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Welcome back to part 2 of my exciting trip report at Blackpool. Lego Spongebob welcomes you to this next big instalment of the blog [Wow! are we at Legoland now?] Speaking on Big, I think it's finally time I give this giant a ride then! It's a massive beast that dominates the whole park, so it should an amazing ride then ;]? And it's time to review, Vertical Reality! In 1994, the big one was a massive tall beast that was major large scale ride and investment along with being the tallest coaster in the world and being only second to Nemesis in greatness. 20 years later though and much of the greatness has dried up. Whilst the big one is far from being an absolute awful ride, it's also a long way from being an amazing one too. The ride starts rather well, with a brief pre-lift section and then the long lift which offers some great views of the pleasure beach and surrounding area as the world beneath gradually disappears. Once reaching the top, the ride goes down the drop suddenly swerving right and the ride speeding up as it's drops to the bottom, which is a thrilling and intimidating experience with the gust of speed, smallish restraints and massive drop. Since the ride has started so well it will continue with this greatness during the remainder of the experience. The answer to that unfortunately is no! After the first drop, the ride loses much excitement and force as the ride climbs it's first hill, which unlike most hyper rides it doesn't fly over it but instead gradually reaches it whilst losing speed along the way until it's almost crawling when it reaches the top. The rest of the ride doesn't really fulfil much either as there isn't much force or too much thrill for the rest of the ride which is quite disappointing, also there isn't a great deal of airtime on this ride which considering I was sitting towards the back and these types of rides should feed upon it was also disappointing too. It does well in taking you up a great height with an intense first drop along with giving good sights of the park and area, but apart from that it doesn't quite fulfil the greatness in the giant dinosaur it first appears. That being said I shouldn't really complain too much as it is the uk's tallest and perhaps largest roller coaster [ultimate is of course the longest] and that we've actually got a large ride on this scale on our island, considering how little space we have and so many of our parks are heavily restricted on what they can actually build [especially Legoland, Chessington & pretty much almost every park]. I think it will be a long time before we see another massive ride on this scale [if ever]. From one Arrow to another Arrow, it's time to ride the one and only Steeplechase, because no other rides of this type no longer exist in the world apparently, So what are my thoughts on this ride rarity? whilst it looks rather average and generic off ride, it's actually a great roller coaster ride, it doesn't have any gimmick, it doesn't have any unique elements, nor does it need any of these as it's such a great all round ride, with it's fun racing element, scenic views and interaction with other surrounding rides and it's loose and open restraints as only a seat belt holds you in, a fun and slightly scary experience. From one horse race to another, it was time to experience the Grand National, our fifth and final wooden roller coaster on the trip, one that was highly appraised by many park and coaster fans alike. But would this be the ride to top my coaster list at Blackpool or even take the crown away from Megafobia as best woodie? Can't believe I didn't take more pictures of the ride, I guess the rush around riding at the park and the fact most of the ride can only be seen outside the park are the main reasons I didn't. Anyway, what did I think of the ride? Grand National was amazing, it was such a fantastic great fun ride with it's racing coaster element, multiple drops and hills which give quite a lot of airtime [ more than Big One ever will] along with a great paced layout makes this a great fun thrilling ride. But the big question, has it become my favourite my favourite all top time woodie? The answer to that is yes, however only to the ones in the park. It's such an incredible ride and there's not really a bad thing I can say about this ride [apart from the loud station brakes maybe] as it doesn't fail to deliver greatness during it's ride experience. Megafobia still holds on to no.1 woodie [for now] as that ride is just so intense. We need more woodies here in the uk [Merlin take note]. Before we move to our next ride, I KNOW A GUY THAT WILL GET ON YOUR NERVES! GET ON YOUR NERVES! GET ON YOUR NERVES! Time for another ride which will also be another first for me, my first bobsled coaster and NO! We are not at Europa before you ask! So, what did I think of Avalanche then? I thought it was a really good ride actually, gains a lot of speed in it's circuit and flies through those helixes which is just an incredible experience with the train coasting down the tube rather than the usual track setting on many other coasters. Just wish the ride was longer really as it ended just as I was really getting in to it [love Mack rides]. Hope to try the other few mack bobsleds one day! I had really been through quite a roller coaster revolution on my trip to Blackpool and the final new coaster had to be the appropriately named, Revolution. And