It's been my intentions over the last few years to try and visit to try and visit a new theme park or attraction each year, which started with Alton Towers in 2012 and Harry Potter Studio Tour, Madame Tussauds, The Dungeons along with a return to Oakwood [after 15 years] in 2013. At first I wasn't expecting to receive any new park credits for 2014 with Paultons Park called off and Euro disney put on hold.
This year it was my intentions to visit a park that was of the following, 1/ was a major place with top class rides, 2/ was outside the Merlin circle 3/ a place outside of the uk. On this trip, I was able to achieve two of these, by finally visiting Blackpool Pleasure Beach, a park I have been wanting to visit for some time and home to a large collection of prominent rides to the uk/world theme park industry [though some are hit and miss in places] where I would gain a whole new list of ride credits [and first].
Upon entering the park, you are greeted by a number of different things, one is the sheer prominence of rides that appear in front of you towering in the back ground, particularly the Big One which pretty much dominates the whole park, the second is the amount of former rides laying dormant at the park. The monorail and ark are two of these, both of which I saw before even getting properly through the gates which isn't the greatest thing to see.
The first ride/new cred of the day was the infamous Wild Mouse. First opinions of the ride describe it as a small compact and doesn't look too exciting, however this ride has some tricks up it's sleeves!
Despite first appearances, the ride is surprisingly good, very fun and quite scary at a few occasions too, with its sharp tight turns, bumpy rattle through the track and it's sharp and sudden drops, an experience with just seat belts and no restraints is quite intense. A great classic that shouldn't be overlooked despite first appearances, plus my second ever woodie!
From one classic to another [most of Blackpool's rides are classics], it was time for the one and only Ghost Train.
A few minutes later and my spooky distraction was over. I quite enjoyed this ride and it's got got quite a few interesting elements to the ride including the roller coaster like drops, moments of the ride going outside and the spinning tunnel with train lights [which seem common to some ghost trains]. Whilst it's not on the leagues for rides such as Hex & Duel, which may be a bit of an unfair comparison to begin with, this ride wins it over for novelty and ride length and is an example of what a traditional Ghost Train ride should incorporate. It's certainly better than Castille Del Terror at Tivoli and Spooky 4D, both of which probably aren't as old as this which already states it's point.
From one dark ride to another, our next attraction was Impossible, which comprised a set of indoor attractions all joined up together, starting with a mirror maze, a series of strange objects and illusions and a small haunted swing style ride where the room spins around. This wasn't the best of attractions as it mostly felt like a cluster of attractions just stuck together to make one big ride. The Mirror maze was alright, but the swing ride was so dull it was laughable. I'm sure 30 years ago [long before Hex] the swing element would've actually looked pretty but now, it's so bad it's good!
After a random mediocre experience, it was time for some white knuckle fuel on Ice Blast, which is now the only non coaster thrill ride in the park with Bling gone. The ride starts with the seats raising up slightly and then lowering gradually where riders are instructed to secure all loose valuables [like there's chance now], before the capsule is thrusted upwards, then downwards and then up again, until height is lost and the pod gradually lowers back to the ground.
The ride is ok, the launch is pretty fun and thrilling as you are pushed in to your restraint flying up followed by some small hits of air time and the then the end. Not a bad drop tower, however it certainly doesn't beat Detty but is much better than Bounce!
After launching back to earth, it was time to take on another woodie who is the grand daddy of them all at 91, it's time to take on the Big Dipper.
The Big Dipper is such a fun coaster to ride, as it leaps from hill after hill during it's circuit, offering a reasonable supply of air time, whilst it's not as good as Megafobia back in Oakwood, one must remember for a ride of this age it still provides an excellent experience which is great fun with lots of thrills along the way. Another great woodie.
By now on the trip it was time to take on a ride that I and many had been strongly anticipating during our trip, one that would offer an immense ride experience and tick quite a few boxes for firsts. This ride was known as [drum roll].
Well first things first, it sure looks rather pretty for an SLC. This is the first one I've actually ridden. Having heard of many of these ride's being rather rough and uncomfortable [including this one], I set my expectations for this ride rather low. But would my opinions be just as rough once I had finally ridden it?
The answer to this in most ways is NO! Whilst the ride was in no way perfect or in anyway a patch to a B&M invert, this ride was surprisingly good and did beat my expectations. The first half for me was quite fun actually, it rolled through twist, turns and inversions whilst over a large lake of water and fountains. It wasn't really rough at all infact I could almost call it smooth.
The second unfortunately wasn't as the ride did seem to get noticeably rougher, as I bashed my head in to the restraint outside of choice several times, making the ride a little painful towards the end. Not a bad ride really and I enjoyed most it. The end is certainly rougher than Colossus but maybe not as much as Saw.
Following on from my hit and miss SLC, it was time for ride on the Grand Prix, which is sort of Blackpool's equivalent of Autopia, although this ride existed before any of them were built as I'm aware!
Not a bad little ride, but not remarkable either. The ride pretty much takes a journey down a spiralling descent passing nearby rides such as Avalanche & Revolution among others, gradually turning around ascending back up the spiral to the station where the ride finally finishes.
Time for another cracking ride, me thinks!
Technically Blackpool's newest contraption, unless you count it as a retheme from when it was the Gold Mine [something I never got to try unfortunately].
Despite getting very mixed reviews [some loving it and others hating it], I'm going to definitely say I love this ride. I've always been quite a fan of Wallace & Gromit [especially growing] and used to watch the movies on VHS on a fairly regular basis [wow do I sound old] and would enjoy seeing all the action whether it be the penguin train chase or Gromit flying in the red plane.
For me, the ride has captured the world of Wallace & Gromit very well, which is full of funny gags, rich detail in theming and settings along with high quality scenes and animation throughout the whole ride, also including plenty of audio dialogue and of course the catchy theme tune as well. In terms of overall quality, this ride does kick all of Merlins other existing uk dark rides to the curb [at least in their current forms], with Hex being the only exception.
It may lack the originality of many other rides out there, but it's a great fun family attraction and whilst the ride mostly consists of prominent scenes from the four shorts and film, I think it's paced very well and fits together perfectly. The ride is such high quality that I would say it's almost at the league of some of disney's dark rides [something I cannot properly clarify currently] and the only slip up on the whole dark ride is the scene where the penguin is falling in which the movement mechanism came be seen!
Currently my 3rd favourite dark ride at the moment of writing. You'll find out what my top 2 favourite are shortly.
Leaving Wensleydale behind us, we set off to Nick Land and decided to take a ride on the big orange track thing in the distance known as Nicklodeon Streak [formerly Roller Coaster].
It was quite a fun and enjoyable ride with quite a few bits of airtime and force. I wouldn't say it was as good as Dipper and Mouse but it still a great ride, I'd put it on top of Infusion anyway. Also this ride running just one train [with the state of the 2nd not looking ready for adding]. Apparently this ride is almost always on just one train [unlike the others], at least the queue wasn't too long and it was more pleasant than waiting for one train Colossus.
I think it's time to jump on another coaster now. I'll say Blue Fire!
oops, I meant Blue Flyer, just remembered I'm in Blackpool not Europa [one can dream]. This is not a bad little, quite a fun little woodie for kids to do, certainly not my favourite by far and perhaps my least favourite coaster, but then it's aimed more for kids and young families. Still it's another credit and woodie to add to the collection.
By now, all these woodies and other rides made us a bit hungry so we decided to grab some lunch at the park, where we decided to head over to the conveniently named Coaster bar, positioned on one of the pathways between Dipper and Avalanche.
I went in for the Chicken Fajita in the end which was ok [sadly the picture didn't turn out as well as hoped] , not the most amazing thing but it edible, good enough and not bad value for money, plus the wedges were pretty decent [beats Oakwood's offering by a country mile though].
Whilst eating, we were all amused by a selection of songs playing from a slightly quiet and muffled speaker here. But these weren't ordinary songs though as these were intact all songs from Disney movies [snow white, Pochahontis, Enchanted etc.] which was certainly something I didn't expect especially in Blackpool. This made me rather happy whilst eating my food, having always a rather big fan of Disney [one day Disney].
And that concludes part 1 of my exciting trip and weekend away in Blackpool, but Which big ride had a very big queue which became a big surprise? Which ride had a big trick and which big disney character sort of has their own big take at Blackpool? Stay tuned for some big updates in part 2!