Six Flags Amusement Parks: Background information when reading Crooked Hallelujah

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Crooked Hallelujah

by Kelli Jo Ford

Crooked Hallelujah by Kelli Jo Ford X
Crooked Hallelujah by Kelli Jo Ford
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  • First Published:
    Jul 2020, 304 pages
    Paperback:
    Jul 2021, 304 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Elisabeth Cook
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Six Flags Amusement Parks

This article relates to Crooked Hallelujah

Print Review

Batman roller coaster at Six Flags In Crooked Hallelujah by Kelli Jo Ford, Justine dreams of riding the Big Bend roller coaster at Six Flags. Today, Six Flags is a large theme park company with locations throughout North America and also in China, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. Justine, who is living in the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma in 1974, is anticipating a visit to the original park that spawned the conglomerate, Six Flags Over Texas.

Six Flags Over Texas opened in 1961 in Arlington, Texas. It required more than a year to build and cost $10 million (which translates to about $85 million today). The idea for the park came from a real estate developer named August Wynne. Initially, Wynne intended for the theme park to be a temporary way to profit from land that would later be used for an industrial project. However, the success of the park convinced him to make it a permanent destination. In 1969, Wynne sold the park; it was eventually resold and additional Six Flags parks were developed elsewhere in Texas and other U.S. states, including California, Oklahoma, New York and Illinois.

Six Flags' original theme centered around the flags of six governments that ruled over the state of Texas and represented different parts of its history. The park was divided into six sections that were based around the various cultures and influences associated with the flags. In Ford's novel, Justine tries to remember all six flags at one point, but can only think of five: France, Spain, Mexico, the Confederacy and the United States. She may be forgetting the sixth flag because it is the most obvious one: the flag of Texas.

For decades, Six Flags parks have been famous for their creative and technologically innovative roller coasters and water rides. Big Bend, the ride that Justine looks forward to in the book, opened in 1971 and remained operational for the next eight years before being shut down due to problems with its efficiency and maintenance. Six Flags contracted the ride from Anton Schwarzkopf, a German manufacturer who later designed Shock Wave, another landmark Six Flags roller coaster. Known for its tight turns and sharp drops, Big Bend remains one of the most well-known Six Flags rides and has been the subject of rumors and urban legends that involve people being killed on it. (There was an incident where a rider stood up while on the coaster, as well as some mechanical failures, but no one died in an accident on it.)

In recent decades, Six Flags has not only expanded location-wise but also garnered the rights to exclusive theme park use of many TV and movie franchises, making licensing deals with entertainment companies such as Warner Bros. and DC Comics. Numerous attractions in its parks have been inspired by popular superheroes and film characters, including Superman: Escape from Krypton (at Six Flags Magic Mountain in California), Batman the Ride (at Six Flags Great America in Illinois), the Joker Funhouse Coaster (at Six Flags Over Georgia) and Catwoman Whip (at Six Flags New England in Massachusetts).

Batman the Ride, courtesy of Six Flags

Filed under Cultural Curiosities

Article by Elisabeth Cook

This "beyond the book article" relates to Crooked Hallelujah. It originally ran in July 2020 and has been updated for the July 2021 paperback edition. Go to magazine.

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