San Antonio's `Fiesta Texas' Slated to Open Next Spring

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Associated Press SAN ANTONIO _ The people behind Opryland in Tennessee are tuning up a similar theme park in San Antonio, hoping to attract big crowds with a blend of music linked to Texas and the Southwest.

"Watch our smoke in San Antonio. We mean business," said Bill Hoelscher, general manager of the $100-million Fiesta Texas set to open next spring.

Hundreds of construction workers are carving the 200-acre park out of a former limestone quarry northwest of the city.

The park is a joint venture of Opryland USA Inc. of Nashville and USAA, the San Antonio insurance and travel conglomerate. Opryland USA is a part of Oklahoma Publishing Co. in Oklahoma City.

Hispanic, German, rock and country music will be showcased in theme sections at the park. Fiesta Texas will also have seven theaters, restaurants, shops, arcades and rides that take advantage of the site's 90-foot stone cliffs.

Fiesta Texas planners estimate first-year attendance will top 2 million.

"This city is already a tourist destination," Hoelscher said. "And music is a big deal here."

Hoelscher, who spent 20 years working for Disney World in Florida, said he watched nearby Orlando grow from a "sleepy little town."

"It's almost like deja vu," he said of San Antonio.

City officials say Fiesta Texas is a another jewel in their tourism crown that includes the Alamo, the Riverwalk and Sea World of Texas.

"I believe San Antonio is emerging as a national destination point, and I think this park will help get us there," said Steve Moore, executive director of the San Antonio Convention and Visitors Bureau.

The bureau estimates Fiesta Texas will draw an additional 1 million visitors to San Antonio in its first year, adding to the approximately 10.5 million who make the city Texas' leading tourist destination.

The park is at the beginning of the Hill Country, where oaks, cedar trees, cactus and wild flowers cover the rolling terrain.

Bob Foster, the park's marketing director, said it is being landscaped with indigenous plants, including more than 2,000 trees. …