From The Goodyear Blimp Base to Hanna-Barbera Land: Cool Bygone Locations Around The Woodlands Area
THE WOODLANDS, TX - From restaurants and clothing stores to theme parks and everything in between, businesses tend to shape our life experiences. When some of those places eventually close, they leave behind memories of what life was like years ago. Every town has them and every person knows of one. The businesses we frequented in our youth or visited with our families captures our attention and brings back fond memories of yesteryear. The efforts required to run those companies are worthy of us taking a few moments to remember them and how they helped shape our lives. Here are a few businesses, theme parks and organizations that once made their home around The Woodlands area. How many of these do you remember?
The Goodyear Blimp Headquarters
Goodyear moved their blimp hanger from their headquarters in Akron, Ohio to Houston in 1969. The blimp hanger was not just one location that Goodyear used, but was the base of operations and headquarters for their Goodyear Blimp. They called Houston home for over 20 years. Goodyear eventually moved their blimp operations back to Ohio in 1992. They filmed various things from the blimp, including sporting events.
Channel 13 worked closely with the Goodyear Blimp and did some amazing coverage using that wonderful Houston dirigible. The following is a great link and video for more information about the Goodyear Blimp in Houston.
Click here to learn more about the Goodyear Blimp in Houston
The I-45 Drive-in Movie Theatre
The I-45 Drive-in movie theatre or Gordon McLendon’s I-45 Drive-in was the last of the older drive-ins to be built in Houston and was also the last to be torn down (for that period). It opened in July 2, 1982 and operated for 10 years, closing its doors February 29, 1992. Since it closed its doors, new drive-in movie theaters have popped up in Texas to introduce outdoor movie viewing to the lives of a new generation. In Tomball, there is a really cool drive-in theatre called The Showboat Drive-in. If you have never seen a movie in the setting of a drive-in, it really is a great family experience.
Most people don’t know that the person that owned the I-45 drive-in was an actor himself. He owned many drive-ins around Texas. His name was Gordon McLendon.
Click here to find out more about Gordon McLendon
Click here to view a coupe of older pictures of the I-45 drive-in movie theatre (back when it was open)
Click here to learn more about The Showboat Drive-in Theatre in Tomball.
Every year, we try to combat the effects of the sweltering summer heat. There is a water park in Spring called Six Flags Hurricane Harbor Splashtown (formally Wet N’ Wild Splashtown, formally Six Flags Splashtown, formally SplashTown USA). The name has changed many times since the original owner of that waterpark acquired that park, but what some residents don’t remember is that the Hurricane Harbor location was originally the home of a cool theme park by Hanna-Barbera called Hanna-Barbera Land. It was only open two seasons, 1984 and 1985. We are not sure why it closed, but with the competition with Astroworld and the changing tastes of the public, Hanna-Barbera decided to shutter the park after the 1985 season.
We thought this was cool. This is an old commercial promoting Hanna-Barbera Land
Attractions listed for Hanna-Barbera Land included the following:
• A carousel
• Scooby's Ghoster Coaster, a Scooby-Doo roller coaster
• Boulder Bumpers
• Silly Stix, an enormous jungle gym of sorts that looked like it was constructed out of giant Tinker Toys
• The Funsonium, a building which housed interactive and educational hands-on games and experiences such as Your Name in Lights and You Are the Star
• Swan pedal boats
• Water body slides
• Puppet shows
• Papa Smurf's Forest restaurant
• A live Keystone Cops brass band
Businesses in The Woodlands
The following list is by no means comprehensive. It is just a short list of cool places that many of us visited in the past. If you can think of other companies that operated in The Woodlands area that no longer operate or are just not operating in the area any more, let us know and we will add them to our list.
• The Warner Brothers Store at The Woodlands Mall
• The Train Store at The Woodlands Mall
• Borders Book Store at Market Street
• Panchos Mexican Restaurant
• The Woodlands Water Taxis
• Steak & Ale Restaurant
• The Woodlands Athletic Center or WAC
• Casa Elena
• Rustic Smokehouse
• Grandy's (Conroe and The Woodlands locations) - Had the best cinnamon rolls.
