Arlington: The Entertainment Capital of Texas

Local Unknown is my new blog series exploring my hometown of Arlington, Texas and the local area. It focuses on local history, oddities, arts, and culture. Watch for new posts on Wednesdays!


Arlington’s Big Four in the Entertainment District

  • Six Flags Over Texas (amusement park)
  • Six Flags Hurricane Harbor (water park) 
  • Globe Life Field (home to the Texas Rangers baseball team)
  • AT&T Stadium (home to the Dallas Cowboys football team)

Arlington is mostly known for the Big Four in its Entertainment District. While it doesn’t show the whole picture of Arlington, it’s a decent introduction.


1950s and 1960s

In the 1950s and 1960s, Arlington experienced a shift. The General Motors assembly plant opened in 1953. It brought jobs to the area, and the population boomed. In 1957, the Dallas-Fort Worth Turnpike opened. (It’s now known as Interstate 30.) Motorists were no longer reliant on State Highway 80, which was a much smaller and slower route. The turnpike helped revolutionize travel in the area. But people living in the area, and those traveling through it, needed entertainment.


Six Flags Over Texas

Back in the 1950s, an area around modern-day State Highway 360 and Interstate 30 was available. (Today it’s hard to imagine that area as a wide-open space!) The area was initially sought to be a second site for Disneyland, which opened in 1955 in California. Disney prospectors visited Arlington but weren’t convinced. Undeterred, developers moved forward. The project took a different turn and became Six Flags Over Texas amusement park. It opened in 1961.

Family entertainment brought a different demographic (and lots more dollars) to the area. Six Flags was a sprawling site, with rides, shows, dining, and shopping. It’s still thriving today and has only gotten bigger. It serves as the anchor of Arlington’s Big Four in the city’s bustling Entertainment District. It wasn’t the first thing that brought people here — more on that in later posts — but it may be the most influential.

“Six Flags Over Texas” by Michael Wallace (shutterbug4000)


Six Flags Hurricane Harbor

Wet ‘n Wild, an expansive outdoor water park, opened in 1983. Six Flags would later buy the park and rename it Six Flags Hurricane Harbor. At more than 50 acres in size, it’s the largest water park in North Texas. With rides, pools, and other attractions, it’s a popular escape from the summer heat in Texas.

Six Flags and Hurricane Harbor are half of the Big Four. The other half is sports-related.


Texas Rangers baseball

In 1972, the Washington Senators baseball team moved to Arlington. They became the Texas Rangers and the first major league sports team to play here. 

The Texas Rangers new stadium, Globe Life Field, opened earlier this year. It replaces the Globe Life Park, which is nearby and being repurposed by the city. 

“Summer at the Ballpark” by Bo Nash (sidehike)


Dallas Cowboys football

In 2009, the Dallas Cowboys football team moved from Irving to Arlington. Their billion-dollar stadium hosts Dallas Cowboys games, other sporting events, and concerts. It’s one of the largest stadiums in Texas, and it hosted Super Bowl XLV in 2011. 

Love for the Cowboys runs deep. Regardless of whether they’re winning or losing, there is a die-hard fanbase. Fans fill the stadium to capacity, with thousands more watching at local sports bars, at home, and around the country.


New arrivals

Besides the Big Four, welcome “Texas Live!” to the Entertainment District. (Maybe it’s now the Big Five.) This complex offers many restaurants, bars, and entertainment venues. Accompanied by an upscale hotel, visitors can now stay right in the heart of the action. Expect this area to grow and become a significant part of the Entertainment District. While an ideal spot for sporting events, it will likely become a destination that can also stand on its own.


Arlington: The Entertainment Capital of Texas

Today, Arlington is known as the Entertainment Capital of Texas. Many visitors (and residents) stop there and don’t look any deeper. I need more than the Big Four, though. I’m not much for the crowds or traffic, for which the Entertainment District tends to have plenty. I want to experience the real city underneath the glitz of the tourist attractions. I’d much rather see the less touristy offerings, which I’ll uncover while exploring this city.

One of the best things about Arlington is that it feels like a big city, but it’s much smaller. And if you want a big city, there are some nearby. Arlington’s location is key to its appeal and success. It’s located in North Texas between Dallas and Fort Worth. Proximity to DFW International Airport also helps. Arlington is often in the shadow of its larger neighbors. But, Arlington is a tourist destination in its own right. It’s also home to nearly 400,000 residents, making it one of the 50 most populated cities in the United States.

The combination of big-city amenities, small-town vibes, location, and personality gives Arlington its charm. Tourists and residents coexist. It’s a great place to visit and live. 


Arlington: More than the Big Four (or Five)

Early settlers to the area wouldn’t believe Arlington today. With roller coasters and massive stadiums dotting the skyline, it’s a far cry from how it all began.

Now that I’ve introduced the Big Four, I likely won’t mention them too often in my blog. There’s so much more to Arlington that I want to explore. In my next post, I’ll start looking at some of the other things that you can find in Arlington.



Resources

Arlington CVB, “ARLINGTON ENTERTAINMENT DISTRICT,” accessed August 18, 2020,
www.arlington.org/things-to-do/attractions/arlington-entertainment-district 

City of Arlington, “HISTORY OF ARLINGTON,” accessed August 18, 2020, www.arlingtontx.gov/residents/about_arlington/history_of_arlington/arlington_history  

McCown, Davis G. 2016. Six Flags Over Texas: The First Fifty Years. Hurst, Texas. Lavaca Publications and Media, LLC.


Photos

“Six Flags Over Texas” by Michael Wallace (shutterbug4000)

“Summer at the Ballpark” by Bo Nash (sidehike)

3 thoughts on “Arlington: The Entertainment Capital of Texas

  1. Thank you for sharing! I liked how you included a little history in there too. I don’t know too much about Arlington, Texas, so I found it interesting to see what’s all there! I can’t wait to read more of what you uncover while you’re exploring.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your support! It’s tough to know what to include and what to leave out. Just because I find something interesting doesn’t mean that other people will. But I like local history, and plan to explore that more in later posts.

      Liked by 1 person

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