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 high while an oom-pah band played 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 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 lights on the inner surface of the ride's carriage extended from the center of the ride all the way down to the seats which encircled it. The outermost lights were in reach of the seated guests who would often remove the light bulbs and take them as souvenirs. This left open light sockets which could have been dangerous if someone was to insert their fingers in the sockets. To remedy the situation, the lights within reach were covered in clear plexiglas shields.
The ride's original female central figure was short lived at the park lasting only about three seasons. At a height of six feet, the towering figure rotated counter clockwise as the ride carriage traveled clockwise. 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. The female figure was removed around 1978 replaced by a simple multicolor ball.
|Around 1981, the
original operator's booth which was built into the ride's scenic
backdrop was abandoned with the control panel being relocated into a
much smaller operating station closer to the rides entrance and queue.
This allowed for better monitoring of guests waiting to ride and
increased security to the ride's access gate.
The Schwabinchen was repainted many times and was looking pristine at the end of the 1986 season. As a result, it came as a big surprise that ride would be removed prior to the 1987 season to make way for the new Splash Water Falls attraction especially since the site of the Schwabinchen fell outside of the new ride's construction footprint. The Scrambler would instead be moved to the ride's site and it was thought that the colorful twirling Schwabinchen was gone from Great Adventure forever.
After six years of sitting in park storage, the Schwabinchen ride
was re-introduced in the Frontier Adventures area of the park for the
1993 season. Many longtime visitors were shocked to see the
familiar cars reappear in the park after being gone for so many years. The ride took the spot
which had been the home to the Tilt-A-Whirl ride from 1983 to 1987.
Under Time Warner's ownership of the Six Flags chain, the various areas of the park were revamped with additional theme elements, enhancements, and other improvements. One of the best examples of this effort was the inclusion of the former Hernando's Hideaway area into an expanded Frontier Adventures section.
|Reconstruction of the Schwabinchen began in July of 1993 and included some modifications such as the removal of the original German themed backdrop and the ride's central metal panels and lighting. The ride received a complete rehab before its installation in the new location along with a new name. The ride was re-christened El Sombrero to better fit in with the Spanish-inspired new portion of Frontier Adventures.
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 decorative stripe, making a festive Mexican hat dance
out of what had been a colorful Bavarian folk dance.
El 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 ones in alternating red and yellow. However, in short time, the panels were replaced with a stretched canvas covering, also in the alternating red and yellow colors.
|After several weeks of operation the ride received a major plussing with a major prop. The literal and figurative topper for El Sombrero became an enormous fiberglass sombrero. The new ride-topper more than doubled the height of the ride's carriage and dramatically added to the appearance of the ride. Sadly, while visually appealing, the sombrero was short lived on the ride due to problems caused by the added weight and problems with keeping the hat firmly secured to the ride's frame.
During the 1997 season El Sombrero went through an extensive rehab which
included the removal of the hat. 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 sides of the cars were also refreshed with even more colors added to the ride.
While not discarded, the giant hat made its way into Bugs Bunny Land where it became the roof of a kiddie 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.
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 bone yard, this time with no return. The ride's 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
Frontier Adventures section, devoid of motion and color. The neighboring
Los Sombreros shop turned shooting gallery, and Taz Twister (Rotor) ride were often closed, leaving the area
with a deserted feeling.
Preparations of the former El 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 while additional fence posts were being constructed along the backside of the ride plot.
Before any assembly of the Scrambler began, plans were changed, with the 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. 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.
Whether guests remember a ride known as Schwabinchen or one called El Sombrero, those fortunate enough to experience Great Adventure's version of Mack's Hully Gully ride were afforded a fun ride experience. Who could help but smile while feeling butterflies in your belly going up and down on this enjoyable attraction?
|Original Spotlight: August 26, 2008, Updated: February 18, 2020. GAH Reference#: RIDE-1975-001