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Photo TR: AstroWorld and Houston - 10/21-22


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I'd never been to AstroWorld but I had wanted to even since I started obsessing about roller coasters back in 1996 (when I was only 12 year old!). I remember going on the old Six Flags web site when it looked this and seeing Ultra Twister which thought looked so awesome. Ever since I’ve wanted to get down to AstroWorld and the Texas parks (and I still do!). Well, as soon as I heard that AstroWorld would be closing I got on expedia and made plans.

 

 

Friday 10/21

 

Well as soon as my Calculus II class ended at 12:10pm I met my mother at school (school is in-between home and the airport) and we were off. We had a little bit of a delay getting off the ground (like that never happens) and we got into Houston about 20 minutes late. We got the rental car drove down to the park stopping to check into our hotel that was about a mile from the park. I knew it was going to busy but when I saw a HUGE line just get into the parking lot I was really concerned. The line never stopped moving and the attendants taking money were really fast, even though I hate giving any credit to parking lot people because it's one of the reasons the park closed.

 

I didn't know what to expect of the park, I’d heard some good things but a lot of bad things. Well it was busy and since I had a season pass and the line to get tickets was huge, so I left my mother to get in a line for some ride. Usually I plan out beforehand in my head what ride I’m going to first but for some reason this time I hadn't. All I really knew was the forth credit was going to be the Texas Cyclone to made it my 350th coaster. Thinking quickly I figured I’d get the stand-up out of the way first.

 

Getting into the park took only a minute or two. With the park only open for an hour it was ALREADY packed. I think this was the first time that I’d entered a large park that I’d never visited before when it was already dark out. I don't usually get lost in parks, but I soon found out the park's layout wasn't the best and being dark didn't help at all. After coming to the dead end at Greezed Lightnin' I retraced my steps and finally got to Batman: The Escape which was down and wouldn't open that night. Thank god for cell phones because if not, I would of have to wait for my mother instead of getting in line the coaster that most interested in riding.

 

=== Ultra Twister === (#357)

 

The queue was about half filled so I knew it would take a while but ended up not being all that bad. During the wait started to take some video, which was the first time I'd used my video camera in about 2 and a half years. A lot of the rides at AstroWorld were really lit up really well and I only wish I had known this because I would have then bothered to take my tripod to get some night shots...oh well. Anyways back to the ride, as I had said I’ve wanted to ride this for about 8 or so years, so I had somewhat high expectations and hoped I wouldn't be let down. Well ended up loving just about everything about this ride! Everything from sitting in-between the two rails, to the two transfer tracks at each end, to the moving conveyer belt and of course the three heart line. The only complaint I really have about the ride was that while I never got any head banging, the seats and restrains in general just weren’t very comfortable, but not the worst I’ve been on by any means though. I just loved going over that lift hill and going SO quickly into that 87 degree drop! I definitely wish my home park (Great Adventure) hadn't given this ride up. I hope this ride finds a new home.

 

After checking if Batman: The Escape was open and waiting a while since it was testing (but as I said earlier it never opened that night) we decide to just take a walk around the park to take everything in. We eventually then ended up one of Mr. Schwarzkopf's masterpieces.

 

===Greezed Lightnin'=== (#348)

 

The line was huge and I was expecting a long...But wait the ride brakes down and at first I though they must have had told people that it was going to be closed for the night because I'd never seen SO many people leave brake down for a MINOR brake down. All that had happened was that the brakes had stopped the train too early and since there aren't any kicker wheels the train had be to hooked up the bob and pulled it forward. This actually used to happen at Laser sometimes when I worked at Dorney Park (although we would have to push the train forward ourselves). I knew it wouldn’t be long and what would have been at least an hour wait turned into about 15 minutes.

 

Now, I'd been on Greezed Lightnin' at Kentucky Kingdom so knew it was going to be awesome ride either way, but I was looking forward to riding this since it uses a flywheel launch and I’ve always been told that the flywheel system is better than the weight drop launch system. Well I couldn't really tell the difference but it could just be because I rode the one at Kentucky Kingdom two years ago.

 

As far as the ride goes, I think my car's acceleration might be more exciting than Greezed Lightnin's launch, but that doesn't really matter one bit. It's just a fun ride with decent Gs in the loop and awesome airtime! I love just love everything about the ride from the sounds, to the excitement that could be seen by every rider at every launch, the smell as you pass thru the flywheel shed and the trip backward down the launch track which seems to just go on forever. Now while the airtime on the 70 degree back spike is awesome on the front spike for me when you hit top and you a for a split second are motionless is just a awesome feeling as a rush of excitement goes thru my body (same thing happens to me on Batman & Robin: The Chiller at Great Adventure). This ride BETTER be moved!

