Astrolift

Ride Retrospective

When Six Flags over Texas first opened in 1961, guests could get to the opposite side of the park by land via the Six Flags Railroad, or by air in the Astrolift ride. Manufactured by the Swiss company Von Roll for $300,000, Astrolift was a standard cable car attraction with gondolas hanging below a moving, elevated cable. Depending on the crowds, the park occasionally switched the ride from one-way to round trip between the stations. Round trips between the Modern station (now the USA section) and the Texas station took about 5 minutes.

Twenty-five cars, each seating up to 5 guests, took riders to heights of 55 feet as they traversed across the park at speeds of about 5 mph. Astrolift had two stations, one in the Modern/USA section that stood at today’s site of Justice League: Battle for Metropolis today, and another in the Texas section where the Texas Giant gift shop/photo booth is currently located.

Astrolift’s Removal

Despite some misconceptions, no fatal accidents ever occurred on the Six Flags over Texas Astrolift. Instead, incidents on virtually identical attractions were the major factor in the park closing the ride at the end of the 1980 season. Two fatal cable car accidents happened at other Six Flags parks in 1978. The next year, an accident involving the State Fair of Texas’ cable car ride hit particularly close to home when two gondolas fell 85 feet to the ground, killing one and injuring 18 others.

Although the park never gave an official reason for the ride’s removal, safety concerns were the likely cause of the Astrolift’s ultimate demise. Even though it was shown that the State Fair’s accident was the cause of operator negligence, the cable cars’ image had already been tarnished and the public perceived the attractions as dangerous, not to mention insurers seeing the ride as a potential liability. Astrolift is reportedly still in storage somewhere in Arlington, but this has never been confirmed. An occasional rumor is heard of the park bringing Astrolift back, but such stories are likely nothing more than wishful thinking since if the park ever decided to bring back a cable-car ride, it’s unlikely they’d re-install the original model instead of opting for a modern variation.

Although Six Flags over Texas decided to remove Astrolift, the Astroworld theme park in Houston elected to keep its Von Roll cable car ride and continued to operate it until the park’s closure in 2005. Two years later the State Fair of Texas debuted the Texas Skyway, a new, state-of-the-art cable car ride that spans the fair’s midway, and the closest cable car attraction to Six Flags over Texas. For those wanting a more authentic Astrolift experience, a number of Von Roll cable cars still operating at theme parks nationwide, including Cedar Point’s Skyride which also opened in 1961.

Still, remnants of Astrolift continue to live on in Six Flags over Texas today. Railing near the Mine Train’s exit is supposedly old Astrolift cable, while a support in the middle of the Southern Palace Theater was apparently an Astrolift support tower. The Astrolift also lives on in the memories of the hundreds of thousands of riders that took its aerial journey across the park throughout its early years.

Recommended Links

References

Astrolift Stats

Ride Type:Cable cars
Years Operated:1961-1980
Height:55 ft
Top Speed:5 mph
Length:2100 ft
Manufacturer:Von Roll
Duration:5 minutes
Location:Parkwide with stations in Texas and Modern (USA)
Attraction Location Currently Occupied By:Justice League, Texas Giant gift shop

All Astrolift photos are copyright their respective, original owners. No claim to ownership is implied through this fair-use article.

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