Blooloop caught up with Harvey and creative director Katie Hurley to find out more about the project.
Harvey’s family has been involved in the park business, as Harvey puts it, ‘forever’. His father, Louis Slusky (left), had two separate Playland parks in Houston and Galveston in the late 1940s; his uncle had one in Nebraska; a cousin had a park in Oklahoma City and others in Denver own one which has been in existence for over a century.
Harvey vividly remembers going to the annual IAAPA trade shows with his father, and learning what was involved in operating a park. He has always wanted to create something like Adventure Pointe:
“I’ve talked about it for dozens of years and now I’m really doing it.”
His father’s Playland Park in Houston became a cultural icon, known as a “family destination that created joy, adventure and memories...”
This struck a chord with Harvey, who is supported in his ambitious venture by his wife, Lisa, and by his mother, who is 91.
Harvey says that he thinks his father “would be very proud.”
Adventure Pointe, built on a thirty-five acre site (with potential for expansion) will be a place for people to visit in the daytime, and stay into the evening, enjoying not only the innovative theme park and speedway station but also the main street with its soda fountain, old-time candy store and other independent, carefully chosen retail outlets; its ice-skating rink in the Roundhouse; its hospitality centre with hotel accommodation, restaurants - and railway.
There will be multiple train lines that run all the way round the park, and a station in the Main Street. Harvey’s father, who sold up after thirty years in the theme park business, nevertheless maintained the miniature train concession at the Houston Zoo until 2008 – and it is those same trains that Harvey will be bringing to Adventure Pointe.
The entertainment core – complete with amphitheatre and two-sided stage - will come to life as the day draws to a close, extending the enjoyment of the day, centring on music and performance, with line dancing and two-stepping, concerts - and fireworks every night.
“This is what I want to do: to make people happy, and provide them with a nice place to do it,” Harvey says.
Harvey, who has been a cardiologist for over twenty-three years, plans eventually to leave medicine and devote himself to the realisation of his vision. As Katie remarks, this isn’t really a change of career, but a sideways step:
“It’s the best medicine. He’s going into preventative care.”
Harvey may be a visionary, but he plans to be a hands-on developer, having an office with sleeping quarters at the park so he can oversee the operation.
The emphasis is firmly on family rides and a pleasurable group experience. This isn’t a destination for adrenaline-junkies: the emphasis is on the group experience; fun for everyone.
There is no target age – the idea is that everyone can enjoy Adventure Pointe, and everyone can learn: the Gulf Coast is an area so rich in cultural heritage and specifically locational skills that there is a point of interest for everyone.
The local area’s heritage is the inspiration for Adventure Pointe’s theme park, which has three main areas: the Great Outdoors; the Pirate Village and Exploration Island, and a Speedway station, in a nod to the famous speedway at Playland Park.
The rides are all relevant to the area’s rich history.
‘The Pirate Village’ will evoke the spirit of the pirate Jean Lafitte, who had a base locally in around 1815, during the Mexican War of Independence.
‘The Pirate Village and Exploration Island’ will feature Jean Lafitte’s Fleet Boat Ride; Destination Exploration; the Octopus Ride; the Lighthouse, Shoal Point, Campbell Court (the Campbell family were part of Jean Lafitte’s crew and were the settlers who made Texas City into a town), Engineers’ Camp and lots of interactive games.
‘The Discovery Area’ situated in the Lighthouse will educate visitors about the region’s maritime history.
The team intend to add NASA and oil-refinement themed attractions, self-propelling rides as a nod to the fact that Texas City was the original Army base where the First Aero Squadron was born, activities in the forest rock region and perhaps to incorporate a ride or event into the Lighthouse.
‘The Great Outdoors’ will feature a series of interconnected zip lines for racing or two people riding; a raft ride; heege towers; a flat ride – possibly a carousel with themed animals –additional family rides, a geyser and various interactive activities, as well as a train depot.
Katie (left) sat down and listened to Harvey’s long-held vision, then put together a formidable team of designers who have begun to make that vision a reality.
It is her contention that “You are only as good as the people you surround yourself with” – so if the team was going to make Harvey’s dream bear fruit, it had to be strong.
Katie said: “This is all Harvey’s vision and we’re just the translators... You can’t just build it and let it go: this is a lifetime’s dream.”
The team she built includes Christian Hope, concept designer and Eduardo Borrego, lead architect.
It is through Christian’s creative flair and imagination as he worked with Eduardo to develop the infrastructure of the Park that Adventure Pointe has evolved from concept to exciting reality, poised to bring the community of Texas a unique new entertainment destination project.
Terri Lera, Production Director, a graduate of Texas A&M who possesses a dynamic portfolio of development projects across the Gulf Coast Region, and Nick Hernandez, advisory counsel, who has worked on 98% of all real estate developments in Houston so brought real estate expertise, as well as playing a role in the strategic direction and leadership of retail services on a regional and national basis also came on board, completing the team that will bring Adventure Pointe to the public very soon.
This may be a labour of love, but business acumen as well as sentiment has shaped the project.
Harvey owns a piece of land where the adjacent properties are currently undergoing development including: an off price retail centre and over 2,000 new homes. Texas City, a city on the cusp of major development and economic growth, is the ideal location for Adventure Pointe, open land for a large-scale project just outside of Houston.
According to Katie Hurley: “We know there is going to be interesting growth in that region... No-one is ever going to stop going to South Texas ...because there’s so much there - not just the enterprise and raw materials: some of the best places to vacation are along the Texas coast.”
Yet Adventure Pointe will draw local visitors, too, as it will provide an entertainment source close to home.
Harvey’s vision, rooted as it is in his family’s past and the history of the Gulf Coast, meets a present-day need for an entertainment venue in this area; a family destination that combines theme park, retail area and performance venue.
Katie points out that currently “There’s no place to have a prom or see a ticketed live show (the kids go to Galveston or Houston)...We’re giving them a place to make memories in their own backyard.”
Images: Adventure Pointe
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