 

At this point I wanted to go something I could do with my mother and with the Western Junction Station right there we decided to hop on the 610 Limited Train. Man…were we ever in for a treat. The park had the steam locomotive going which is something I’m sure hasn’t happened much in recent times. The experience was nothing less than awesome and the views of Ultra Twister and the Texas Cyclone (or the lumberyard as the guy on the overhead speaker called it) were great. It was also really neat how the train goes thru a massive tunnel that goes right under the park entrance walkway, if I hadn't ridden I wouldn't have even know it had done that! The guy on the on overhead speaker was awesome and you could definitely tell he was upset about Six Flag’s choice to close the park and by now I was sure starting to feel the same way. Once we got to the Oriental Village station we talked to the engineers and found out they were all coaster enthusiasts and they even let me blow the whistle. At this point I was getting tired of the lines and wanted to ride something that wouldn’t take long and that again my mother could also ride.

 

===Serpent=== (#349)

 

Well after passing the entrance and not even realizing it, we got in line. It only took a few minutes to get on. I was actually looking forward to this ride. It turned out to be a lot of fun even if it was a junior coaster. I wish more parks had brought these from Arrow.

 

Now on both days we did the park really stupidly. I just felt we spend way to much time walking and I did not riding one coaster early that I should have and that would come to bite me in the butt. That being said it was time to walk to the other end of the park.

 

===Texas Cyclone=== (#350)

 

There was a long line with only one train but for some reason after the park was open for 4 hours and with only 2 left they decided to put the second train on while I in line. That it’s self was sort of annoying and once it the train was had been put on had done its test run it took a while for all the sands bags to be removed from it. Now something I found interesting was how the transfer tracks and storage track were set up because it was like nothing I’ve seen on a woodie before. The closest thing to it that I can think of is how some Arrow Suspended Coasters (such as XLR-8 and Big Bad Wolf) are set up. It had with two different switch tracks one for the train the leave the main track and one for it to come back on. After waiting thru all of the switchbacks, I’d have to say it turned into on of one of the coolest lines ever, since you are in the center one of the turnarounds with a ton of supports and track all around you. Once I got up to the station I decided to ride in the backseat and I was then off on number 350!

 

I didn’t know what really to expect, I knew that ride has gone thru a lot of modifications since 1976 and since the damn Morgan trains are so light that there are even a set of kicker wheels on each of the first two turnarounds after the first drop. I also knew a lot of the bad rap had come from the horrible headrests that were removed a few years ago. The ride turned out to be pretty good actually not the best but nowhere near the worst. If it just wasn’t for the underweight rolling stock I think it would have been a hell of a ride. It was very smooth with some light negative and lateral Gs, and some of the best head choppers ever. THIS is definitely what the Coney Island Cyclone would have been if its structure had been built of wood and even thought it could have used a coat of paint it was definitely one of the more beautiful wooden roller coasters out there. All weekend I just really enjoyed looking at the structure and watching the trains run the course. The placement of ride was great, which was something that I felt most of the coasters in the park lacked.

 

By now it was a little after 11pm and while I was dreading the next credit (notice I said credit not roller coaster), I would be glad I got it out of the way tonight because the line the next day looked to be two hours all day. So going we walking to the other side of the park.

 

===Serial Thriller=== (#351)

 

There have been a few Vekoma SLCs I’ve enjoyed; this was not one of them. My ride consisted of a lot pain and a lot words that would be best not to repeat here. I wish would have been riding Excalibur instead. It was nice though, to see the Six Flags had decided to continue the old AstroWorld tradition of one the coolest things EVER that being outdoor air conditioning.

 

By the time I got off the ride it was about 11:45 and the park was closing at midnight. While in the queue of Serial Thriller I had seen SWAT running, which hadn’t been running most of the night. So I decide to try and get a ride but the attendant ended up chained off the entrance right in front of my face, so we called it a night. So far I have loved most everything about AstroWorld except the SLC

 

 

 

Saturday 10/22

 

Aside from riding roller coasters my other passion is Baseball. So with the park opening at noon we decide to head a little north and just to check out Minute Maid Park, home of the Houston Astros. Now the day before I had been told over the phone that on Saturdays where there isn’t a game being play that arn’t any ballpark tours. I still wanted to just walk around the outside and check it out since it’s a really cool ballpark with a retractable roof. We go to the ballpark a little before 10am and walked around for a bit. At around 10:15 we decided to check out the Astros store to see if they sold anything about the ballpark. It was then that I found out I was miss told about the tours and their had been one at 10am. That really frustrated us because we had gotten to the ballpark before 10am and we could have been on it, but there wasn’t much we do. We checked out the Astros store which was really busy since the Astros were going to be playing in their first World Series Game ever later that day. I found nothing to buy about the ballpark and since I’m Phillies fan I didn’t want anything Astros. We ended up sitting down in the lobby and just watching all the Astros fan line up the enter the store and then some come out with as much as 3 bags of stuff it was quite. We ended up leaving about 11:15 to get to the park before opening.

