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About this blog

Reports and reviews of an array of exciting new experiences and places I've visited. Only updated when I feel I have a significant amount of content to post which is too much to leave in the forums.

 

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Tulleys Shocktober Fest 2018 Review

My second year at Tulleys started off with high hopes following a brilliant event last year. We were fortunate enough that it didn’t rain on our visit however all the queues and plenty of tables are under cover if it had of rained.   The whole event was just as immersive as before with street actors being the first to greet you as they roam around the open areas and even lurk in the bushes!    Before you continue, note that this does contain SPOILERS so avoid reading further if you don’t want to know what happens in the mazes.   On to the haunt reviews in the order we did them:   The Creepy Cottage We started off with the least scary maze to get us in the mood. It felt similar to last year, had quite a few scares from the actors. The cottage was quite dark and atmospheric in places. Not too scary but the groups were well spaced so we never caught up to another group resulting in good actor interaction. Many of them are chanting gibberish that sounded kind of like Latin which was certainly creepy. Overall a strong Tulleys classic.   The Coven of 13 The Witch themed maze was pretty much the same as last year. It starts off with the inflatable laser room with actors hiding below the lasers. I had a good jump scare from at least one here! The outdoor section was creepy but you could still see the actors coming here like last year. The actors in the cottage were targeting more scared people in our group, if you show fear you will certainly be picked on more! Just coming out of the cottage some, I’d say late teenage boys were properly jump scared by an actor who made them scream and run which was hilarious. The final scene with the caged witch was just as impressive. I’d still like to see some more separation in the outdoor sections but the rest I enjoyed.   Circus of Horrors A great show which I’ve never seen before. There was a rather camp Vampire as the host who introduced a range of impressive acts; sword balancing, sword swallowing, fire eating, burning limbo, nose drilling, high ribbon acrobatics, contortion, cutting string out a stomach and more. The show was well paced and not too long. I found it very entertaining and in the end, definitely worthy of Tulleys lineup this year.   Twisted Clowns 3D This maze was one of my top favourites this year. The actors in here are brilliant and highly interactive. Practically everyone in the group was picked out by someone. They’re funny yet sinister, making comments about people coming through. The electronic circus soundtrack and bright UV paint make it such a fun maze too. There are a few funhouse elements such as a shrinking corridor, inflatable corridor and a trommel tunnel. In summary a highly interactive maze.   The Chop Shop I was fearing this maze the most from last year however I feel like it’s been toned down this year. Don’t get me wrong, I still think it’s a brutal maze but last year it was overwhelmingly intense. The lights which used to go off for a few seconds that I found horrible in the narrow corridors has been replaced with a constant, slow strobe. The actors don’t get up in your face with the chainsaws either and aim them lower down. As much as it is a bit of a gimmicky maze, it’s still a horrifying experience that I think I could attempt again now it’s not as insane. The blood stained corridors are endless and you’re constantly looking around corners.   The Colony: Dystopia The epic, extended version of this maze returns stronger than ever this year. Endless fields and pitch black tunnels combined with an army of tribal actors makes this my absolute favourite attraction at Tulleys. There’s a very surreal moment where you leave the fields and enter a completely white container filling with smoke the further in you went. Actors wearing gas masks and bright coloured eyes stopped me and stared directly at me without saying a word. Honestly I thought I was hallucinating at that point and it was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced in a scare maze before. In the fields the actors follow you from behind moving in and out of the shadows. There are lookout points, walkthrough huts, campfires, dark tunnels, a catacomb and the end being the narrow chainsaw corridor on the other side of the farm. Even when there are no actors in certain sections, the completely dark and quiet fields and tunnels keeps you on edge making eventual encounters even more frightening. I can’t praise this maze enough, the scale and layout of it is just epic.   Horrorwood Haunted Hayride A special attraction only found at Tulleys, it was very enjoyable. Many scenes remained the same as last year with the highlight being the amazing actors jumping on and off the tractor on the way round. The big effects returned too with plenty of fire, a few air cannons and falling platforms. The only thing I missed from last year were the pole dancing nuns. Still a must do at Tulleys as you get to have a nice sit down ride while the actors come to you.   The Cellar: Imprisoned My other favourite maze at Tulleys has been improved and extended this year. Plenty of animalistic actors jump scare you from hidden corners. A large snake head coming out of the wall at one point was completely unexpected. The new strobed cage maze was brilliant. Very disorientating. Every section of the maze had an actor in there this year.   VIXI Tulleys hooded maze was pretty much the same as last year. The bags completely black out your vision and there is clear instruction from staff before you start. you go through the cold wind to an area where actors sneak up and whisper demonic noises in your ear. You go past some flowing water and then into the flamethrower room. Again you can feel the heat from it every time it goes off. A staff member instructs you to remove the hood at the end so you can remove it yourself. Then you exit, or do you? You go through a meat room with hanging bodies and a cage maze with falling barrels. After getting round the actors here, you exit the maze for good. I’m not a huge fan of hooded mazes but this does have elements for your other senses so it doesn’t feel completely pointless. Personally I just don’t find this type of maze as scary.   In conclusion, the event has largely remained up to the same high standard with many improvements made. It was a fun night of entertainment with only just enough time to do everything on offer. Already booked a bounce back to go again!

Stuntman707

Stuntman707

First visit to Blackpool review

My first experience of Blackpool started off before I had even arrived. Driving into the seaside town, the first thing you're greeted by are miles of banners for Icon. Blackpool is first and foremost a tourism hotspot and the Pleasure Beach is very much at the centre of this town. My first impressions of the promenade are not entirely positive. The street is quite tacky; donut stalls, arcades, casinos and pink horse rides are found along length of the street. The amazing views out to sea and sandy beaches redeem it somewhat.
On my first day at the Pleasure Beach, I was pleasently surprised. There was no lengthy wait to get in yet the park was thriving with guests on Saturday. This continued with relatively short queues compared to rival UK parks. What I love most about BPB and what has driven me to visit are the unique rides and layout the park has. All of the coasters are intertwined within one another in a way like no other park I've visited before. The park maintains a diverse range of attractions with something for everyone to enjoy. Paired with very strong transport links, this makes BPB a great place to visit for anyone.
Presentation & Service
The park has a uniquely historical charm. I will say the main ticket office is quite grand inside, the staff here are well presented in classic suits. The office and the entrance were well staffed with more than enough people to handle larger crowds. Most of the staff in the park were cheerful apart from a few which can really make or break good a day out for guests. Fountains, fountains and more fountains were everywhere in this park. in the floor, on the coasters, ride areas, paths and are an attraction within their own right with a nice little show every 30 mins.
Food & Drink
Many of the Bars and the new Coasters restaurant have a modern, tasteful and clean look to them which I really liked. Most of them even served champagne. There were of course the standard fast food outlets too found at any park. We ate at the Coasters restaurant on the first day and I was very pleased with the quality and the price of the menu. I thought it was excellent value and I really hope to see more of this standard of food with similar affordable pricing at the park in the future.
The Rides
The Pleasure Beach has a number of historical rides with by far the best one for me being River Caves. This indoor boat ride feels untouched, all the effects and scenery still look to be in working order. There are no gimmicks, just gentle background music, some narration and great atmospheric sets that the boats sail through. It's just a really nice boat ride.
Grand National is by far the worst historical ride at the park. This is a duelling wooden coaster that bounces and partially derails around the corners. It's set through a beautiful workshop behind Valhalla with tufts of grass growing through the tracks. The Big Dipper and the Velvet Streak are much better wooden coasters for their age.
Steeplechase is the most unique and rare coaster at BPB being the only ride of it's kind still operating in the world. It consists of three horse shaped vehicles running on vertical track rails. The track moves freely over the terrain with minimal support structures and has the ability to tilt the horse vehicles around the bends by offsetting the lower rail.   Forming part of the Blackpool skyline, The Big One is the second Hypercoaster I've ever been on and the tallest in the UK at just over 200ft high. The Hill and first half of the ride are the real highlights, you can see all of Blackpool at the top! The first airtime hills as of any hypercoaster are breathtaking and unlike any other coaster experience. The lower half of the ride feels more like a shopping trolley in a carpark however with a very jerky ride. A real shame that the station is literally a warehouse. No attempt at theming was made at all and frankly I've seen better industrial units. It's still worth riding for the experience.     Infusion is highly regarded amongst many as a terrible ride. The theme of the ride is simple yet so dynamic with water jets crossing streams between the twisted steel, it almost looks like an engineering water sculpture. I want to end the negative hype and say that the ride is not as rough as people say it is. It's not smooth either but I've been on worse. I would ride it again if I returned.   Revolution was a strange coaster for me. The station is at the top of the ride. As there are no airgates, there's a constant safety announcement on loop along with the original yet dated claim that it will be "the most thrilling ride of your life". It's a shuttle that sends you round a loop forwards and backwards, the backwards part being more nauseous than thrilling. The best thing about Revolution is the classic Arrow loop support structure.   Notably the best dark ride at BPB is Wallace & Gromit's Thrill-o-matic. Each scene is beautifully crafted to look just like the films. The voice overs, audio, lighting, everything is spot on and the ride has a decent length. It's charming, funny, northern and colourful. "I've got patent pending on that", "You'll be hearing from my solicitor about this!", "Cheeese" 😄The ride cars are like giant slippers which is just fantastic. It brings back childhood memories for me too, For me it's easily the best dark ride in the UK.  
My gosh where do I start with Valhalla? It is an epic boat ride experience. The sets are impressive and the drops are brutally soaking wet. I started by submerging my shoes in a half filled boat. The flames were impressive, the steam was intense, the ice scene was frosty. It's really a one of a kind boat ride. A must do at BPB.   The first Mack coaster at BPB; a bobsled called Avalanche twists and turns between Revolution and Icon. The station and surrounding area feel as close to Euopa Park at Blackpool as you can get.  The Swiss music and chalet really have a similar atmosphere. Avalanche itself however is much better than it's Europa Park cousin. It has fast, snaking turns that pick up speed ending in two intense helix turns towards the bottom.   Finally the newest Mack coaster, Icon is by far the best ride at the park. I'm still in a dilemma about where it ranks in my all time favourites as it is that good. Frankly I was overjoyed when I found out Pleasure Beach were building a Mack megacoaster in the UK. I loved Blue Fire at Europa Park and this is no exception.     Mack launches are not entirely linear. The best way to describe it is like being pushed on a swing, it starts rolling and then builds up the momentum. If you expect an Intamin style launch, you will be disappointed. The airtime hills, swaying turns and punchy acceleration made it such a smooth and enjoyable ride. Riding on the front row, you get a very floaty and fun ride. On the back row, the ride is the most intense with forceful positive G's and sharp, quick pops of airtime. The momentum of the ride doesn't end until the last turn as the second launch takes you up and over probably the best designed immelman I've ever seen.       The theme is minimal yet exremely well presented. The music is dramatic and catchy. The seats are open yet comfy, the OH restraints feel like lap bars and they swing down and spring up making dispatch lightning fast. The Mack bag flaps are convenient yet secure. It eats through the queue line so even waiting for the brand new ride is quick. All I can say is BPB have got something really special here. Overall, Icon is just a fantastic attraction. I think it's the best new coaster we have had in the UK this year and the one I've most been looking forward to.        
Conclusion
Blackpool Pleasure Beach is a very well rounded, affordable park which is easy to get to with plenty of staff on hand and is home to several unique experiences in the UK. The very reasonable entry price along with the new ride Icon really gives main rival Merlin parks a run for their money this year. It also helps BPB that their operations are much better than Merlin's have been this year in general. I'd definately return just to ride Icon again but I'd stay for the charm of the undeniably british family run park.  
 

