COMMENT OF THE DAY: HOW TO CAPTURE HALF A DOZEN HOUSTON BIRDS WITH 1 STONE “Turn that freaking albatross of an Astrodome into Pokémon-freaking-Central. Invite Walking-Dead-like zombies from around the world to scour the concourse for Peek-a-freakin-Chew and his/her nonsensical character friends, and charge them ten freaking dollars to get in. . . . Instead of them being a giant pain in the ass as they meander up and down Heights Blvd. around Hamilton Elementary, they’re stuck inside the Eighth Wonder of the World helping Houston solve it’s looming pension problem.” [C.L., commenting on Discovery Green Says No to Pokemon Go; Artist Pads for Acres Homes]
COMMENT OF THE DAY: HOW ASTRODOME DÉJÀ-VU COULD FUEL THE NEXT HOUSTON BOOM AND BUST “We shouldn’t have a [tourism] industry because it’s cyclical? Hello — oil industry? That’s the epitome of a cyclical industry. But I do agree with Memebag: Our climate absolutely sucks for an outdoor tourism industry, not to mention being the only city I’ve ever seen that had all the pollution of a deepwater port with none of the scenery. If only we had a gigantic, air conditioned space that could hold an amusement park . . .” [Chris C., commenting on Comment of the Day: Houston Is Not Here For Your Entertainment] Photo of 2007 carnival inside the Astrodome: Jeff Balke
As of rush hour yesterday, a reader tells Swamplot, the Downtown Aquarium’s Ferris wheel at 410 Bagby St. was missing something — namely, the whole wheel bit. Workers were observed dismantling the spokes earlier in the day at the freeway-side restaurant-tainment complex. According to the restaurant’s website, the wheel is out for winter maintenance and won’t be spinning again until March 1st.
From Memorial Dr. headed west under I-45, here’s an evening snapshot of the newly unemployed support posts:
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Bagby at Buffalo Bayou
COMMENT OF THE DAY: VERTICAL SPRAWL AND OTHER HIGH CONCEPTS “Since every time they ‘fix’ the West Loop it immediately fills up, I think we have the makings for the 11th Wonder of the World: the first freeway skyscraper! Perhaps we can make it a mixed-use freeway by adding some small shops and apartments along the side of the road (with a parallel parking lane), some microtel rooms like they have in Tokyo, and — just to prove we have a penchant for ‘green living’ — one level could be an extension of Memorial Park! Don’t forget: we also need ground-floor retail, a multiplex theater, and on the very top level, a replacement for AstroWorld, with the world’s longest linear roller coaster! It will have to have a new name — perhaps ‘Westlooptopia’?” [sjh, commenting on Look! Up in the Air! It’s Second Story West Loop Express Lanes!] Illustration: Lulu
GRAND TEXAS THEME PARK GETS ITS TEXAS LAND Developer Monty Galland has teamed with investors that include a former AstroWorld manager to close, at last, on 600 acres in Montgomery County for the proposed Texas-themed Grand Texas Theme Park. In April, Galland told Click2Houston that he would close on the property in May. But the 3-month delay seems to have allowed time for the development to develop thematically beyond tractor rides and simulated shootouts: Prime Property’s Erin Mulvaney reports that there will be the previously unmentioned Big Rivers Water Park here too. The parks will be carved out of the heavily wooded acreage between U.S. 59 and Hwy. 242, near the proposed EarthQuest dino-resort. But the proximity doesn’t seem to present a conflict in the mind of East Montgomery County improvement prez Frank McCrady, reports Mulvaney: “He compared the two parks to Knott’s Berry Farm and Disney Land in California. In this scenario, Earth Quest would be Disney Land, and Grand Texas is Knott’s Berry.” [Prime Property; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Grand Texas
GRAND TEXAS THEME PARK: FILLING THE ASTROWORLD VOID And this overgrown crossroads in the middle of somewhere near U.S. 59 and FM 242 is expected to be part of the Grand Texas Theme Park. Investors are in place, and the land between New Caney and Splendora in Montgomery County should be closed on this May, developer Monty Galland tells Click2Houston, when construction on the $200 million project — advertised to feature high-noon cowboy shootouts and tractor rides — will begin. And why all the fuss? “If there was an Astroworld,” says Galland, “we probably wouldn’t have even pursued this development. . . . The great thing about it is that we have enough land that we can create a lot of the elements Astroworld had, and it doesn’t detract from the other areas of the park. We’re not going to compete with Disneyland. We want to create an entertainment value that’s similar to going to the movies or going bowling.” [Click2Houston; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Grand Texas Theme Park, via Facebook
The cartoon horse speaks! Alas, Grand Texas Theme Park’s well-heeled mascot isn’t saying where you’ll join him. But at least the theme park’s website is now open, claiming that developer Monty Galland “has determined three different desired sites: Two are in Montgomery County, while the other is in Fort Bend County.” And there are now several new renderings of the park’s proposed “territories” with detailed descriptions of the Texas-themed activities and amenities to come.
