans in 2004

In early 2003, Six Flags upgraded the park and renamed it Six Flags New Orleans. The park added more shaded areas, as well as many new flat spinning rides, and re-branded the park to the Six Flags "it's playtime!" theme that included a dancing old man, Mr. Six. They added a used inverted looping B & M coaster that was named Batman: The Ride (though different in design from the rest of the B & M Batman coasters) and another multiple looping coaster called The Jester brought from Six Flags Fiesta Texas. A water park which would be included in the admission (like Six Flags Parks such as Six Flags St. Louis and Six Flags America for example) was in the planning stages in early 2005 and going to be announced at the end of August. However, Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans, which put those plans along with the continued operations of the park in question. The last day the park operated was August 21, 2005. Weekday operations had ended a couple weeks before due to the fact schools start early in August in the New Orleans area and end in mid-May. The park was scheduled to open August 27 and August 28, as usual, but once Katrina was forecast late on Friday, August 26 to directly hit New Orleans, the weekend opening was canceled in order to prepare for the storm and begin evacuations.

Themed areas[edit]

Standing but not operating rides[edit]

Main Street Square[edit]

5 roller coasters

Goodtime Gardens[edit]

None

Cajun Country[edit]

DC Comics Super Hero Adventures[edit]

  • Catwoman's Whip (Mondial Shake)
  • Joker's Jukebox (Wieland Schwarzkopf Polyp)
  • Lex Luthor's Invertatron (Zamperla Windshear)

Pontchartrain Beach[edit]

Mardi Gras[edit]

Looney Tunes Adventures[edit]

  • Pepe Le Pew & The Swings de Paris (children's swing ride)
  • Daffy Duck and the Backlot Tour Bus (Zamperla Crazy Bus)
  • Tazmanian Devil Rumble in the Jungle
  • Yosemite Sam and the Wild West Wheel (Zamperla Ferris Wheel)
  • Tweety's Treehouse (Zamperla Jumpin' Star)
  • Technocolor Tweety Balloons (Zamperla Samba Tower)

Former Rides[edit]

Cajun Country[edit]

DC Comics Super Hero Adventures[edit]

Pontchartrain Beach[edit]

  • Pontchartrain Flyers (Chance-Morgan Aviator) - Removed for parts.

Looney Tunes Adventures[edit]

Mardi Gras[edit]

(note: Bayou Blaster and Sonic Slam were both part of the same tandem ride—Bayou Blaster started at the bottom and shot riders to the top, while the Sonic Slam lifted riders to the top slowly, then dropped riders free-fall style to the bottom.)

  • King Chaos (Chance-Morgan Chaos) - Removed earlier in 2005 and seen in the boneyard.
  • Voodoo Volcano (Chance-Morgan Inverter) - Removed earlier in 2005 and seen in the boneyard.

After Hurricane Katrina (2005-present)[edit]

The park still flooded 2 weeks after Hurricane Katrina
Ruins of The Jester in 2009

Eastern New Orleans was badly flooded in August 2005 in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina (see: Effect of Hurricane Katrina on New Orleans). The park grounds are located on a low-lying section of Eastern New Orleans, with a 6-foot (1.8 m) earthen flood berm running along the perimeter, creating an artificial basin. After the park's drainage pumps failed during the storm, the berm retained the combination of rainwater and sea water overflow from Lake Pontchartrain caused by Katrina's massive storm surge, submerging the entire park grounds in corrosive brackish floodwater to a depth of 4 feet (1.2 m) to 7 feet (2.1 m) for over a month. Due to the extensive water and wind damage received, the park was later closed indefinitely with no plans to reopen.

Six Flags New Orleans sign after Hurricane Katrina, 2010

Damage reports by Six Flags inspectors stated that the park buildings were 80% demolished, all of the flat rides (except for one which was being serviced off-site at the time of the storm) were effectively destroyed by long term salt-water immersion, and both the wooden track and steel superstructure of the Mega Zeph were likely damaged beyond repair. The only large ride to escape relatively unscathed was the Batman: The Ride roller-coaster, due to its elevated station platform and corrosion-resistant support structure.

