really great report. . . when we were at SFOT last year and i *finally* got to ride Mr. Freeze (after years of trying, and it ALWAYS being down every time we made the trip up to Dallas). . . it also broke down on me while I was in line and I went right next door to an almost walk on Batman
LOL. .it's like the park planned it.
tho we didn't see any puke on Riddler, and LOTS of it at Catwoman (the Enterprise) - you'd think they wouldn't have built it behind the Johnny Rockets, and many people do seem to eat first then get on it. At least Catwoman had a hose there tho.
again tho, great report, and worth the wait to read.
Thanks guys! I know I don't always respond to all the comments but I always enjoy reading them.
So if I REALLY hurry and bang out these Texas reports I'll actually get them done within a year of the trip. Right now we're about 2 days away from the 365 day mark so this dream is totally about to die but hey... it's worth a shot. I'm really quite the overachiever.
One thing that's interesting about America is that it's a very culturally diverse country given it's massive size and part of that is driving culture.
In New York City or Hollywood (for example), drivers are very skilled but also colossal assholes. In rural Pennsylvania, people have no idea how cars or roads work and they believe that they get a dollar every time they tap the brake pedal on a wide open highway for no reason. They're not assholes, they're just absolutely incapable of operating a car. Texas is the best of both worlds. People are colossal assholes but also have no idea how to drive. Other than my first time driving in New York City I've never actually feared for my life while driving but Dallas... wow.
When we left the Rangers game, traffic was awful and we were in a city so I sort of expect aggressive city driving. Whatever, we're New Yorkers... we can deal. Eventually though we made it to the interstate and it was a horror show. Texas is a plain state so it's really, really flat. We were on a perfectly straight piece of road where we were all coasting along at 70mph and 2 miles ahead traffic was at a stand-still. Since it was a perfectly straight road with a long downhill slope we knew about this a solid 2-3 minutes in advance, but the guy next to us proceeded to slam into a stopped car as if they were shocked by this development. I mean screeching tires, everything. It's not like they looked down to write a quick text, they must have looked down to write half of a f*cking novel to miss that.
This was a common theme of the weekend. People in Texas can't drive. They all have huge pickup trucks (which I expect in a southern state) but many of them have no clue how to drive them. Thank god we booked through Chase and had a killer damage waiver.
Anyway (now that that tangent is over), I mentioned driving because the next day involved tons and tons of it (a little over 8 hours to be exact). Our final destination was San Antonio, but we were going in a convoluted way because while I talk a big game I'm probably more of a whore than I like to let on so we were headed to Kemah and Galveston to ride a tiny Euro-fighter and a wood coaster that everyone seems to hate.
Greetings from Kemah Boardwalk!
Texas weather is weird. We knew storms were in the forecast but we also only had to ride 2 rides all day so we didn't really care. In most parts of the country a line of storms will form and actually move but in Texas they just like to form and f*cking sit there. Once the storms pass they provide no relief at all from the heat and humidity. We ended up hanging out at Kemah for a little bit because even though a storm formed and the sun was out when we got there, it wasn't moving much so the rides were still closed for "lightning in the area". Luckily that gave us the opportunity to check the place out a bit and it's actually very cool.
I'm not sure if I'm alone in this or it's a common trend among the vast majority of the community but aside from Boardwalk Bullet I knew nothing about this place. I knew that it was a boardwalk on an inland bay with no beach that was really close to a beach on the gulf that also had rides and just assumed that it was stupid and that nobody would ever go there when they could just go to Galveston but it actually had a really cool vibe. It was REALLY nice and it was also very busy. The place is packed with dining, games, rides, water sports, an aquarium and tons of cool things to do. We were impressed. It's also an open container area... just saying.
Kemah is a blast
After walking around and taking it all in for a bit and grabbing a beer the sun started to peek through a bit more and some rides began testing. We went over to the ticket booth and bought some Bullet tickets and made our way over.
