Category Archives: Kemah

An Entertaining Place to Check Out: Kemah Boardwalk by William Flores-Paz

215 Kipp Avenue
Kemah, Texas 77565

November 2010–After driving 30 to 45 minutes from Houston, from a spot at top of the freeway; we finally see the immense park. Rides boldly stand out and make the whole place feel as if it surrounds you. Three of my friends are with me; my friends from church, Ruth and Eva, and my best friend Chance from school. It’s a hassle parking in a sea of cars, and as we step out of the car, “finally” my best friend Chance says, sipping the last of his Dr. Pepper and squeezing the can. Kemah Boardwalk is a new waterfront development on Galveston Bay, home to a major cruise ship port. It provides a new fresh destination, especially for families.

“Cheer up!” the environment says as we enter the park. It is my second time coming, and I feel the happiness that I felt before. Something in this park makes it special, people compare it to Six-Flags, but Kemah Boardwalk and Six-Flags are only the same experience-providers. The same experience that you live in Six-Flags, you live in Kemah Boardwalk. However, Kemah Boardwalk has many advantages that Six-Flags doesn’t. Lines are shorter, rides are closer to each other, and Kemah Boardwalk is a lot less expensive.

Today, the crowd looks like roasted walking-sausages and steamed vegetables dripping butter from their faces on this sunny day. I’m melting while in the line to get wristbands that will allow us to ride every single ride in the park. Ruth stays with me. The gigantic, maybe 6’9” tall guy in front of me looks like he’s going to faint because of the heat, and I imaging him crushing me to the ground as he falls. My other friends Eva and Chance decide to stay in the Cool Zone, a 20’x20’-square-shaped section of the park that refreshes you with a mist of cold water. I wonder how it is cool if thousand people are trying to fit in, that must be hot.

I watch a family with a mom and a dad and three kids—one of them is waybehind because he got distracted watching a train with people waving before it disappears into a tunnel. Children all over are smiling from ear to ear, and smiles don’t fade away easily in this park. Just as I think this I see a sobbing child grabbing his mom’s hand trying to pull her back where the man with blue shirt and multi-color spotted white jacket is selling cotton candy—his strengths aren’t enough to make his mom go back. There’s a different scene in every single degree as you turn your head 360 degrees.

Chance has my wallet in his pocket, I realize, and now I am one person away from the window. The thirty-two dollars and seventy-five cents in my left side pocket will not be enough to cover the price of three wristbands—only three because Ruth has money to cover her own. “What’s the hold up!” a man angrily yells when it’s my turn and I’m still trying to locate Chance in a crowd of a thousand people. “Hurry!” I voicelessly yell to him with only the movements of my lips as soon as I spot him. He understands and runs toward me, cutting off all the people in his way. Wristbands on, our fun is about to begin. Laughing is all I hear. We walk closer to the rides and we stare for a while. A little boy with khaki shorts and a white shirt is standing next to me, idly admiring his sister: the one with the red ribbon on her head, who has bravely and fearlessly decided to ride “The Inverter”, the ride that swings back and forth, up and down, flips you upside down, and swings back and forth again. We had decided to ride “The Inverter” first. Just as we are almost up, I turn and see my friend Eva behind me, her dark brown skin turning to completely white skin, terrified and cold; her skin froze the drop of sweat running down my own arm as I try getting closer to her. This is nothing new for us because she always gets scared for little things like getting on a ride. After a little begging, we convince her to ride today. Once on it, there is no way back. As soon it begins I can’t hear anything but screaming. My brain never quits imaging the ride breaking apart and launching us far away into the sky, like a rocket. Swinging up and down, people below stare at us. They look like ants from the top, and then zoom into normal size again as we head down. The adrenaline is on top of my head coming out of my ears, and this is just getting started.

