Grand Texas developer reveals updated theme park plans, new project timeline

A new construction timeline has been revealed for the proposed 610-acre mixed-use theme park in New Caney along Hwy. 242, said Monty Galland, CEO of the privately funded Grand Texas Sports and Entertainment District.

Portions of Grand Texas, which were originally scheduled to open to the public in early to mid-2015, have been delayed anywhere from a few months to more than a year due to design limitations with a previous engineering firm and delays in utility hookups, Galland said.

“It’s unfortunate—we understand the anticipation [for the park],” Galland said. “[Grand Texas is] going to happen. Unfortunately it’s not the timetable that we expected or anybody else wanted.”

After parting ways with the park’s previous firm, Grand Texas officials hired Conroe-based engineering group Bleyl & Associates to rework the park’s master plan, Galland said. Though the plan is not fully completed, Galland said some portions have been tweaked to offer more components for the estimated 1.2 million visitors projected to attend the park in its first year of operation.

“We’ve added a developer who is developing factory outlets along I-69 with a similar size and tenant mix to the Tanger Factory Outlets in Texas City,” Galland said. “Also, the water park [plan] was moved from I-69 to a more interior position that will actually expedite construction.”

Park details

In addition to a factory outlet mall, Grand Texas will feature a 150-acre theme park, 40-acre water park, 83-acre Sportsplex, 30-acre Speedsportz Racing Park, RV park with 144 lots, four hotels and 450,000 square feet of retail and dining in a “Downtown Texas” area once completed.

Phase 1 of the Big Rivers Waterpark will span 28 acres and feature the largest wave pool in Houston with programmable waves, a long lazy river, multiple children’s slides and attractions, splash pad areas and extreme slides for thrill-seekers, Galland said.

“Phase 1 will make it the second-largest water park in Houston, and we will be basically one slide short of the largest,” Galland said. “We feel we’ll have a superior wave pool and lazy river. Phase 2 will be completed over the three years following that and will make it the largest and the best.”

The first phase of the theme park will span 71 acres and will offer one wooden roller coaster engineered by the same company that produced the Twisted Colossus at Six Flags Magic Mountain in California, Galland said. The park will also feature a children’s coaster, a family coaster and two extreme thrill-seeker coasters. In addition, the first phase will include 20 other historic Texas-themed rides and an entertainment area with stagecoach and boat rides.

“We actually tried to negotiate the purchase of Greezed Lightnin’ [a roller coaster at the former Six Flags AstroWorld in Houston],” Galland said. “Unfortunately when we sent our engineers out there, the cost to rehabilitate Greezed Lightnin’ exceeded the budget we felt was reasonable for that type of ride. As it stands, all the rides will be new to the area.”

However, construction of the theme park is contingent upon the addition of a new Entergy electricity substation near Splendora, which is expected to break ground within the next few months and be complete in 2017, Galland said.

Additional sections

It is essential for the RV park to open first this fall because it allows the developers to run utilities across the tract to help provide infrastructure for other portions of the development, Galland said.

The Sportsplex will begin scheduling games for sports, such as baseball, softball, soccer, lacrosse, 7-on-7 football and rugby, at its indoor facilities and outdoor fields later this year.

By late 2018 through mid-2019, Galland said he anticipates all sections of the park will be open and operating in their initial phases. Grand Texas, which could bring in hundreds of millions in sales tax revenue each year for the area, is designed with extra acreage to adapt and expand for future build-out over the next 20 years, he said.

“The site at the current size right now is larger than Disney California Adventure Park,” Galland said.

More than 10,000 new part-time and full-time jobs will be created through Grand Texas, including all ancillary employment, Galland said.

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