Flags New Orleans
By Chris Cowan
Thanks go to Frontrider for supplying me with a list of the complete
ride package for the park along with names and locations and other info.
– New Orleans real estate developer
Tom Winingder conceives the idea to build a new theme park on land he owns east
of the city. He begins concept planning and starts looking to find someone
to finance the park.
1998 – After a decade of trying to make his
dream a reality, Winingder sells the land, the name Jazzland and the
intellectual property rights for the park concept, in exchange for a royalty
interest in the park, to the Ogden Corporation. In-depth planning begins
for Jazzland. The chief architect and general contractor is The Broadmoor
Design Group, who will spend 2 ˝ years on the project. The 140-acre park
will be built on undeveloped, woody land that has a high water table and
very soft ground. After considering pumping in additional fill into the
area, it is decided to drive pilings and build the park on an elevated
platform, which will raise the entire site 42 inches.
Construction begins. The $110 million park is funded with $35 million in
public investment, a $25 million Housing and Urban Development loan and a
$10 million state grant. The Ogden Corp. is responsible for the rest.
The park’s master plan also calls for the construction of a 20,000-seat
amphitheater and a water park within 5 years. Tom Winingder announces plans
for a resort hotel and conference center to be constructed near the park.
Jazzland Theme Park opens on May 20th,
consisting of four themed areas:
o Jazz Plaza (this
is the entry area and is designed to look like older New
Orleans neighborhoods), featuring:
Zydeco Zinger (a colorful swing
ride, custom painted for the park with the likenesses of famous Jazz
o Pontchartrain Beach
(an homage to the defunct New Orleans amusement park),
Zydeco Scream (Vekoma "Boomerang" steel roller
coaster) [Note: Opening of this ride was delayed until June 10, 2000.),
Pontchartrain Flyer (Chance steer-able airplane
ride modeled after the old Flying Scooters rides),
Beach Bang Up (bumper cars),
The Big Easy (90-ft Ferris Wheel),
Dizzy Lizzy ("Frisbee"-type flat ride),
Bayou Blaster (S&S "Space Shot" tower), and
Sonic Slam (S&S "Turbo Drop" tower).
Gator Bait (Huss "Airboats"),
Cypress Plunge (OD Hopkins Log Flume),
Lafitte's Pirate Ship (swinging ship),
Musckrat Scrambler (L&T Wild Mouse), and
Cajun Pirates (SimEx Motion Simulator)
o Mardi Gras,
Voodoo Volcano (Inverter flat ride),
Mega Zeph (CCI wooden roller coaster with steel
support structure) [stats = track length: 4000-ft, first drop: 108-ft,
Spillway Splashout (OD Hopkins shoot-the-chutes
Jocco's Mardi Gras Madness (Sally interactive
Mardi Gras-themed dark ride with guns and scoreboards for each rider),
King Chaos (Chance "Chaos"),
Mad Rex (Chance "Wipeout"),
Krazy Krewe (Preston "Bat"),
SkyCoaster (upcharge attraction) and
Mardi Gras Menagerie (Chance Carousel, unique in
that several are NOT horses. There's a Rabbit, Reindeer, Zebra,
Elephant, Dragon, Cat, Jaguar, Tiger, and 20 horses).
o Kid's Carnival,
a children's area off the main midway loop, is considered part of the
Mardi Gras theme section,
Rex's Rail Runner (Vekoma "Roller Skater" junior
steel roller coaster),
Beadsville Airport (kiddie planes with up/down
Zinger Swinger (kiddie swings),
Kajun Crawler (convoy-type ride),
The Little Easy (kiddie Ferris Wheel) and
LaFun (play area with slides).
On opening day, the
Ogden Corp. sells the park to Alfa Alfa Holdings, a
Greek company, for $138 million. Jacksonville, Florida-based Alfa SmartParks takes over as owner and operator of Jazzland.
Admission is $31.00. Parking is $5.
Attendance this year is 1.1 million. Season pass
sales total 120,000.
The park announces in November that it will add a
Vekoma suspended looping coaster for the 2001 season.
In February, several park suppliers
announce that Jazzland is months behind on payments. Meanwhile,
says they are still owed nearly $4 million for the design and construction
of the park.
