Houston Matters

Does Houston need a new amusement park?

We look back at the demise of Six Flags AstroWorld and consider why Houston never got another major theme park.

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This month has already been a rough ride for visitors to a pair of amusement parks.

One week ago today, a rollercoaster at Carowinds park in Charlotte, N.C., was shut down after park-goers noticed a crack in the coaster's structure. Video showed it starting to give as the coaster rolled by. And last Sunday, a roller coaster in Wisconsin got stuck at the apex of a loop, stranding passengers upside down for several hours.

Of course, Houstonians don't have to worry about such things because, well, we don't have a major amusement park. We used to. But Six Flags closed AstroWorld in 2005, and in the 18 years since, there's been talk, but little action, about developing a new major theme park here.

Dwindling attendance was largely to blame for Astroworld's demolition and the sale of the land across 610 from NRG Park. And yet that land still sits undeveloped.

So, why can't Houston have nice things like a big amusement park?

In the audio above, local media blogger Mike McGuff and Houston Matters own producer Troy Schulze, a former AstroWorld employee, speculate on the answer as we remember the days when all a Houston teenager needed to get through the summer was an AstroWorld season pass.