Blackpool Pleasure Beach (2016)

Preface

As my cousin is afraid of flights, I took the chance to accompany her to England, where she would spend her holidays in a guest family. I rented a car in Birmingham and instantly regretted to have booked via Europcar and not another car rental service. My friend Daniel came to Birmingham earlier that day and has spent his time at the wonderful Drayton Manor Theme Park. After park closure, I picked him up from the hotel parking lot and together we drove to the seaside resort of Blackpool in Lancashire in order to have a great weekend in the city, as well as a visit to one of my all-time favourite theme parks Blackpool Pleasure Beach.

Blackpool Pleasure Beach

During my last review, it might not have sound that I enjoyed the park so much, but over time it really grew onto me. It is a very well-aged theme park with lots of effort being put into it to keep it going as best as possible while other parks in the United Kingdom currently take a large step back.

It was my first visit to the park on a busy day during the illuminations. Although there were queues basically everywhere, we never had to wait long. I even could finally get to ride the remaining lane of the Steeplechase roller coaster – it just took three attempts at the park to do so.

Sky Force

I also had a try on the Sky Force ride by Gerstlauer. Although it is one of the newer Sky Fly attractions it certainly offered a ride like on one of the old installations, which resulted in a total of 96 rollovers and I loved it! It was a brilliant start of a wonderful day at the Pleasure Beach.

Pictures Blackpool Pleasure Beach

 

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Revolution in the vertical reality of the Pleasure Beach Blackpool

Preface

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

Thrill-o-Matic

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.

Revolution

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.

Infusion

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.

Grand National

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!

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.

Steeplechase

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.

Big One

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.

Nickelodeon Land

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.

Nickelodeon Streak

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.

Splash Bash

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.

Valhalla

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.

Flying Machines

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.

Avalanche

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.

Wild Mouse

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.

Pictures Pleasure Beach

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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One day in vertical reality

Pleasure Beach Blackpool

The Pleasure Beach Blackpool amusement park, founded in 1896, is undoubtedly considered the roller coaster mecca in Europe. After all, there are ten different roller coasters here, whereby one ride is more special than the other. But also other, mostly very rare, rides can be found and so Pleasure Beach Blackpool has a very special atmosphere, something the rest of the area around does not have.

After having picked up one’s ticket in the ticket centre of the casino building beside the actual park, there is a short bag control before entering the park. If you have a bag with you, you can get a locker for a day’s rent, which is relatively low.

Flying Machines

The first impression of the park looks promising due to the imposing supporting structure of the Big One. The very spacious forecourt is dominated by one of the park’s most famous attractions, the Flying Machines. Built in 1904, it is the park’s oldest attraction and offers a fast-paced feeling of flying, once the machine has reached its full potential. A modern copy of the ride can also be found in Disney’s California Adventure.

Infusion

As most of the attractions did not open until later in the day we went to the newest roller coaster of the park, the Vekoma Suspended Looping Coaster Infusion. The ride, previously known as Traumatizer at New Pleasureland Southport, was placed on the area of the park’s former log flume, where it now stands out between the roller coasters Big Dipper and Big One. The way to the roller coaster turns out to be quite long, but gives you a wonderful insight into the action.

The ride itself is of the usual quality for this type of roller coaster, but no major strokes during the ride are to be expected. The water effects you are exposed to during the ride are nice and appear especially nice in the front row of the ride.

Big Dipper

One ride that looks a lot bigger in pictures than in reality is the Big Dipper, a wooden roller coaster from 1923, a special feature of this coaster is, besides its age, the tower on which the turnaround takes place before the first big drop. The ride on the well-padded, even if a little bit tighter, trains is amusing, even if it bounces strangely around especially in the rather flat part of the track. Fortunately, the ride with the Big Dipper is equipped with rather pronounced forces and thus you can enjoy a lot of airtime moments.

Big One

The roller coaster that brought the Pleasure Beach Blackpool to everyone’s attention in 1994, and one of the most accurate name is the Big One. At the time of its opening, it was the highest, steepest and fastest roller coaster in Europe and has only been beaten twice so far. Nowadays, however, it is still the highest, steepest and fastest roller coaster, at least in the vertical reality that only this roller coaster offers.

The Big One is an underestimated roller coaster, which is often criticized by all kinds of amusement park fans, mostly in connection with its manufacturer Arrow Dynamics. However, the fact that the roller coaster rides much better than some of the European versions of the luxury roller coaster manufacturer Bollinger & Mabillard is usually ignored or simply not noticed due to fanaticism. The almost 1700m long ride itself is first class and very impressive. The first drop is simply ingenious and the following hills offer a distinct feeling of speed, which is rounded off with very strange airtime in front of the block brakes.

If you look at the Big One with respect to the vertical reality that this roller coaster undeniably embodies, you will find one of the best roller coasters in Europe – a bit more neutrally, it is at least the best roller coaster of the park with an unmistakable view of the Irish Sea.

Steeplechase

Opposite this ride you can discover another roller coaster made by Arrow Dynamics, which is dedicated to the horse racing culture of the English. Steeplechase is one of the most special roller coasters in the world and the only roller coaster in the world that still runs with three tracks. As special as this is, the riding position is the real reason why the ride is so remarkable. Similar to a bigger horse carousel you sit relatively free on the horse-like wagon, which is quite adventurous because of the strangely shaped curves. Unfortunately, on the day of the visit only the red lane was running.

Blue Flyer

A little less adventurous is the children’s wooden coaster of the park Blue Flyer. Like Tomahawk from Port Aventura, this roller coaster uses the small PTC trains, but there is at least some space left. The ride itself starts quite nicely with some hills, until the curve through the building of the former indoor coaster Space Invader 2 slowly ends the ride.

