The three entertainment venues that have operated across from the Alamo for two decades have closed their doors for good, marking a major step in the redevelopment of Alamo Plaza. 

Phillips Entertainment Inc. shut down three of its downtown attractions on Sept. 5 — Ripley’s Haunted Adventure, Guinness World Records Museum and Tomb Rider 3D Adventure Ride and Arcade. 

The longtime tenant will vacate the historic Woolworth and Palace buildings by Oct. 31, making way for a museum and visitors center as part of a roughly $388 million redevelopment of Alamo Plaza. 

“I was there when we sold our first ticket in 2002, and I was there when we sold our last ticket in 2022,” said Davis Phillips, president and CEO of Phillips Entertainment. Between those years, 7 million tickets were sold, mostly to tourists, he said.

In a deal made with the General Land Office in February, Phillips agreed to terminate his lease of the spaces at 327 and 329 Alamo Plaza which was not set to expire until 2028. Phillips said he was paying $72,000 in monthly rent.

The state purchased the Woolworth, Palace and Crockett buildings in 2015 with plans to open the Alamo Museum and Visitors Center in 2025 or 2026. But the lease agreements were kept intact, delaying the start of work on the museum. 

Phillips said it wasn’t until Kate Rogers was made executive director of the Alamo Trust in 2021 that discussions on an agreement to end the lease began to make headway. 

“Once she came on board, then we were able to have sustained conversations, so I give her credit for helping that happen,” he said. 

Rogers called Phillips a good neighbor to the Alamo Trust, the nonprofit entity that manages the Alamo. “The museum will undoubtedly benefit the San Antonio community for many years to come with the creation of new jobs and incremental sales tax revenue, and we appreciate local business owners like Mr. Phillips who are helping to make that possible,” she said.

Officials did not disclose the terms of the agreement. Though Phillips also would not discuss its details, he said he’s satisfied with how it worked out. 

The Woolworth and Palace buildings will soon host a new Alamo museum and visitors center.
The Woolworth and Palace buildings will soon host a new Alamo museum and visitors center. Credit: Nick Wagner / San Antonio Report

“We’re going to end up with this world-class Alamo museum and so the idea is that this will be a real win, I hope, for the state of Texas and the city of San Antonio when this is all said and done,” he said. “We need the Alamo plan to be done well.”

But the three Phillips-owned attractions won’t reopen in another location. His father and grandfather started the first such business in Alamo Plaza in 1987 in order to take advantage of the “walk-by, impulse traffic,” Phillips said, adding that he believes those venues wouldn’t be profitable anywhere else.

He’s proud of their track record nevertheless. “Most businesses close because they aren’t doing well and that is certainly not the case,” Phillips said. “We ended on a high and I would have preferred to have been able to continue to operate, but the circumstances change.”

Meanwhile, other attractions owned by Ripley’s Entertainment remain open at 301 and 307 Alamo Plaza, including Ripley’s Believe It or Not San Antonio, which features a mirror maze and wax museum. 

Phillips is working to find jobs for the 150 to 170 displaced workers at other Phillips Entertainment attractions, including the Buckhorn Saloon and Museum and the Texas Ranger Museum, a downtown souvenir shop and two escape room attractions on the North Side, or with other businesses in the downtown area. A 1980s-themed bar Phillips is planning with a group of investors is another possibility. 

“I’ve been telling everybody it’s the end of an era, but it’s not the end of Phillips Entertainment,” the business owner said.

On Thursday, Alamo Trust officials met in the Cavalry Courtyard to unveil statues of Texas Revolutionary figures Emily West Morgan and Hendrick Arnold installed as part of the Alamo Briscoe Sculpture Trail.

Shari Biediger has been covering business and development for the San Antonio Report since 2017. A graduate of St. Mary’s University, she has worked in the corporate and nonprofit worlds in San Antonio...