AstroWorld: Goodbye (and good riddance)
Sadly, Six Flags closes AstroWorld. I was there for the final days.
[I truly wanted this report to be a blessing and a fond send off to a park which holds many memories--alas ...]
When Six Flags, the parks we love to hate, announced the closing of AstroWorld (Houston, TX) I knew I had to make the trip for a grande send-off for their final weekend of Fright-Fest.
After much planning: travel arrangements, hotel accommodations and scheduled days off from work, Six Flags decides to cancel Fright Fest at the last minute!
While Six Flags has some of the coolest coasters and one-of-a-kind rides, their staff and management leave a great deal to be desired.
Six Flags began in 1961 by a Texas oil baron named Angus Wynne when he opened Six Flags Over Texas in Arlington. The Six Flags represented: The United States, Texas State, The Confederate, Mexico, The French and Spanish flags. Six Flags now operates 30 amusement parks in North America and is considered the “Gold Standard” of the Amusement Park industry. I have been to nearly all these parks (many before they became part of the Six Flags team).
It’s sad to say that while Six Flags on a whole cannot be condemned as a bad idea, some of their parks work efficiently with guest control, while others are just poorly planned and just as poorly staffed. AstroWorld was the absolute worst. And this weekend’s visit was the icing on the cake (or, should I say ... “Someone left the cake out in the rain”?).
I cannot really blame the poor staff who are now out of a job, but I can blame management.
First of all, the reasons for the park’s closing are quite obvious. I’ve been to this park several times, and every visit has met with the same maladies: lines for parking, no parking, lines at the ticket booths, lines to take tickets, lines, lines, lines ... closed attractions, bad food, more lines. If you have ever wanted to ride Line-The Ride!, AstroWorld was the place to be! It appears this park is famous for hour-long waits for a ride, only to have it mysteriously “close for the day” once you get to the front, (and even more mysteriously open again within the hour). This has happened to me at every visit to this park! Also, the “I could care less” attitude of the ride ops furthered my frustration. Running a single train on a coaster on a slow day should not create hour long lines. However, due to the ride ops lack of attentiveness (and I’m not talking about safety issues), we were bombarded by excruciatingly s-l-o-w loading and unloading of the trains. Only their ride ULTRA TWISTER seemed to have been run efficiently, and that ride can only accommodate a couple hundred riders per hour (opposed to 1000 riders per hour on all the others). But, no ... the park was nearly empty and the lines were HUGE!! Even the food venders had lines over half an hour! We waited in line at Ben & Jerry's only to find they were down to a 'couple flavors' (and those looked old).
My plans were originally to attend Friday’s Fright-Fest, and it’s a good thing I checked Six Flags’ web site that morning ... only to discover, not only had it been cancelled, tickets were not to be sold at the park for the final two days!! The weekend hours were changed to 10am - 6pm and, on Saturday, I got to ride TWO WHOLE RIDES!!! First, the Texas Cyclone was closed ... period ... no explanation. You would think that the flagship coaster of this park would have been running on its closing weekend. Sad. Second, Greezed Lighting, Batman and Mayan’s Mindbender all “closed for the day” just as we got to the front of each line!! XLR-8 suffered some kind of ‘imaginary leak’ while we were on the boarding platform. The ops moved in slow motion to rectify the situation by removing the ‘safety wrap’ from one of the cars, walking back and forth, scratching their heads, taking off their jackets, walking back and forth some more, looking (and not finding) any ‘leak’, scratching their heads again, then replacing the safety wrap ... then RUNNING the car EMPTY, while we stood there! No leak, and no explination. ... On the train’s return, we were allowed to board as if nothing had happened.
One safety issue I did come across, is that on all attractions guests held cameras! A woman in front of me was snapping pics while on XLR-8, and we were going backwards! SWAT closed briefly because someone dropped theirs. It could of hit someone. And I saw two people in the front of Batman holding camera’s up to their faces.
I had had enough! I decided to leave the park and discovered I had to wait in line to get out!!
AstroWorld is now gone, and I say, “good!” I will sadly miss the amount of time I had waiting in lines there.
[After reading an article posted in the AUSTIN AMERICAN STATESMAN: "A last scream, and ride's over at Astroworld," I learned Six Flags decided to run the Texas Cyclone on Sunday, Oct 30th.]
My family and I went to the final day of Astroworld and it was fun but you are pretty correct in what you said about it. Super long lines... closed rides, not very many employees and the ones that are there are not friendly at all. I will truly miss Astroworld because all the memories I had there and even my 7 year old son was sad. Our favorite ride was Greesed Lightning. We got to ride a few time early in the day but by 2 pm we mostly walked around and just looked at people. The ending was sad with all the employees looking lost in their Fright Fest costumes. Everything was 1/2 off in the stores but the lines were outrages!!!!! Maybe 45 minutes to check out. Oh, well, all in all, it was a fun, sad day! sniff sniff... Now we need an amumusement park in Austin!!!! yeah, right...wishful thinking!