The sunset is amazing as we ride The Boardwalk Tower. It spins us around as we ascend up, appreciating the fantastic view of the dark blue water that surrounds three-quarters of the park and the endless number of boats sailing around. We witness fishes jumping out of the water and people taking pictures of them. It is the quietest ride in the park. You feel calmness, and you forget about problems waiting for you at home. My friend Ruth almost falls asleep during this ride. As soon as we leave The Boardwalk Tower, we run to the Kemah Train, for the first time today, we see the line is like twenty people long. “We won’t have to wait that long” Ruth gloats, staring at the curve where the train is supposed to come from. A lady, standing next to Chance, claims that “they all went to lunch.” Just smiling, I look at her, not knowing what to say I nod a “who knows?” We hear the choo-choo of the train getting closer, meaning that the time for us has arrived. The train stops, and people get out the train. As the guard opens the rusted green gate, he lets us get on the train. This is really relaxing, it tours you throughout the whole park and we now become one of the people waving good-byes to the spectators. It is really enjoyable and now I understand why they are always smiling. It is worth the time to ride the train because close to the end of the tours the train gets into a tunnel with an old western cowboy haunted city. And as you go through the dead cowboys start having a battle and it feels like they are shooting to you. “It’s above amazing!”

There again the lines are hundreds of people long to get on the rides. It seems that the Pharaoh’s Fury, a swinging ship ride, is a big attraction; all the times we have passed by, it always has a long line. We have walked by the same place so many times that once again I see the path of peanuts that I left when they were falling from my pocket down to the red adobe tile path. Three rides into the day, and we are aiming for something to eat. My stomach groans even louder than the train squealing on the rails.

The aromas of the different types of food makes me hungrier, and fill my brain with ideas: I can’t stop imaging the steak on the grill, juicy and tender medium-well-cooked from Saltgrass Steak House, BBQ sauce and a warm delicious roasted garlic mashed potato.Landry’s Sea Food House, Red Sushi, Aquarium, and many more are really making us ready to try it all. We spot for Saltgrass, not forgetting that more rides like the Drop Zone, Bouncer, Wipeout, Aviator, and—Chance and my favorite—The Boardwalk Bullet still await for us.

After eating we walk and let he food settle in order to get on more rides. We stop at every single carnival-style game bordering the sidewalk. These games start at two dollars in price per game, giving you the opportunity to win a prize that is worth probably more that the game’s price. It is not our lucky day, “Not your lucky day, right guys?” Eva teasing us expresses. Disappointedly, we keep walking around and seeing the prizes that other people are winning. A concert could be heard and the crowd rushes to the stage. We don’t recognize who is performing; however, we choose to go and take a peek. The pop-rock music boosts our moods giving us energy to move into the next.

Our day comes to an end for us, but our last ride is still waiting for us. From far away you could hear the girls screaming and the laughs of the boys; from far away you could see the huge wooden mountain. My feet were able to feel the vibration getting stronger and stronger as we got closer to it. Yes, I’m talking about the Boardwalk Bullet, a roller coaster. Once on it your arms feel like tearing apart from the rest of your body. The shaking is intense and the wind blows against your face making you unable to move it forward. It is like a 30 to 40 seconds ride which makes you think that those few seconds are the last of your life. We got off and my hands were still shaking while Eva was complaining and trying to get the buzz of the engine out of her head. Thanks to those whom invented such amusements and made us have a wonderful day. We really enjoy, here in Kemah. It is just a different way of entertainment. Rides, games, shops, and beautiful outlooks over the bay—it’s the perfect combination that definitely charms kids and adults (Kemah Boardwalk—Houston, Steven). Great day, great time, Kemah Boardwalk we now say “see you later!”

Map

Links

Boardwalk Inn

Boardwalk Beast

Kemah Boardwalk Marina

Author Bio

William Flores-Paz is a first year student at the University of Houston Downtown, his goal is to become a doctor. He likes helping people as much as he is able to. He is new in The United States as well as in the Houston area. He’s been living in Houston for three years. His native language is Spanish and now English has become his second language. With his goal in mind, William, puts all his efforts to succeed. People around admire his achievements reached so far in this new environment for him. William thinks to never stop until he feels he is done with his work which he assures it’s not soon.

