Fiesta Texas is located on a northbound stretch of Interstate 10, just two or three miles north of the Anderson Loop. The land on which it sits was carved out of a rock quarry, which gives it an interesting setting. In fact, the end of every day is marked by a spectacular laser/light show performed on the face of the cliffs.
Fiesta Texas is segregated into several sections, each with their own perspective of Texas life. Inside the main entrance you enter Los Festivales, the Mexican spirit of Texas. Just past that is the Ole Waterin' Hole, a scaled down water park, on the way to Crackaxle Canyon where you'll get the flavor of the old West. Rockville reflects the 1950's, not only of Texas, but the rest of the country. Next to Rockville is the Boardwalk. I'm not quite how this fits in to Texas history. Finally there's Spassburg. Texas has had a great number of German settlements in it's past, as is evident by the names of many of it's cities, such as Pflugerville. Though my German is non-existant, I believe the name has something to do with plows?
Fiesta may not be for everyone, especially those who frequent theme parks for the rides. Although it has it's share of them, the greater percentage of them seem to be for smaller kids. For the adventurous, Fiesta has a huge wooden roller coaster called The Rattler. When the rope is dropped at opening time the crowd heads directly for The Rattler. Another, more adult, ride is the Gully Washer, a ride through a winding, bumping water trough with a nasty audience participation feature. Friends, and enemies in particular, can fire off a water spout from an overlook by plugging quarters into a coin device. Nice target shooting.
Fiesta's main appeal is it's shows, its shops, and its eateries.
Tecnical note: Some of these photos were taken a year or so ago. Their clarity is a bit less than those taken this year. I just hope that it doesn't detract from your enjoyment. Other shots are done inside and the lighting wasn't suitable for my film and 400 ASA film tends to be a bit grainier than desired.
Personal Warning!! Throughout this trip you'll see frequent appearances by a particular young lady, usually brunette, sometimes blond. This is no coincidence. This is my lovely neice, Sondra Crawford, the aspiring actress/model. Please excuse my obvious pride.
General Warning!! The acts appearing at the various locations may change on short notice or not appear at all. Because many of the performers and staff are college and high school students the beginning of the school year can impact their availability. Fiesta starts weekend-only operations near the end of August which is when you can expect a lot of the staff to go back to their regular pursuits. Summer season acts mentioned here are performing during the 1995 season. The acts may change with a new season.
The outdoor stage may have one or two different acts, depending on the
time of year and the availability of the artists.
This year The Patsy Torres Band seems to have center stage here. This is the second year I've seen Patsy at Fiesta. Previously she appeared in Crackaxle Canyon's theater, Diamond Lil's (which we'll stop at later.) I was very surprised that her fame doesn't extend outside the immediate area. This lovely lady is a bundle of energy and talent, singing and dancing.
At various times of the day you can also hear the Texas Square Singers in the town square. Each of the eight singers is adorned in different native garb associated with life in Mexico, from the pretty seniorita to the venerable old padre.
You can also pick up some nice souvenirs at the Village Hat Shop or the Candle Carver.
And if you haven't eaten at the major restaraunt, Mi Pueblito, in Los Festivales you haven't eaten Mexican. Other food fare can be found at the Cocina de Tejas, a courtyard cafe, soft tacos at Mocking Bird and bakery items at El Rincon de Las Delicias.
Turning the corner we pass the Ol' Waterin' Hole. This is a scaled down water park. It's not uncommon to see visitors in swim suits in other parts of the park who have just come from here. This is not the only place where a body can get drenched in Fiesta. The Ol' Waterin' Hole has recently gotten a 1.5 acre expansion.
After refreshing yourselves at the Waterin' Hole you'll find
entertainment with an Old West flavor in Crackaxle Canyon. The first
major attraction you come to is The Sundance Theater where an entourage
of singers and dancers provide a sampling of country song and dance (nice
how that works out, eh?) with "Music Country Music". This high energy show
includes several performers doing their impressions of popular country
singers like Clint Black, George Strait and the Judds.
Crackaxle Canyon sports a number of shops, mostly of trinkets. There
are also some shops that sell finely crafted leather goods and metal work.
