Old Houston theme parks of the past
Since Locktopia Escape Room is about escaping, we are taking an opportunity to use the time machine in our Antidote game to go back in time to remember the old Houston theme parks of the past.
Sure you miss Astroworld, but do you remember these other Houston theme and amusement parks?
Busch Gardens Houston
775 Gellhorn Dr – I-10 at Loop 610 East
Beer and a kid focused amusement park, a perfect pairing like hot dogs and wine or Houston escape games and Surge Soda (come to think of it, maybe the last two actually go together). But in 1971 Anheuser-Busch thought a theme park next to its brewery, which had opened in 1966, was a great idea.
Personal note, if I remember correctly, my then teacher mother told me she took her students from her Fort Bend ISD Meadows Elementary class to Busch Gardens Houston as a field trip. And from what I’ve seen online, she was not the only one taking a school bus there.
During the park’s short, two year run, many Houston-area children visited the Asian-themed park full of monkeys, elephants and Bengal tigers according to The Galveston Daily News. Oh yeah, there was even a temperature controlled area ice cave for the likes of penguins, polar bears and lions…oh my.
So why didn’t the 40-acre park last? According to the Houston Chronicle’s J.R. Gonzalez, “when it first opened, officials expected 800,000 people to visit Busch Gardens during its first year. But, a spokesman for Anheuser-Busch later told the Chronicle that attendance fell far short of that number.”
Hanna-Barbera Land Houston
I-45 at Holzwarth
It might have only lasted from 1984 to 1985, but Hanna-Barbera Land Houston had such attractions as Scooby’s Ghoster Coaster and Papa Smurf’s Forest restaurant.
What kid of the 1980s wouldn’t want to eat there?
For whatever reason, Scooby and friends must not have been able to solve the mystery of how to get park guests through the door and the whole site eventually became SplashTown USA.
As of 2019, the water park is now known as Six Flags Hurricane Harbor SplashTown.
Peppermint Park Houston
Multiple locations around the Bayou City area
Peppermint Park, sometimes known as Peppermint Park Kiddieland, started in Pasadena, then moved to the Gulf Freeway, Loop 610, and in the late 1970s to Highway 59 Southwest Freeway and Beltway 8 at a new white and red striped building.
For those young Houstonians that wanted a chance to get behind the wheel, this place had a track of cars on rails even the kids could “drive.”
According to Wikipedia, the final location was in Friendswood.
The Southwest Freeway location became an auto repair shop, but kept the red and white striped outside.
Mountain Park Houston
Highway 59 South and Loop 610 West
A mountain in flat Houston? Ok, maybe more of a hill.
As a kid, I remember a large slide and lots of arts and crafts. Maybe they had a few animals to pet once in awhile? Hey, it was the early 1980s, forgive me on the foggy details for this old Houston theme park.
In the 1990s, the hill became the Lone Star Amphitheatre Houston so you could watch concerts next to traffic. Not the band Traffic mind you (that we are aware of).
According to setlist.fm, the last music acts to play there included Stone Temple Pilots, White Zombie and Anthrax all in the summer of 1993.
What sits there now is the Westpark Tollway. Keep rockin’ to the traffic.
Castle Golf and Games Houston
I-10 and Loop 610
Miniature golf with castles? Hey, we like castles since our very own Spellcaster game looks like a scene out of a Harry Potter novel, but before Locktopia Escape Room, there was Castle Golf and Games Houston.
For almost three decades, starting in the early 70s, kids were delighted by putt-putt with some lavish decorations. Small motor boats and batting cages were right there too.
In the 1980s, Malibu Grand Prix even opened a go-kart track next door!
Later called Funwerks, the castle and everything else were eventually closed down. For a few years, if memory serves, you could even see the castle from the freeway as a haunting reminder of the fun that once was had.
Looks like we have more to cover, so maybe there will be a part 2!
In the meantime, what were your favorite old Houston theme parks or amusement fun places of the past? Let us know below or talk back on our Facebook page.
Life post pandemic seems to mean more people feel easier about booking ahead, and so we are booking up further in advance that we have for the last two years. Read more