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Saturday, June 18, 2011

Yosemite Sam, Pirate Of The Caribbean

During Yosemite Sam's long career at Warner Brothers, he's caused trouble for many of the Looney Tunes characters. Most people probably remember Yosemite Sam as a cowboy with a bad temper, but during the 1970s, Yosemite Sam was also a pirate starring in his own comic book series.

The Looney Tunes became amusement park mascots in 1976 for Marriott's Great America theme parks in California and Illinois. Bugs Bunny and the gang greeted guests and performed in shows.

At Marriott's Great America in Santa Clara, California, Yosemite Sam appeared as a cowboy riding a tiny horse. Great America has changed owners over the years, eventually becoming Paramount's Great America and ultimately California's Great America. The Looney Tunes characters later moved to Magic Mountain in Valencia, California when Warner Brothers joined forces with Six Flags theme parks.

At Marriott's Great America in Gurnee, Illinois, visitors could meet Pirate Yosemite Sam. Today, you can still find the Looney Tunes at the park, which is now called Six Flags Great America. I've never been to Illinois, but I can remember seeing commercials for Great America as a kid on the WGN Chicago cable channel.

The pictures of Yosemite Sam at Marriott's Great America parks are from a book by Tim Onosko called "Fun Land U.S.A." from 1978. I got this book for 50 cents back in the 1980s at a store called Zayre (anyone else remember Zayre?).

The Yosemite Sam comic book was a bit different from Sam's Looney Tunes cartoons. Pirate Yosemite Sam was a rowdy treasure hunter and explorer.

Sam was often paired up with Bugs Bunny, who was often an assistant rather than a foe. Bugs finds a message in a bottle in a story from 1977. Yosemite Sam helps him solve the mystery of the message, and then yada, yada yada...

These stories are still pretty funny after all these years. It's interesting to see Yosemite Sam and Bugs Bunny as a team.

In 1985, The Looney Tunes teamed up with Six Flags theme parks across the United States.

The Looney Tunes gang took control of the areas of the Six Flags parks aimed at kids.

The park closest to me was Six Flags Over Georgia.

The biggest attraction at Looney Tunes Land was the Yosemite Sam Playfort. Sam also got a new ride, the Yosemite Sam Buccaneer Boats (a flying pirate ship ride). This picture is from 1988, when Six Flags Over Georgia got a new roller coaster called Z-Force (which later moved to Six Flags Magic Mountain and was renamed "Flashback").

This map of Looney Tunes Land at Six Flags Over Georgia is from 1988 and features Cowboy Yosemite Sam at the Pirate themed Buccaneer Boats.

The attraction roster and names of rides in Looney Tunes Land changed quite a bit over the years. The Mini-Mine Train was removed to make way for more flat rides. The land itself later became known as Bugs Bunny Land. The Elmer Fudd Fewwis Wheel is one of the funniest ride names I've seen. Other rides included the Road Runner Runaround and the Henery Hawk Happy Worm.

Henery Hawk took time off from chasing Foghorn Leghorn to team up with Pirate Sam in a story from 1979.

What? Sam has a tough time keeping someone working with him? I can't imagine why!

Sam kidnaps Henrey. That's not very nice, but it does make Sam an interesting "bad guy main character" in the story.

Henrey was never nice in the Foghorn Leghorn stories, so maybe he and Yosemite Sam are a good match as a team.

Wow! Sam kidnaps Henrey then maroons Henery on an island. Then Henrey eats the natives!

Yosemite Sam (as a cowboy) and the Looney Tunes also had their own town at Six Flags St. Louis.

Yosemite Sam was the corrupt Sheriff of Looney Tunes Town, which was a bit different from the Spanish themed Looney Tunes Land at Six Flags Over Georgia.

The Looney Tunes had to wear name tags at Six Flags St. Louis. I'm not sure why. Maybe Daffy was tired of people in Missouri calling him Donald.

