A Texas Two-Step Trip Report: Six Flags Fiesta Texas

July 25, 2022, 4:02 PM · After spending the first three days of our vacation in the Dallas/Ft. Worth region, it was time to move on to the next part of our Texas Two-Step in San Antonio. [Here was Part One from Six Flags Over Texas.] While we most recently visited Dallas around six years ago, it’s been almost 17 years since we were last in the San Antonio region. After an uneventful drive down I-35, including a stop to see what all the fuss is about Buc-ee’s,

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we arrived in our hotel in the mid-afternoon, allowing us time to spend the evening at Six Flags Fiesta Texas and to witness their nighttime projection and fireworks show, Rock the Night that runs on Saturdays and a lone Sunday corresponding to when we arrived in San Antonio.

Fiesta Texas is a relatively new theme park, originally opening in 1992 and then purchased by Time Warner and gaining its Six Flags branding starting in the 1996 season.

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While SFFT operates under the Six Flags hierarchy and utilizes a number of Six Flags trademarks and purchased IPs, it is quite possibly the most un-Six Flags park among all their U.S. properties (Six Flags Discovery Kingdom is probably a close second). You notice that difference the second you walk through the gate as the entry area is full of vibrant colors and Southwestern motifs. While these buildings in the entry area house your typical souvenir shops, customer service offices, and drink/snack stands you find in most theme parks, the theming here is clearly a step above the normal Six Flags treatment. The park’s setting is also very different than your typical Six Flags park situated in an abandoned rock quarry, which becomes an integral part of some of the attractions and overall theming.

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Much like Six Flags Over Texas, we were following the construction of a new attraction for 2022 leading up to our trip. Dr. Diabolical’s Cliffhanger, the first B&M Dive Machine built with a beyond vertical drop, had just started testing a couple of weeks before we arrived, and we hoped that it might have a soft opening some point during our time in Texas. Unfortunately, like Aquaman, it still appeared to be a month or more away from being completed, though the park announced recently that it would open officially on July 31, so we missed it by about a month. The new coaster dominates the center of the park, and in addition to the unique features on the ride (seven-across seating creating a “middle seat” and the aforementioned beyond-vertical drop), the queue for the attraction is supposed to include animatronics and other theming unheard of on your typical Six Flags coaster. It’s a shame we just missed it because it looks like a real winner.

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With Dr. Diabolical off the menu, we headed straight for what right now is easily the best coaster in the park, Iron Rattler. I recall riding the original Rattler back in 2005 and the pounding my body took back then, comparing it to similarly the jarring experiences I had on Hercules at Dorney Park. Those two were probably some of the worst experiences I’ve ever had on a wooden coaster (Mean Streak was a distant third), so I was eager to see what RMC learned from their conversion of New Texas Giant to turn such a painful ride into a highly rated masterpiece.

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I take back all my criticisms of New Texas Giant if building SFoT’s hybrid was necessary to get to Iron Rattler, because the result it truly magnificent. The layout has a lot in common with Lightning Rod, minus the outward-banked airtime hills, and plays with the topography so perfectly much like Dollywood’s RMC. The tunnel through the quarry is pitch black (impossible to achieve with a building around the track), accentuating the sensation of speed as the coaster reaches the end of the course. There’s an excellent mix of airtime throughout that omits some of the rapid-fire pops of air that I find a bit tiring on RMC’s more recent designs.

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I guess if I were to criticize the design a bit, it would be that the middle section of the course is a bit on the slow side, particularly in the morning when it’s not warmed up. Nonetheless, this instantly vaulted into one of my favorite all-time coasters, probably on par with Twisted Timbers at Kings Dominion. Another slight drawback during our visit was that the coaster was only running with one train - an issue the park communicated to guests clearly with a sign at the front of the queue, along with a promise that a third train is in the works to prevent single-train operation in the future, such as during the routine maintenance events that were causing the current single-train operation.

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To mitigate the lines, SFFT was actually operating a single-rider line, which we used to keep our waits for the coaster below 20 minutes. Learning from the recent issues with Iron Rattler, Dr. Diabolical is being delivered with an extra (fourth) train, so the park can always have the capability to operate the coaster at optimal capacity even when one of the trains is undergoing routine maintenance.

