Travis Scott’s Astroworld album was in the works for so long, it was announced on the now-defunct app Vine. Even before he wrapped Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight, he knew he wanted his third studio album to be called Astroworld. In case you didn’t catch it in the lead up, the project is named after a now-defunct Six Flags theme park in Houston, also called AstroWorld. While we all continue to rage on to the sounds of Astroworld, here’s a brief history of the Houston theme park that inspired the name and concept of Travis Scott’s latest album.
After bringing major league baseball to Houston, Texas in the early ’60s, philanthropist and former mayor Judge Roy Hofheinz had his sights set on opening the “eighth wonder of the world,” the Astrodome, a multipurpose sports complex that served as the home of the Houston Astros. The Astrodome was the first in a series of buildings forming a family entertainment complex just south of the city. “Astro” was an homage to the United States’ manned space programs, since Houston was selected to be the home of the Johnson Space Center in 1965.
Hofheinz approved plans for an amusement park to complement the Astrodome in January 1967, and AstroWorld opened its doors to the public on June 1, 1968. At first, it featured eight themed areas – Americana Square, Alpine Valley, Children’s World, European Village, Modville, Plaza de Fiesta, Oriental Corner, and Western Junction.
At its peak, the AstroWorld theme park was 104 acres and featured 45 rides. Due to Houston’s humid climate, a whopping 2,400 tons of air conditioning blew through the park to cool down guests. AstroWorld was formally purchased by amusement park giant Six Flags in 1978.
In an interview with Rolling Stone, Travis Scott named a few specific AstroWorld theme park rides he was enthusiastic about. “It had a Dungeon Drop, Greezed Lightnin’, Superman,” he recalls. “It was a way of life – fantasies, imagination.”
Dungeon Drop was a 20-story free fall tower attraction, and Greezed Lightin’ was a classic shuttle rollercoaster, the park’s first loop coaster, that went from 0 to 60 miles per hour backwards and forwards through a nonlinear track. There was no ride called Superman at AstroWorld, but Scott might be referring to Batman: The Escape, a steel stand-up rollercoaster.
Other notable AstroWorld rides include Serial Thriller, a suspended looping coaster, Texas Cyclone, a large-scale version of the original Cyclone wooden roller coaster at New York’s Coney Island, and Thunder River, the world’s first river rapids ride which made its debut in 1980.
Scott also mentions ‘Mind Bender’ and ‘Water World’ in a 2017 interview with XXL. The Mayan Mindbender was an indoor family twister rollercoaster with a pyramid theme, and WaterWorld was Houston’s first major water park, opening in June 1983, and officially becoming a part of AstroWorld in 2002.
The End of AstroWorld
AstroWorld’s closure was announced in September 2005, when Six Flags CEO Kieran Burke announced the park’s 2005 season would be its last and that it would be subsequently demolished. The company cited various issues with AstroWorld such as the park’s performance and parking issues with Reliant Stadium, the Houston football team, and the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo. The park closed its doors permanently on October 30, 2005.
Many of the roller coasters and attractions were relocated to other Six Flags theme parks throughout the U.S. Since AstroWorld’s closure nearly 13 years ago, the site has been used for additional parking for the nearby Reliant sporting complex as well as hosting music festivals, carnivals, and amateur sporting events. 48 acres of green space of the former AstroWorld lot was sold to the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo in 2012 for $42.8 million. As for the remaining 56 acres, they are still the center of a convoluted lawsuit, at one point there were plans for a mixed use development project called “SouthPointe.” In a perfect world, Travis Scott would reopen the AstroWorld theme park, but for now, we’ll see if he manages to include rollercoasters on his Astroworld tour like he planned.
Next, read about all the samples Travis Scott used on ‘Astroworld’ right here.