For many of us that grew up in Acadiana from the late 1960s through the 1990s, Astroworld WAS Summer! After all, “our” Disney World was only a few hours away. We would see the commercials on Channel 3 and Channel 10 and dream of going. Because it was close, thousands of children from Acadiana fulfilled that dream at least once during their childhood. With the Astrodome across the street, a two night stay in one of the nearby hotels made it easy to enjoy the park and take in an Astros game. Heaven on Earth for a kid from South Louisiana.
Astroworld opened in June of 1968 and, until 1975, was locally owned and operated by former Houston mayor Judge Roy Hofheinz. It started as a fairly simple family-oriented theme park. Originally, Astroworld consisted of eight themed areas, each with unique architecture, cast costumes, music, shows, food and shops. Children’s World had a petting zoo. Alpine Valley featured the AstroWay Station where you boarded the fantastic aerial tram. Modville featured a Ferris wheel. Western Junction had bumper boats. But the focal point early on was the Astroneedle in the European Village. Astroworld was simple to start. And it was amazing!
Just a year after opening, the extremely popular Bamboo Shoot water ride was added. After being purchased by Six Flags in 1975, Astroworld became a true theme park. Incredible roller coasters soon followed, including Texas Cyclone in 1976 and Greezed Lightning in 1978. In 1983, the terrifying Sky Screamer opened. Also that year, a major water park, Water World was added. It was great for cooling off on those scorching Texas summer days.
Attendance eventually dropped off. The Astros moved away from the Astrodome. Reliant Stadium was built nearby as the home of the Houston Texans, causing major traffic issues. Also, Jazzland had opened near New Orleans in 2000, making it a closer option for Acadiana. And just like that, Astroworld was closed. The final day of operation was October 30th of 2005. Sadly, Jazzland also closed that year due to damage from Katrina and economic issues following the storm.
Below is a home movie taken by the Chen family in the summer of 1973. No Greezed Lightning, no Sky Screamer, no XLR-8. This was Astroworld in the early years. Hopefully these videos will brings back happy memories or at least introduce you to the original feel of Astroworld. Also, we have included a TV ad from 1980 and a few old postcard images and a picture of what the area looks like today.