Schwabinchen at Six Flags Great Adventure

The Mack Schwabinchen (also known as a Hully Gully) ride has been a favorite at fairs and carnivals as well as in parks throughout the world.   Designed for portability the ride was designed to resemble a Schuhplattler dancer twirling with her skirt flying up with an oom-pah band playing behind her.    The ride's traditional backdrop features scenes of Oktoberfest including the famous landmarks of Munich dancing around the girl.   The ride package featured elaborate lighting with thousands of bulbs flashing in colors and patterns.    The platform was set at an angle to match the ride's angle for loading and unloading.  


The Schwabinchen ride was added for the 1975 season as part of the park's Fun Fair section expansion.   This was one of the many flat rides added to the park in an attempt to increase ride capacity and expand the types of rides the park offered.

Like many of the rides of the Fun Fair section, the Schwabinchen was designed as a portable ride for use in fairs and parks alike.   The ride was installed complete with its fairground backdrop, which was designed with an Oktoberfest theme, complete with elaborate lighting and images of an oom-pah band and other symbols of the famous festival in Munich.

Originally, the ride shared many similar elements to the Musik Express ride which would be added the following season, including a floral design of the cars and the bright colors and patterns found on the rides manufactured by Mack during the 1960's and 1970's.

The ride's original female central figure was short lived at the park, with the upper portion of the figure being removed leaving a simple ball.   The removal of the figure may have been to make the ride more "family friendly" since the dancer's body was amply endowed and portrayed in a low-cut top.

At the end of the 1986 season the Schwabinchen was removed from the park, to make way for relocation of the Scrambler for the 1987 season as it made way for the Splashwater Falls ride.


Notes on Names
The Schwabinchen ride was named for a German comic strip character.   The comic strip creator, Reinhard Beuthien created a character named Lili, who was a huge hit in Germany, and a line of Lili fashion dolls were created in the 1950's, which were the forerunner of Barbie.   Looking to recreate the success of Lili, Beuthien created another cartoon character called "Schwabinchen" for a Bavarian newspaper, which also became a popular doll and later inspired the ride with it's central figure resembling the fashion doll.    The spelling of the name from the ride manufacturer was "Schwabinchen", though the ride at Great Adventure never had a sign that bore the name.  Great Adventure's ride was given a mis-spelled version of the name on the park maps, and was renamed a few times during its life at the park:

Swabinchin- 1975-1978
Ups & Downs- 1979-1984
Swabinchin- 1985-1986
El Sombrero- 1993-2001


After six years of sitting in the park's boneyard, the Schwabinchen ride was re-introduced in the Frontier Adventures area of the park for the 1993 season.    The ride took the spot that had been the home to the Tilt-A-Whirl ride.  

Under Time Warner's ownership of the Six Flags chain, the themed areas of the park were revamped with additional theme elements and other improvements.   One of the best examples of this effort was the former Hernando's Hideaway area which as part of its inclusion in the Frontier Adventures section. 

Reconstruction of the Schwabinchen began in July of 1993 and included some modifications including removal of the original German themed backdrop and the rides central metal panels and lighting.   The ride received a complete rehab as part of its installation in the new location.   With the new location came a new name, and the ride was re-christened El Sombrero.   


The ride's location was themed with an elaborate fence featuring thick adobe style concrete posts and wrought iron fence sections.   The posts featured tall polls which were adorned with colorful strings of lights and huge hanging baskets.   The ride's backdrop was replaced with a low wall, featuring a colorful stripe, making a colorful Mexican hat dance out of what had been a colorful Bavarian folk dance.

The Sombrero's floral decorations fit nicely with the new theme given to the ride.   The central ride panels were originally replaced with brightly painted aluminum panels in alternating red and yellow.   The panels were replaced with a stretched canvas covering also in the alternating red and yellow colors.

The literal and figurative topper for El Sombrero was an enormous fiberglass sombrero.   The sombrero was short lived on the ride due to problems caused by the added weight and problems with keeping the hat attached to the ride's frame.      
During the 1997 season El Sombrero went through an extensive rehab and during which the hat was removed.   The rebuilding of the ride had it closed for the last two months of the park's season.   The 22+ year old ride required extensive work and replacement parts.

For 1998, El Sombrero re-opened with a fresh blue and yellow paint job on the back wall and operator's booth, and a plain yellow canvas covering on the ride's central spokes.

The giant hat made its way into Bugs Bunny Land where it became the roof of a kids game just inside the entrance.  The game was later removed, but the sombrero stayed in place as a shade structure until Bugs Bunny Land's removal in the 2004 off-season.
Technical Information
Manufacturer: Mack GmbH & Co.
Ride Model: Hully Gully
Number of Seats: 20
Seat Capacity: 2
Number of Guests per Cycle: 40
Ride Duration: 2.5 minutes
Approximate Capacity: Approx. 1000 guests per hour
Direction of Travel: Clockwise
Car Motor Assembly Rotation: Counterclockwise
Operating Feature: All cars are loaded at the same time at ground level
Safety Restraints: Single manual-locking lap bar per car, latched with safety pin
Additional Notes: Schwabinchen was the only ride to be removed from the park and reinstalled six seasons later
After several seasons of sporadic operations, El Sombrero was removed at the end of the 2001 season to make way for the relocation of the Scrambler.   This was the second time in the life of both rides that the Schwabinchen was removed to be replaced with the mechanically simpler and easier to maintain Scrambler. 

The aging Schwabinchen ride was taken apart piece by piece and moved back into the park's boneyard, this time with no return.   The rides aging structure required more work than was feasible, and the wooden deck required constant maintenance which just made its relocation in the park too costly.
  The removal of El Sombrero left a big hole in the section, devoid of motion and color.   The neighboring shooting gallery turned shop and Taz Twister ride were often closed, leaving the area deserted feeling. 

Preparations of the former Sombrero site for the addition of the Scrambler ride began early in the 2002 season, with the concrete being cut to accommodate the Scrambler's drive shaft, and additional fence posts being constructed, with plans for the Scrambler to come back with the name El Sombrero.
  Before any assembly of the Scrambler began, plans were changed, with the Scrambler ride parts being moved to the former Pirate's Flight site (though it was never reassembled).

The ride pad sat vacant for the 2002 through 2004 seasons, only being occupied for Fright Fest in 2004 by a giant inflatable spider and webs.

For the 2005 season, the ride pad was finally used for the relocation of the Tweety Carousel from Bugs Bunny Land.

The Carousel was removed at the end of the 2005 season along with the ride pad in preparation for the construction of El Toro for the 2006 season.