SpongeBob SquarePants: The Ride in 2011

On July 1, 2006, having previously announced that the park would be closed "at least" through 2007, Six Flags announced that they had concluded their damage assessments and declared the park to be an "effective total loss"—with no desire or intent by the company to undertake the prohibitive cost of rebuilding—and was in negotiations with the City of New Orleans to make an early exit from the 75-year lease which Six Flags entered into on the property in 2002.[6] However, then-Mayor Ray Nagin said he planned to hold Six Flags to the lease agreement and force them to rebuild. If held to the terms of the lease agreement, Six Flags would have been legally obligated to rebuild the park on the same site, but only to the extent of the insurance money Six Flags received. Six Flags determined the value of assets destroyed by the storm at $32.5 million. As of September 2006, Six Flags had collected $11.5 million of insurance proceeds, bringing the insurance receivable balance to $24.4 million.[7] In January 2007, Six Flags officials revealed to the New Orleans Times-Picayune that the company was suing its insurers for the remaining $175 million in coverage.

Sign after Hurricane Katrina
Sign in 2010
Exit sign several months after Hurricane Katrina in January 2006 and again in November 2010

The park had been one of the least profitable parks in the Six Flags portfolio, being well away from the French Quarter and other tourist attractions. It has been stated that the park would most likely have been more profitable had it been built somewhere on the West Bank or in Metairie, as these places are a shorter distance from tourist districts. These potential locations would have placed the park much closer to affluent population centers where a strong local base of repeat customers could be cultivated, as opposed to the poverty and crime-afflicted Eastern New Orleans district where few residents could afford or were interested in expensive season passes to the theme park.[8]

On December 15, 2006, Six Flags confirmed that they were removing Batman: The Ride for refurbishment and relocation to a new park, as it was considered to be the only salvageable ride.[9] Batman: The Ride was reassembled in 2008 at Six Flags Fiesta Texas in San Antonio and opened under the new name Goliath.[10] In addition to Batman: The Ride, Six Flags removed shade coverings, ride parts, lights, security cameras, planting structures, and various other salvageable items, effectively indicating their intent not to return.

Despite the park's remarkably poor condition, as late as 2009 the Six Flags Corporation website stated the following: "Six Flags is still in the process of settling claims with its insurers due to substantial damage caused by Hurricane Katrina. As a result, Six Flags New Orleans will remain closed at this time. We know that it is still a difficult time for the residents of New Orleans, and we remain committed to working with the city in support of the recovery efforts." The New Orleans section has since been removed from the Six Flags website.[11]

Redevelopment proposals (2008-present)[edit]

Southern Star Amusement Inc. (2008–2011)[edit]

Debris still on Ozarka Splash in 2011.

In April 2008 Southern Star Amusement Inc. proposed to take over the site lease from the then-owner Six Flags, promising to expand the park to over 60 rides (more than double its pre-Katrina size), complete a water park that Six Flags had been planning, and add an RV park.[12] Southern Star Amusement Inc. pledged to open the park as Legend City Adventure Park, with 60 rides in place, including a new water park by the summer of 2009 if the city approved the lease takeover, with the campground to follow. One issue concerning rebuilding was Six Flags' continued removal of infrastructure from the park. In a quarterly conference call Six Flags discussed plans to remove the S&S Towers by 2009 with more ride removals to follow. Items from existing Jazzland rides, such as Mega Zeph's trains and Spillway Splashout's boats, were sent to other parks. On September 27, 2008, Southern Star Amusement stated on their website that they would no longer be trying to revive Six Flags New Orleans. They did not comment on what situations influenced their decision, but it is speculated that the extensive recycling and removal of rides and current economic situation were key issues.

Trespasser enjoying the ruins of the park in 2011.

As of February 2009, Southern Star was taking another look at the park and considering a takeover bid with the City of New Orleans. SSAI planned a scaled down effort, with intentions only to reopen the park with a water park added within the existing midway area. The idea was to reopen and build incrementally, saving about $50 million in improvements for the next few years. Given the poor economic situation at the time, this plan seemed to be the only way that the park could be saved. The basic idea was to use investors and Go Zone Bonds to raise the $35 to $40 million needed to just reopen the park with basic improvements that are needed to make a real recovery and profit. Southern Star Amusement's CEO Danny R. Rogers asked that Six Flags stop all removal action of equipment from the park, as the equipment in question belongs to the City of New Orleans and not Six Flags Inc. The return of other equipment taken from the park by Six Flags Inc. was also requested.