The $8 million
Vekoma SLC is canceled. A $75,000 Frog-Hopper
is purchased instead and added to the Kid's
Carnival section in April, where it
sits idle most of the year and is not operational until the end of August.
The number of park employees is reduced by 35%.
Weekday hours are
Attendance this year falls to below 600,000. Season pass sales plummet to
Tom Winingder announces that he has been unable to find
financing for the Jazzland Resort Hotel and Conference Center, even though
he’s been trying since October 1999.
The park announces in August that the
Vekoma SLC is back on again, this time for the 2002 season.
On February 26th,
files for bankruptcy and announces that the park will be sold to Randy Drew
and a group of investors.
Drew, who is the CEO of
Alfa SmartParks, says
that his parent company (Alfa Alfa Holdings) instructed him to close the
park and fire the employees. Instead, he orchestrated a management buyout
and says his new company, Entertainment Associates, will pay $30.3 million
to buy out the bank loans for Jazzland.
Drew also announces that the
SLC has been canceled again.
By March 19th, it is apparent
to the bankruptcy court that Entertainment Associates will not be able to secure
the financing and the court opens Jazzland to other bidders.
The park opens
on time in early April, but says it is about to run out of operating cash
and will have to cease operations soon.
On April 26th, the city
of New Orleans signs an agreement to sell Jazzland to Six Flags, Inc. (SFI).
The theme park company will own and operate the park, but will lease the
land from the city. The lease runs for 75 years. SFI is obligated to spend
at least $25 million in improvements to the park by the end of the 2005
season. The agreement stipulates that the park need not be branded as a
“Six Flags” park upon takeover, but must carry the Six Flags name no later
than the opening of the 2004 season. The reasoning is that SFI wants 2
years to make improvements to Jazzland before putting their name on it.
November 14th, however, SFI reverses course and announces that the
park will be renamed Six Flags New Orleans for the opening of the 2003 season.
Flags New Orleans
A new theme area, DC Comics Super
Heroes Adventures, is created next to Cajun
Country. Four rides purchased from the now closed Thrill
Valley Amusement Park in Gotemba, Japan are added to this new section. They are:
o Batman: The
Ride, a B&M steel inverted multi-looping roller coaster formerly
known as Gambit (the layout for this coaster is an exact mirror of
the B:TR rides at the other Six Flags parks),
o Catwoman’s Whip (Mondial "Shake" flat ride),
o Lex Luthor's Invertatron (Zamperla "Windshear" gondola ride which was
at first announced under the name Riddler's Revenge) and
o Joker’s Jukebox (Schwarzkopf "Polyp" flat ride).
The Jester, a Vekoma "Hurricane" steel roller
coaster, is added to the Mardi Gras area after being relocated from Six Flags Fiesta Texas
where it operated under the name Joker's Revenge (but had been SBNO
Bayou Paddle Boats (upcharge) is added in
Cajun Country (this attraction was in the
park's original plans and the dock and rental building were constructed in
Over 100 mature trees are planted and
more shade arbors are installed.
Cypress Plunge is renamed Ozarka Splash.
Kid's Carnival (the
children's area) is renamed
Looney Tunes Adventure, the rides in
this section are re-themed and undergo the following name changes:
o Rex's Rail Runner becomes Road Runner
o Beadsville Airport becomes Bugs Bunny Barnstormers.
o Zinger Swinger becomes Pepe Le Pew and the Swings De Paris.
o Crazy Bus becomes Daffy Duck and the Backlot Tour Bus.
o Kajun Crawler becomes Tasmanian Devil Rumble In the Jungle.
o The Little Easy becomes Yosemite Sam and the Wild
o Frog Hopper becomes Tweety's Tweehouse.
Balloons (kiddie spinning balloon ride) is added in
Looney Tunes Adventure.
Festival Hall is renamed the Orpheum Theatre.
The park ends 3 years of frustration for coaster
enthusiasts by abolishing the Jazzland "count 24" coaster seating policy and
begins letting riders line up for the individual row of their choice.
A "no single riders" policy is instituted for
the Mad Rex ride.
Admission this year is $32.99.
SquarePants: The Ride replaces Cajun’ Pirates simulator ride.
Voodoo Volcano and
King Chaos are removed before the beginning of the season.
Park hours are reduced.
Admission this year is $35.99.
Parking is $7.00.