June 27th, 2012

Pleasure Pier: Galveston’s Gulf Straddling Amusement Park

I usually try to shy away from the ol’ cell phone photo, but who would have thought I had a reason to pack up the DSLR on my trip to Galveston. Who wants shots of dried, brown kelp and green-ish beaches? The fact that Galveston’s Pleasure Pier was on theĀ docketĀ of activities had flown over my head… But even then, how interesting could an amusement park on a pier be?

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Like it or not, visit or skip it, the Pleasure Pier exists.

It is the latest acquisition of Landry’s Inc., an obvious Tilman Fertitta brain-child, as his queues seem to be taken from the “if you like it then you should put a ring carousel on it” school of thought. Perhaps it falls into line with the rest of the business. Ordering roller coasters en masse must allow you the same kinds of discounts as pounds and tons of redfish.

When we were on our way down to Galveston, I was trying to remember all the good times I’ve enjoyed hanging out with our island neighbors. It turns out, I couldn’t pull up more than a handful of sweet recollections. Perhaps I never gave Galvez-town a fair shake in the entertainment department. I had my high school graduation at Moody Gardens. That’s a happy time… right?

To be honest, I’ve never been drawn down there. I’m not a fisherman or a boater or a patron of sandy* beaches or any combination thereof on a particular weekend. I’d rather find a backyard or a golf course on my days off. Pleasure Pier has the opportunity to change all that for a lot of Houstonians just like me. It can tilt the scales from “eh, no way” to “sure, I could consider that” when the option of a Galveston trip comes up.

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For my money ($21.99 to be exact), Pleasure Pier produced a yearning for a conveniently close amusement park. As a kid growing up in the northeast, my summers were full of trips to a place called Dorney Park. My mom was–and probably still is–a roller coaster nut. I inherited that gene. As I came to find out this weekend, that gene wears off after a near-decade-long absence of coasters. Since 2005, Astroworld has been a less than suitable parking lot for Rodeo patrons.

With two more rides to be opened soon, Pleasure Pier has just enough scratch to take care of your “amusement ride that doesn’t come bundled on the back of an 18-wheeler” itch. One, single-car roller coaster and a bevy of rides that swing you back-and-forth and round-and-round can take care of the casual thrill seeker. I say that with all the masculinity in the world because I was definitely not screaming like a scared senseless schoolgirl when I was on the Iron Shark.

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Like I said, that’s not me on the left…

There are the usual carnival games and food available. Beware: funnel cakes and corndogs do not go well with spinny-jolty rides at thirty years old. There’s even a Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., for those of you that want to class things up Landry’s-style before or after hitting the rides.

As you can imagine, everything is crammed right next to each other. There will have to be no long treks to get from one ride to the next which will be good with those not faint of heart, yet faint of lung. Pleasure Pier is really a quick stop for you and the family when the rest of Galveston’s seawall attractions run their course. It will whet your appetite for more and fall just short of delivering the full “amusement park experience,” but could you ask for more for an attraction that’s relegated to the real estate provided by a pier.

My only qualms with the experience are (1) the price is a little high for my tastes and (2) the name is a little dirty. I completely understand that Pleasure Pier is “historic,” but are any of your ticket-buyers going to remember those days? Pleasure Pier sounds more like the name of an establishment that should butt up to the deep south of Interstate 45. Do it for the children, Fertitta. Consider a name change.

— Paul


Lorena — Wednesday, June 27, 2012 2:14 pm

The ladies look like they’re having fun, but you look terrified :P Nice Family Guy appearance…

Daniel — Wednesday, June 27, 2012 2:16 pm

no namechange needed, you just need to get your mind out of the gutter ;)

Jax — Wednesday, June 27, 2012 9:29 pm

Come on, Galveston is a great place to bring a good camera. In fact it’s one of my favorite places to photogrph in the entire Houston metro area. And there are way better things to photograph than the amusement park. Maybe you haven’t been to G-Town in a while but I think it’s amazingly beautiful. I’m sick of hearing people who don’t know the city / coast well talk about how ugly it is. It’s not. Don’t believe me? Check out my photos. http://www.flickr.com/photos/j-a-x/tags/galveston/

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