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Ride Retrospective

Ride Statistics
Ride Type: Themed riverboat attraction
Years Operated: 1961-1982
Manufacturer: In-park
Duration: 10 minutes
Location: France
Attraction Location Currently Occupied By: Roaring Rapids

La Salle's River Adventure

La Salle's River Adventure Concept Art

Concept art for La Salle's River Adventure

For twenty years, guests at Six Flags over Texas could embark on a river expedition and encounter wild animals, Indian attacks, whirlpools, waterfalls, and caves full of treasure. Such was the basis of La Salle's River Adventure, a themed riverboat ride named after the French explorer Robert de La Salle who explored the Gulf of Mexico and Mississippi River in the mid 1600s.

Diesel-powered riverboats carried 30 guests plus a guide/narrator and meandered through the adventure-filled river created by the park. Various theming and animatronics along the river provided the action while the guide's colorful spiel supplemented the expedition. Each guide was allowed to embellish upon the park's general guideline for the spiel, allowing each journey to be unique. Eventually La Salle's River Adventure was removed to make way for the Roaring Rapids ride, but its colorful spiels and memorable scenes cemented its status as a nostalgic favorite of Six Flags over Texas guests and employees.

Virtual ride-through of La Salle's River Adventure

Ride Experience

Over its 21-year operation, La Salle's River Adventure continually changed -- adding and removing scenes as necessary. For example, live alligators and flamingos were part of the action when it first opened. Soon afterward when flamingos repeatedly went missing, the alligators were deemed the culprit and fake animals replaced them. Still, the ride's general sequence can be described as the following...

La Salle's River Adventure approaches the Spanish Fort

The Spanish Fort firing upon the boats

After loading, the boats meandered down the 3-feet-deep concrete trough disguised as a wild river. Riders were advised that two French scouts, Jacque and Pierre were sent ahead to ensure their safety. Boats then passed a wolf and entered an abandoned campsite, still smoldering from a presumed Indian attack. After the campsite, a Spanish fort was spotted with cannons that fired upon the unsuspecting guests.

French scouts Jacque and Pierre were then spotted, hanged by their necks from trees. Appearing that the journey was more dangerous than first expected, the guide would then ask a French fur trader if they should continue their journey. Even after a stern "no," the ride would continue due to the riskier proposition of passing the Spanish fort again.

Battle between the French and Indians on La Salle's River Adventure

French soldiers and Indians battling

La Salle's River Adventure Loading Dock

La Salle's loading dock with the Astrolift above

Riders then found themselves in the middle of a battle with French soldiers on one bank and Indians on the other. Rifles repeatedly fired between the two sides. After the battle, an alligator was spotted with its mouth wide-open, ready for its next meal.

An Indian village was the boat's next stop, complete with a dancing medicine man and women washing clothes along the river's banks. More wild animals were then seen, including alligators, flamingos, and a cougar. A beaver colony would then be spotted seconds before a tree fell and narrowly missed the boat.

After the falling tree, the boat stopped at a waterfall seemingly blocking the path. A rock wall then opened and the boats traveled into a cave which lit up and revealed hidden treasure. The guide warns the riders not to touch the treasure, as it is obviously being guarded by ancient skeletons. As a token of kindness for leaving the treasure alone, the cave once again opened and allowed the boats to exit. With Fort St. Louis in sight, the riverboats returned safely to dock and guests exited the watercraft.

Guests unloading on La Salle's River Adventure

Technical Details

The boats used on La Salle's River Adventure were partially automated. Within the river's concrete trough lay a deeper channel that acted as a guide for the boats. Two vertical rails with tires were attached to the front and rear of each boat and steered the vessels through the winding river. Occasionally the boats would jump out of the track or drag along the bottom of the channel.

A small antenna installed on top of each of the 6 boats actually controlled the special effects. The antennas would trip wires strung across the river and trigger the various animations at the correct time.

Removal and Legacy

War Canoe on La Salle's River Adventure

The war canoe scene was later added

La Salle's River Adventure gave its last expedition in August, 1982. The ride was then removed to make room for the new Roaring Rapids attraction. Unlike some of Six Flags over Texas' other removed attractions, La Salle's River Adventure had a long life and served its purpose for over 20 years. Increasingly-savvy guests likely became less entertained by the dated animatronics used in the ride, not to mention the park had plans for the larger and more-thrilling Roaring Rapids ride.

Water effects

Some artifacts built for the ride still exist in the park today. Fort St. Louis, for example, remains in the park, now serving as the backdrop of a historical display in the France section. As for the boats, some were reportedly sold and are still in use as tourist boats in Jefferson County, Texas. And despite the ride's closure 20 years ago, the ride lives on in the nostalgia of past park guests and especially former employees who worked as river guides, as many can still recall the infamous La Salle's spiel even today.


Additional Photos

La Salle's River Adventure La Salle's River Adventure Boats on La Salle's approach the Spanish Fort

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La Salle's River Adventure Comments

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