 

Once again the line to get into the parking lot was massive but moved quickly. Once we got past the money takers I guess we weren’t driving fast enough, because of the guy directing traffic as told us to and I quote “to move our ass car”. Anyways…We already knew it was going to be mobbed because the park wasn’t even open yet and a entire section of the parking lot was already full. We got into the park at about 12:10 and I went straight to Ultra Twister for some more rides before the line got unbearable. I ended up getting two more AWESOME rides on it, but once I got off the second time the queue was half full. We checked on Batman: The Escape but it was closed. Then checked on Greezed Lightnin' but it hadn’t opened yet for the day. So I moved on to something I hadn’t ridden yet.

 

===XLR-8===(#352)

 

I’d heard this wasn’t one of the better Arrow Suspended coasters out here and that’s a fair judgment, but it is a great ride for families. I ended up ridng forwards and had a good time. I had planed on riding again backwards and again forward with my mother but time didn’t allow it. As far as this ride’s future…I think it would be a shame to melt it down as it’s a great family ride and looks to be in great shape as all of AstroWorld’s roller coasters do.

 

Greezed Lightnin' had now opened by so decided to run over there to get a ride or two before the line got long. I ended up getting two awesome rides before the line got bad. I believe at this point Batman: The Escape had opened so we ran over their.

 

===Batman: The Escape===(#353)

 

I was looking forward to this because I’d never been on an Intamin Stand-Up before and also I had missed it at Great Adventure because the first year I went to Great Adventure was in 1993 and it departed at the end of 1992. The queue was definitely well themed it. It sort-of followed the same theme as all the Batman: The Rides do, but it seemed while the Batman: The Rides use the first Batman movie to get their theming from that this one more likely used Batman Returns movie as uses the Penguin in it’s theme. Well after waiting about 20 or so minutes I got up to the station and decide to ride the front since the there was only a 3-train wait. Now to be honest I thought the restraint system was going to be way worse than the ones the Togos use, but it actually turned out be just a step below Bolliger & Mabillard.

 

Now before I say what I thought of the ride, I thought I just say how I feel about Stand-ups in general, since they don’t ever seem to be a fan favorite. Well I don’t really have any issue with them as far as comfort goes. I’ve enjoyed basically all of them, even if some of them are a one time a visit rides. I heard that this ride was little bit of a head-banger but I only received a few minor taps, certainly nothing that really detracted from the ride. The reason I didn’t enjoy the ride was because the pacing of the ride was just horrible and if anything it was just boring. I was glad to be able to get a ride on this former Great Adventure coaster, but in the end I’m not broken up that it isn’t still in New Jersey. If get there next year maybe I’ll enjoy Cobra at La Ronde more because I believe it’s a clone but runs a 6-car train instead of Batman: The Escape’s 5-car train.

 

We decide to take the train again from the Western Junction Station to ride it during the daytime. Once again the steam locomotive was going and the same guy was on the overhead speaker. Once again it was an awesome experience that is probably my favorite amusement park train ride beating out Knoebels. I was going to ride the Mayan Mindbender but after seeing the line was all the way to the entrance and barely moving I decide to wait and do it later in hopes the line would die down. My mom had been waiting in line for a soda so I joined her. Man was I glad we were planning on eating at the Olive Garden right down the road from the park, since the lines for every drink and food stand in the park were horrible. It was combination that most of the soda machines where already moved out of the park or empty and the fact that the park was understaffed. We decide to take another ride on Serpent which was once again fun and then it was time for some more Schwarzkopf goodness.

 

===Viper===(#354)

 

Another full queue with only one train running. They would end up adding the second train soon after I had gotten in line. The ride ended up braking down right after the second train was added and the maintenance guys had already left, but it didn’t take very long get it going again. While I only waited about 30 to 45 minutes it seem a lot longer since the section of switchbacks was a very tight space and all these damn kids kept bumping into me. Anyway I rode in the backseat because where else would you ride a Schwarzkopf. The tunnel on the first drop was just too short to be enjoyed. It looked nice though with Viper painted on the side of it. Overall this had to be one of the more weaker Schwarzkopf’s I’ve been on, but did has a moment or two of airtime. It was smooth as glass though but had some weird shuffling in the turns. It wasn’t the best Schwarzkopf but fun nonetheless. Let hope it get a new home because ANY Schwarzkopf lost is such a sin.