Next to Iron Rattler is Roadrunner Express. At most Six Flags parks, coasters tabbed with this name are pretty small kiddie coasters. However at SFFT, Roadrunner Express is an Arrow mine train with two lift hills. This one is not quite as well themed as Runaway Mine Train at SFoT, but it’s pretty intense compared to other coasters sharing its name. The helixes here pack a punch, and it’s not nearly as rough as some other similar coasters like Trailblazer at Hersheypark and Cedar Creek Mine Ride at Cedar Point.

The theming around Iron Rattler and Roadrunner Express is decidedly Western, but with the addition of Dr. Diabolical and the next ride we came upon, Daredevil Dive Flying Machines, the park is introducing more Steampunk elements into the area (a la Wild Wild West) and has rebranded it as Crackaxle Canyon Screampunk District. Daredevil Dive Flying Machines debuted for the 2021 season and is a Zamperla Super Air Race attraction. Until we had ridden Super Air Race at Luna Park a few weeks earlier, we had never ridden an attraction quite like this. It’s a peculiar looking ride where guests are loaded into four-seat planes (two rows of two seats) that lift, spin, and flip. You can get dizzy just watching this ride operate, but on board it is quite thrilling, especially on SFFT’s version that includes fire effects and a custom soundtrack. As with many of the big attractions at SFFT, the queue is well themed, providing guests a bit of backstory on the ride while you’re waiting.

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As you walk around the back portion of the park and exit Crackaxle Canyon, you reach the confluence of DC Universe and Spassburg, a German-themed land to celebrate the heritage of this area of Texas. Similar to SFoT, the DC theming has grown beyond the original attraction that used the IP (here it is Superman Krypton Coaster), but while there’s no clear delineation between the German-themed land and the Comic Book-derived land, it’s not nearly as random as the Arlington park (though Wonder Woman Golden Lasso Coaster is well outside the DC Universe boundary). Speaking of Wonder Woman, like Iron Rattler, the park provided very clear on signage in front on Wonder Woman Golden Lasso Coaster that maintenance crews were working on significant issues on the coaster, and it would not be operational during our visits. A bummer for sure, but the sign clearly explaining the issue was far nicer than a chain or trash can across the entrance and an empty station typical of most Six Flags parks.

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Back to DC Universe proper, there are two roller coasters and a couple of flat rides in the land. Superman Krypton Coaster is probably the second best coaster in the park right now, and is one of the best B&M Floorless coasters in the US. This coaster further exemplifies why SFFT is better than pretty much every other Six Flags park even though the theming on this coaster is pretty weak compared to the rest of the park’s collection. The layout places the track along the walls of the former rock quarry as trains playfully dance up, down, and around the landscape. It’s not as intense as Kraken or Medusa (SFGAdv), but Superman Krypton Coaster has great pacing and excellent visuals. The one drawback aside from the mediocre theming is that on our second day, the park was running just one train, which resulted in agonizingly slow-moving lines given the two-plus minutes it takes for the train to run its course. I’d still rank Kraken as a better traditional B&M Floorless coaster (not including Dive Machines), but Superman Krypton Coaster is not too far behind.

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The other coaster located in DC Universe is Batman The Ride. No, this is not the B&M Invert you’d find with this name at many Six Flags parks around the country, it’s the first-ever S&S 4D Free Spin coaster. Six Flags has installed a few of these same coasters around the country, including The Joker we rode a few days earlier at SFoT. However, this one has a detailed indoor queue area before guests reach the Batmobile before the line split that sends guests to each side of the coaster’s loading platform. Again, the theming is not on the same level of Disney or Universal, but it’s far beyond what most guests would expect in any other Six Flags park and makes an otherwise standard coaster feel like a better attraction than other clones around the country.

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This unexpected level of theming carries on to one of DC Universe’s flat rides, The Joker Carnival of Chaos. The ride itself is a run-of-the-mill giant spinning pendulum ride that is virtually identical to rides found at Six Flags parks around the country.

