Places to Park It: Wonder Worlds, Playlands and Theme Parks of Texas; What’s New at Texas Theme Parks This Summer

AUSTIN, Texas, April 29 /PRNewswire/ — It’s a good thing Texas is such a big place — the shrieks of delight emanating from new attractions at the state’s theme parks are sure to carry for miles this summer.

“Visitors to any of Texas’ 45 theme parks will be treated to our biggest adventure yet, with wild new rides and shows greeting thrill-seekers in every corner of our state,” said Julie Chase, Director of Tourism, Office of the Governor, Economic Development and Tourism.

Parks in Texas encompass multi-acre facilities full of towering, twisting coasters and family shows, the country’s best waterparks and an array of smaller getaways.

Six Flags SplashTown’s new extreme tubing experience, Tornado, offers a perfect place to hop on for a summer rush. The excitement at the Houston theme park begins atop a 75-foot platform. Daring riders are set in motion in groups of four down a 132-foot, open-ended tunnel, splashing back and forth on 5,000 gallons of swirling water. When riders arrive at the vortex of the Tornado, they swirl through the eye of the storm into the cool water below.

Those preferring a more laid-back ride will find it at SeaWorld San Antonio’s new Castaway Cruisin’ attraction that will allow visitors to kick back for a smooth float along a 1,200-foot-long water route enhanced by tunnel jets, foam shooters, misters and rapids. The park’s hilarious sea lion stars Clyde and Seamore will also attempt to unravel the mystery of disappearing fish in “The Cannery Row Caper,” a new show styled like a 1930s detective film.

Another mystery awaits at Space Center Houston’s “That’s SO Weird” exhibit, where visitors will wind through greenhouses and caves to encounter oddities including jackalopes, killer frogs and the dreaded “Monkey Man of Dehli.” And in neighboring Galveston, Moody Gardens offers more glimpses at creatures on Dino Island — The Ride, which allows visitors to join the Earth Science Team on a thrill-packed exploration of Alpha Island, a formerly uncharted land mass formed by an undersea volcano. New to Moody Gardens this year is Splash Pad at Palm Beach, an automated aquatic feature with fountains and spray arches for frolicking fun.

Also adding a “Wow” factor to the summer are the Amazing Acrobats of China, one of Six Flags Over Texas’ three new blockbuster shows in Arlington. Other additions include the world-renowned Spirit of the Dance from Ireland and master puppeteer Kathy Burk’s World of Puppets. Six Flags Fiesta Texas in San Antonio has added new shows to its award-winning lineup as well, with country musicals, classic rock revivals and Motown celebrations.

Other can’t-miss attractions for a summer Texas vacation include Schlitterbahn Waterpark Resorts in New Braunfels and South Padre Island, voted #1 Waterpark in the U.S. by the Travel Channel. Amarillo holds a hot spot with the Wonderland Amusement Park, one of Texas’ largest privately owned theme parks full of log rides, water rides and carnival games. And no trip to El Paso is complete without a day at Western Playland, with its El Bandito roller coaster and 37-acre Wet n’ Wild Water World.

Summer Schedule for Major Texas Theme Parks and Playlands

* Moody Gardens, Galveston: Open daily

* SeaWorld San Antonio: Currently open weekends, open daily
May 20-Aug. 21, Lost Lagoon operation dates vary

* Schlitterbahn Waterpark Resort, New Braunfels: Currently open
weekends, open daily May 14-Aug. 21

* Schlitterbahn Waterpark Resort, South Padre Island: Currently open
weekends, open daily May 13-Aug. 14

* Six Flags Fiesta Texas, San Antonio: Currently open weekends, open
daily May 30-Aug. 21

* Six Flags Hurricane Harbor, Arlington: Open daily May 27-Aug. 28

* Six Flags Over Texas Arlington: Currently open weekends, open daily
May 13-Aug. 28

* Six Flags SplashTown, Houston: Currently open weekends, open daily
May 25-Aug. 14

* Six Flags AstroWorld, Houston: Currently open weekends, open daily
May 26-Aug. 14

* Space Center Houston: Open daily

* Wonderland Amusement Park, Amarillo: Currently open weekends
April-May, open daily Memorial Day-Labor Day

* Western Playland, El Paso: Currently open weekends March-May, open
daily June-Aug.

About Tourism in Texas

Tourism is one of the largest industries in Texas, employing 477,000 Texans. In 2003, travelers spent more than $41.2 billion in Texas. Travel expenditures generated $2.2 billion in state taxes and $661 million in local taxes. For more information on Texas travel events and vacation destinations, visit http://www.traveltex.com/ or for a free Texas State Travel Guide call 1-800-8888-TEX.

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