In a a recent informal lunch with members of the media as he approached six months in office, Mayor Sylvester Turner ticked off the important things his administration has accomplished — unanimous passage of a balanced budget, pothole repairs — and issues he plans to tackle — the pension mess, the Kush problem in city parks, serious street repair projects, job development.
But what really got the mayor excited is the idea of a major amusement park within the city limits of Houston. "If we want to be that destination city in terms of conferences and tourism, we have to have that component in this city," he said.
"It's one thing to have the rodeo, that's once a year for three weeks. The Super Bowl will be here and gone. The America Cup COPA, came, gone. NCAA (Final Four), come and gone. We need a major amusement center in this city, especially to focus on our families and young population that's every day in this city."
Turner said the park would have to be located in Houston and not in a suburb.
"I'm not talking about in Katy or Tomball or Spring or Pearland," he said. "I'm talking about within the 640 square miles of the city of Houston. That's something we are missing and we are putting 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. So we are taking a very hard look at finding that sort of amusement center."
AstroWorld thrilled a generation of amusement park goers with several roller coasters, including the Texas Cyclone, the iconic Astroneedle, and dozens of rides, including Thunder River, the world's first river rapids ride. The park, located south of the Astrodome, opened in 1968 and was acquired by Six Flags in 1975. It closed in 2005.
Since then, the Houston area has not had a comparable park, although plans for The Grand Texas Theme Park in New Caney were announced with much fanfare in 2013. Although the project has suffered numerous setbacks and delays, the first phase, Grand Texas RV Resort, a 140-space luxury RV resort, is planning to open this year, according to the East Montgomery County Observer.