• Dairy Queen (Conroe on Frazier)
• The Cow Palace
• The Moon Palace Chinese Restaurant
• The old Conroe Drive-in Movie Theatre on Porter Road
• The Twin Cinema in Conroe
• Ryans - Conroe location
• Dr Pepper Bottling Co in Conroe
We asked Lorrie Parise, Director-PR & Community Relations at The Howard Hughes Corporation, what she remembered about the area. Her memory is pretty good. Which ones do you remember?
• The Ice Rink in The Wharf
• The Wharf (located where part of The Woodlands Resort conference rooms are situated now). It included a Jamail's Grocery Store, Cunningham’s, a pharmacy and gift store, other retailers and a satellite radio station, KMUV-1140 AM. The radio station was housed in Conroe too but they moved their offices to The Woodlands.
• Construction began on The Woodlands Inn and Conference Center in 1974, now known as The Woodlands Resort.
• Hyden's Seafood Restaurant was one of the few restaurants here at Rayford and I45 in the early 1970s.
• Hungry Hobo was one of the few restaurants here too in the early 1970s.
• Rice Grocery is where the old Academy was and is now Spec's.
• 2 small movie theaters sat on the other side (one where the original Pier One was located and one by the mattress company).
• SK8town has been located off of Rayford for decades. Behind the roller rink, was a community pool and once a nursery.
• Vicksburg had a community pool, which has now been transformed to a clubhouse.
• Teddy Bear Park in Oak Ridge was once a community pool.
• H-E-B on Sawdust was once a grocery store and retail center. Prior to that, west of H-E-B on Sawdust was a Methodist Church and held softball/baseball fields west until you reached where Herb & Beet is located; that entire retail center was a pond. ORWALL used to host games on the baseball/softball fields.
• Woodwind Village Apartments on Budde Road was once softball/baseball fields too.
• A long time ago, I understand, people used to race horses up and down Budde Road.
Roxanne Davis, Community Liaison for The Woodlands Family YMCA gave us some additional places she remembers years ago
• Racquet Ball Club in The Woodlands
• Bennigans - Sawdust Road where AT&T store is now.
• The Feed Store (BBQ place) - Oak Ridge North
Mae Sheffield works in The Woodlands and has been a resident of the area for several decades. She remembers the following stores that are no longer in the area. Do you remember the following stores?
• Carlo’s Bakery at the mall
• Brookshire Brothers in Conroe
• Ace Hardware in Conroe – corner of Frazier and E. Phillips
• Tejas Restaurant
• Anderson Elementary
• The Little Red Caboose
• Roadrunner Roller Rink
• El Pollino
• Handy Dan
Colleen Wood works and lives in The Woodlands as well. The following stores are what she remembers as being here years ago.
• Mi Luna
• Black Eyed Pea
• October Had A Party
Ben Hobgood of The Woodlands area gave us the following locations
• Hollywood Video
• Bei Jing Buffet
• Woodlands House - Chinese Buffet
• Boston Market
Locations suggested by our social media followers
• Ruby Begonia’s
• Ace's Chinese Restaurant
• Mr. Bob’s Video Store in the Panther Creek shopping center
• Speedy Pak #12 at the corner of I-45 and Tamina.
• Chubby Bumpkins Pizza
• Ruby Tuesday
• Sam's Diner
• Piggly Wiggly
• No More Monkey Business - Toy Store
This is not technically close to The Woodlands, but when remembering popular places we frequented years ago, we would be remiss if we didn’t give a shoutout to Astroworld. It may not have been close to The Woodlands, but many residents from our area made their yearly pilgrimage to the fun epicenter every summer. It was a place youth groups included in their events. It was fun for families in The Woodlands and rollercoaster junkies alike. It was a place where kids could be kids. It was a place where adults could be kids. We miss Astroworld.
This is a 1980 commercial promoting Astroworld
How many places do you remember? Which places would you love to see return?