Nickelodeon Streak

Right next to the blue painted roller coaster is the orange Nickelodeon Streak roller coaster. The medium-sized Out & Back roller coaster offers a wonderful ride in five-row cars, where you can get a little scared during the turns, because the cars are noticeably drifting apart.

Dora’s World Voyage

Furthermore, Nickelodeon Land offers one of the most kitschy and best dark rides in Europe. In several areas in Dora’s World Voyage you will be taught the welcoming phrase of the corresponding countries by the adventurer Dora, whereby the choice of Tanzania is rather questionable. Nevertheless, We did it! and an imitation is highly recommended.

Avatar Airbender

Besides other children’s rides and a log flume, you can discover a Mack Rides Twist & Splash with Spongebob Splash Bash, which probably still likes to suffer from children’s illnesses, which is why a ride was unfortunately not possible. At least the Zamperla Disk’o Avatar Airbender was running, which showed a surprisingly intense ride.

Avalanche

Similarly intensive, at least according to the general tenor, is the roller coaster Avalanche. The ride itself can indeed be described as quite exciting, as it is rapidly gaining speed. Remarkable is the well maintained canal, which the trains run down. However, the ride does not come close to the Schweizer Bobbahn roller coaster at Heide-Park. Also, the laughing man in the immediate proximity creates an atmosphere that one does not like to be exposed to.

Grand Prix

Below the bobsleigh track you will find the Grand Prix ride, which has a very interesting layout. Especially the beginning and the end in form of a parking helix are remarkable.

River Caves

Equally remarkable is the theme trip River Caves. The ride through the caves is so well designed in places that the course can easily keep up with the larger boat dark rides such as Fata Morgana from the Dutch Efteling theme park.

Wild Mouse

Right next door you can find the best wooden roller coaster of the park, the Wild Mouse. It is better not to ride this roller coaster in pairs, as this can be slightly painful. The ride itself is the epitome of the word wild and knows how to convince with its intense ride. The airtime that is generated during the descents is pronounced, which is even increased by the safety belt. Very remarkable is the brake system of the layout, which is rather modern.

Grand National

Between the supports of Big One is the entrance to one of the last Möbius roller coasters in the world. Here, the left lane ends on the right side and of course vice versa, so both lanes are always running and allow racing operation even on empty days. The Grand National roller coaster itself promises so much, but unfortunately it can’t keep it. An airtime orgy, as some videos suggest, is not to be found here, only the racing feeling is guaranteed.

Valhalla

In a hall with a rather ugly facade and a comparatively puny station in front of it, one can visit the Asen in Valhalla. But as the Nordic gods are rather choosy, one has to face three challenges. After passing the first lift one is confronted with enormous heat until after some time there is the first drop that takes place backwards. Because heat is not fun when slightly moistened, one is sent to a cold room, where many a viking has found their bitter end. The next drop already manages to make you a little bit wetter, the following water effect makes you soaking wet. Again you climb a lift and the effect of a swinging axe will drench you from the side. The final shot shows a double drop, which is much wetter than the other slopes and starts the second downhill run unexpectedly late. In the following room you get a little warmed up, however, this passage could be a little longer to actually have the chance to dry again.

Valhalla is good, but not outstanding. The mixture of water ride and dark ride is a mixture that you should see more often. The design unfortunately seems a bit sparse and less original in some places, which even the whole water effects cannot compensate. The wetness level of the ride is extremely wet, but it can’t compete with O.D. Hopkins Tidal Wave from Thorpe Park in England, which outshines any Intamin water ride just because of the wave it creates.

Ice Blast and Derby Racer

On the place in front of Valhalla is the S&S Power Space Shot Ice Blast, which unfortunately doesn’t do anything special. In this respect, even the 90m high scenic ride of the same model from Parque Warner in San Martin de la Vega, Spain, is much more fun. Luckily, the Derby Racer next door is a rare and fast-paced attraction, which basically resembles a somewhat oversized horse carousel and shows a remarkable speed.

Alice Ride

Visibly close to the Derby Racers is the Alice Ride theme ride, where a journey to Wonderland is on the agenda. The black light effects make the ride look slightly spooky, just like the Snow White theme ride at Disneyland Park in Paris. The ride itself is great, especially since you ride on concrete slabs which is kind of unusual.

Ghost Train

Directly opposite is the Ghost Train, the world’s first ghost train, which has been in operation in Pleasure Beach Blackpool since 1930. The ride itself is beautifully designed and can show some effects that you rarely see in ghost trains, but the ride is not really spooky. Those who like great dark rides will get out of the car with a happy grin on his face.

Revolution

The last roller coaster of the park is currently being renovated, which is a pity on the one hand, but if it will make the Revolution even more revolutionary it is a welcomed project, after all there have been many rumours about the demolition of this roller coaster. So one of the last three Arrow Dynamics Launched Loop layouts will remain and the English can continue to enjoy their first looping roller coaster. Due to the continuous work that has been done during the visit, the ride is likely to open towards the end of the month.

Pictures Pleasure Beach Blackpool

Conclusion Pleasure Beach Blackpool

Pleasure Beach Blackpool is a nice amusement park with good roller coasters and good theme rides where you can spend a few hours. The park itself is a ray of hope for the city that surrounds it, but the park has some gaps or simply closed attractions, which spoils the atmosphere and the portfolio at the same time. In this respect, it would have been nice to ride with Bling, the Spin Doctors, the Trauma Towers, the Bumper Boats, etc. At least the first visit was worth it, but for the time being I won’t have to return to Pleasure Beach Blackpool.

 

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