AUSTIN (KXAN) — One Texas entrepreneur has a Texas-sized goal: to build a Texas-themed amusement park.
“Why not put a business model that’s meant to bring people together with the content of Texas that already brings people together? It’s a match made in heaven,” TexasLand USA founder and CEO Lizzy McGee said.
McGee, a sixth-generation Texan and Houston native, said she noticed there was a lack of theme parks in Texas — particularly in the Austin and Houston metros — for a state that has the population and metrics that theme park companies look for.
So, she took her Disney theme park strategy background, earned a master’s degree in business administration and started planning TexasLand USA.
She wants the park to have elements from all parts of the state — West Texas, East Texas, North Texas, South Texas — to celebrate the differences across the state and bring people together to celebrate Texans’ unique identity.
“The coolest thing about Texas is it’s kind of a microcosm of the US in terms of geographies, ethnicities, religions,” McGee said. “Despite having all that all those differences, we all come together to sing ‘Deep in the Heart of Texas’ in the seventh inning stretch.”
McGee said the park will be built in phases. The first phase will not be “thrill-focused,” as that can be found at Six Flags. Instead, it would be “story-driven,” with attractions like a Marfa haunted house, a Galveston pirates ride and a Fort Worth rodeo skills ride, for example.
The opening would also have Texas-based foods and drinks. From Dr Pepper and Fletcher’s Corny Dogs, to Tito’s and Blue Bell ice cream, as well as any number of barbecue joints, McGee said the possibilities are endless.
The project’s location is still to be determined, but McGee hopes to have land under contract this fall.
“We’re going to put it somewhere where the people want us,” she said. “Local collaboration is really important to us, and we understand that it could bring jobs, but it also will bring traffic, and there’s a lot of considerations.”
McGee and her team started a Kickstarter to raise money for a demand study. The study will help the team create the grand vision for the park as well as plan for less-fun details like utilities. Their goal was about $71,000, but they exceeded that goal with nearly $82,000 raised.
McGee is also hosting focus groups to learn what future parkgoers are looking for. She said TexasLand “will truly be a park that’s by Texans for Texans.”
After the demand study is complete, they hope to land investment money for designing, planning and building the park.
McGee said the most ambitious part of her project is its timeline. Her goal is to start construction in late 2024 with an grand opening in summer 2026.
“We had to go big and bold on something because we’re Texas,” she said.
Earlier this year, Universal Studios announced it would open a theme park in Frisco geared toward families.
Last week, a $2 billion amusement park in Oklahoma was announced. The “Americana-themed” park is also slated to open in 2026. McGee said this announcement validated her idea that there is a need for theme parks.
“So this really puts the fire under us. Everyone loves a David and Goliath story,” she said. “…Let us know your thoughts–whether you like what we’re doing whether you want to see something different–because if Oklahoma’s gonna have something Texas needs to have something.”