For those of you who fancy yourselves as Cowboys at heart you can try
your hand at the electronic shooting gallery. Right next door is a more
modern arcade. Show your fiends and family that your heart is in the west
by having an old fashioned photo taken in wild west attire. Get a tattoo.
It's all here in Crackaxle....and more.
Crackaxle is also one of the locales that has a street show, collectively
known as "Streetmosphere". Crackaxle Capers tells the story of two
Russian (?) outlaws being pursued by the local law. Don't stand too close.
You may become part of the action. I almost said, "non-stop action."
However, it's evident that both law and outlaw alike will take a break for
a photo op (my neice is the one on the far left, one of the outlaws.) The
prison band, which highlights the hijinks, also performs separately prior
to the action.
It's at Crackaxle Canyon that you can climb aboard a steam locomotive to take a leisurly trip over to Spassburg. The path takes you though a tunnel carved out of the cliffs that line much of Fiesta. The cliffs have three waterfalls to spark up the scenery.
It's also by these cliffs that you can sit inside a groupsized inner tube and ride the Gully Washer. Your vehicle is a free-floating conveyance that takes you over a series of rapids, banging you on the sides of the gully and kicking up a spray that is guaranteed to leave you drenched. My favorite part of this ride involves not being on the ride itself. On an overlook you'll find three coin operated devices that lets you shoot a geyser of water when you press a button. Wait 'til you see your "friends" coming, wait for the right moment and sssssppppppttttt.
Across the street from the Gully Washer you'll find The Cheat. This "gent" plies his trade by keeping you guessing where the Queen of Hearts went. Yup, he's a card shark. Close up you still can't see how he does it and the angled mirror above his head isn't any help. If you're lucky you'll be picked to watch it close up (and really be embarassed.)
Nestled on the back side of Crackaxle Canyon, wedged between Spassburg and Rockville is a large outdoor theater where you can hear country music in a different setting. This is Lone Star Lil's. It was here where I first saw Patsy Torres last year. The stage is host to an assortment of acts which may appear at various times. Usually you'll see a recurring show during the day and the evening will be capped off with a special performance. This year the recurring show was a musical called "Head for the Hills". This is the first time I've actually seen Lil herself there. The day I was there the evening performance was Lee Roy Parnell.
The approach to Lone Star Lil's is accented by a grassy hill. This is the recommended place to plop your tired (or, as we say in Texas, "tarred") body just before 9:00, when the park officially closes. If you get there at the right time you might see the water falls lit from above, carrying color down the running water. From the hillside you can see the cliff wall which is used as the "screen" for a spectacular laser/multimedia show on the lore of Texas. The projected images and laser sketches are augmented by fireworks on the face of the cliff where explosions are required. And when that cannon turns in your direction...well, don't be sitting too close to the small pool when the cannonball hits. Primary food in Crackaxel Canyon is Bar-B-Que.
Once you leave Crackaxel Canyon you could head for Spassburg. But let's do this in a circular tour. Keep on the trail and you end up in Rockville, founded years ago by J.P. Rock as a place where music would be the dominant way of life. His statue stands in front of the high school. Rockville has an arcade along with a 50's memorabilia shop. Choice of food is Pizza, although other fare is available.
The main attraction of Rockville is a 50's musical, "Rockin' At Rockville
High" held in the high school.
I highly recommend this show. But, be warned....this show is supposed to
be the most popular theme park show in the country. Due to this they
started using a reservation system. When you first enter the park be sure
to pick up tickets so that the show time of your choice is assured.
The musical tells the time-honored Shakesperian story of Bobby Brady (not
sure of the relationship), Penny and Reggie, caught up in a puppy love
triangle. Bobby loves Penny but Reggie thinks she's his. Although he
doubts himself he enters into competition with Reggie in a local TV talent
show. Of course, Reggie is Mr. Perfect and he's perfectly aware of the
fact (not to mention he's rich.) But you'll have to see it. I won't give
the plot away. Fact is, the music is what grabs you. So! Whether you're
a senior, a junior, a sophmore or a freshman, come see and hear the fun.
