“Something for every age” | The HLSR carnival has 80 rides

“You want something for every age group,” says RCS Carnival’s Chris Lopez.

HOUSTON — In the hours leading up to the opening of the carnival at the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo, the only faces you’ll see are those of the stuffed animals hung as prizes and the hundreds of staff making sure all games and rides are ready for visitors.

“We missed you guys and we’re glad to be back,” said Chris Lopez of RCS Carnival, the company that sets up and runs the massive carnival taking over NRG Park.

The carnival had just started in 2020 when the rodeo was forced to close.

“We’ve spent the last two years innovating, refreshing everything, creating new food stalls, new rides,” says Dominic Palmieri, also at RCS.

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There are five new rides in 2022:

Atlantis Funhouse: Atlantis is a custom-built, multi-level funhouse themed around the lost city of Atlantis.

Dragon Family coaster: Dragon Family Coaster is a family coaster suitable for all ages, themed with spectacular fantasy dragons and multi-colored LED lighting.

Moon Maker: Moonraker is a super spectacular ride from Europe that’s not for the faint-hearted, with high-speed twists and spins in all directions.

Winky the Whale: Winky the Whale is a new kiddie ride, where kids ride inside a whale that spins around, up and down, while splashing through the water.

Wheel of Freedom: The Liberty Wheel is a family-friendly Ferris wheel that’s fun for all ages.

“I think this will be the first and only event with five Ferris wheels,” Lopez said. “My favorite? Has to be the XL wheel, our signature piece, absolutely.”

Although the Ferris Wheels are among the biggest rides in NRG Park right now, they are only a small fraction in the scheme of things. There are 80 rides installed and ready to roll, spin and fly.

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“(We) always want to stay on the cutting edge and provide the best entertainment and the safest entertainment for Houstonians,” Lopez says.

Safety is a top priority, which is why the rides are inspected during assembly and daily before the carnival opens to the public, according to Lopez.

If rides aren’t your thing, maybe games are? There are 54 options at the carnival with many prizes on display.

“You want something for every age group,” Lopez says.

Same for food. Midway is loaded with 36 different stalls where you can grab a bite of turkey leg, cotton candy, or just about anything you can imagine.

“Having something for everyone keeps them here longer. They’re going to eat longer. They’re going to play longer,” says Lopez.

The rides are ready. If you too, the carnival opens at 6 p.m. on Thursday.

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