We bid adieu to the Westin Riverwalk on this, our final morning in town. There was no fancy breakfast that we’d have or anything like that. We had basically packed up the night before and just went out the door when we were finished showering. The hotel had treated us well, and I don’t have any complaints about our service or room. Water pressure was great, air conditioning worked when we needed it, even our room service arrived 20 minutes ahead of schedule the night before. The location is magnificent. There’s a lot of competition in the area though, and as good as it all was, I’m not saying we wouldn’t at least consider one of the other options. You have two giant Hyatts, a couple historically relevant hotels, a giant Hilton, and many others. While I debate the merits of the Westin against phantom competition we never went in, maybe this would be a good time to mention that we ate at an IHOP across the street from the Witte Museum.
There’s a lot of positive things about the Riverwalk from a tourist’s perspective. It is a really beautiful thing. Even if you want to argue that it is “manufactured” for the purpose of tourism and civic pride, well, so were the canals of Copenhagen. It works there and here. If there was a negative thing about the Riverwalk that we found on this particular day, it was that its prime location as a nesting ground for migratory birds also makes it statistically more likely to be a spot in which you see a wayward baby duckling get eaten by a blue heron. My wife and I repeated “circle of life” to one another repeatedly sitting at our table at the Original Mexican Restaurant whilst seated waterside for such an event. The food was good, at least.
After a massively busy day of park going, we really didn’t have a set schedule or well planned scenario for our next day. At some point, we’d go check into our new hotel, the Westin Riverwalk, where we’d hope to find much more peace and quiet. Before that was going to happen, we’d need to go find some activities and do things. Much as was the case the day before, we went across the street for a meal at Egg and I to start the morning, and then departed in our rental car to go find greatness, or at least a reasonable facsimile thereof.
Post-Walt, amusement parks were almost always tied to a theme and placed in a larger metropolitan area far away from the center of the city. Generally they were positioned to be near large middle class/upper class housing developments and shopping. Fiesta Texas is a classic example of this; opened in 1992 as part of the La Cantera development, it occupies a space directly next to upscale housing and upscale shopping inside a former quarry. The tall walls surround the park and provide a basis for some dramatic moments aboard the rides inside. Few parks offer a similar environment anywhere, and I can’t think of any in the United States. It is also an impressive looking park, filled with theming, well decorated buildings, and concrete pavers. Thank Opryland for all that work, inept as that company may have been.
Just a few weeks after re-introducing my wife to Texas and giving her a better perspective on the Lone Star State, we flew in again for an even longer trip with much more on the plate to do. Houston had lots of fun things, sure, but San Antonio? San Antonio has the only Sea World my wife hasn’t been to. It has possibly the best Six Flags park in the chain. It has history. It has physical beauty. It has a former world’s fair location. Logically, this was the spot to really get deep into the heart of Texan tourism. Continue reading
The crowd roared and came to its feet. Deafening sound blanketed the dome. The lights dimmed for dramatic effect. This was no mere happening. This was an event. A spectacle. As the kids in front us displayed their signage in support of their favorites, the announcer began to bark, further hyping the proceedings.
“Do you think Grave Digger will win?”
Truly, this is the deepest of philosophical questions.
Off season events at amusement parks are an activity for the biggest nerds that exist. The hugest. There’s some catering to of the sometimes literally unwashed masses that come with freebies. And then there’s usually a tour around a close amusement park in some state of disrepair to look at rides that aren’t open and won’t be open for several weeks. One has to be really, really interested in the hobby of going to these places to care enough to go, much less be actively interested in a report about such an event. So I suppose you are that person.