Forgotten Houston for Kids: Watercoaster

When I was in middle school, I was not the cool, studly vision of awesome I am today. I was a nerdy kid, who struggled to be popular even if I was hilariously funny and devastatingly handsome even then. Ahem.

But, what helped raise my status among my fellow middle schoolers were my annual birthday parties held at the Watercoaster water slide. It was the freaking event of the year, particularly because my birthday was in May. It was like an early start to summer.

We would climb that manmade hill over and over, acting like the maniac kids we were and no doubt driving both our parents and the Coaster employees crazy. Years later, when I was 19, I would take my last water slide trip on one in Crystal Beach. Not paying attention, I slammed my face into one of the concrete embankments and nearly lost both my front teeth. Live and learn.

Name: Watercoaster Description: Water slide on a manmade hill Location: North Freeway at North Shepherd Features: Pair of water slides, video games and dozens of screaming kids.

Maybe the most amazing aspect of this place was the fact they built a giant hill on the side of the freeway. God only knows how they constructed that thing, but not only was it effective for the slide, but it was actually safer. Kids would often go running down the sides without the slides.

The slides themselves were the typical curvy varieties with big pool at the bottom. They weren't as fancy as the ones that would be born at WaterWorld some years later, but they were ours and we loved them. When did it exist?

Best I can tell, it was built in the latter part of the '70s and closed around 1982.

Why did it disappear?

According to an extensive blog post by someone who claimed to work there, it and its twin at Stewart Beach in Galveston simply ran out of money. They apparently cut a few corners with the building materials as well, though they did have to construct that massive hill.

What replaced it?

For a period of time, it existed side by side with a Malibu Grand Prix. When the Watercoaster bit the dust, the Malibu remained for a few more years before it was also shuttered.

What is there now?

A Denny's, an auto parts store, an abandoned gas station, some industrial supply companies and a strip club, naturally.

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