Mayor Turner Wants a Theme Park in the Middle of Houston Again

MAYOR TURNER WANTS A THEME PARK IN THE MIDDLE OF HOUSTON AGAIN pleasure pierHow do you turn Houston into a major tourist destination? Mayor Turner says that the occasional giant sporting event and annual rodeo festivities don’t cut it, writes Clifford Pugh this week. In a post-Astroworld landscape, Turner tells Pugh that his administration is “taking a hard look” at bringing an amusement park to the city — not just nearby, but actually in Houston: “I’m not talking about in Katy or Tomball or Spring or Pearland. I’m talking about within the 640 square miles of the city of Houston. That’s something we are missing, and we are putting [the idea] out in the atmosphere. Hopefully there will be major investors who are looking within the 640 square miles. You can’t be the fourth largest city, soon to be the third, and not have that added component.” [CultureMap; previously on Swamplot] Photo of Pleasure Pier on Galveston Island: Russell Hancock via Swamplot Flickr Pool

27 Comment

  • There’s a big chunk of land just south of the Astrodome that seems like it would be perfect for an amusement park. Maybe its theme could somehow be linked to the Astrodome? Working title: “Domeworld”.

  • I am glad that I do not live in a city where tourism is a focus. Tourism jobs tend to be low-wage/low-skill jobs. Tourism tends to be cyclical and creates a feast or famine phenomenon for local merchants and the local economy. We do not need that here.

    I prefer a city that focuses on real economic growth as well as quality of life issues like, mobility, schools, parks and public safety. I do not want a bunch of lookie loos in my city. Come to live and work here, please, but go visit somewhere else.

  • To be fair, I think Mayor Turner is more interested in a theme park for residents than for attracting tourists based on his comments. He does have a point. A lot of cities that are no more of a tourist Mecca than Houston have theme parks. Cincinnati, Kansas City, and Atlanta have theme parks and are no more or less of a tourist destination than Houston. Back in the day, Astroworld was packed every weekend with mostly locals. With many close in neighborhoods getting revitalized with families, it makes sense to try to bring back a theme park within the city limits.

  • why not, it’s not like houston taxpayers haven’t already wasted enough money on sports stadiums & port of houston pet projects.

  • Thoughtful comment, Jardineori. Was going to say we already have a ferris wheel downtown….

  • This is the typical political “Appease the ignorant masses with entertainment” If the Astroworld failed, what makes this guy think another (possibly bigger) one will work. Horrible idea

  • As much as I loved Astroworld as a kid, I think it’s best to let the free market decide this one. I’m a little skeptical on whether a large amusement park inside the city would be as profitable today like it was 40 years ago. Times have changed. Many large cities don’t have amusement parks.

  • I don’t particularly think that amusement parks are a draw for tourists. They are more of a draw for locals. Of course the big Florida parks are exceptions to the rule, but Astroworld and Six Flags Dallas (and I suspect the other Six Flags parks) catered mostly to people who either live within easy driving distance or who were in the area for some other reason. Still, I agree with Mayor Turner — it would be great to have something like Astroworld again.

  • No, thanks.

  • What’s the status of Grand Texas or whatever it is they are supposed to build up 59 North?

  • It does ring a bit of bread and circuses …. pay no attention to the looming pension problems, flooding streets, etc. I would think it would just attract a lot of day tourists, same as Six Flags in Dallas, or at best one overnight stay. I would say having grown up in the South, that Six Flags in Atlanta was a big distance draw and had a lot of weekend trip traffic. It draws from 4 to 5 hours away, but not sure a park here would. I wouldn’t see anyone from Dallas coming down here, so I think the radius it would pull from would be only an hour or two away. Austin would still go to San Antonio or Dallas, so that would limit the size of anything proposed. For now, keep on planning on making that drive to Dallas for roller coaster rides.

  • Theme parks are nice to have, but they don’t need public subsidies. New Orleans is currently stuck with the failed Jazzland theme park that was built on public land and heavily subsidized with public money.

  • We’ve bought season passes for 4 years to Fiesta Texas. At least in our house there is a demand even when it means driving 200 miles.

  • Agree with MikeH. Get this mayor some Ritalin! Stat! We need him to sit down and focus on pensions and residential flooding. He just wants to do the fun stuff, get photo ops at events and plan amusement parks. Yeesh.

  • Other than rodeo parking overflow, what, exactly, is the status of the former AstroWorld site? I had read that Six Flags abandoned the location because they felt they could make a quick buck selling the land for redevelopment. Obviously something went wrong with the redevelopment part of this scheme.

  • @slugline, Six Flags had a host of problems with Astroworld. The last time I went there it was run down and had basically become a daycare during the summer. I think there profits were down and they were landlocked with no room to expand without tearing down a ride. I believe you are correct that they thought they could sell the land to a developer but then the economy tanked shortly after the closure.

  • They did sell the land to a developer, they just got less than they anticipated. Reports were that they thought they would get about $150M for the land. So they closed the park, spent a bundle demo’ing it and then only sold it for about $75M. The Six Flags CEO got canned over it.

  • so you’re saying running an amusement park isn’t all fun and games?

  • New York City does have Coney Island within its borders (if you include Brooklyn), but after that you have to go to #7 San Antonio to find a city with a theme park within its city limits. Shoot, Six Flags America is halfway between Chicago and Milwaukee.

  • The group that proposed a world class giant beach type swimming pool would be more appealing. Houston’s heat is just too much for your standard amusement park. Combine that beach pool with areas for jogging, biking, flower gardens, festivals, and unique dining venues (river walk) and Houston would gain the convention business and image our leadership desires.

  • See the Facebook page
    Houston Needs A Swimming Hole

  • I would love an amusement park in Houston. I’d get season passes. Agree that a private party should build it. Taxpayers should not be in the business of funding stadiums and other sporting arenas.

  • Just annex Pleasure Pier.

  • It doesn’t even need to be on the scale of Six Flags (especially if Grand Texas ever gets built), perhaps something like Tibidabo in Barcelona.

  • If the Dallas area can have a theme park–why not Houston! We are soon to be the third largest city in the country. Get with it Houston! Build a theme park, second to none and while you’re at it—let’s go after an NHL team.

  • Build the theme park and make it second to none!!

  • Theme parks are fine. Theme parks in the middle of the city are trashy. Please do not build a theme park anywhere near me.