If one imagines the most filthy place in Britain, it is definitely Blackpool. However, this place at the Irish Sea is also very charming and offers with its Pleasure Beach a real pearl of entertainment culture. It was my second visit to this city, which I actually wanted to avoid. Nevertheless, the call for a revolutionary roller coaster, which was being refurbished on my first visit, drew me here. Back then, the town itself was also a bit busier and more tolerable due to some French tourists. Blackpool will surely show its real charm during the main season or the illuminations in autumn.
Visiting the Pleasure Beach
Another reason for visiting was Thrill-o-Matic, the redesigned dark ride from Arrow Dynamics, which previously operated as Gold Mine. The main protagonists of the ride are the characters Wallace & Gromit, who are very well known in England and whose short films are also popular in Germany, but the spin-off series Shaun the Sheep is much more popular.
The ride is quite interesting, especially as the layout is rather unusual. In keeping with the title, you’ll go up and downhill past scenes from the films. The design of these is exceptionally original and the effects are all well tuned, so that one can definitely call the ride one of the best dark rides out there – if one would know a little bit about the movies in advance. This is the only real shortcoming of the theme ride, as if you are not familiar with the Wallace & Gromit universe, you can’t actually understand the ride itself.
The second novelty for me was the only shuttle coaster by Arrow Dynamics on European soil. While listening to a revolutionary soundtrack, I went up the stairs to the station of the Launched Loop to find an open station with an empty four-car train. Since the station is no longer sponsored by the Scottish national drink Irn Bru, the structure shines in a noble grey-white colour scheme, on which a dark red train makes its way.
The ride on Revolution begins quite bizarrely, as the launch feels like being pushed a little faster in a shopping cart. Nevertheless, what happens afterwards can hardly be described in words. On the hilltop down to the valley, one is pulled into the harness in such a strong way that it cannot be more extreme. A slight lift-off, as it was said in old reviews of the park, is strongly understated. Arrived in the valley and with his butt back in the car, the looping follows directly. With a lot of pressure, we see the world upside down for the first time. After that the train shots up towards the second hilltop, which also throws you back into the shoulder restraints. What comes now is nothing unusual for a shuttle coaster, but if you recall the experience in your mind, you might get a little bit awestruck. For this thought process you even have a lot of time until the inevitable happens and the launch kicks off the game in reverse.
The Revolution at Pleasure Beach Blackpool is not only interesting because of its incomparable support structure, but also because of its ride, which even shows a shuttle loop from Schwarzkopf where it’s going to go. Although the launch is not as strong as with Schwarzkopf’s installations, the ride has one attribute that clearly stands out, namely airtime. Such a distinctive form of airtime is rarely found and is usually only present in the back rows of a train, as it is the case with Nessie at Hansa-Park. Here, however, you inevitably experience it everywhere in the train, whereby the first car is preferably affected. Revolution is therefore a roller coaster rarely found, which is why you should experience it while it’ s still present. The extensive revisions of the layout give hope for a truly long lifetime.
But not only the Revolution is equipped with more powerful forces than one would expect, but also the Suspended Looping Coaster Infusion, which, like the Big One, invites to a ride in the vertical reality. Compared to other installations of this type, the ride feels 20 km/h too fast. The inversions are therefore all passed through quickly, which mainly affects the successive inline twists towards the end of the ride, as they drag you along quite nicely.
If every Vekoma SLC would ride the same way, the difference to various Batman roller coasters of the manufacturer Bollinger and Mabillard would only be marginal. The water effects, as well as the general ride comfort are arguments that – together with the stunning roll overs – invite you to one or more rides in the vertical reality.
The Möbius Roller Coaster Grand National, which in theory offers a great and action packed ride due its out- & back layout, as well as the always given racing feeling on both tracks enjoys special appreciation by many fans. In fact, the nasty doubledowns and the numerous camelbacks are crucial to experience really interesting airtime, once the ride warmed up. On the days of my visits, a take-off was hardly possible. Furthermore, the bar always closed so modestly that every of the following metres seemed like a flogging.
No friendship has developed between me and the ride. As sorry as I am to have to put myself against the opinions of my friends, I prefer another wooden roller coaster within the park even if their voices cry out over and over again that Grand National is the one that shows a lot of airtime and therefore should be regarded as the best wooden roller coaster out there. This classic wooden roller coaster, which should still be considered cute in its size, really surprised me during this visit. Even though I still think, that the trains were hardly made for roller coasters, especially since they all drift off in the curves quite alarmingly. The general smoothness of the ride is a lot better than what I remember. On each of the hills a distinctive lift-off was given, the curves rode well and the strange rocking of last year’s rides didn’t happen. I stick to the Big Dipper!
This classic wooden roller coaster, which should still be considered cute in its size, really surprised me during this visit. Even though I still think, that the trains were hardly made for roller coasters, especially since they all drift off in the curves quite alarmingly. The general smoothness of the ride is a lot better than what I remember. On each of the hills a distinctive lift-off was given, the curves rode well and the strange rocking of last year’s rides didn’t happen.
As the Steeplechase coaster was fitted with new brakes during the visit, it was not possible to ride on any of the tracks. The quite unique roller coaster by Arrow Dynamics is always worth a ride, especially since I was not allowed to ride on either the green or the yellow tracks during my last visit.
Even at the Big One you stood in front of a closed entry during the first hours of operation. Fortunately, in the later course of the day, the entry was opened as advertised. As it is often the case in rides that open later, the crowds of visitors went all at one to the ride and actually filled up the queues in the station, which meant that the last two cars had to be opened. After the first rush was driven away, everybody that came to the station was allowed to walk through and had a theoretically free choice of seats.
