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Playland Park Houston

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Playland Park Houston

Playland Park was Houston’s Astroworld before Astroworld existed.

Jeffrey, our giant skull in our Spellcaster escape room, is taking our Antidote escape room time machine to remember former fun places that dazzled Houstonians.

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So just where was Playland Park in Houston?

The mid-century Houston amusement park, located near the former Astroworld property, thrilled Houstonians and more from 1940 to 1967.

San Antonio amusement park lovers also had a Playland Park in the Alamo City to attend.

Depending on which print ad you see floating around the internet, Playland Park was located at either 9200 South Main Street or 9201 South Main Street between Murworth and Westridge.

It appears the acutal location of Playland Park was 9201 South Main. That puts the park on the east side of South Main where the Harris County Protective Services for Children and Adults and of course NRG Stadium along with the Astrodome sit today.

According to Buzz Magazine writer Russell Weil, the park was located on the 9201 east of South Main address. This makes sense because other reports say Astroworld considered buying the location because it was close by.

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If the location was 9200, that area is now surrounded by the Braeswood Place neighborhood on one side and lots of retail. Gaido’s Seafood, like the restaurant in Galveston still in operation today, was also at the 9200 South Main Street address later on. Today, Texans Auto Works sits at this southwest Houston spot. This would be on the west side of South Main.

Either way, an early flyer with the 9200 address ad states Playland Park had 10 rides and 20 games at the time. Billed as “fun for the whole family” and encouraged ticket buyers to “ride the bus.”

The 9201 address ad, which appears to have a later styled design, declared that thanks to Weingarten’s, every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday, all regular 25 cent rides were 10 cents. At that time, the park was open daily.

Heck, after we published this piece, we noticed an ad with a 9300 address in the embedded video below!

The Giant Skyrocket wooden rollercoaster

Astroworld’s famous ride, The Texas Cyclone, tantalized thrill seekers and the Giant Skyrocket served as the equivalent coaster for Playland Park.

Owner Louis Slusky apparently moved the Texas sized coaster to Playland Park from Luna Park which was located on White Oak Bayou near 2200 Houston Avenue. Luna Park (also called Venice Park) thrilled Houstonians from the 1920s to 1930s.

The Houstorian blogged that a 1924 newspaper article gives us a clue of the coaster’s impressive size:

“One of its biggest features is the giant skyrocket, a roller coaster larger and higher than any other operating in the United States. The skyrocket is a mile and a quarter long and at its highest point soars 110 feet in the air. The first drop on this mammoth divide is eighty-four feet. Some 2,500 to 3,000 persons ride the twelve cars of the big ride each night.”

Other delights at Playland Park included a mechanical fortune teller in a glass booth that might you think of the movie “Big” with Tom Hanks. There were other smaller amusement park rides there according to those who were in attendance back then that now remines about the park on message boards.

Besides the Giant Skyrocket roller coaster, the other part Houstonians seem to remember about Playland Park was the Playland Speedway which was right there. Apparently famous Houstonian A.J. Foyt even raced there.

Sad times at Playland Park

While fun times filled Playland Park, unfortunately tragedy struck the race track in 1959. The Houston Chronicle reported that three people died, including co-owner Sam Slusky, when a car came after the track and struck them.

Also as we look back upon our history, it is important to note, not every Houstonian was able to have fun inside the park’s fences all of the time.

As most things eventually end, so did Playland Park’s time. The park was shutdown in 1967, but Astrowold open across the 610 Loop in 1968.

Unfortunately Astroworld shutdown on October 30, 2005, but no other Houston amusement park was there to take its place.

We are still waiting to this day.

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