Pleasure Pier Galveston
Article by Tony Huston
Photography by George Hosek

What once was old is new again. And boy is it ever beautiful. After a 50 year hiatus, the Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier has returned to the Texas coast, resurrected on the very spot where the original Pier was destroyed by Hurricane Carla in 1961, and more recently, where the Flagship Hotel stood until it's destruction in 2008 by Hurricane Ike.

The original Pier was home to an arcade, an aquarium, and excellent fishing, and now, the spirit that made it great has been recaptured. Indeed, history has come full circle, but make no mistake; this is not your grandfather’s Pleasure Pier! A $60 million dollar bonanza of light, sound, and festivity, the modern Pier soars 1130 feet over the Gulf of Mexico like a lighthouse guiding excitement seekers to its harbor of adventure.

At night, the Pier explodes with color like a dazzling fireworks display hanging stationary in the evening sky. Most notable from a distance and impossible to miss for any beachgoer are the plethora of incredible thrill rides towering over the Galveston seawall.


For instance, the Texas Star Flyer rules the Pier at 230 above sea level, whipping guests around in the sky and providing them with a unique and astounding view of the beach. On the end of the Pier, the Galaxy Ferris Wheel mesmerizes the eye with its spectacular LED light show.

Perhaps most impressive, however, are the two roller coasters, the Cyclone and the Iron Shark, which offer more twists, turns, and jaw dropping descents than any other amusement park in the southeast. Too scary for the kiddos? Not to fear...the Texas-sized Pier has something for everyone. Hair-raising mayhem easily gives way to time tested family favorites like buggy bumpers, tea cups, big wheel rides, and a carousel. And don't forget the classic midway games! Test your skill on the Ring Toss, the Balloon Pop, and the Whac-a-Mole, among a multitude of other legendary challenges.

But the Pier is not merely an amusement park. It is central to a host of world famous restaurants! The Bubba Gump Shrimp Co, inspired by the epic Hollywood comedy-drama Forrest Gump, is situated right at the base of the Pier, combining a tasty surf and turf menu with a delightful exhibition of movie props and memorabilia.

Sit by the large window to enjoy the lapping waves below you while you dine with your family. Also near the Pier are several well known favorites including Fish Tales, Rainforest Cafe, and Saltgrass Steakhouse. And if you forget to eat because you're too anxious to get into the Pier, don't worry, you're covered! Pizza, burgers, hot dogs, turkey legs and sweets of all kind await your appetite inside, and they can be washed down with margaritas, cold beers, and sodas.

Ok, you’re convinced, and you want to bring the family to the Pier for a long day of fun. How much is it all going to cost? Parking could be your first expense. A premium paid parking lot is located directly across the street from the Pleasure Pier, and will cost up to $16 for a full day.

However, another good thing about the Pier’s location is that, if you’re willing to arrive early enough, you can park for free along the seawall! These free spots fill up fast on weekends, especially the ones closest to the Pier, but even if you land a spot some distance away, a nice walk along the beach on a sunny day is not a bad way to get to the Pier. Once you reach the entrance to the Pleasure Pier, you have several ticket options.

If you just want to walk on to the Pier to check out the scene without riding anything, you can buy a $10 Pier Pass (or $8 if you’re under 48”). And if you decide you want to ride a specific ride after that, you can buy individual ride tickets. Don’t worry…if you’re lulled in by the excitement and you decide you want to experience every ride in the park, you can split the difference for an All Day Ride Pass.

This type of pass is allows you to hop on every ride for as many times as you can handle. It costs $26.99 for those over 48” and $21.99 for under. Children under 2 years of age are free. The best deal, however, are the Family All Day Ride packs. Two adults and two kids (under 48”) can ride all day for $89.99. Other combinations based on rider height are also available in package pricing options.

Visit the park’s pricing page to get all the latest ticket information. Before planning your trip to the Pleasure Pier, make sure you consult the hours of operation on the official web site information page. Hours are ride operation are seasonal and subject to change. Looking to make a weekend trip out of your visit to the Pier? Galveston has you covered.

Hotels for every budget lay within walking distance to the Pier. For maximum opulence, check out the San Luis Resort, Galveston Island’s AAA rated hotel and spa. The San Luis, along with The Galveston Hilton and the Holiday Inn on the Beach, are eligible for group package discounts, which you can read about here. For more economical accommodations, try the Commodore on the Beach, the Country Inn and Suites, or the Galveston Super 8.

Don’t forget that the beach! Miles of coastline are available for frolicking and exploration near the Pier, and a wealth of equipment can be rented along the seawall, including bicycles, jet skis, surfboards, and kayaks. And did we mention that Schlitterbahn Water Park is only a short drive away?

Whether it’s your first time visit Galveston or you’re a local looking for a little excitement, the Historic Pleasure Pier is a must experience attraction. Make it the centerpiece of your next Texas vacation!

Galveston Historic Pleasure Pier







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