Unfortunately, the Big One doesn’t have a very good status in the fan community of roller coaster lovers, often there is talk of bodily harm and other inconsistencies. However, the Big One isn’t bad at all, even if it’s not necessarily a good experience when riding it in the last row. The front rows on the other hand all offer an exciting and fun ride.
Compared to other taller roller coasters, rarely seen in Europe, the highest, fastest, steepest and longest roller coaster in the vertical reality provides a very strong sense of speed. The first drop is hard to put into words, the following hill is airtimeless but nice, the turnaround is fast and the hills in front of the block brake are interesting to ride. This is followed by the aforementioned brake and a curvy part until the final brake is reached.
The Big One is a roller coaster that can’t and shouldn’t be compared to the big rides of Bollinger and Mabillard, as a boring up and down ride like Silverstar at Europa Park is not offered here. Instead, the Hyper Coaster from the American company Arrow provides a very fast and above all long roller coaster ride, which – if you don’t have prejudices against exactly this manufacturer can surprise and please you very much.
The Nickelodeon Land was very busy during the visit due to some primary school classes, which were present in all the Blackpool attractions that day. Most of them spent running from the exit of the amusing children’s coaster Blue Flyer to the entrance of what the supervisor, of course, had to endure.
The same pattern could be seen at the Nickelodeon Streak, the orange wooden roller coaster of Pleasure Beach, where you are lifted out of your seat a few times. Here the longest wooden roller coaster trains of the park make their rounds and the feeling of the train drifting away is most pronounced.
The Twist & Splash ride Splash Bash from Mack Rides, which was broken down on the last visit, was actually open on the day of the visit, but was not very popular. It was interesting to see the system in motion and to let the very slow rotations have their effect. Should this ride be busy at some point, it is certainly fun to get into the water battle, but with only 2-3 passengers it is not easy to get wet at all.
On the other hand, there is an ease of getting really, really, really wet on the white water dark ride Valhalla. You could make it easy and buy a rain poncho, in order to protect yourself somehow or just lock your valuables in a locker, in order to experience the ride as unprotected as possible.
The boat trip begins quite harmlessly. From the outside, one enters a hall in a very relaxed way, where even the waterfall at the beginning is senselessly switched off during the passage. A lift follows, after which the actual trip to Valhalla begins. The ride up to the turntable is accompanied by epic music, fog and mythological creatures. Backwards you go down a drop, which will moisten you a little bit. This is followed by a ride through a cold chamber. Fortunately, the ride through this impressive room doesn’t last forever, as the second and immediately wettest shot ride is waiting for you. Reasonably wet, almost soaked, we pass through a water tunnel, which of course reaches right into the boat. This effect was not known to me during my last visit and thus I was also a little surprised about it. Shortly after that, a water cannon is shot that releases a good amount of water on one.
Of course, Valhalla would not be Valhalla if the journey was already over after this; in fact, it is just starting. After passing the second lifthill things are more or less overturning. The scenes are getting more and more action and the water effects are getting meaner and meaner. As an example we have to mention a swinging axe or even a hammer in front of the rolling tree trunk, which simply throws a complete bath tub load, probably even more, onto the passengers from above. No later than here you are 100% soaking wet. A little later, a double drop follows as the last shot, whereby one is drenched once more. But this is hardly due to the descent itself, but due to the water effect that is waiting for you at the end. Luckily, the Pleasure Beach knows that the riders of Valhalla might be slightly more wet, as “You will get wet! You may get soaked!” is indeed the warning for the ride. The impact of the ride is similar to a jump into the Irish Sea, whereupon one is warmed up from the side by some fire effects. However, the Pleasure Beach don’t want to dry the riders under any circumstances, which is why there is still a water effect waiting for you.
The water ride Valhalla is basically way to wet for me; at least for a typical british day in spring. It was indeed a quite sunny day, but the clothes would surely not have dried during the opening hours, which is why I rode the ride at the end of my stay. Valhalla itself is a very impressive ride and should never be missed during a visit to the Pleasure Beach.
After you have conquered Valhalla you should not make the mistake of visiting the Flying Machines nearby. This ride is long, fast and the wind is cold. A ride on the classic Derby Racer is more advisable in this case. The three older dark rides of the Pleasure Beach Alice in Wonderland, River Caves and Ghost Train should not be ignored during your try to get dry.
If the ice room from Valhalla was not yet icy enough for you, you can throw yourself into the ice channel of the Avalanche roller coaster. Where previously the Swiss bobsleigh run of Heide Park was always in my favour, the fast and at the same time intense ride from Blackpool could convince a little more. Since the bobsleigh run only operated one train, I had to wait in a long queue of 3 trains.
The best roller coaster at Pleasure Beach is the wooden roller coaster Wild Mouse, which is much wilder than the steel mice, which can be found at any German fun fair or several theme parks. Secured only by a seatbelt you can experience wonderful airtime and very abrupt curves, which you drive through at full throttle, as the speed is only regulated towards the end of the ride. Those who complain about steel wild mice that are supposedly too brute should rather avoid this ride, but those who love Wild Mouse roller coasters are best served with this wooden masterpiece.
Conclusion Pleasure Beach
The Pleasure Beach is a great amusement park with a charm all of its own, where you can easily spend a whole day. However, I still doubt whether one should tackle a second one at all. Nevertheless, there is a lot to experience and/or re-experience here, so that a visit is always worthwhile.
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