Home > Uncategorized > First look inside Galveston’s Pleasure Pier – slideshow

First look inside Galveston’s Pleasure Pier – slideshow

Driving down Galveston’s Seawall Boulevard on my way to a tour of Tilman Fertitta’s $60 million Pleasure Pier, I thought of Jodie Foster.

See SlideShow

Foster starred as a scientist in that 1997 Hollywood sci-fi film “Contact” where they build a huge space travel machine along the Florida coast. The images of those huge computer-generated steel rings rising up during the machine’s “construction” seemed to match the very real steel roller coaster frames jutting skyward and looming larger the closer I got to the corner of Seawall and 25th Street, where the Pleasure Pier sits.

For Landry’s Inc. and Mark Kane, the company’s regional director who is in charge of the Pleasure Pier and the Kemah Boardwalk attraction, the tourist attraction on the site of the old Flagship Hotel pier is no longer the pie-in-the-sky vision unveiled in January at a splashy press conference at Landry’s Inc. headquarters.

Kane said the amusement park, which extends 1,130 feet over the Gulf of Mexico, is on track to open Memorial Day weekend in May when the motors that drive the 16 rides packed along the deck will roar into action. When I asked about staying within the $60 million budget, Kane hedged slightly but offered this: “The budget and (construction) schedule for something like this is always a challenge, but I think we’re right where Mr. Fertitta wanted to be.”

Kane, who has plenty of experience in the game, having worked as president of the Six Flags amusement park in New Jersey before joining Landry’s about 18 months ago, said the biggest challenge was reinforcing the pier’s underwater infrastructure and also building, in essence, a 32-inch-high second pier on top of the entire 120-foot-wide existing deck to anchor the ride foundations.

Houston’s Ardent Construction is the main contractor for the project. Sub-contractors include Treadwell Electric and Mesa Mechanical Inc., both of Houston, and Mitchell Chouke Plumbing and Kelso Concrete, both of Galveston.

Clusters of construction workers covered the pier the other day. They were sawing cedar paneling and painting walls inside the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. restaurant — the first to be built in Texas since Landry’s acquired the California-based chain in November 2010 — as well as moving cranes around the pier, to crawling around the top of the roller coaster frame high above the Gulf waters.

Kane expects 1 million visitors a year to visit the Pleasure Pier, which will be open 266 days a year, including every day between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

While 3 million visitors stroll along Landry’s Kemah Boardwalk attraction — open 363 days a year — on the mainland just north of Galveston, the big difference, of course, is that the Pleasure Pier has an admission fee plus additional costs for the rides. A family of four can buy wristbands for pier admission and to ride all day for $85.

The Pleasure Pier will be marketed heavily as a Galveston tourist destination, and not only at Landry’s numerous hotels and restaurants already on the island, but to the horde of cruise ship passengers — who will be able to see the top of the roller coaster and Ferris wheel on the Pleasure Pier from the opposite end of 25th Street where the ships pull into the harbor each week near the downtown Strand area.

The Pier will be open from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m., which means it may really shut down closer to midnight by the time all the crowds disperse.

And that’s what has Mike Martorella, the Pleasure Pier’s general manager of amusements, eagerly anticipating the big opening weekend.

“There really isn’t anything on the island for families visiting here with kids at night. Galveston has lots of bars and that’s about it, and every night I see families just walking along the Seawall,” Martorella said. “Now they have somewhere to go.”

Greg Barr – Managing Editor – Houston Business Journal

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. No comments yet.
  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: