Remembering El Paso: 10 things only people who grew up in El Paso in the 80s will remember

El Paso News

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — The 1980s in El Paso were a special time: big hair, metal playgrounds and malls and arcades that ruled the social lives of kids and teens, alike.

Growing up in El Paso meant lots of places to hang with your friends — inside and out — and spend time with family too. We asked KTSM 9 News viewers about their favorite 80s things in El Paso and it was quite a trip down memory lane. This non-exhaustive list includes the most-mentioned things only people who grew up in El Paso in the 80s will remember:

1. Western Playland at Ascarate Park

Photo via Life of an El Paso Woman blog.

While El Pasoans do still get to enjoy Western Playland, those who grew up in El Paso in the 80s mentioned this as a top memory. There were a few rides and activities El Pasoans waxed nostalgic about, like riding The Himalayan while 80s hair metal blasted on the speakers, racing friends and family down the big green slide at the outer edge of the park and being terrified the car was going to go off every turn on the Big Cheese roller coaster.

2. Magic Landing

Photo via Brenda Muniz-Molina on Magic Landing Facebook page.

Once upon a time, there were two amusement parks in El Paso. One is still around, albeit now in Sunland Park, and the second was Magic Landing, located off of Interstate 10 near Horizon. The park was open from 1984 to 1989, with a main street and a 15-foot Ferris wheel welcoming visitors to the park. The park closed four years after a park employee was killed when his arm was severed in a roller coaster accident.

3. Mountain Shadow Lake

Photo via Art Dorado YouTube video.

In the mid-80s, KLAQ hosted a hot air balloon festival at Mountain Shadow Lakes, which was near Horizon. Performers like Little Anthony and the Imperials, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Cheap Trick were just a few of the headliners before the festival moved to Wet N Wild. Aside from hosting the balloon festival, the manmade lake was a cooling retreat for El Pasoans looking for aquatic fun could go swimming, as well as rent paddle boats and canoes. Apparently, the land (and dried-up lake), which includes 4,100 square acres, is for sale for a cool $6.5 million should any readers want to revamp this old entertainment venue.

Photo via Trinity J. Lara.

4. Castle Park

Located along I-10 and Yarbrough, this entertainment venue was a kid’s dream. Tex Critters Pizza Jamboree, an animatronic band, played in the back as kids waited for pizza. A video arcade entertained teens. And outdoors, there was two miniature golf courses for the whole family. The flyer says there were batting cages, but I don’t remember those at all.

5. Pancho’s Mexican Buffet

Photo by Missy Martinez Lopez.

This Mexican buffet had it all, especially delicious sopapillas after the meal. And the little Mexican flag that you raised if you needed something was one of the best parts of eating here.

6. Dudley Field

Photo by @BobBusser.

Though the field was built in the 1920s, many El Pasoans fondly remember seeing the El Paso Diablos play here in the 80s. The Diamond Girls dancing on the team’s dugout, the Super Chicken and his silly antics and 25-cent hot dogs are just some of the memorable 80s moments at Dudley Field. The field later became home to the El Paso Patriots soccer team after the Diablos moved to Cohen Stadium. The field at the corner of U.S. 54 and Paisano Drive was later demolished and the El Paso Zoo expanded to its current spacious location.

7. Steve Crosno and Studio 14

The rest of America had Casey Kasem. El Paso had Steve Crosno. The legendary El Paso deejay spanned decades, but those who grew up in the 80s remember the weekly dance he hosted, called Studio 14. The show featured the latest music from popular artists in the 80s.

8. Video arcades

Video arcades ruled in the 80s and El Paso’s Aladdin’s Castle and Detour at Montwood Square were two of El Paso’s favorites.

9. Roller rinks

Hanging out at the roller rink was a favorite past time in the 1980s (as in other decades), but 80s kids loved their Roller King, The Time Tunnel and Wheels Plus. What were your favorite songs to skate to?

10. McDonald’s party cabooses

A few of the McDonald’s locations had a train caboose on its property where parties were hosted. The location on Yarbrough and I-10 was one such location. Occasionally, kids were allowed to go in and check it out, even when no parties were going on, but it was a magical experience nonetheless. Were you lucky enough to have a birthday party in one of the cabooses?

Honorable Mentions:

  • Fiesta de las Flores
  • B-94 and Z-93
  • Cruising Ascarate Park on Sundays
  • Metal rocket slides at the park
  • Amigo Airsho
  • Pistol Pete’s Pizza
  • Lionel’s Play World
Photo via Jesse Martinez.

What do you think of our list? Did we miss something? Send us an email at pgarcia@ktsm.com.

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