A good friend of mine and I hit Astroworld on October 8th 2005 after hearing of it's soon demise. I had not been there for 17 years. My parent's took my sister and I when we were young. Then I went again in 1980 when I was a teenager. On that visit I ran into a good friend totally by accident who happen to be there with his Mom & Sister. We spent the whole day enjoying rides. Must have ridden the Cyclone 8 times that day! Once again later when I was married at that time. Anyway back to the present. I purposely pursuaded my buddy that we should not wait till the very last days and hit it very soon. I think that was a good call because we had a great day. A cool front had just hit and the weather was perfect for an amusement park visit if there is such a thing as perfect. We arrived around 2:15 in the afternoon after the lengthy road trip there and we managed to hit all the bigger major rides even with 45 min. to an hour wait time. The Swat was down until very late into the day unfortunately time ran out to ride it. We also did not ride the Dungeon Drop but figured it to be to close to the Scream @ San Antonio and we decided to skip it to provide more time for other rides. Not attending the park in many years I was surprised to see all the additions. Mind Bender was a little dissapointing after the long wait to ride. Serial Thriller kept failing as we were in line. Restraint problems in the front chairs was the cause. But what surprised me was seeing a mechanic and a safety person really trying to remedy the problem. Many bailed in line giving up on it. But we stuck to our guns and it was one of the best rides there! You would think the park is about to close permanently so who cares if the ride is broken down, but surprising the attitude was just the opposite. We never encountered any rude workers or operaters. In fact the operater of the Serial Thriller offered me tickets to the park to attend the following weekend. The park was clean and it was an amazing day that will live in my memory for a long time. Riding the Cyclone once again was the ultimate highlight. Not the biggest or fastest coaster out there just something about it. Maybe the memories of that 1980 visit? It beats the Rattler @ San Antonio to me a little smoother ride and a little more excitement then the kinda boring helix section of the Rattler. Don't get me wrong the Rattler has it's bite but the Cyclone has been around longer and is a better overall layout(in my opinion).I understand the frustration of when the BIG main Flagship coasters are not operating without explanation! Just ask Six Flags @ San Antonio when the Rattler is shut down so as not to disturb the golfers accross the road when there is a stupid! golf tournament! That has happened to me twice now. What Idiot decided to put an amusement park next to a golf course or vice versa! Anyway back to my story: The XLR-8 was our last blast before exiting the park it was another familiar thrill that we just had to hit before we left for good. Some V.I.P.'s cut in line at our turn and we thought maybe we might lose the chance to ride as it was after closing hours but alas we made it. Just writing to share my personal experience after all the bad things I have read that others went thru while there on the last day(s). Yes the lines were long for the rides and in the shops to buy memorabilia and I waited like everyone. You just have to remember things were half off and the place is closing for good. Natrually everyone is going to grab a memory some where. Then the Ebay sellers grabbing stuff in hope's of high resale collector value. Overall one of the best days I had experienced in some time. We hit every ride we planned. Shame it will all be gone soon. But realizing the Cyclone that has been there since 1976 will be torn down does not sit well with me. Even though Six Flags Over Texas is probably the better park overall Astroworld desreves it's credit due. I too believe it is a Houston Landmark that should remain. But in the coporate world things rely on profits and green stuff. So I say "GOODBYE ASTROWORLD I WILL PERSONALLY MISS THE JOY YOU GAVE ME!"
Astroworld was a park with bad management and bad everything....I went on Oct 18, 2005...I was able to get on 2 rides...XLR-8 and Warp 2000....I waited for those two rides for nearly an hour...
Then I stood in line to buy food for another hour...
I hate to say it but good by lines, bad food bad management. I complained about everything when I went in May 2004...I got free tickets...but when I went to use them the same problems were still there...Long lines one train running on all the coasters. Lines to get something to eat and outragous prices to boot...!
Closed rides also seemed to be a problem when I went! I wanted to go on Swat but it was closed...and most of the day No Cyclone...A fitting end to lines and severe mis management...The next on to go is Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom....Pathetic....! It is run exactly the same way the Astroworld was....When I was there last summer some of the shops were out of food and drinks...Unreal!
Well a fitting end to a park most people had forgotten about even before it closed!!
From l k
Posted December 26, 2005 at 7:57 PM
All I am reading is a bunch of whining from a bunch of people who have seemed to forget what is was like being a child.
For one I was raised in Houston, my Dad worked for Brown and Root and we received free season passes every year. I will say this, those were the BEST summers of my young life. I spent all off season waiting for the park to open. One company buyout I rode Grease Lightning 47 times in a row before I puked. Yeah the lines were long, the parking was horrid, and the food was over priced, but you know what, the memories I made there are priceless to me. My Mom would take me and my brother to Astroworld once a week, she never once complained, or whined about the circumstances. She did it for her children.
