La Cucaracha Roller CoasterRide Retrospective
What ride has the honor of being the first roller coaster at Six Flags over Texas? The Runaway Mine Train would be a good, albeit wrong, guess. Instead, an oft-forgotten ride that lasted a mere 3 years holds the actual distinction of being the first coaster at the park, and that ride is La Cucaracha.
Introduced to the park for its inaugural season, Sidewynder was a wild mouse roller coaster manufactured by the Allan Herschell Company. Its name was a play on park founder Angus Wynne’s last name. A standard “Mad Mouse” layout, the roller coaster wasn’t particularly special or unique. Like other wild mouse roller coasters, it relied on small, single cars and tight turns for thrills. When it debuted it was located in the USA section, adjacent to a ride known as Happy Motoring, a “modern” version of the Chaparral Cars.
Happy Motoring proved to be such a popular ride, Six Flags added another track for its second season which forced the park to relocate Sidewynder to the Mexico & Spain section next to the Canopy Walkway. The coaster was then re-named to La Cucaracha (“the cockroach” in Spanish), to better fit its new home.
Passengers would squeeze into small, toboggan-style two-person cars. Typical of wild mouse coasters, La Cucaracha would fling riders around hairpin curves and over small drops and hills.
The cars were designed slightly wider than the track and with the front edge hanging over the wheels, giving the illusion of going over the track’s edge when making turns. Cars would also lean slightly in the turns, adding to the thrill (or terror).
A number of “Mad Mouse” roller coasters that have identical layouts still operate today.
By 1964, Six Flags over Texas had proved to be a hit and was quickly expanding. The park was ready to invest in higher-quality, permanent rides that couldn’t be found at local carnivals. This ultimately meant the axe for La Cucaracha, the park’s true first roller coaster.
Prior to the start of the 1965 season, Six Flags reportedly sold La Cucaracha to an amusement park in Forest Park, adjacent to the Fort Worth Zoo, where it continued to operate for a number of years as “The Mousetrap.” El Sombrero replaced the ride and reused La Cucaracha’s queue line. Since then El Sombrero has relocated a number of times and the employee “Canteen” (cafeteria) now exists on Cucaracha’s former site.
A year after its removal, La Cucaracha was quickly overshadowed by the Runaway Mine Train in 1966, which of course continues to operate today. Although long forgotten by most park guests, La Cucaracha still holds the distinction of being the first-ever “Six Flags” roller coaster and therefore has a special place in Six Flags over Texas history.
La Cucaracha Stats
|Ride Type:||Steel wild mouse roller coaster|
|Top Speed:||30 mph|
|Manufacturer:||Allan Herschell Company|
|Attraction Location Currently Occupied By:||Employee "Canteen"|
- Marden, Duane. “Cucaracha (Six Flags Over Texas).” Roller Coaster DataBase. Web.18 June 2011. <http://www.rcdb.com/1120.htm>.
- McCown, Davis. “Sidewinder Roller Coaster.” Six Flags Over Texas | Parktimes.com. Web. 18 June 2011. <http://parktimes.com/content/node/15>.
- “Six Flags over Texas Former Employee Forum” Six Flags over Texas Ex Employee Pages. Web.18 June 2011. <http://www.sfot.net/sfot-forums/>.
All La Cucaracha/Sidewynder photos are copyright their respective, original owners. No claim to ownership is implied through this fair-use article.