Strolling around Rockville you're apt to find Four Hits and a Miss at any time of the day. They're an accapella group that does songs of the 50's and 60's. You may find them on the street, in a shop or at the homecoming sock hop......
Which brings us to the patio in front of the high school. Put on your bobby socks (if they're clean) and join the fun hosted by the local radio station, KROC. With help from the high school cheerleaders (neice alert) the hop starts out with some audience members participating in a limbo dance. For the sturdy only.
The goal of the hop is to select a homecoming king to dance with the
homecoming queen (neice alert), Ms. Barb B. Dahl (last year it was
Deb U. Tant.)
Between songs from Four Hits and a Miss and some thanks from the prom queen to her sponsors (Breck, White Rain and Dippity Do)(By the way, at their recommendation pick up some delicious Jurassic Pork, aged to perfection, at your local supermarket) the audience is scoured for some likely gents to reign as king of hop.
The audience is asked to choose the king of the hop from a panel of
four suitors. Usually the winner is a very young man who often needs to
be picked up and carried by the queen while they're dancing.
Close to the high school is another of the more adult rides, The Power Surge, another opportunity to cool off. And you don't even have to be on the ride to enjoy (?) this little side effect. The Power Surge is a short ride in a boat to a conveyor belt that carries you to the top of a trough. The trough ends with a short, but steep, drop that ends up soaking the riders. If you have the nerve, or the lack of foresight, to be standing on the observation bridge over the landing area you'll probably end up more drenched than those in the boat.
Fiesta Bay Boardwalk is mostly games and rides, including the Wipeout,
Wave Runner and Bayside Paddle Boats. For the slightly
adventurous you can climb aboard The Crows Nest Ferris Wheel. The
overview of the park was taken from the Crows Nest.
But, if you're the Indiana Jones type you might want to try your hand, uh, body at the Skycoaster. For an extra cost you're strapped into a harness with two other fans of the movie Death Wish, hoisted high, pulled back and flung forward into empty air. And for this you gotta pay??!?
The rest of the Boardwalk is mostly games, arcades and snack shops. There is, however, a show called "Bounce" which, regretfully, replaced a very well-done Rock Revial show (the picture to the right.) Bounce is aimed primarily at the kids. The plot involves performing while waiting for the Flying Purple People Greeter to show up. The Greeter is attracted to noise, which the audience is expected to supply with their reactions to the show. Mostly it's a media for some young people to show off some talents such as music, stunt rollerblading and juggling. The center of the stage is a recess where highly resillient cushions are placed so that the performers can jump into the middle of the pit and bounce back out again. Although properly part of Rockville, Bounce borders on the Boardwalk.
Preferred bill of fair in Fiesta Bay Boardwalk is corn dogs and
Spassburg has the greatest number of rides, most of which are aimed at kids. You'll also find the assorted shops selling German knick-knacks, wood work, glass blowing and portrait artists. The other terminal point of the train is located in Spassburg and is known here as Der Pilger Bahnhof (who said theme parks weren't educational?)
Entertainment can be found at Sangerfest Halle where the Sauerkrauts
perform German music. The halle also offers food and drink. Come in and
lift a stein and wolf down some sausage and sauerkraut. Sangerfest Halle
has what might be the biggest diversity of food offerings in all of Fiesta,
ranging from pastries to beer to sausage. If you feel coordinated you might
even want to take part in the chicken dance. Waddle, waddle.
Located near the kids rides is a gazebo-like theater, Die Wurst Theater.
Now playing, Die Wurst Players. This is the most directed use of audience
participation in the park, although only two unlucky people get to co-star
in the production.
A man and a woman are chosen to live the roles of the king and the ugly forest hag. The forest hag is actually under a curse where she is a beautiful princess during the day and an ugly forest hag at night. She must convince the king (Viva Las Vegas) to help her break the spell.
Of course, the fun begins when the unlucky actors are expected to follow directions to the letter and fall prey to cutting remarks by the two stage directors. (Sorry, I can only credit one of the stage directors, Ms. Sarah Kraut (niece alert,) as I don't remember the character name of the other gal, Monica.)