Rising from the ashes: The rebirth of Houston's Magic Island
HOUSTON – With Pharaoh perched atop it’s arguably one of Houston’s most recognizable landmarks, at the intersection of U.S. 59 and Greenbriar. And now, the magic is back!
“The rebirth, kind of like a Phoenix, it'll be rising from the ashes. Almost literally,” Scott Wells said.
Magic Island opened as a private club in the '80s, and spent 25 years as one of the city’s biggest—and most mysterious—entertainment venues.
“There was no other place that featured magic and fine dining in one place. In one venue. In the whole United States,” Wells said.
Wells, a magician, is the entertainment director for Magic Island and performed for decades at the iconic location.
Everything from engagements, anniversaries, Bar Mitzvahs and even birthdays were celebrated within these walls.
Even, KPRC’s anchor, Rachel McNeil got in on the celebration by having her birthday party there as a teen!
“There's something different in all of the rooms, but it all has kind of an Egyptian theme because, it's a land of mystery,” Wells said as he gave a tour of the building.
“This room where we're standing right now is called Cleopatra's Chamber, which looks like the barge...tells the story of Cleopatra coming across the Nile...coming into her power, then meeting Mark Anthony, the big war...and then eventually, dying, being bitten by an asp and then being carried away.”
There was even a séance room, which only added to the mystique of whether or not Magic Island is haunted.
“Yes, there are things that go bump in the night and also in that room,” Wells said. “My memories were the nights when we were the busiest. When we would have like 650 reservations.”
But for the last decade, it’s been lights out at Magic Island. Hurricane Ike, and damages from a fire shuttered this 10,000-square-foot structure, until now.
While the building sat empty, vandals came in and destroyed a lot of the original artwork featuring Egyptian hieroglyphics.
“All of this had graffiti all over it. We just had a marvelous artist who had come in and painted over all this and put it back to its former glory.”
These days, crews are busy working to restore a lot of the original pieces in time for a grand opening by the end of the year.
Scott has gathered some of the old gang of magicians, and they're ready to amaze and dazzle a new generation of customers.
Curt Miller was a sleight of hand artist at Magic Island.
“I did hundreds and hundreds of shows in this room back in the '90s. I remember, we would have so much fun,” recalls Miller as he walks back into one of the rooms he performed in. “A lot of people say it's their favorite kind of magic because you never get to see it right in front of you. It's just absolutely amazing.”
Magic Island is set to open in late December or early January 2019 and will be open Tuesdays through Saturdays.
The menu? Surf and turf, of course! They’ll also feature kid-friendly shows, so the whole family can enjoy the fun.
To join the waiting list, click here.
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