Watch This AstroWorld Documentary on YouTube Immediately

Watch This AstroWorld Documentary on YouTube Immediately
Photo by Josh Burdick
Keep Houston Press Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Houston and help keep the future of Houston Press free.

If you’re anything like me, you still get a sour feeling in your stomach when you drive by the empty field that once held AstroWorld. The park was an enormous part of my childhood and the childhoods of millions of Houstonians and visitors.

Well, take a trip down memory lane with this new, free documentary on the park written by Jonathan Baker as part of his series on theme parks. Six Flags AstroWorld: A Cyclone of Thrills is a two-part, roughly half-hour look back at AstroWorld through historical footage and pictures, and every moment made me smile and clap like a small child.

Baker lovingly chronicles the life of the park from the day Judge Roy Hofheinz cut the ribbon with his kids in 1968 right up until the last ride on the Texas Cyclone. It’s primarily a history of how AstroWorld evolved over the years, as measured by the different ride additions. A great deal of focus is on the park's identity as a testing ground for new technologies and ride styles, a place where innovation and whimsy came together, sometimes with mixed results. I can’t be the only one who thought on a regular basis, “Huh, Sky Screamer’s stuck again.”

It is primarily a coaster film, as that is Baker’s passion. As such, my main complaint is that it leaves out so much of the culture that AstroWorld created around it and lacks some personal touches. There’s nothing about Fright Fest, or when the park would open during Christmas break (to this day, AstroWorld is the only place I’ve ever skied). There’s no mention of the Southern Star concerts or the stellar performances that would be put on, save a small segment on Marvel McFey. The old dolphin shows get a brief nod, but nothing about the amazing water shows the park would do.

That aside, it’s still a much-needed chance to revisit one of the places that made Houston the city it is. Baker ends his look at the park by lamenting the fact that the sale of AstroWorld’s land didn’t even result in the giant payoff its investors were hoping for, as well as revealing the fate of several coasters. There’s hope at the finale, though, and for the city as well, as we all wait impatiently for Grand Texas to open in (we hope) 2019.

Memories of AstroWorld are often powerful. It was a place that was, well, magical, even if that magic was sometimes dirty or broken. Baker brings that magic screaming back to the front of my mind as if I were riding the last car in the Texas Cyclone again. It’s definitely one of the best new things in the world today. Watch it below.

Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.


Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.