Ready to ride the "Coolest Coaster on the Coast"
The entrance to the hilariously long queue
Boardwalk Bullet gets very few reviews and the reviews that it does get are very mixed so we really didn't know what to expect. There are lots of complaints about roughness and it's a wood coaster in the Texas heat and salt air with tons of laterals running PTC trains that runs year-round that was designed by a manufacturer that I've never f*cking heard of so I wasn't exactly expecting greatness.
Please don't kill us.
One thing that nobody can deny is that it's an awesome looking ride. The setting is fantastic and I was really rooting for this ride to be good. We opted to wait an extra train for the front row, figuring (if nothing else) we would get some great views and we'd see what was coming so we could brace for impact.
Roaring down the first drop
I guess I get where the complaints of roughness come from but I wouldn't call this ride rough. It's similar to the Knoebels Twister, Silver Comet or Great White where it's a very aggressive ride and you might not want to marathon it but it's not rough or in any way painful. It's just shaky and aggressive. It's actually a really, really good ride. If you like the coasters that I just mentioned then you'll probably like Boardwalk Bullet.
Racing along the bay
As you walk up to the park the ride looks really small and compact (and it is) but the thing that struck us the most was how long it was. When you're on the ride you keep expecting it to be over but it just keeps on going. I have no idea how they managed to fit so much track into such a little space. I'm glad this ride was awesome because if it was as rough as people said it would be constant disappointment as you rode over hill after hill praying for a brake run but instead being hit with another hard lateral.
This ride is an endless mess of track.
This ride is just f*cking fun. It's not going to shatter anyone's top 10 list but it's a super cool ride in a great location with tons of laterals. I really don't have anything bad to say about it. I know that it's kind of out-of-the-way but if you have some extra time in Texas or if you're in the Houston area you're doing yourself a major disservice by not riding it. I feel like we could have spent hours at Kemah riding bullet and maybe that cool boat ride and eating at one of the restaurants on the water. I know this place doesn't get much attention but don't discount it. We loved it.
We walked around for a bit more (grabbing another beer in the process), and did a bit of shopping but after awhile the pull of Galveston became too strong and we decided to head out. I'll be honest, the fact that the ride to Galveston would take place in an air conditioned car may or may not have been a big part of the appeal.
Hello from Galveston!
Our initial plan was to grab something to eat before heading to the pier, but the skies were ominous once again so we instead grabbed our wristbands and decided to get one Iron Shark ride in just to be on the safe side. Unfortunately after we grabbed the wristbands and made our way over we saw them cycling empties and they told us that they were closed for lightning in the area. Oh well, we tried...
I pulled up the radar and realized that (once again) it was a storm that wasn't moving and may actually never even reach us so we decided to hang out on the pier. It proved to be the right move as most of the rides remained open and the many of them were worth a ride since the Galveston pier definitely used their location to their advantage.
See? PS: I love Chance ships. Chance or GTFO. All you other Slim Shadys are just imitating.
This one had us staring straight down at the water.
We were having a blast on the flats (even waiting an extra cycle on the SeaDragon for the end seat over the water) but after we got off of the awesome Fireball we saw some signs of life at Iron Shark so we made our way over.
As expected, it never rained and the storms seemed to get far enough away that they no longer cared so a few minutes and a few test trains later we followed the greeter through the queue and onto the front row of Iron Shark.
Iron Shark do do do do do do (yes I did... suffer)
Iron Shark is a really, really short ride. It's actually shorter from lift to brakes than Dragster is from launch to brakes (I'm serious) but it doesn't feel like it when you're on it. After riding it I was actually convinced that this would be a great ride even if you threw it in an empty field and a few weeks ago I tested that theory at Darien Lake and it proved to be true, but the location of this ride takes it to the next level.
The first drop is awesome
The first drop is great but everything that followed it proved to be equally great. It's a very forceful and compact layout and it seems like you're repeatedly diving into the gulf. It's short, but you should get a wristband anyway and re-ride it a bunch so I don't mind. Iron Shark definitely exceeded expectations.
