UPDATED: New Caney Amusement Park: Could "Fantasy Land" Become Reality?
Update:When this story was posted, we made the mistake of believing the amusement park being developed in New Caney was being headed by the developers of EarthQuest, the subject of our April 2012 cover story. This was inaccurate. We were as surprised as anyone to learn not one, but two people wanted land in New Caney for an amusement park, but turns out, that is the case. We apologize for the error, and hope this new park gets built so we can pretend we are 12 years old at Astroworld again.
Original Entry: In April 2012, the Houston Press's cover was adorned with a unicorn and the title "Fantasy Land." The story focused on a possible amusement park being built in New Caney and the financial funny business that surrounded the project. According to a report from CultureMap, the crazy project called EarthQuest finally has an official home after it purchased land for the theme park.
Since Astroworld became a dirt lot and a sad reminder of our own personal loss of childhood innocence, Houstonians have openly hoped another roller coaster would find its way to Houston, and not just the rickety ones that live at carnivals set up in mall parking lots. There have been hushed rumors of a Disney theme park for years with no follow-through. Could this be it?
Anything is possible and they certainly have bought some land:
Now construction is expected to begin on the theme park later this year for a projected completion in the spring of 2015.
"This is a huge, huge market," said Chuck Hendrix, a former Six Flags executive who managed AstroWorld. He now serves as CEO of Innovation Leisure Partners, the group slated to manage Grand Texas Theme Park.
That is exciting news if true. But our own Craig Malisow wrote of his story last year:
Instead, it's been perpetually stalled in a vague "planning" stage, making a lot of money off taxpayers for a close circle of associates.
It probably would've remained that way forever, or at least for a few more years, had not an inquisitive publisher and editor of a local paper called The Tribune started poking around and found some interesting things, such as: The proposed site for the mega-park was tied up in bankruptcy court, a slightly important detail that the folks at the East Montgomery County Improvement District never cared to share with the public.
There appears to be no accountability for the Improvement District, which appears to exist solely to line the pockets of its president, Frank McCrady. The unpaid board members we were able to speak with were friendly, but they didn't seem to actually be aware of what the park is/was supposed to include, and just how outlandish the whole thing looks.
A lot can change in a year and we hope it has, but until we start seeing Ferris wheels and roller coasters dotting the tree lines of New Caney, we'll take a more cautious approach, particularly because we remember stories like this and this. Still, if they build a killer amusement park just northeast of Houston, given the sad dirt lot where AstroWorld once stood, we'll take it.