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Forgotten Houston for Kids: AstroWorld, the One That Got Away

The dirt lot of my childhood dreams.
The dirt lot of my childhood dreams.
Photo by Jeff Balke

When I was compiling the Houston Bucket List in July and August, I found myself returning to places in my mind that no longer existed. Because so many of these were memories from my childhood it's no surprise that most of them were specifically for kids. It got me thinking we should remember these places of our youth and pay tribute to them in some way. This series will focus on forgotten Houston landmarks made especially for kids.

First up is the mother of all losses for kids of all ages, AstroWorld.

Name: AstroWorld Description:Classic Amusement Park Location: South Loop at Main Street Features: Texas Cyclone, Southern Star Amphitheater, Water World

Not long ago, I put together a bunch of old AstroWorld commercials in a blog post and it got a great response demonstrating just how popular that place still is. A friend of mine has a ton of AstroWorld memorabilia, some of which he bought at an auction Six Flags held after the park closed. Virtually everything he has, I remember...vividly.

When you live in a city with an amusement park, it's hard to imagine life without it, particularly when that park is as cool as AstroWorld was. From the Texas Cyclone to Thunder River; from Fright Night to the Souther Star Amphitheater; from Water World to the tram car speaker that were impossible to understand when riding from the parking lot to the main entrance, everything about it was a fantasy for a kid.

 

Sigh.
Sigh.

Why did it disappear?

Six Flags ran into financial troubles, mainly because they expanded too much. They needed to cut back and AstroWorld got put on the chopping block. Even at the end AstroWorld was still a financially solid park for the franchise.

What replaced it?

Nothing. There are rumblings of a new theme park in New Caney and rumors have swirled for years about a Disney World location near Houston, perhaps in Katy, but those seem way off. Splash Town in Spring does offer an alternative to Water World, however.

What is there now?

A big ugly dirt lot and a bridge from Reliant Park to nowhere. At least with other parks and kids' attractions, there was use of the property, but not here, making it all the more unsettling.


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