 

For the next hour or two I ended up taking photos of the park, some which you’ve see in low quality below. I’m planning on getting going on my website again soon so you’ll be able to see all my photos from the day in high quality there in the near future (hopefully…lol). After waiting in line for about a half hour to get some of what was left of the AstroWorld souvenirs it was about 6pm and we headed out of the park to get some dinner. The food at Olive Garden was very good as usual and they had us in and out in just over an hour. So we headed back into the parking lot for the last time and enter the park for the last time. We had about an hour and a half so we headed to the last coaster I need to get on my list.

 

===Mayan Mindbender=== (#355)

 

The line was still to the entrance and the line moved slower than any line I’ve ever seen. I will have to say that the queue line, building and station were really well themed, much better than Skull Mountain ever was. But as it is with all Six Flags indoor coasters the theming doesn’t extend onto the actual ride. I was excited to ride this Vekoma, because it used the same cars as the old CHAOS at Opryland USA did. CHAOS was the ride that made me realize that I was a coaster enthusiast after I rode it 33 times in one day…lol. Well the ride wasn’t even comparable to CHAOS but it was nice to sit in those cars again.

 

By the time I off the ride it was 9:40 and I thought we would have plenty of time to get over to the Texas Cyclone for one last ride. We got over there by 9:50 and they had already closed the line off…I was heartbroken. I really should have ridden the Mayan Mindbender early in the day before the line had grown. While I was disappointed I was still just glad I was able to visit AstroWorld and get at least one ride on each of the nine of the roller coasters.

 

We exited the park tired and even sadder. We walked across that damn bridge for thankfully THE LAST TIME which I think is way worse than the one at Kentucky Kingdom. As we crossed the bridge we looked to our left and saw the Texas Cyclone all lit up in all it glory, straight ahead we saw Relent Stadium all lit up and to it’s right the AstroDome without a single spot light on it. All I could wonder is when it the once called “Eighth Wonder of the World” would be joining AstroWorld and become nothing but a memory.

 

I loved AstroWorld and in my opinion it was nothing like all the reports I’d heard. It was a beautiful well themed park with some good roller coasters. While I understand there were issues that couldn’t be solved, I still think it has been a mistake to close the park and it will be missed by many.

 

Thanks for reading

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One last look...

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One corner of the ballpark had this cool tower.

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Another view of the roof with all the awesome steel work.

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Here is a look at the roof that was open while we were there.

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They were painting the World Series logo onto the grass while we were there.

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Here's a look inside at the field and the seating bowl.

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I'll start with my photos of Minute Maid Park

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Here's Ultra Twister

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Welcome to AstroWorld!

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Another great ride for the family something some Six Flags Parks lack.

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Great ride for the family, hopefully it's saved

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The awesome painting at the entrance

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Most of the park looked this nice

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Awesome...isn't it?

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Not the best Schwarzkopf but still fun

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Going down the first drop and appearing from the darkness.

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Here is a view of most of layout of Viper

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RIP Schwarzkopf!

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More goodness

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Yum!

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Bittersweet isn't it?

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The world need more Schwarzkopfs not less...

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All I can say about this photo is HELL YA!

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Dropping backwards!

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Ultra Twisting!

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Airtime!

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A close of the car nearly at the top of the 96 foot lift hill.

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Looks like fun...didn't get to ride but i'm sure i'll ride it where ever it ends up.

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Swat and Viper

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Here the train is coming off of the second lift hill.

Edited by Alexander Nagel
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Awesome TR, its great that you had a good time. You are lucky to be able to get in before it closes, as I would have liked to have done, but we don't travel to theme parks much in my family, so it was pretty much out of the question. It is too bad it is closing down, lets hope that most of the rides get new homes. Minute Maid Park is an awesome stadium, but you didn't have many coaster pics lol, will you be posting more? Still, great TR!!

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Here are the rest....

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Worst placement of a sign EVER...you really had to be looking for it

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Loved the theming on this Chance Yo-Yo

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Good bye Cyclone and all of AstroWorld! You will be miss by many

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How long is it till the AstroDome meet AstroWorld fate

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I don't think I need to say much here

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I really wish I could have gotten a second ride.

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if it just wasn't for the morgans

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Pretty isn't it?

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Look how busy it was!

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Dropping into Six Flags St. Louis

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The sad thing is this will be saved but the Texas Cyclone will be...

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They took out Excalibur for this!

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It was nice to sit in those cars again but it wasn't nearly as good as CHAOS was.

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The awesome building that houses the ride

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Nice theming

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The awesome steam locomotive, i'm really miss this and it won't be the same thing when it's moved.

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I didn't really get any good photos of Batman: The Escape becuase it broke down just as i was going to take photos of it.

Edited by Alexander Nagel
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