After our second or third Iron Shark ride that Bubba Gump at the front of the pier was starting to look more and more inviting but with the weird weather we decided to hit one last ride before heading over. At a normal park this would be a dumb statement, but it was probably my most anticipated ride of the day.
You can't beat this location...
A giant starflyer ride is always awesome, but this one might have the best location of any of them. Obviously we couldn't take pictures or video but showing you pictures from the ground doesn't do it justice so thankfully TPR managed to film it a few years ago and I'll just pop that video in here...
Here you go, support TPR... click on all of the ads.
So yeah... this is the best ride here. This is the best ride in the Houston area. Hell, this is the best ride in Texas that's not designed by RMC and sitting in a San Antonio rock quarry. I could have ridden this thing all day. Brit, on the other hand was overcome with white knuckle terror.
I'm happy to report that Brit has since conquered her fear of starflyers but she hated this thing. Swinging hundreds of feet over possibly-shark infested water and a pier infested with sharks made of iron wasn't her idea of fun back then. Oh well
After our near brush with death, we had had just about enough of the Texas heat and decided to grab lunch at Bubba Gump. Bubba Gump is a tourist trap staple but somehow this was our first time ever eating there. While not amazing, it was probably better than I expected and you really can't beat that location.
Cheers to air conditioning
The day was growing short and we needed to get going on our way to San Antonio but before we left Galveston there was one thing I had left to do.
Hurricane Ike hit Galveston hard. It's actually the reason that the Galveston Pleasure Pier exists since it completely destroyed the hotel that used to occupy that site on the pier. White it obliterated a giant hotel, one thing that took it in stride was a tiny sh*thole bar on the seawall called the Poop Deck.
The Poop Deck is a PROUD sh*thole dive bar. It's atrocious. I remember watching the news as Geraldo was pleading with these idiots to leave so they didn't die but they weren't going to let trivial bullsh*t like local officials warning them of "certain death" and the mayor asking them to at least have the decency to write their social security numbers on their arms so they could identify their bodies ruin their hurricane party. I'll just highlight this...
The New York Times wrote:“We never punked out before. Why start now?” said Marie Creasy, the owner of the Poop Deck, a biker bar just stumbling distance from the waterfront. She said her patrons had a proud, defiant and downright stupid tradition to uphold. “We’re not about to break our streak over some Category 2 nonsense.”
The New York Times wrote:Down on the sea wall, Robert Shumake laughed when asked why he had not left the island. Walking with the American flag on a four-foot pole, Mr. Shumake said he had not broken his routine in seven years and, “by golly,” he was not going to deviate now.
Since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, he said, he has not missed a day of his morning ritual of walking along the shore carrying the flag. “This is nature meets the proud United States of America, and my US of A is going to win,” Mr. Shumake said.
I don't condone this. I don't understand it. I would have evacuated. I wouldn't have even been upset if Darwin had his way with them. It's all terrible but I NEEDED to see this dumpster fire with my own two eyes. I had to. I'm sorry.
God bless 'Murrica
This bar was a sh*thole. There are empty cans, cigarettes and ash trays everywhere. I don't know if they even have food but if they did nobody would ever order it and I'm pretty sure beers were 2 bucks all day. Like... every beer.
Cheers! Note the statue of liberty covered in Mardi Gras beads for no reason.
I don't even think the taps worked so the beers were all in cans (this is not the kind of place where glass bottles would be a good idea). It was a disaster but a wonderful disaster. I wasn't let down.
Everything about this picture is the "Poop Deckest" thing possible.
I finished my beer and Brit was more than ready to leave so after getting the full Galveston experience we decided to walk back to the car along the beach. Galveston is a cool town. The pier is honestly awesome and the beach was a lot nicer than I expected. I actually regretted not bringing a bathing suit.
Bye Galveston! We'll be back.
We managed to park right across from the pier but it actually took us 45 minutes to get out of the lot. Apparently the lot wasn't designed for Texas drivers, so both exits were blocked every few cars by giant trucks and drivers who wouldn't properly navigate the turn through the parking gate. At the time it was infuriating, but looking back it was probably just part of the Texas experience. Look... I get that you insist on buying huge trucks for no reason but at least know how to drive them.
