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Houston's New Theme Park Twist

New AstroWorld to bring live animals with roller coasters: Agritainment hits Houston's theme park

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Grand Texas theme park horse mascot HORIZONTAL
Grand Texas mascot Lasso will have some real-life animal companionship in the theme park's Flint Ranch "agritainment" area. Grand Texas Theme Park/Facebook
Grand Texas theme park plan concept
Flint Ranch, at the top of the map, offers a break from the hustle and bustle the park's thrill-ride zones. GrandTX.com
Grand Texas Theme Park Flint Ranch
The ranch offers opportunities to ride a horse, milk a cow and plant some crops. Image adapted by CultureMap Courtesy of Grand Texas Theme Park
Grand Texas Flint Ranch rendering
An early rendering of Flint Ranch, showing the tractor ride in the distance and the entertainment arena to the right. Courtesy of Grand Texas Theme Park
Grand Texas Theme Park Flint Ranch tractor
Guests can drive through a farm setting on their own vintage-style tractor, shown above in an image provided from the manufacturer. (File photo) Courtesy of ABC Rides
Grand Texas theme park horse mascot HORIZONTAL
Grand Texas theme park plan concept
Grand Texas Theme Park Flint Ranch
Grand Texas Flint Ranch rendering
Grand Texas Theme Park Flint Ranch tractor

Officials with the Grand Texas Entertainment District say that Lasso — the new Houston area theme park's cowboy horse mascot — will have some real-life animal companionship when the hotly-anticipated complex opens in 2015 . . . all thanks to a concept park designers are calling "agritainment."

Welcome to Flint Ranch, where horses, bison and longhorn cattle will graze beside the Houston area's first new roller coasters since the demise of AstroWorld. One of the New Caney park's seven Lone Star-themed zones, the 14-acre ranch area aims to tap into Texas' agricultural roots for low-key diversions ranging from horseback riding to a petting zoo.

"The unhurried pace and earthy theme of Flint Ranch provides a great change of pace in between the more thrill-oriented activities," Grand Texas manager Monty Galland tells CultureMap. "It's primarily geared towards younger guests. There is a combination of fun activities, entertainment and educational opportunities."

"Flint Ranch provide s a great change of pace in between the more thrill-oriented activities."

A farm house building and barn will sit at the center of the ranch to offer pony rides, a hayloft playground and a chance for city slickers to try their hand at milking a live cow. Museum exhibits are geared to teach guests about Texas cattle and farming techniques, while Farmer Ed’s Tractor Trail allows park-goers to drive their own vintage-style tractor around a short course.

"There's even an opportunity to plant crops in select areas of the ranch," Galland says. "Guests can monitor their growth throughout the season and even help with the eventual harvest of strawberries, pumpkins, corn, berries and more."

Just west of the farm area, a large equestrian arena will house Grand Texas’ Best of the West Show, a regularly-scheduled performance similar to the over-the-top cowboy events made famous by "Buffalo Bill" Cody. Expect a blend of daredevil stunts, musical interludes and comedy. The venue also will host official amateur and professional rodeo competitions.

Located at the northern edge of the theme park, Flint Ranch can be reach not only by foot, but by boat, steam train and stage coach. Those looking to travel by horse can enjoy miles of equine-friendly trails beginning from the ranch.

After recently hitting a few municipal hurdles, officials with the Grand Texas Entertainment District say construction is moving forward. The full project — which includes the theme park as well as a shopping center, RV resort, water park, sports venues and two hotels — is projected to draw as many as two million visitors its first year and upwards of 4.5 million visitors by its fifth year.

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