Wind in Your Face: By the Bay on the Kemah Boardwalk by Jarrod L. Perez

Bradford and 2nd St.
Kemah, TX 77565

April 2004–These last few weeks at work have been very windy, cold and mainly uneventful. I can’t wait for it to warm up because that’s when the people and money start flowing in. I work off of commission, so if nobody is around to buy what I have to sell, then I don’t make any money. It’s as simple as that. My contractor still insists that I drive all the way out there and try to sell something. But with the weather like this I’m put off by that idea. I am a caricature artist. I draw funny interpretations of men, women and children. The site I can be found at most frequently is none other than the fun-filled family attraction known as the Kemah Boardwalk.

The first time I came to this leisurely place was to work. I heard very little about it, but now that it’s been around a while it has commercials all over the TV. Most people native to Houston , or who have been here for a while, have all heard of Kemah , Texas . Kemah, an Indian word meaning “wind in the face,” is a small town on the edge of the water on Galveston Bay , about 30 or so miles from Houston . It is home to the 3rd largest fleet of recreational boats in America , and is often referred to as “the gateway to the bay. (Kemah History).” My father used to take me to Kemah with him to buy shrimp every once and a while when I was younger. The part where the boardwalk stands used to be a public boardwalk- where families and others would carry on with fishing and crabbing. It turns out Tilman Fertitta, CEO of Landry’s Development, bought that piece of Kemah and established a series of restaurants along the boardwalk (A History of Our Success). They entitled the place “Kemah Boardwalk,” and it became host to many interesting activities aimed at couples, families, and anybody else in search of some innocent fun.

Landry’s is a restaurant company that’s growing into a successful, nationwide seafood chain, much like Red Lobster (A History of Our Success), so it was only natural to feature seven of their “famous” places, including “Aquarium” and “Joes’s Crab Shack.” I first came to the Kemah Boardwalk to work, as I am an entertainer and thrive on public spots like these. I was impressed. This place seemed like the perfect getaway for any family or couple who wants to relax for the day. Carnival-like games and gift shops are situated around every restaurant, along with rides at the far end by the water. There’s even a dinky little train that tours the boardwalk, complete with miniature railroad crossing signals at every sidewalk intersection. You can see the great, colorful Ferris wheel from highway 146 even when you’re just passing by. There’s a stage on location for concerts and even an area that blasts water tens of feet into the air for anybody, especially the children, to run and play in. To top it all off there’s a hotel on location, the Kemah Inn, for any of those who wish to extend their stay. I was very impressed. The owner is very smart and has created a very profitable venture. As a matter of fact, it’s winning tourism over the River Walk in San Antonio , the Alamo, and Space Center Houston ( Barrington ), and it’s only getting started, as the Boardwalk is soon to open 2 new restaurants, and 4 new rides in the rides section Spring 2004.

The place is very clean. I heard that workers pressure wash the boardwalk and cobblestone pathways every morning of every day they are open. The gardens are tended to just as often, as well, with different flower and foliage arrangements sprucing things up every month or two. As you walk along, there’s even strategically placed “rock speakers” blaring out music to set the mood. It used to be no name jazz elevator music, and then it’s changed to Beach Boys and 80s hits for the summer, and then to holiday hits for Christmas. When I first arrived to work, as I said, I was very impressed. Everything was presentable and organized way beyond what I was used to working around (mainly Six Flags Astroworld). We were positioned right on the boardwalk, so the salty sea air invigorated your senses as soon as you set foot on the deck. Over time, this pleasant vision faded out.

I always give out the advice: “Work where you don’t like going, because over time you will start to dislike, even hate where you work.” And the saying goes for the Kemah Boardwalk, no less. But my dislike is not from the sheer idea that I report there to work every weekend. It actually stems from a whole bunch of aspects that dig under my skin every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

I guess my real problem with the boardwalk comes from the way the management treats our contracting caricature company. It’s just knowing how we get treated for what we do that makes the idea of patronizing the Kemah Boardwalk a party-pooping experience. Walking around, checking out all the shops, and seeing all the decorations just fills me with the feeling of how fake the company is to the public, and what the Kemah Boardwalk really is: a multi-million dollar company making more off its middle-class patrons. But it’s not that, because that’s just how business is. Actually, I see Landry’s as a multi-million dollar company that uses companies, like my contractor’s, to make more money, but by providing as little benefits possible in return.