On August 18, 2009, it was announced that the land would be redeveloped into a Nickelodeon-branded theme/water park.[13]

On September 18, 2009, the city of New Orleans fined Six Flags $3 million and ordered the park to vacate its lease.[14]

As of early 2010, the site was overgrown with debris and weeds. Removal of the debris and underbrush had begun.[15]

As of April 11, 2010, the site was still shut down with no clear future, since the city of New Orleans officially owned the property by this time and the plans for the Nickelodeon-branded theme park fell through three months after bonds failed to come through.[16]

On January 21, 2011, Southern Star Amusements went public with its third redevelopment plans for the park, posting a link on their company website. On January 26, 2011, SSA posted a Letter of Intent for the park on its website.[citation needed] The redevelopment plans gave a brief history of the property, pre and post-Katrina condition photos, development concept photos, written descriptions of each phase of the redevelopment procedure, and business projections for when it opens. During "Phase I," SSA planned on restoring what is left of the park, as well as expanding upon it by adding more rides and reverting the park back to its original Louisiana theme. The park would be revamped to reflect Louisiana's history and heritage, with one of the proposed sections paying tribute to the now defunct Pontchartrain Beach, which closed in 1983. "Phase II" entailed adding a water park and future expansion phases included adding a youth sports complex, an on-site hotel/resort, and a movie studio/backlot that would cater to the needs of various production companies filming in the New Orleans area. Plans also included developing an entertainment and shopping district within the park. These plans entailed utilizing all 224 acres (91 ha) of the site of which only 100 acres (40 ha) were to be developed and occupied by the remains of the Six Flags New Orleans park. The Letter of Intent from SSA simply hashed out a lease agreement between the city and SSA stating SSA's proposed terms of the lease and its intent for utilizing and restoring the area. SSA would enter a 75-year lease and take on the property in its current condition. SSA planned to take possession of the property prior to the establishment of the lease in order to provide preliminary security and repair/cleanup services. The lease would not have taken effect until SSA had taken possession of the property, started the cleanup process, and provided proof of funding to the city. After that, the city had 15 days to execute its end of the agreement. Any and all improvements made would belong to SSA and the lease would end in the year 2085.

Jazzland Paidia Company (2011)[edit]

In 2011 the Paidia Company made a competing proposal to re-open the park as Jazzland, for the first time since 2002 [1]. There were scheduled plans for the park already made, including newly designed themes for the park, a water park, and a studio movie back-lot. The themes of the park included re-using some existing rides. "Sportsman's Paradise" would include the existing Jester coaster, but would be moved to another area of the park and re-painted. Ozarka Splash and Mega Zeph would be restored. Zydeco Scream was salvageable, but would have to be removed to make room for other plans. The Muskrat Scrambler coaster sustained too much damage from Hurricane Katrina and would have been removed. These plans were progressing for some time until the next proposed plan, the Jazzland Outlet Mall, was put forth to the city of New Orleans.

Jazzland Outlet Mall (2011–2013)[edit]

Entrance to the proposed Jazzland Outlet Mall.

In August 2011, the city of New Orleans called for proposals for redevelopment ideas for the site. Eight entrepreneurs stepped forward to suggest turning the property into everything from a power plant, a theme park, or even an outlet mall. As of November 29, 2011, the city of New Orleans had chosen two of the proposed projects: an outlet mall and a green theme park.[17] On February 6, 2012, it was reported that the selection committee rejected the plan for the site of Six Flags New Orleans to become a theme park, leaving the upscale outlet mall as the only proposal being considered by the committee.[18] Despite the committee's actions, one of the original eight entrepreneurs continued to try to get public support for their Jazzland Park proposal, which includes the addition of a water park and movie studio back lot.[19]

One month later, on March 6, 2012, the city of New Orleans gave the green light to build Jazzland Outlet Mall to Provident Reality Advisors and DAG Development. The proposal was for a 400,000 square feet (37,000 m2) upscale outlet mall and entertainment boardwalk on the former theme park site, costing $40 million for part of Phase One and using some of the existing rides from the theme park. Construction would have taken between three and four years to build. During the planned period of due diligence and pre-construction, in March 2013 the development plans were abruptly called off.[20][21] The developer cited competition from the planned expansion of Riverwalk Marketplace to include an outlet mall, making the Jazzland Outlet Mall concept unviable.[22] However, as of the summer of 2013, Provident Reality Advisors and DAG Development has been back at the negotiating table with the city to come up with a new idea for the park; they will have to present a development plan to the Industrial Development Board (IDB) in October 2013, according to a contract.[23] Once presented IDB will then accept or reject the proposal. The contract also states that construction of an outlet mall is to proceed, but it does not explicitly prohibit giving the developers an opportunity to put something else there.[23]

Use as film shoot location (2011–2013)[edit]

An image taken during the filming of Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters at the park.