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The difference here is that there is an interior queue that is like a haunted maze loaded with practical, automated effects. Guests are briefly held at the entrance to the building and are queued to enter in small groups. As with so many attractions at SFFT, the park here goes the extra mile to make a standard attraction that much better and more memorable. I’m not sure how much extra it costs SFFT to make these modest additions to their attractions, but in my eyes it really pays off and separates SFFT from all other Six Flags parks – almost to the point where I don’t even think of this park as part of the chain.

Unfortunately, the other DC Universe flat ride, DC Super Villains Swing, lacks the level of theming and that extra touch indicative of many of the SFFT attractions. This is your standard rotating carnival swing painted with different DC villains around the attraction. The artwork on the swing is really well done, but it doesn’t affect the experience one bit.

The next land adjacent to DC Universe is Rockville - a 50’s themed all-American town. The theme of this area is disrupted a bit by Wonder Woman in the back portion of the land, but the rest of the area is similar to some movie sets we’ve seen in Hollywood. In addition to Wonder Woman being closed, Rockville High, which is a jukebox-style musical show, was also not running. The show was not listed on the entertainment schedule, though photos of it can be seen on the website, so I’m not sure if it’s not running at all this season or is on a temporary hiatus. I recall this show being on par with Dreamland Drive-In at Dollywood, so it was a bit disappointing to see this theater dark, particularly with 100-degree high temps when spending 30-40 minutes in a dark, air-conditioned theater would be highly desirable.

While the two biggest draws of Rockville were closed, we did take a spin on one of the coolest-themed teacup style rides of all time. The Hustler swaps out the teacups for pool balls, and the ride platform is made to look like a giant pool table. It’s not only a neat attraction to watch, but since the seats are covered, they don’t get hot in the blazing sun, and the axles were well lubricated, making it almost as easy to spin as the Mad Tea Party at Disneyland. Yet another example of SFFT going the extra mile to make an otherwise stock ride feel special and unique.

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While Scream!, the park’s S&S Power Tower, lacks the level of theming indicative SFFT attractions, Poltergeist, a Premier “spaghetti-bowl” launching roller coaster, has a queue that’s more like Disney’s Haunted Mansion than a Six Flags roller coaster. The indoor station is air conditioned and filled to the brim with objects and items relaying the paranormal theme. There are identical versions of this coaster located at Kings Dominion, Kings Island (both called Flight of Fear with fully indoor track), and Six Flags America (Jokers Jinx), but Poltergeist is the best of the bunch. Both versions of Flight of Fear still have lots of the original Outer Limits theming, but as those attractions have been neglected over the years, they’ve lost the ambiance that made them some of the best themed indoor roller coasters.

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Behind Rockville in the back corner of the park is Fiesta Bay Boardwalk. This area is themed to look like a seaside amusement park, which means most of the attractions don’t need extensive theming. There are mostly stock flat rides here, but there is a Pandemonium spinning coaster, identical to the one at SFoT, though with far more theming to reenforce the skateboard motif, and Pirates of the Deep Sea, a Sally shooting gallery dark ride. The last time we were in this park, this attraction was still themed to Scooby Doo (very similar to those found at Cedar Fair's formerly Paramount Parks), and while many of the scenes still bear a resemblance to the old Scooby Doo ride, they’ve done a good job applying the new pirate theming to the ride. What I thought was interesting though was that a number of the pirate characters shown on “Wanted” posters displayed in the queue were the same as those found at SFoT’s Pirates of Speelunker Cave.

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As you make your way back to the front of the park, guests will pass through Spassburg. Keeping with the German theming, this area is home Sagerfest Halle, which is very much like the FestHaus found at both Busch Gardens Tampa and Williamsburg. The main attraction in Spassburg is Bugs’ White Water Rapid, a highly themed log flume. This ride follows the adventures of a Medieval Bugs Bunny with indoor and outdoor scenes and finishing with splashdown. Six Flags typically uses Looney Tunes theming on their kids’ attractions, but the use here is really well done, appealing to the whole family. If think that Six Flags should look at the success of this attraction and the applicability of the Looney Tunes theming to more than just kiddie rides.

