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The Mega Drop will take you high up above everything else, pause for five seconds though it seems like an eternity, and then let go.EXPAND
The Mega Drop will take you high up above everything else, pause for five seconds though it seems like an eternity, and then let go.
Photo by Kate McLean

Neon Lights and Thrilling Rides: What's New at RodeoHouston's Carnival

Forget all the talk about 5G cell towers; something bigger is happening on the Midway. Ray Cammack Shows, the folks who put the fun in carnival entertainment at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, are debuting the new Titan that pulls close to four Gs.

"The Titan ride is brand new. Imagine yourself 16 stories high — that's the best description — being on the end of an airplane’s propellers. It seats 16; it's a gigantic version of the Speed and the Mach 1 that we have now," says Chris Lopez, vice president for RCS. "It’s the only one in the United States, so we are debuting it [in Houston]."

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For thrill-seekers wanting to know more, much more, the Titan is a pendulum-style booster ride also known as the 55 meter Fabbri Booster Maxx. View more photos here, and a video of a similar Fabbri ride below. "It’s gonna be something," adds Lopez.

"The Titan pulls nearly four Gs, over three Gs. It's an exciting ride. The pure size alone, it's massive. It's going to be for those riders who love extreme rides."

On the roller coaster front, the Windstorm has been replaced with a new looping coaster called the Klondike. "It's another big roller coaster with a loop in it for all those enthusiasts, the coaster enthusiasts that we see there in Houston," says Lopez. "You’ll have the two favorites coming back: the spinning coaster, the Galaxy coaster, and again along with the new Klondike coaster."

RCS also is bringing a Himalaya-style ride to RodeoHouston, dubbed the Ice Jet. "It's brand new; it's a round ride as well," says Lopez. "Imagine yourselves in a bobsled then spinning round and round, faster and faster."

There are two new rides for the younger children (at least 36 inches tall). The Tea Cups ride is a round ride with self-propelled spinning teacups. "It's a cute little ride; a tea kettle is in the center of it — it's like those nostalgic teacup rides that you remember as a kid," says Lopez. The other is a "cute little train ride" on an oval track where children can ride in the engine, the cars or the caboose.

We grilled Lopez on some of our favorite rides from last year, and he gave a resounding "yes" that these rides will be back: Extreme Energy, Konga, Mega Drop, Alien Abduction, Sling Shot, The Zipper, G Force, Insanity and Air Max. For all the deets on these thrill rides, read contributor Kate McLean's story below about the carnival's scariest rides.

Lopez, who has seen it all, does have some words of advice. He suggests observing a ride and really doing some soul-searching about whether that's the kind of thrill you want or need.

"Just make sure you’re comfortable with that ride because, once you’re on it, you're stuck. "We don’t want anybody getting sick or having to leave the park," says Lopez. "For those folks that might want to hold onto their lunch or breakfast, they might want to make sure that they don’t jump on some of those rides too quickly."

Which brings us to a whole other subject: carnival food. Once RodeoHouston opens, our food writers will be tasting to their heart's content and giving thumbs up on their faves. But Lopez is giving us a sneak peek.

"We have great new food items. One is the banana cream funnel cake. Fruity Pebbles — they're doing a lot of things with Fruity Pebbles, like Fruity Pebble coconut shrimp. We're deep frying Fanta [yes, the grape-flavored drink], and we've got the biggest turkey legs in Texas," says Lopez. "A lot of the old favorites will be returning too.

"We're looking forward to everybody coming out; it's our 26th year. We're looking to have some record-breaking crowds," adds Lopez.

So are we, Chris. So are we.

The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is scheduled for February 25 through March 17 at Three NRG Park. For information, visit rodeohouston.com. Grounds passes gain access to all events on NRG Park, except for the rodeo and concert in NRG Stadium. $5 to $15, or $35 for the season.

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