that was all the Blackpool coasters completed. Despite looking like a mediocre one trick pony, this ride is actually pretty good. You're thrusted forwards first of all in to the loop the first time which is quite good, but then the backwards launch is a feeling like nothing else, the feeling of being pushed in to your restraint during the loop is such a strange and slightly scary experience as you feel like you're going to fall out! Moving on from the coasters now and it's time to take a trip in to wonderland, I've a golden ticket And what a wondrous ride this turned out to be. Whilst in no way is this a ground breaking or top notch, it's fun little dark ride, full of charm, humour along with being a generally pleasant attraction to experience. Incidently, this ride is a sort of knock off from the original Alice In Wonderland ride at the California Disneyland with it's cheshire cats style vehicles,indoor-out door dark ride sections and storyline which opened seven years before this one [why am I referencing so many other parks on this TR, especially Disney]? From one extreme to another and now it's time to enter Valhalla. Wait a moment, the waterfall isn't running, I hope it isn't closed. That Looks more like it! The ride was closed during most of the day and didn't actually open until quite late in the afternoon, we must've meant it had quite a few problems as it broke down several times after that as well. We decided to join the extremely long queue for the ride which cost us around 90 minutes of time [we could've used for other rides]. But was it worth the extra long wait? The answer here actually is Yes, but just about. Valhalla is a very long and very wet water/dark attraction which features an array of drops, effects and a drenching. Some of the thing included on this ride are just incredible! going in to a long hot room with heat and fire one minute, then entering a freezing cold one with ice,misters and the like the next is absolutely incredible, is this is before I get on to the backwards drop, immense sound track and other elements too. Valhalla is an absolutely amazing ride and experience, it's so breath taking when you see it all and everything inside unfolds and well worth the time. The ride makes almost every other water ride in the country look like a travelling Zamperla log ride [even Loggers] and is something that wouldn't really look out of place at a park like Efteling, Phantasialand or even Europa. Absolute masterpiece. Hex however is still my number one dark ride for the story and towers alone, but Valhalla comes in at a very close second. Moving from a breath taking experience which despite being ringing wet, I still couldn't get over, we headed off to get some final rides at the park whilst it was gradually getting dark before closing. But the question is, which rides did we finally ride, or even re-ride during the twilight hours and which Big addition would be chosen as the finale and first proper night ride of the trip? Only time will tell, but you'll just have to wait until Part 3 submerges.
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]. Infusion 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!
Hi and welcome to Part 4, the final instalment of Creaky Northern Adventure. After a pleasurable day at the pleasure beach, a night of exploring two of Blackpool's [best] piers and a not so bright Coral Island, the trip was set to continue on the 2nd day which would conclude the trip. The big question, where would be heading to next? With so much to do at Blackpool, you'd struggle so much to find any exciting attractions and ones that stand out from the others, after all it's not there's any other tall landmarks on the seafront. Of course, there's one thing there we should visit. The Blackpool Tower AKA Merpool Tower, because of the fact it's located in Blackpool and owned by Merlin, it even holds two typical traits two by having not the longest of opening hours and includes it's own bed of scaffolding. However before we go up to the eye of the tower, I think it's time to go and explore a pretty common Merlin chain attraction that seems to be getting around a lot of places these days. This place is, The Burger Kitchen Of course it wasn't [although FYI there actually is a Burger Kitchen on the 2nd floor of the tower] as we explored Blackpool's take on the Dungeons. So, What did I think? I thought they were actually very good actually, a lot of the scenes have the same high quality, gross, immersive experience the ones in London have [and in some ways a little better too]. The drop tower was certainly better at this one and despite getting more of a ride at the London one, it certainly feels a lot more coherent here as it feels like you're actually going up to be executed and then dropped when you're sentenced. A very decent attraction, not to be helped by the wonderful Natalie on tickets . The only flaws in the whole attraction for me was the bit with the Saxons/Vikings felt a bit meh due to it mostly being a cinema screen with things going and bits moving [though it's good they added that bit of history though], the stairs going down in the forest which detracted things a little, I'm sure not much could've been done in the building, but still not forest in the world has stairs [a slope would be a better option IMO] and the arcade at the entrance which just detracts a little [there's video arcades everywhere]. A tasty Fish & Chips for lunch and