This Six Flags St. Louis picture, featuring Cowboy Yosemite Sam, is from 1986. By this time, I think Pirate Sam was being phased out.

In 1977, the Yosemite Sam Pirate origin story was told, thanks to a nice set-up courtesy of Daffy Duck.

Here's a rare glimpse of Yosemite Sam as a baby, and his parents.

Artists and writers were not credited at this time, so I don't know who came up with this story. It's fun and different.

I think Yosemite Sam works well as the main character. Maybe Warner Brothers could do a Yosemite Sam show. After all, the Tasmanian Devil had his own TV show and he barely talked.

Six Flags Over Texas has a boat ride called "Yosemite Sam and the Gold River Adventure." It's a western themed dark boat ride with animatronic Looney Tunes, and it opened in 1992, replacing an original Six Flags dark ride called "Speelunker's Cave".

It's too bad the Yosemite Sam boat ride at Six Flags Over Texas did not have a pirate theme. It could have been a clever spoof on Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean.

This version of Yosemite Sam could be a good mascot for Captain D's or Long John Silver's restaurants.

Daffy Duck loves to break the fourth wall.

In 1992, Pirate Sam appeared as a mug in the Warner Brothers Catalog. This is a mug that looks like it's ready to mug someone.

I bet the designers chose this version of the character because the sword was a clever way to make the handle.

In 1993, Yosemite Sam got his own ride at Six Flags Magic Mountain in California.

The Yosemite Sam Sierra Falls water ride features Cowboy Sam (or is that Prospector Sam?).

I've never been to Magic Mountain. I wonder if the actual ride looks like the artwork. It looks really nice!

If your biscuits are burnin' (as Sam says in Who Framed Roger Rabbit) this ride should cool them off.

These days, Yosemite Sam is primarily seen as a cowboy, and is still a mascot at Six Flags parks.

Yosemite Sam has been getting angry at various Looney Tunes characters since 1945. He's been a cowboy, a pirate, a knight, a viking and more. As long as that "rackin', frackin' varmint" Bugs Bunny stays busy, Yosemite Sam should have no problem staying in trouble.


  1. I visited Marriott's Great America/Six Flags in Illinois about a half dozen times in my teen years. I definitely have memories of the Looney Toons gang being there but none of Yosemite Sam. That was a long time ago, though, and as a teen "rebel", I'm sure I was trying to distant myself from all those little kid things (that I now find myself into more than ever).

  2. A Snow White Sanctum: I always wanted to go to Great America in Illinois. The commercial for the park is forever stuck in my head: "Have the time after time of your life!" I can remember seeing some Six Flags Great America merchandise being sold at shops in Six Flags Over Georgia, like a plush toy of Bugs Bunny dressed in a star-spangled top hat and suit. I guess you were probably too cool to notice that kind of thing when you were a teen. :-)

  3. I always wanted to go to Great America here in California, but never made it up there. I've been to Magic Mountain, but I can't believe it has been about 17 years now since my last visit! That Yosemite Sam water ride was brand new at that time. We didn't go on it, but I think I took a picture of it.....time to go looking for that!

  4. Hey TokyoMagic! Great America looks like fun. It's interesting that Snoopy and the Peanuts gang can be found at Knott's Berry Farm and at California's Great America (replacing the Nickelodeon characters, which replaced the Hanna Barbera characters, which replaced the Looney Tunes characters).

    I've never been to Magic Mountain, but I know it can be see seen as "Walley World" in National Lampoon's Vacation.

    I'd love to see some Magic Mountain photos, especially the Yosemite Sam ride!

  5. Funny thing....I'm working on a Magic Mt. post right now, but from a much earlier visit. But I will go looking for those pics from '94.

    I had no idea that Great America had changed characters/companies so much!

  6. TokyoMagic!: I'm looking forward to your Magic Mountain story---I hope it involves their Troll characters.

    Yes, I think it's very interesting that Great America in California has had so many different mascots over the years. I wonder if visitors have been confused by the changes.