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Meet Lasso, your mascot for the new Grand Texas Theme Park! The armed-and-friendly blond stud has been revealed as the long face of the Texas-themed theme park’s second-go-around in Texas. Back in July 2009, developer Monty Galland announced that he had a spot in Tomball for the park’s first phase to open by April 2010. Well, that was then. Now, Galland’s back — with Lasso in tow — and presenting a revised proposal to Montgomery Country leaders, reports the Tomball Potpourri: The developer’s eyeing property near New Caney, where Grand Texas might better hitch its wagon to dinosaur-friendly EarthQuest.
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Schemes for half-billion-dollar eco-resort theme parks are delicate things. To make them happen, it sure helps if everyone believes! Close your eyes and wish it, then: a 500-acre eco-themed, dinosaur-flavored earth science fantasyland, resort, conference center, and retail development just 30 miles northeast of Downtown Houston on Hwy. 59, and just a short drive from Bush Intercontinental airport. Imagine the synergy: Rides, a water park, a museum and scientific institute, ecotourism, a volcano and retreating glacier, shops, restaurants, and shows! Pterodactyls!
But darn, wouldn’t you just figure a ragtag bunch of cynical, self-proclaimed investigating journalist types would get in the way, asking all sorts of annoying questions? Like: How come the East Montgomery County Improvement District has been funneling millions of dollars to various development entities connected to the proposed EarthQuest Resort in New Caney, a hefty chunk of which appears to have been spent on lavish travel junkets for the developers, EMCID officials, and their families — to view theme parks in Las Vegas, Florida, Canada, the Bahamas, Japan, China, and Vietnam? And: How come EMCID officials now claim not to know the current status of the now apparently bankrupt EarthQuest Institute, which for several years listed the EMCID’s address as its own on tax forms, and when the 2 organizations have the same board chairman? And: Who’s even gonna build this thing now that the landowner has declared bankruptcy and the developer won’t show up to community meetings?
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Here’s the concept: a 20-story mountain for skiing and snowboarding, surrounded by a pseudo-Alpine village. Gondolas carry skiers from the mountain to a ski lodge.
Skiers and snowboarders would slide down the mountain on a slippery carpeted surface called Snowflex, which imitates the properties of snow. A misting system embedded in the carpet surface maintains its slipperiness.
Snowflex is a multilayered hydrogenated (yes, hydrogenated) white mat developed in Great Britain. Think Astroturf for snowboards. The park
. . . would also feature ice skating on a synthetic surface that requires no refrigeration, luge rides on a synthetic-ice surface and a field of manmade snow for playing.
Mist-blowing fans would cool the area by about 20 degrees.
Sounds pretty exciting, huh? Well, we were just kidding about the Astrodome part. This thing isn’t headed for Houston at all. It’s called the Coolzone Winterplex, and it’s proposed for Fort Worth, on about 150 acres of yet-to-be-determined prairie: “the world’s first year-round, indoor-outdoor winter sports theme park.”
With all those compound-adjective qualifiers, you can guess there are probably already several indoor or outdoor or partial-season parks like this somewhere.