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Near the front of the park you’ll find the last two big coasters, Boomerang and Goliath. We never ended up riding Boomerang, but it’s a Vekoma boomerang shuttle coaster still equipped with the older trains and horse-collar style restraints. Goliath is another clone (actually a mirror clone) of B&M’s Batman The Ride. Goliath was brought to the park from Six Flags New Orleans after that park was closed following Hurricane Katrina. The vividly painted track is a departure from other BTR clones, but aside from an Aztek-style entrance arch, there’s really not much theming here, making it one of the few rides at SFFT that has a better version at another Six Flags park. While the coaster starts with a right turn at the top of the lift, hence why it’s a mirror clone, it doesn’t really impact the overall experience on the ride.

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SFFT also has an extensive waterpark called Whitewater Bay that is included in admission and accessed through an entrance near Dr. Diabolical. Compared to Hurricane Harbor in Arlington, this waterpark was far superior. Whitewater Bay has a massive wave pool, expansive kids play area, and even a water coaster, Thunder Rapids. I was surprised how good this waterpark was, especially when there are other highly rated waterparks in the area that I will talk about in future articles.

Overall, SFFT is worthy of its status as one of the best Six Flags parks in the country. It doesn’t necessarily have the huge record-breaking rides that the chain has at parks closer to larger cities, but what SFFT lacks in the record books, it makes up for in their attention to detail and theming. When Dr. Diabolical opens later this month, it will be an even more desirable destination park. With that said, I’ll leave you with a video of Rock the Night, the award-winning nighttime spectacular.

Next up: Sea World San Antonio and Aquatica.

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Replies (11)

July 25, 2022 at 6:52 PM

This is one of my favorite Six Flags parks, partly because of the topography. Iron Rattler is easily my favorite RMC. Yes, I love Steel Vengeance and a number of others but this one really stands out. It hangs over the initial drop and the drop at a left angle is almost hair-raising. The one inversion is beyond cool and the descent into the tunnel is delightful. One of my media contacts at Great Adventure told me that it's the only coaster at a Six Flags park that she found terrifying. Superman Krypton Coaster makes excellent use of the quarry wall and Batman is totally insane. I got more flips on this free spin than on its counterpart at Great Adventure. Roadrunner Express was far better than anticipated. In fact I enjoy all the coasters in the park except for Boomerang, which struck me as pretty dismal. Building a park around an abandoned quarry was a stroke of genius.

July 25, 2022 at 9:17 PM

Fiesta Texas was always a park that never registered on my radar, but I may have to movie it up on the Six Flags bucket list. Especially since Rock the Night looks like an upgraded version of the Bohemian Rhapsody fireworks show at Hard Rock Park (even including the eponymous song).

July 25, 2022 at 9:31 PM

Another great write up, I'd never even considered the park but you have me very interested!

July 25, 2022 at 11:38 PM

Fiesta Texas has always stood out as one of the best Six Flags parks. Their live entertainment in particular is easily the best in the chain. The revived Rockin' at Rockville High might not be the scope of the original productions (or Dollywood's Dreamland Drive-In) but the new show was still charming and a lot of fun with a talented cast that brought each character to life.

July 26, 2022 at 9:21 AM

This looks like a nice park but there have been horror stories about maintenance and operations coming from here the past five years or so, and your TR isn't inspiring much confidence. It's the middle of summer and their big new coaster is SBNO and the next two biggest coasters running one train. Reminds me a lot of my last visit to SFNE, another really nice SF park on the surface, but i've had one good visit at and two horrendous ones because of poor maintenance and operations.

July 26, 2022 at 9:56 AM

The thing that strikes me most about SFFT is that it's not like they're putting huge resources into their theming, but what they do invest in achieves excellent results. I don't understand why SFFT is able to go the extra mile with their theming while other Six Flags parks don't, but it really pays off.

@the_man - As I noted, SFFT had a sign at the entrance to Iron Rattler letting guests know why they were running just one train and committing to purchasing a 3rd train to eliminate the issue in the future (and they are purchasing a 4th train for Dr. Diabolical so it can always run with 3 trains). They were running 2 trains on Superman on the first day we were there (Sunday), so it's likely the single train operation on Wednesday was a result of lower demand. It was disappointing that Wonder Woman was not operating, but I've heard that RMC asked them to take it down (and caused Jersey Devil and Railblazer to briefly shut down earlier this year as well), as they identified a defect that needs to be addressed before it can be placed back into service.

