Friday, July 31, 2009

Astroworld Viewmaster

Today's detour takes us to Houston Texas, where we will visit "Astroworld", thanks to a somewhat scarce Viewmaster packet.

Astroworld opened in June of 1969, and was named as an homage to the manned space program (the Johnson Space Center opened in Houston in 1965), but it was not a space-themed park.

"ASTROWORLD bus arrives at Entrance Plaza". The park bears a strong resemblance to many "Six Flags" parks, and in fact it was sold to the Six Flags Corporation in 1975, but at this point it was the brainchild of Judge Roy Hofheinz. In case you were wondering.

"The Astrowheel in Mod Ville". This giant double Ferris Wheel resembles others that I have seen from roughly the same period; there was one at Hershey Park back when I lived in Pennsylvania. The Astroworld version was removed in 1981.

"Spin Out Cars thrill the mod set". This is absolutely nothing like the Autopia! There is no snow, but the landscape has a definite autumn or winter feel to it.

"Le Taxi antiques tunnel through Alpine Mountains". These gas powered autos were probably designed by Arrow Dynamics; Arrow designed many of the attractions in this park, and of course were responsible for more than a few Disneyland attractions. That mountain's resemblance to the Matterhorn is strictly coincidental!

"Alpine Sleighs glide around in the alpine scenery". According to one website, "The ride had elements of both a dark ride and a roller coaster. During the first part of the journey, the sleighs glided leisurely through a lush pine forest, past a towering waterfall, and into the mysterious "Der Hofheinzberg" mountain. The second half of the ride was an exciting high-speed adventure through dark tunnels and icy caverns with surprise drops and great special effects throughout. For a short time, the sleigh-riders even came face to face with the abominable snowman!". Hmmm!

"Aerial cars leave from Astroway Station, Alpine Valley". The resemblance to the Skyway is strictly coincidental!

If you'd like to go visit Astroworld... you are out of luck! The park was closed in October 2005, and was subsequently demolished. But I will post some more photos from this Viewmaster packet, so I'd like to think that Astroworld lives on.


Chiana said...

Made it to 2005 only to be demolished... hrmph. Wonder how much of this was still there.

Judge Roy Hofheinz + Der Hofheinzberg Mountains = "Yeah so it reminds you of the Matterhorn at Disneyland eh? So sue me!" :p

Neat excursion :)

Matt said...

I always had fond memories of Astroworld, my uncle was general manager there during the Six Flags years throughout most of the 1970s and 1980s.

Matterhorn1959 said...

The alpine ride was designed by Harper Goff. I have an attraction poster from Astro World featuring that ride.

Vintage Disneyland Tickets said...

AstroWorld ROCKS, went the once as a kid and always have had great memories! The AstroWheel is very much like the "Galaxy" that was at Magic Mt! Fun Viewmasters, thanks!

Nancy said...

these are great! what a beautiful park it was.

love the first image where the Astrowheel seems to be rising up like some sort of alien, peeking out to see what unsuspecting tourists are coming weird, i know it!

thanks for sharing these :D

Katella Gate said...

If anybody has the old address, it would be easy enough to google the site and see what's there now.

Major Pepperidge said...

I don't have the exact address, but I read that there is nothing left but an empty lot (some sort of pedestrian overpass was the last thing removed).

DizWiz said...

Thanks for posting these images. I used to go to AstroWorld often in the late 80s and had a wonderful time.

The address is 9001 Kirby Dr, Houston, TX, and yes, it's nothing but an empty lot now. :-(

TokyoMagic! said...

Wasn't it across the street from the Astro Dome? I think that's what the pedestrian overpass was for. I had read that someone wanted to develop that land, but I can't remember what they wanted to build there. Maybe the economic situation has put their plans on hold.

My thoughts were the same as Chiana's when I heard it was going to be torn stood for THAT many years only to fall victim to the wrecking ball?

I saw a great photo online of the riders in one of those sleighs being greeted by the abominable looked like a man in a costume! I'll try and dig that up and provide the link.

Major Pepperidge said...

TokyoMagic!, I've seen a photo of the Abominable Snowman, and yes, it was a guy in a costume! He looked like a muppet.

Jim said...

Dateline Houston:
The former grounds are nothing but a weed choked lot along the south 610 loop. And yes, it did sit adjacent to the Dome (another one of the Judge's ventures which also faces an uncertain future.) The residential development planned for the site has apparently evaporated into the ether of the recession. My wife is a native Houstonian and has fond memories of the place, as do most locals. Unfortunately the place really began to slide in the decade prior to it's demise and became a notorious haven for scores of Houston street gangs. We took the kids there once and felt like the Warriors fighting our way back to Coney.

outsidetheberm said...

So sad it's gone. Don't have the viewmaster reels, so appreciate you sharing a look at it. We do have a bunch or tourist photos (including that goofy costumed yeti- bear!). One more bunch to locate now...

Thanks again!

Jim said...

Lat: 29°40'38.81"N
Long: 95°24'27.76"W

Donnie said...

Great post! I live in Houston and miss AstroWorld.

ThemeParkMemories said...

The Astrowheel is the same model as the one at Hersheypark. But the one that was at Magic Mountain was unique in that each of the two "wheels" had four spokes and on the end of each spoke was a smaller wheel with four more spokes, for a total of sixteen gondolas that rotated around the smaller axis while the bigger wheel rotated in the opposite direction. It made for a continuous up-and-down sensation that was great. I have not seen another Galaxy-type ride anywhere else.

Julie from Texas said...

A pang of sorrow and disgust strikes me every time I drive by the sad vacant acreage that was once Astroworld (and also Waterworld, eventually). The bridge to nowhere does remain, with its vintage 1968 globe lamp posts along each side.

Ofthe80s said...

We moved to and lived in Pasadena in the late '60s to '75-76 and remember it was a blast that my parents would take my brother and I (born in '67) to Astroworld. We went back to Astroworld in the early '80s once.

Recently (August 2010), I couldn't remember a couple of rides there, Googled Astroworld, and they were Alpine Sleighs and Le Taxi. Jeez, when I rode Alpine Sleighs for the first time when I was 5, I thought we were going to hit a wall with the front of the sleight in the dark tunnel ride with the speedy drop where the lights arched. Didn't it take a sharp left turn before seeing the gnomes and being hit with a blast of cold air?

@TokyoMagic! and Major Pepperidge
I don't know what date you both made your posts but I've seen the picture here:

With a 4 picture gallery here (click Photo Gallery on the right):

More information on rides, etc. here (I have no affiliation with the site, not promoting it):

It's really sad to hear that it's gone as I did not know even that I've been living in Louisiana since we left Pasadena. Out of touch, out of mind.

Anonymous said...

Astroworld is one of my best childhood memories!