Sitting behind yet another stuck truck but hey... it's a cool view of the pier.
Our rental car obviously had no issues getting out and finally after what felt like forever we managed to get out of the lot and on our way to San Antonio. It was a long, but mostly uneventful drive and we had some time to reflect on our great day.
Galveston and Kemah both exceeded expectations. I sort of expected the day to be a whore run but I really enjoyed it and wish I could have spent more time in both places. Aside from that, the rides exceeded expectations too. Iron Shark was really good and Boardwalk Bullet (shockingly) was too. Plus, that starflyer... omg
We grabbed some Jimmy John's for dinner. Their bathrooms never disappoint.
Last edited by coasterbill on Fri Jun 07, 2019 12:00 pm.
Excellent report. That Poop Deck restaurant is so intriguing, whenever I get down to Texas for the first time (which is most likely going to be next May! Excitement!) I hope my parents put Houston on the itinerary, it sounds really cool.
Love it, another excellent update. Boardwalk Bullet was one of my first "bucketlist" coasters when I got one of my first TPR DVD's years ago. I still haven't ridden it but it looks wild. I just watched a POV tho. Still looks wild.
Great report! I also loved Boardwalk Bullet last year, but I remember seeing a lot of fresh wood. I can definitely see how a layout that aggressive could be brutal without TLC.
I agree that Star Flyer at Galveston is fantastic. There's nothing quite like swinging out over the water. That's why I actually really like Cedar Point's Windseeker when it actually decides to operate.
coasterbill wrote: In New York City or Hollywood (for example), drivers are very skilled but also colossal assholes. In rural Pennsylvania, people have no idea how cars or roads work and they believe that they get a dollar every time they tap the brake pedal on a wide open highway for no reason. They're not assholes, they're just absolutely incapable of operating a car. Texas is the best of both worlds. People are colossal assholes but also have no idea how to drive. Other than my first time driving in New York City I've never actually feared for my life while driving but Dallas... wow.
Galveston is actually a pretty cool place and I probably like it better than most, if only because it is the closest beach to me. That's a cool story about the dive bar, but yeah that dude's a moron.
I always enjoy your reports, but I'm especially enjoying this one since I'm from Texas. Your observations about weather and trucks are spot on.
I'm torn on the replacement of Globe Life Park. I'm happy for a chance to see a game indoors in mid to late summer without experiencing total swamp ass and I'm happy for a 20 minute drive to the ballpark from house that would have gone away had the Rangers moved to downtown Dallas or the suburban hinterlands. I'm afraid that the new stadium is going to lack all of the charm of the old one (yes, it has some, I've grown fond over it in the last 25 years) and that they will keep the roof closed far more than it's open. I went to a game in April where there was rain around the area that missed the ballpark and the game time temperature was 70 degrees with a steady 15 mph wind. It was awesome. In the new stadium, the threat of rain would have likely kept the roof closed.
If I'm reading right, you did Dallas to Galveston to San Antonio in one day. That is some hellacious driving. Galveston is pretty touristy but still has a little grit that hasn't been whittled away by hurricanes. Port Aransas to the west near Corpus Christi is even more rough than Galveston.
Oh my god you aren't lying about Texas drivers. They're in Orlando a lot and they're always either in a Sierra 2500 with 18 additional wheels cutting you off on the highway, then slowing down to 10 below the speed limit, or they're in an extended-length Tahoe making a right turn out of the left lane and nearly ending your life. Or, worse, they're a rental Tahoe with a Texas plate, which is even more unpredictable.
I f*cking love Boardwalk Bullet and the entire Kemah Boardwalk, too. I'm actually a big back-row fan of that coaster, the laterals are so crazy and aggressive but I would never accuse it of being rough, either. If you have "Thunderhead Derangement Syndrome", where you're a p*ssy and can't take Thunderhead, then you won't like Bullet, either.
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