Water parks, batting cages, arcades and trampoline parks are among the many entertainment options that have opened in the Lake Houston area since 2019, with more—including simulated surfing attraction HTX Surf—on the way.

Mark Linabury, president and CEO of the Greater East Montgomery County Chamber, said he believes the recent influx of entertainment-related businesses is a natural next step, following the area’s recent residential and commercial growth. According to American Community Survey five-year estimates, the Lake Houston area’s population grew by roughly 68%, or nearly 78,500 residents, between 2017 and 2022.

“Entertainment-related businesses are becoming more popular here, and from an economic standpoint, they add employment opportunities plus sales tax and ad valorem tax revenue that directly benefit the area,” Linabury said. “Having these options close to home and work is a big plus when making decisions of where to live and do business. It also creates destination locations—I know it has for us in East Montgomery County.”

The big picture

In the last five years, at least seven entertainment options have opened in the Lake Houston area, according to previous reporting.

HTX Surf, a simulated surfing experience from Beach Street Development, is scheduled to open in Generation Park in 2025.

“We expect to have international tourists from all over the world,” said Ryan McCord, president of Generation Park developer McCord Development. “But in the long-run, we really see it as a regional asset for locals as well.”

Along the Hwy. 59 corridor in Porter, The Turf Zone, an indoor sports complex with batting cages, opened in February and is set to be followed by The Pickleball Zone, an indoor pickleball complex slated to open this summer.

In addition to water parks and sports complexes, a slate of venues geared toward children have also opened. Cosmic Air Adventure Park & Arcade and Kanga’s Indoor Playcenter & Cafe both opened in Humble in February 2023.

“We feel we’ve done exceptionally well,” said Shawn Meghani, owner of Cosmic Air Adventure Park & Arcade. “We already expanded once since we opened, and we have more expansion plans if the opportunity presents itself.”

What they're saying
  • “It’s quite possible that [HTX Surf] will be the only wave of this caliber in the world for at least a period of time until something similar is constructed elsewhere. And Houston deserves that.” —Ryan McCord, president, McCord Development
  • “Guests can find waterslides and pretty much any activity [Big Rivers Waterpark & Adventures has] elsewhere. The biggest thing is to really try and focus on creating a memorable experience.” —Monty Galland, CEO, Big Rivers Waterpark & Adventures
The impact

An influx of entertainment businesses in the Lake Houston area may also be contributing to increased tourism, Linabury said.

Humble’s hotel occupancy tax surpassed $515,000 in fiscal year 2021-22, according to the city’s annual comprehensive financial report. While data is not yet available for

FY 2022-23 or 2023-24, city officials budgeted for $450,000 in HOT revenue each year.
Looking ahead

In New Caney, Big Rivers Waterpark & Adventures was the single biggest taxpayer within Splendora ISD’s boundaries in 2023, CEO Monty Galland said. Additionally, Galland said he believes employment at the water park, which varies from 50-500 employees throughout the year, has had a ripple effect on local businesses.

Galland said he first opened Big Rivers with the goal of expanding it to include Grand Texas Theme Park, which would feature more traditional theme park attractions like roller coasters. However, he said financial strain caused during the COVID-19 pandemic has temporarily put those plans on hold.

Galland noted he would first need to extend utilities to the park’s eventual location—a process that took roughly two years and cost around $15 million to complete for the water park.

“That’s the long-term goal,” he said.