An Afternoon at Pleasure Pier

After a successful and safe day at Kemah Boardwalk, I was eager to spend some time at Pleasure Pier the next day. While I was satisfied with the number of rides I got on everything, I left feeling a bit uneasy because not everyone here took the COVID-19 pandemic seriously.

Recap of my 2012 visit

I had the chance to visit Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier when the park was brand spankin' new for 3 hours in June 2012. In fact, the ferris wheel and star flyer weren't open yet. I visited with family and friends and the lines were very short for every attraction. We rode most of the flat rides plus Iron Shark 6 times (5 in the front row, which I preferred). While I liked this coaster a lot, I really wished it had one more lap with maybe another airtime moment and an in-line twist or heartline roll.


I was at the pier by myself from about 12:30PM-5PM. Since I already had my wristband from the day before, I got to skip the line near the ticket booths when entering, which looked like at least a 20 minute wait. The park initially was slow crowd-wise, and I did not have to wait more than 10 minutes for anything until later in the day. Around 3:30, the crowds picked up drastically, and by 5PM I left because I felt unsafe given the large number of guests, limited walking space, and lack of mask-wearing. Pleasure Pier had signs posted about socially distancing in queues and wearing "required" facial coverings, but no one enforced these rules, and very few people followed them. In terms of rides, I got 12 on Iron Shark (a record for my most marathoned coaster in a day), 2 on the star flyer, and one on the frisbee ride, ferris wheel, and log flume. The star flyer and frisbee were the only rides I saw being disinfected, and the employees operating Iron Shark did not always wear masks. The fact that Pleasure Pier was so lax about the pandemic protocals put a damper on my otherwise great day going solo.


My opinions of Gerstlauer's Iron Shark after a dozen rides haven't changed too much from my 2012 experience: this coaster is short but sweet. Unfortunately, the front row has gotten a bit rough, but the back has held up well. Operations were horrible, as only one train was running. Additionally, most cycles had multiple empty seats due to Pleasure Pier's interpretation of social distancing while riding. I was fine with the partially empty trains though, and even when the park got busy the line for this coaster did not exceed 30 minutes. On the bright side, the drop and forces were slightly better than I remembered. I preferred the right side on every ride I got this time, but that was probably because the ride operator who checked restraints for the 4 left seats used all her might to staple riders every time. As a bonus, sitting on the right side provided an extra thrill on the brake run by hanging riders over the ocean. In conclusion, I did not move Iron Shark in my rankings even though my row preference changed. If the back row had also been rough, then this coaster would've moved down a few spots. Iron Shark had a great first drop, one other airtime moment, forceful inversions, and a smooth experience in the back, but none of the elements wowed me and it was over far too soon. Given the unique space limitations at Pleasure Pier, this coaster was a quality fit and I'm grateful to have ridden it 18 total times so far.

Other Rides

My favorite non-coaster ride was Texas Star Flyer. It was windy when I visited, so the ride was more thrilling than anticipated and provided good views. Pirate's Plunge, the log flume, thoroughly soaked me on both drops and had really nice theming. The frisbee ride, Revolution, Larson loop, Cyclone, and ferris wheel, Galaxy Wheel were all standard. The pier also has bumper cars and some kiddie rides that I have not ridden. Interestingly, when I was there it looked like Pleasure Pier removed parts of their chairswing and Rock n' Roll ride.

Food & Merchandise

I did not buy anything from the park in 2020. While visiting in 2012, I ate dinner with my group at Slices & More. We thought the food and price were typical for an amusement park. Pleasure Pier has a gift shop, but I haven't bought anything from there.


After doing some research, I opted to buy the Weekend Adventure Pass, which included unlimited admission and most attractions at Kemah Boardwalk, Pleasure Pier, and the Downtown Aquarium for a whole weekend. This pass was $43 with tax, and it was the perfect deal for my situation because the previous day I visited Kemah Boardwalk. People can also buy all-day ride wristbands at Pleasure Pier each for $27 plus tax, but these regularly go on sale. Or, guests can pay a one-time $10 fee plus $4-$6 per ride included with a wristband/weekend pass. Lastly, if someone just wants to walk around the pier, take photos, use the restroom, etc., they can do so for $7-$10 depending on their height and age. I appreciate that Pleasure Pier offers these different options for different needs, although a wristband of some sort is the way to go for people wishing to ride more than one or two rides.

Remarks on Riding Coasters During the Pandemic

I was genuinely excited to visit Kemah Boardwalk and Pleasure Pier because it had been many years since I rode the coaster at each of these places. However, the bigger reason why I went in 2020 was to test the waters (pun intended) on visiting amusement parks during the coronavirus pandemic. As expected, wearing a mask outside during the entire time was stuffy and uncomfortable. It was also frustrating and concerning that not everyone took the protocals and signage seriously. I know that larger parks run by Six Flags, Cedar Fair, and other companies are much stricter than the places I visited. All things considered, as much as I love coasters, I think I will hold off on visiting any more parks until the world returns to "normal" - meaning COVID-19 is no longer a major threat to human life and impacting park operations. I am hopeful that this day will come in 2021.


These photos were taken by me. Please credit this website if used.