admiring of the sea front and it was time to experience the Blackpool Circus. Unfortunately cameras/photos were not allowed [another typical Merlin trait] and anyone was caught with one, they would stop the show and get a staff member to take it off you and give it back at the end . The circus was great fun, filled with humour, excitement and amusement throughout. I did particularly enjoy Mooky the clown with his funny jokes and interactions, especially at the end when they got members of the audience involved to act out a simple silent movie/play which was such fun to watch [WHY WHY WHYYYYY Delilah]. The rest was good too. With BMX cyclists, strong man, motorbike ball racers, synchronised swimmers/acrobats, beautiful gorgeous showgirls and even a working fountain [Merlin aren't good with working fountains], it made an amazing show to experience that definitely reflected and summed up the life, soul and atmosphere that Blackpool provides. I can definitely see why they call it Vegas of the north now. Once we fountained out of the fairly big top [but it's actually on the lowest level of the tower], it was time to have a look at the Blackpool Ballroom, which despite not being the cup of tea for most of group was certainly a grand gem located there, with it's grand old fashioned decor, sea side/old time atmosphere and the grand Wurlitzer with it's distinctive rich tone playing out throughout the dance floor. Tpm's Mer and Peaj even took a dance on the floor of this famous ballroom. Waltzing away from the ballroom now and it was time to complete the tower's attractions with a flight to the top of the tower itself. Built in 1894 [100 years before Nemesis was awakened back down at Towers], the tower was born. Standing at a staggering 518ft [480 accessible to the public], the tower can be seen for miles. It's design was also inspired from the Eiffel tower in Paris too [near Euro Disney]. The tower offers some simply breathtaking views from above giving sights for many miles of the surrounding area which is so beautiful to see. I'll let you see for yourself rather than bore you with more talking. You can even see the big One. You get some beautiful views, until the [Merlin] safety net obstructs [for safety of course] and getting good pics is then a lot harder to achieve. The viewing platform It's a bit like a prison. A pretty prison in the sky. And that was it! Blackpool tower offers some truly remarkable views of the whole surrounding area. I may have wandered back to the Merlin circle, but it was well worth it for this jewel and new credit, not to mention I've now got myself another new resin and souvenir from my fantastic trip here. Legoland Discovery Centre & Warick Castle are now the only unique Merlin attractions I'm yet to do in UK aside from the countless Dungeons and Sealifes [JoshC]. Blackpool also has a sea life and Madame Tussauds I hear you say? Unfortunately we didn't manage to try these attractions as not everyone in our party had a MAP at the time and also it was time call Blackpool time as it was getting late and as most had school, uni or work the next day none of us wanted to be too late! These weren't the big losses at the end of the day as the Sealife is probably similar to the one in London and much of the Madame Tussaud's material are items no longer needed from the London attraction. Once walking back to our cars, we said our farewells and it was time to say goodbye to Blackpool and hello to the long journey home with hours of motorway, traffic, seating with only company, ride themes and a cheeky mcdonlads on the way to keep me going. I had a fantastic trip in Blackpool and thoroughly enjoyed it. The Pleasure Beach was brilliant, The tower was Brilliant, The Cirucs was brilliant and the Dungeons, Ballroom, Piers and the rest were also very good, not to mention the great company I had up here that weekend too, with some great laughs, TPM Twister, Late Dominoes pizza etc. If amusement parks, Video arcades, sea sides, exciting nightlife and impressive shows,illuminations and random midway attractions are your thing, Blackpool is the place for you! It would be very easy to spend a week or even a fortnight out here as there's so much to do. Two days at the Pleasure Beach, One day at the waterpark and Piers, two at the Tower and surrounding midways along with another two chilling, visiting the arcades and more of the night life and culture and you're easily already got plenty to do with a week's visit here, plus there's plenty of hotels and BNB's near or along the seafront. One day I hope to return here again for another visit and re-experience the great things I did on the last trip and some ones I didn't do last time, including the missed out ride creeds at the Pleasure Beach [River Caves, Flying Machines, Nickland etc.] among others. The only problem with Blackpool is it's such a b**** to get to as it takes 4-5 hours each way to get as it's so far away, not to mention the horrendous traffic on the road and you need to really stop a couple of times on the way to get food rest your legs and use the facilities once in a while, but apart from that, it's good. Big Thanks goes to Peaj, Scary Coasterboy, Mr Fish and many others for making this trip possible and helping arrangements towards the fantastic weekend it became. Hopefully I'll be reporting on another major park someday outside the Uk Merlin circle again, although if it's a while then it could well take the Mickey .