My contractor signed a contract stating he would pay a certain percentage at the end of every week, a percentage of money from sales. In return, the Boardwalk agrees to take care of many of our business needs, such as a presentable and maintained kiosk, and a working phone line for communication and credit card orders. Over time, though, we’ve had many problems obtaining items such as these, while we have never failed to be on time with our percentage payments. Imagine going to work in the hot sun, and the Boardwalk still hasn’t put up the giant tarp that usually stays over your head to block out the sun. You can ask and ask for it, but the management is slow to respond. However, if you are late with your percentage check, your contract will be terminated immediately, and your company will lose. When I think about the Kemah Boardwalk, and see the flashy, happy commercials and I walk around and see the restaurants, and people having fun and laughing I think about poor business management and business handling capabilities; how this big business is making money off of smaller ones with little in return.

Even when you set foot on the Boardwalk, you can pick up this negative vibe from employees that work the games and shops scattered about. Most of the place is run by neighborhood kids trying to hold down a job. As you walk around you might actually catch one or two sulking or frowning because their job isn’t all that. Kemah Boardwalk is actually modeled after Six Flags when it comes to employee management, and that philosophy goes: the employee is expendable. Even if the job is just an after school job, I think it’s silly how management treats these kids like dirt. It’s like they wait for them to mess up, just so they can fire them and put the next applicant to work. Even the attitude projected by the managers doesn’t help. Though I don’t work for the Boardwalk directly, I still have supervisors telling me “Tuck that shirt in!” or “Spit that gum out!” No “Hello, how are you doing?” kind of friendly, morale-boosting talk, even if I am a respectable adult and the others are silly teeny-boppers. You are only addressed when there’s a problem. It’s such a drag talking with some of these kids as you stroll about. The first words you will probably hear when you talk to them are how their job sucks or how bad they want to go home. There are workers that will say they are content with their job, and rarely will you meet somebody that’s bragging about how much money he ripped off the game he worked that day.

It’s the little things that pester me. This past summer, there were problems with the “rock speaker” system, so at given times the volume would change from peaceful mellow background music to a distorted loudness you would have to raise your voice to talk over. Not only that, the Beach Boys got old very fast. It was funny, though, when the CD started skipping. My co-workers and I would crack up laughing because of the stuttering effect of the messed up disc that was playing and how it would echo through the premises. I remember one week this summer when a tropical storm came through, and the Boardwalk was underwater for a day or so. The next following weeks the near-by sewer reeked of raw sewage from a backed up toilet drain pipe. Literally for weeks, there was this horrible funk in the air.

Also, when you do set foot on the Boardwalk, you can’t help but notice something else. When I first started, a year and a half ago, seeing a cat or two was good for a quick laugh. Now, cats are all over the place. Wild ones, at that. Rumor has it that they’re there to keep the rodent population down, but every time you glance at the foliage you see a small feline hiding amongst the leaves. Their population is getting bigger every month, as the cats are spotted more and more frequently. The weekend is not complete without hearing one of the guests gasp at the sight of a wild cat scurrying by. The cats are so frequent now that I’ve even seen one on the 3rd floor of the parking garage!

It’s funny because the commercials sell the place as this fun innocent location to take the family, but when you know what really goes on there, it’s depressing. Many of the games are “difficult“, much like carnival games, such as the “High Striker,” which you must hit dead center to score anything to receive a prize. Solid “milk bottles” make knocking them over with a bean-bag almost impossible Even though I don’t have a problem with that, I overhear that many of the patrons do. On top of that, the employees have crummy attitudes, cats are abundant, and at times there are foul smells in the air. If you cut all that out of the picture, fix the business management problems, cut down the cat population, and find a way to keep your employees happy, then I’d say the Kemah Boardwalk would be a really nice place to take your loved one or your family, and it’s image would live up to the commercial. Well, okay, the cats can stay.

Map:

style=”color:#0000FF;text-align:left”>View Larger Map</a></small>

Links

Kemah Boardwalk

Kemah History

Landry’s Development Philosophy

Fun with Caricatures

Feral Cats in Seabrook