Parks were made for children, as a reward, vacation, school outings, friend and family get together. They were not made for whiny arse complaining adults. In fact you probably one of those people that we would meet inline that would just keep complaining nonstop the whole time until enough people told you to shutup.
Who cars how bad the parking was, who cares how long the lines were, bad management? What park doesn’t have bad management. Disneyland the happiest place on earth!!! Want to talk about bad management!!!! Bunch of snot nosed cry babies!!!
When you take away something like Astroworld from the community look at the big picture of effects, not just you long waits in lines, think about the children who now lost a part of their city, the stay in school programs, and programs like DARE etc. that would reward their students with trips to the park. Think about the people who lost their jobs. In other words think about other people before you start crying how bad it was.
This is a classic example of the corporate machine that is eating up America, and living in Las Vegas now I see it on a daily basis. The machine puts a value on everything and eats it up the second it loses its value. Just like Disneyland, you almost have to be a millionaire if you want to take your family their, ol Walt wanted the park to be available to everyone regardless of social class. $8 parking, give me a break, its not like that parking lot has not paid for itself yet.
I am ashamed of Houston for letting the corporate machine win, I am ashamed of Six Flags, and Reliant Park and kiss my ------- ---. In the end it’s the people of Houston, and their children that suffered, not the snotty nosed whiny adults!! Thank You.
I know you were not talking to me! First of all, I too grew up with Astroworld and loved it and most Amusement parks. It seems like you have been in Vegas too long. I still live in Texas and I had nothing to do with the closing. I still returned everyyear even though it had changed and things were downright scary there. I don't think wining adults care if you don't like our comments. We are just speaking the facts and I too am sorry to see it go. Good luck.
Um ... I've been to nealy every park in this country.
What was going on in AstroWorld has no excuse!!
Bad management is widely rampant in all of corporate America. This is clearly something we should ALL complain about. However, we also need to look at ourselves. I strive to be a better person and treat those around me with great respect. Especially those who pay my salary (my customers).
I fell bad about AstroWorld's closing. I feel bad for those now out of a job. I feel bad for future lost (good) memories. I do not regret having ever visited the park. But these (bad) things should NOT HAPPEN so frequently!
I truly expected, as it being AstroWorld's last weekend, that management would have at least taken the responsibility to make sure that all atractions were 100% operational and that staffing was at least adequate. Not so. Fact.
I have very fond memories of nearly every park I have ever been to. AstroWorld just happened to be the absolute worst.
And it's now gone.
From Gareth H
Was this the Theme Park featured in the Counting Crows and Vanessa Carlton Music Video?
Posted January 11, 2006 at 1:39 PM
From Mike M
Well, thats what Six Flags gets when they put 3 theme parks in one state and they cannot maintain them.
Posted January 17, 2006 at 9:18 PM
Mike M: Where are you from, Rhode Island? I live in Tx and just because these parks are in the same state doesn't mean they are all one or it is easy to get to from one town or another. It takes me 4 hours to drive to Dallas, 3 hours to drive to Houston and 1 1/2 hours to San Antonio. I think that is too far and there should be MORE theme parks in TEXAS cause everything is bigger in TX!
Now that Six Flags Astroworld is a memory...I can't believe how quickly they cleared that park...I still think there could have been something somone could have done to keep it. It was a waning park in need of lots of work. I must say however that the last 2 or 3 times I went I did not have a good time. I hardly ever have a bad time when I go to SFOT or SFFT. Why can't six flags operate their parks like Cedar Point...in Ohio.
I have never had a bad time there....
Is the Cyclone gone from the site? The last I had heard, they were considering leaving the Cyclone in place as a stand-alone attraction.
From Rita D
I lived in Houston for 20 years (1976-1996) and was very sad to learn that AstroWorld was totally demolished. I can understand the economic reasons why, but it still must hurt if you still live there. I still remember riding Batman Escapes standing up. Since then, I moved to Orlando where they REALLY know how to run a theme park, so all the Houstonians can come here for their adventure.
Posted July 11, 2010 at 10:40 AM
I travel all over to find the best coasters, and Cedar Point is THE BEST coaster place. Magic Mountain in Valencia, CA is great too. You have to ride "Top Thrill Dragster" and "X" (which is now 'X2'. Come see us in Orlado and ride the best coasters Hulk at Islands of Adventure (Universal Studios), and the newest one, RockIt; Kracken and Manta at SeaWorld.
As a former full time Astroworld employee I can say that the problem with the park was NOT due to poor management, but rather it was due to a very limited budget. The corporate office just kept cutting our budget until we operated on a "shoe string." In the park's defense, I can say that we did the best we could with what we had to work with. Things were just starting to look up and actually improve when it was announced that the park would close. It is sad for what it could have been.
Old post, but a very good point. I am starting to Fear that SFGA is going down the same path, but has more of a captive audience to burn though. They did their Fright Fest in house this year, which was not as good as it was in the past.
Lets hope SFGA is not the new Astroworld
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