In 2011, Killer Joe was filmed in the park featuring the wooden coaster Mega Zeph. Also Stolen was filmed during 2011. Stolen used the Main Street Square section to double as the Quarter. Additionally, a burning car was driven into the lagoon, and the Orpheum Theatre was used as the home of the movie's villian.[24]

The Industrial Development Board (IDB) agreed to let 20th Century Fox film the 2013 movie Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters in the theme park during the summer of 2012 through August.[25] Mega Zeph, Ozarka Splash, and The Big Easy are three rides that have been shot for the movie along with five other rides that the production crew had brought into the park, since all the original rides were rendered inoperable to shoot for the movie. Before shooting at the park for five weeks, the production crew took two weeks to whip the derelict park into the needed condition by installing lighting and covering up graffiti on the buildings. The park will portray the fictional Circeland on the island of Polyphemus that was built by the goddess Circe, only to be destroyed by the cyclops Polyphemus.[26]

During the summer of 2013, portions of the park were being filmed for the movie Dawn of the Planet of the Apes until mid-August. Two major film studios are in talks with the city for leases of the park until well into 2014.[23]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Coggy (April 2003). "April 12, 2003". SFNO.com. Retrieved 17 July 2013. 
  2. ^ "Six Flags New Orleans". Modern Day Ruins. 2012-09-06. Retrieved 2013-03-22. 
  3. ^ White, Jaquetta (September 18, 2009). "City of New Orleans begins terminating its lease with Six Flags". New Orleans Times-Picayune. Retrieved 17 July 2013. 
  4. ^ "Six Flags New Orleans : Rides". Web.archive.org. 2004-10-25. Retrieved 2013-03-22. 
  5. ^ "Six Flags New Orleans - 2005 Map". Themeparkbrochures.net. Retrieved 2013-03-22. 
  6. ^ "Six Flags Wants Out". Times Picayune. July 1, 2006. Retrieved August 9, 2007. 
  7. ^ "Form 10-Q: Six Flags Inc" (PDF). 10k Wizard. November 9, 2006. 
  8. ^ "Lost New Orleans Landmarks". WDSU News Video (Windows Media Player). Retrieved October 28, 2007. 
  9. ^ Mowbray, Rebecca (January 23, 2007). "Six Flags removes Batman from its New Orleans park". Times Picayune. Retrieved August 9, 2007. 
  10. ^ "RCDB Entry on Goliath". RCDB. August 21, 2008. 
  11. ^ http://www.sixflags.com/national/alert/neworleans.aspx'
  12. ^ "Proposal to revive Six Flags unfurled". Times Picayune. April 23, 2008. Retrieved April 24, 2008. 
  13. ^ Nickelodeon Enters Into Licensing Arrangement to Create a New Nickelodeon-branded theme/water park in New Orleans, Louisiana
  14. ^ POSTED: 8:05 pm CDT September 18, 2009 (September 18, 2009). "City Orders Six Flags To Pay $3M, Vacate Lease". Wdsu.com. Retrieved August 10, 2011. 
  15. ^ http://www.wwltv.com/local/stories/wwl050508tpsixflags.d0c8f24c.html[dead link]
  16. ^ Chris Granger/The Times-Picayune. "With recent development buzz evaporating, a dormant, storm-marred amusement park awaits the city's next move". Nola.com. Retrieved August 10, 2011. 
  17. ^ White, Jaquetta (November 29, 2011). "Former Six Flags site could become new amusement park or upscale outlet mall". Nola.com. Retrieved November 29, 2011. 
  18. ^ White, Jaquetta (February 6, 2012). "Six Flags redevelopment committee narrows field to upscale outlet mall". Nola. Retrieved February 8, 2012. 
  19. ^ Jazzland Park
  20. ^ White, Jaquetta (March 6, 2012). "City to move forward with outlet mall at Six Flags site". Nola.com. Retrieved March 9, 2012. 
  21. ^ Robin, Natasha (March 5, 2012). "Outlet mall proposed for old Six Flags site". fox8live.com. Retrieved March 9, 2012. 
  22. ^ Eggler, Bruce (13 March 2013). "Proposed outlet mall at Six Flags site appears to be dead". NOLA.com. Retrieved 13 March 2013. 
  23. ^ a b c White, Jaquetta (July 14, 2013). "Plans mulled for dormant Six Flags". The Advocate. Retrieved July 15, 2013. 
  24. ^ Scott, Mike (August 6, 2013). "Take 5: The Six Flags New Orleans edition". nola.com. Retrieved August 7, 2013. 
  25. ^ Murphy, Paul (June 6, 2012). "Outlet mall project progressing at Six Flags site". WWLTV.com. Retrieved June 7, 2012. 
  26. ^ Scott, Mike (July 22, 2012). "Abandoned Six Flags New Orleans site comes alive for 'Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters' shoot". NOLA.com. Retrieved July 23, 2012. 

External links[edit]