Galveston Pleasure Pier Opens Just in Time for Memorial Day (UPDATED)
You can barely tell that the Flagship was ever there. The past-its-prime hotel, which was destroyed in 2008 by Hurricane Ike, has been replaced by Landry's new Galveston Island Pleasure Pier, a glimmering beacon to consumerism and consumption that celebrated its soft opening this morning, just in time for Memorial Day crowds to descend upon the island. And you know what? Despite the fact that parts of the theme park are still under construction, it's pretty freakin' cool. This single addition to the seawall has practically given the entire island a face-lift, and it's something residents are very proud of.
After months of construction on the pier, which first had to be reinforced, the theme park opened a bit ahead of schedule, though a handful of the 16 rides still aren't finished. That didn't stop an early morning crowd of islanders and vacationers from mixing with media to riding attractions like the Sea Dragon and the Gulf Glider.
The city has already installed highway signs just over the causeway directing visitors to the island's latest addition. And from Broadway, as you turn right onto 25th street, there it is -- the round Cyclone Coaster is the first thing you see beyond the rotating sign above Fish Tales. The entrance to the pier harkens back to Galveston's glory days -- it looks somewhat like a Victorian beach house, but with modern accents like neon lights.
Photo by Brittanie Shey
The pier is also home to the first Bubba Gump Shrimp Company in Texas, a genuine Midway with the friendliest hecklers I've ever encountered, and all manner of carnival-style snacks.
Mark Kane, Landry's regional director for amusement parks, said they're still working out some kinks, such as those rides that aren't quite finished, which include a Ferris wheel and a roller coaster. Rides will open on a rolling basis, he said, with the Iron Shark roller coaster as the first goal.
He also said Landry's hasn't settled on an occupancy number yet. "We're pretty comfortable with a 4,000- to 5,000-person capacity."
But that might present a problem, as the new parking lot across the street, next to Fish Tales, only holds 400 or so cars. Even this morning, Seawall parking was at a premium.