HOUSTON (FOX 26) - On June 1, 1968, AstroWorld opened in Houston, and was a hot spot for Houstonians for the next 37 years.
Houston's beloved theme park closed its doors for good on October 30, 2005. Declining attendance, skyrocketing land value due to its prime location, and Six Flags' climbing debt are all cited as combined reasons for the park's shutdown.
In its decades of impact on local families, AstroWorld left its mark on the community. Here are some facts about the treasured amusement park.
- One of the park's most popular rides, Greezed Lightnin', saw its one millionth ride on October 15, 2005, just days before the park closed down.
- AstroWorld merchandise goes for up to $5000 on eBay. Vintage posters sell for serious cash, and even gift shop plastic bags fetch a pretty penny.
- To combat Houston heat, AstroWorld boasted the most extensive outdoor air conditioning system of its time, using 2,000 tons of air-conditioning cooled shade areas on opening day. It helped keep park-goers cool while waiting in lines, eating at restaurants, and gift shopping, and the system was designed to blend into other park decor.
- Flooding was a Houston concern n 1968 just as it is today. 600,000 cubic yards of dirt were dumped on the park's building site to raise the elevation and the make the swampy earth more secure.
- In the novel Jurassic Park, AstroWorld is briefly featured along with Walt Disney World and Magic Mountain as park engineer John "Ray" Arnold talks about all of his work in the technological world.
- Parking at AstroWorld cost only 50 cents. Admission was $4.50 for adults and $3.50 for children, and included access to every ride in the park, up to 50 rides.
- AstroWorld rides caused a handful of injuries to Houstonians. The most severe accident killed an employee in 1997 when a test run of a coaster happened while he was performing maintenance work on the track.
- Estimates for the park’s real estate value climbed up to $150 million, but the land was ultimately sold for only $77 million.
- Most of the coasters were relocated, some going to parks as far as California, New York, and Canada, but the famous Texas Cyclone was demolished on site.The pedestrian bridge is all that's left of the former Houston landmark. The land that the park sat on still sits empty, and has been used as overflow parking for the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. However, that may soon change.
To see some AstroWorld and other iconic Houston footage, visit David Purdie's YouTube page, featured in our package from 2006.