As far as Dr. Diabolical goes, at least it's opening this summer, unlike Aquaman. Pretty much every new attraction opening this year (aside from Guardians) has been delayed because of the pandemic or supply chain issues. It was definitely a bummer that it wasn't open when we were there, but it gives us a reason to not wait another 17 years before returning next time.

July 26, 2022 at 11:25 AM

I understand it may not be their fault that Wonder Woman is closed, I know that because they put quite possibly the most memorably bad sign in the history of the theme park industry at its entrance

https://www.themeparktribune.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/Facebook-post-on-Golden-Lasso-closure.png

Apparently, whoever is making signs at Fiesta Texas is not familiar with the concept of proofreading, and not only that they aren't familiar with the concept of photoshop either as the background color of the Wonder Woman image is a totally different color from the rest of the sign. The fact that they allowed that sign to be there for people to take pictures and put it online says a lot about the parks management IMO. This is their big new coaster not some random flat in the back corner of the park, the closed sign at the front at least should make sense and not look like its made by an 11 year old using MS paint.

Also i'm assuming this just became a year round park, hence why they don't have enough trains for the rides to run in the middle of summer, but putting a sign in front of a ride saying "we know we suck and we are trying to get better" doesn't impress me lol.

The ridiculous signs in front of the rides are in no way deal breakers for me in terms of whether its a good park or not, but as someone who worked in theme park ops for numerous decades at a bunch of different parks, I see things for what they are. To me its a nice park that unfortunately has Six Flags maintenance and operations, just like SFNE, and for that reason don't really have any desire to go running out there. I watched the Theme Park Worldwide vlog from this park in 2019 and Shawn said he disliked the park and he rarely ever says that about any park. I'm sure he went on a bad day but as we know parks that have issues have a lot more bad days than parks that don't.

July 26, 2022 at 1:59 PM

I really want to give Six Flags Fiesta Texas the love many see in it, but unfortunately all of my visits have had major shortcomings. Each of my three visits had at least one major coaster down for the full day, along with a noticeable chunk of non-coaster rides, and never was everything ready to open at the park's opening time. I also experienced one train ops on everything except Superman during a spring break visit, leading to one of the most frustrating days I've had at any Six Flags park. The physical park itself does a solid job with theming and looks nicer than most due to its setting, but it unfortunately falls short of its potential due to the way it is operated. I'd still say it's one of the better parks in the chain due to the increased focus on presentation combined with a few spectacular coasters (namely Iron Rattler, Superman, and Wonder Woman), but overall the park falls short of the chain's top three and actually comes in behind Six Flags Over Texas for me.

July 26, 2022 at 4:39 PM

Right, I think there’s only so much saying “I’m sorry” does if it’s following a slap in the face.

July 28, 2022 at 8:30 AM

IMHO, saying "I'm sorry" and pledging to make tangible changes to improve is far better than saying nothing, which is the typical Six Flags response. Personally, it wasn't much of a bummer for us that Iron Rattler and Superman Krypton Coaster were single training, because the park just wasn't very crowded. We had more than enough time to ride ALL of the rides around the park and everything in the waterpark over a day and a half.

Those of us that travel around the country visiting various different parks are always going to have our impressions skewed by the quality of operations from a single day visit. Parks have good days and bad days, so if the one day you choose to visit happens to be that rare bad day (or infrequent good day for a bad park), your opinion is going to run counter to the majority. I try to evaluate a park with the understanding that stuff happens and that we're still recovering from a pandemic, so nothing is going to be running perfectly. Now, if lines were up the wazoo, and we only were able to get on half the park's collection of rides (like one of our most pathetic theme park visits to SFMM in 2004 where we only got on 8 rides in a full day), it would be different.

July 28, 2022 at 2:20 PM

sure, but because saying "I'm sorry" and "pledging to make tangible changes" has actually been a hallmark of many six flags parks in *my* experience, I'm out of slack to give them. stop saying sorry about all the problems and, you know, fix the problems.

you charge $60 for admission. you charge $30 to park. you charge $15 for a beer. you get held accountable when things don't work — thems the breaks.

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