FACT CHECK:  Is Six Flags temporarily closing one or more of their theme parks to the public to host “Muslim Family Day”?

Claim:   Six Flags is temporarily closing one or more of their theme parks to the public to host “Muslim Family Day.”

  MIXTURE

WHAT’S TRUE: Several Six Flags amusement parks have hosted “Muslim Family Day” events, during which parks are reserved for the group.

WHAT’S FALSE: “Muslim Family Day” operates differently than any other Six Flags private event, those who try to organize “Christian Family Day” events are spurned, similar events are never held for Christians, Six Flags capitulated to pressure from Muslims to allow a “Muslim Family Day” event.

Example: [Collected via Facebook and Twitter, October 2015]

Origins:   In September and October 2015, a flyer for an event called “Muslim Family Day” (most commonly specific to an 11 October 2015 event at the Six Flags Over Georgia theme park) began circulating among social media users.

Many tweets and Facebook comments indicated users were unfamiliar with Muslim Family Day, its scope, or its purpose. According to the event’s web site, the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) began organizing Muslim Family Day outings across the United States in 2000:

This event was first held at Six Flags Great Adventure, NJ, in September 2000. The event was immediately a huge success. The tragic events of 9/11 that resulted in the loss of thousands of innocent lives, also affected this event directly. The chief organizer, Tariq Amanullah, who worked on the 96th floor of WTC, Tower 2, passed away. The team was unable to come together again till year 2004, when the event came back bigger than ever before.

In 2015, ICNA organized at least two Muslim Family Day events at Six Flags theme parks. On 14 September 2015, Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, New Jersey, was reserved for the event, as shown by a flyer available on the park’s web site:

The 11 October 2015 Muslim Family Day at Six Flags Over Georgia was listed on the park’s web site along with several other separate private events held there, such as “Math and Science Day,” “Physics Day,” “Relay for Life American Cancer Society Luminara Ceremony,” and the “Scream Out Loud LGBT Pride Party”:

Six Flags Over Georgia will host Muslim Friends and Family Day, a private event in the Picnic Pavilions, presented by ICNA, Sunday, October 11, 2015.

During this private event, Muslims and their friends, families, and all guests will be able to enjoy Halal foods, open-air bazaars featuring Muslim merchants, congressional prayers, informative lectures, our thrilling roller coasters and a stream of Islamic nasheed.

Buy your tickets below, or enter promo code muslim on our website.

Among rumors circulating on social media were claims that Six Flags locations were “closed” to non-Muslims on Muslim Family Day events, or that Christians were denied permission to organize similar events:

Both inferences were misleading. Muslim Family Day is one of several private events organized by a variety of groups at Six Flags locations across the United States; when a group pays to rent a Six Flags park for a private event, it’s up to that group to determine how to distribute tickets for the event. Moreover, most Six Flags parks have a “Religious Group Events” page, and Six Flags St. Louis, for example, features a description geared towards attracting private events for Christian groups:

Six Flags is the place for friends, fellowship and fun.

Whether you’re looking for a way to bring your church community together in a new and thrilling setting or celebrating with your youth group after a mission trip, Six Flags provides entertainment for guests of all ages.

We offer a variety of programs that can enhance your visit to the park including concerts by the hottest names in Christian talent and catered options in our private picnic grove. If you’re looking for a special way to celebrate, host a Sunday service at Six Flags. We offer a variety of venues and amenities, giving you the unique opportunity to combine your praise time and play time.

Six Flags St. Louis will make your visit to the park one that your church members will be talking about all year long.

The wording appears to be part of a general Six Flags template, as a nearly identical page was found on the web site for Six Flags Magic Mountain in California. One such upcoming event slated for that venue is the 7 November 2015 “Life Teen Catholic Youth Rally,” and a flyer [PDF] for an August 2015 event at Six Flags St. Louis definitively answers the question of when “Christian Family Day” would be held by the amusement park chain:

In addition, there was “Christian Family Night” at Magic Mountain on 11 September 2015 (and a Hallelujah Jubilee the following day), a Christian music festival at Six Flags over Washington, D.C. in August 2015 [PDF], an April 2015 Christian Concert Weekend, and a Christian Fellowship Day hosted at Six Flags Over Georgia in July 2015. Many of the Christian-themed Six Flags events prior to July 2015 were subsequently archived and can no longer be accessed (so those events are likely just a handful of many that have occurred over the years).

So while it’s true that at least three Six Flags parks hosted a Muslim Family Day in 2015, many more Christian-themed private events have been held at the chain’s parks (and contrary to some rumors, no “uproar” of “offended Muslims” has sought to stop them or threatened a boycott). Muslim Family Day (like any other private event) is for ticket-holders only, but non-Muslims who wished to attend were neither prohibited from doing so nor “banned” from the parks. Each Six Flags location features a page inviting groups to book religious events, and those pages primarily focus on Christian groups, churches, and organizations in their wording.

Last updated: 16 October 2015

Originally published: 16 October 2015