First Time At Chessington Review

As it was my first time at Chessington, I thought I would write a review of my first impressions of the attractions we visited. So here goes…   Ride Reviews Scorpion Express I was surprised to learn it has exactly the same layout as the Flying Fish at Thorpe. Unlike the Flying Fish, the overall theming was very good. It has a very immersive queue which goes under and over the tracks in the middle of the ride area. The pyro and water effects also worked on cue for every run. To me it shows what can be done with a standard ride layout if they are consistent with the theming and maintenance of the effects.   Rattlesnake The first thing I noticed about this ride was how small the cars were. I was struggling to get in so I definitely think the they were smaller than the cars on X for comparison. The ride very much felt like a classic wild mouse and was a lot of fun. The brakes on this though are way too strong, the cars come to a very sudden stop at the end. I say stop but it felt more like a controlled crash. Rameses Revenge It instantly reminded me of the much loved and now quietly removed Ripsaw. The state of the ride does not look good, as if it’s on it’s last legs. A lot of the panelling was clearly removed underneath the seats with visible wiring and hydraulic lines. It’s all very dirty (But Merlin don’t seem to clean their flat rides in general) and the sound of grinding metal was not very reassuring. The ride was still very fun however and just like Ripsaw, still draws a crowd to watch as riders are drowned by the fountains.    The Gruffalo River Ride Adventure I thought that the new theming was very well done. There aren't any signs of reused props from the old ride and it appears to have been almost gutted and redone entirely. The timing for each scene was out as each bit started just before we entered. The boats were getting stuck and bunching together, there must have been a low water level at the time we were on. It was good to see that some of the fountains were kept in the final scene and are still a great part of the ride. The mist projection at the end was a nice addition, similar to what Merlin have used before at Madame Tussaud’s. Overall it’s a great ride which with any new attraction, just needs a few tweaks.    The Adventure Tree It’s a great centrepiece for Chessington and looks great. The ride is very short however so I wouldn’t recommend queuing a long time for it.   Dragon Falls It’s great that Chessington still has a working log flume since the loss of two flumes within the space of a few seasons. The water on this ride was crystal clear and very clean which very much enhanced the ride for me. On the drops, being at the front I did not actually get too wet.   Dragon’s Fury This is the best spinning coaster I’ve ever been on. The car I was on spun a lot! I like how the ride area is not enclosed and travels around the park. It was certainly fast and furious, definitely worth queuing for.   The Vampire Definitely the best ride at Chessington by far. It felt very unusual seeing the train in-front swaying from side to side. A very unique rollercoaster in the UK. There was a great atmosphere in the station, however it was lacking more theming. This is a must go on if you visit Chessington.   The Temple Restaurant Later on, we went to the Temple Restaurant for dinner...   The restaurant was nice and modern looking. I think it really sets the benchmark for all of Merlin’s new hotel restaurants. There’s a very impressive show including multiple elements such as lighting, wall mounted screens, the main fountain and black lights. The show does not happen too frequently as to not get too repetitive. It’s a very immersive experience which reminded me of the immersion found in the Rainforest Café. The food was only acceptable and there was not a huge variety of choice at the buffet. There wasn't any specially themed menu despite the great theming of the restaurant itself. Overall, the food could do with improving to reach the same level as most of Merlin’s other hotel restaurants. If it had better food, then it would definitely be on par with the Rollercoaster Restaurant at Alton Towers.  

Stuntman707

Stuntman707

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