Travis Scott genuinely loved AstroWorld. When the rapper named his album—and his tour, and the one-day festival he held last fall in Houston—after the long-gone Six Flags amusement park that sat in his hometown until 2005, he did so because of his sincere affection for the park. He gushed about the rides and the experience in an interview with Rolling Stone: “It had a Dungeon Drop, Greezed Lightnin’, Superman. It was a way of life—fantasies, imagination.” He lamented its loss to XXL, depicting the closure of a corporate theme park in personal terms: “They took AstroWorld away from us in Houston.” What seemed like a dollars-and-cents decision to the executives and city leaders who saw an opportunity to grow the rodeo hit close to home for the thirteen-year-old Scott, whose happy times among the rides were no more.
Around the world today, “AstroWorld” doesn’t conjure up images of roller coasters. The album peaked at #1 on the charts in ten different countries, and the subsequent four-month tour has been packing arenas around the U.S. Scott’s affection for AstroWorld manifested itself in one of the more beloved artistic statements of the past year. And on Wednesday night’s tour stop at the Toyota Center, Houston mayor Sylvester Turner, presenting the rapper with the key to the city, suggested that it might also manifest in something more tangible for the youth of Houston: another amusement park.
“We owe so much to this guy for keeping Houston on the map,” Turner told the crowd. “With Astroworld, man, and those of us that remember AstroWorld, and because of him, we’re gonna bring another amusement theme park back to the city. This city loves you.”
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The announcement quickly generated headlines, even if it was extremely vague. Turner later issued a statement clarifying his remark. “The City is currently in discussions with architects and developers and we hope to partner with investors who have an interest in making this vision a reality,” it read. “Houston is a great city that offers many wonderful seasonal events and attractions. A permanent amusement park would create year-round opportunities.”
That’s true, even if it’s not the guarantee that AstroWorld enthusiasts might have hoped for. If Astroworld did lead to a new AstroWorld, it would be one of the more incredible direct impacts that an artist has made on its city. Sure, Bruce Springsteen somehow made New Jersey seem romantic; Jay-Z brought an NBA team to Brooklyn; Chance the Rapper gave a million bucks to Chicago Public Schools—but none of those actions came with a 450-foot drop at over 100 miles per hour. Prince may have given kids in Minnesota a reason to be proud of where they grew up, but Travis Scott could give young Houstonians a new Texas Cyclone to ride.
This may turn out to be just a wish from Turner, or it could become a reality. If it does happen, the seemingly unstoppable force that is Travis Scott, already a dominant force in music and fashion, will have conquered yet another world—one with roller coasters.