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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.
Following on from the joys of Joyland, it was time to experience the third and final new park wonder of our park trip; this place was Great Yarmouth Pleasure Beach. After driving down the seafront from Joyland, something that seems a cross between a larger Southend and slightly cleaner Blackpool, we arrived at the Pleasure Beach's car park which more of just a grassy field on the seafront really, luckilly though it was free for us [due to tickets]. So once we collected our wristbands from the ticket collection area [unfortunately on the other side of the park], it was time to start riding. OMG We're at Disneyland! Actually, Disney haven't built any Mulan based attractions at any of there parks [even the Tokyo & Hong Kong ones ], so the Pleasure Beach beat them to it with this ride. Not a bad ride actually, a lot more forceful than the likes of Rocky Express & Knights Quest. One random feature this ride also included was how the ride cars were suddenly covered up by a giant green canopy half way round the ride resulting in riders not seeing where they were going. Tivoli World had this on their ride equivalent but decided to get rid of it a few years ago for some reason. The only drawback on this ride resulting in a chunk of the fun factor disappearing was I got crushed during most of my ride by a [Mr] Fish Welcome To The House Of Fun! [gotta love Madness]. This is the park's fun house attraction which features lots of crazy moving stair cases, paths and spinning things inside whilst inside a dimly black lit room featuring 3D objects around the whole interior. Really enjoyed this one a lot, ending up doing at least a couple more times during the trip. For some reason, the background energetic upbeat music reminded me of the Spongebob Squarepants theme tune. Now this is frightening; frighteningly bad I'm afraid as I found this ghost train very bland and average really and definitely not a favourite. Still better than Tivoli's Ghost Train & Storm Surge however. As you can probably tell, we are not at Alton Towers however this ride used to be. It used to be at Alton Towers from 1982 until 1997 when it was removed from the park to this place. The ride wasn't terribly interesting and just done for the cred really, still it's a good coaster for people getting in to coasters and clearly fits in much better here than it does at Towers [it would stick out more than Spinball ever could if it was still there]. The Twisted Steel Log Flume thingy. Didn't ride this actually as I didn't really want to get wet then [nor did the rest of the group] so we moved on. If you time your walking around the ride's area really badly, you would get soaked during the ride's main drop. Now what is that sticking out there? That's right, a metal pole that guy in to place. But this is the ride though that really makes this park worth visiting for [aside from those creds], The Roller Coaster [got to love creative names ]. Such a great coaster, the way the ride flew up and down the drops throughout was superb and the pacing as a whole made for a great thrilling family coaster. This coaster is very different from many others as instead of having brakes/stops scattered throughout the circuit, this ride used a brakeman who rides on the coaster train on his own seat with the riders and applies brakes throughout the whole circuit when required. This not just results in each ride technically being unique, but means on some rides you can get some really good airtime on the ride, something which seemed to improve steadily during our time here making for a fun ride. The ride was only running one of a possible four trains [two were stored in workshop areas and the other was off the track completely] however luckilly there wasn't much a queue at all meaning we never waited more than 5 minutes for each ride. The ride's complex structure also helps add further fun factor and interaction as there's a few head choppers there too. Whilst it doesn't topple my top 10's or even favourite woodies from the list [Megafobia 1st, National 2nd, Dipper & Wild Mouse 3rd], it still a ride I thoroughly enjoyed and is probably 5th on my wooden coaster list. Since experiencing this ride, two milestones have [sort of] been reached, one being it's my first ever Scenic Railway, the second being I have nearly done all the UK woodies now with just Gulliver's Antelope & The Scenic left, however one of those is still closed & the other is at a park which is difficult for child-less adults to enter to so this is closest I'll get to a completed list for now. They also had their own Sky Drop tower which was identical to the one at Adventure Island. Good drop tower really, not a patch on Jolly Rodger but better than Bounce. Another ride however that was on the must do's was the historic yet charming Snails & Fairytales ride positioned in-front of the Roller Coaster. Loverly charming ride where after seeing pirates & farm animals along a track which interacts with the roller coaster flying above, this happens. You are taken through a secret portal to Disneyland for a couple of minutes seeing all the wonderful characters from the films whilst the It's A Small World music plays through your ears, before returning back to the real world and exiting the ride. I really liked this attraction alot and whilst it's definitely not going to any rewards anytime soon, it is such a charming relaxing attraction that should be second on your to do list after the big coaster here. Whilst Jadam & co. got to experience an impressive Mack spinner under the title dwervelwind, I got also to experience a new spinner coaster here called Whirlwind. Despite being a kids coaster, I enjoyed this ride quite alot, was surprisingly fun and is worth a go, better than the Apple Coaster at least. Then it was time to tackle the park's Family Star coaster. Was alright as coasters go, but nothing special really. Time for a fairground classic which was the Twister, this one however was quite different as it was slanted as opposed to the normal flat layout which made for an interesting ride, not to mention the cycle was pretty good too. Then on to the first Waltzer I've done in a while [enjoyed a lot more than I expected actually]. Other rides at the park [not-pictured] were a monorail style ride which went around the park, you got some good views of the Roller Coaster & Snail rides [amongst the more fairgroundy ones] and a small Disko ride like Ramba Zamba, although it wasn't my favourite ones. Once we'd done all of these, we did Roller Coaster & Snails once more before heading off back on our long journeys home ending what has been my highest splash of new creds at once for a long time. As park's go, Great Yarmouth isn't the best park around, lacking the large scale of Blackpool or the thematic element of other parks and the fact it feels a bit like a permanent fun fair in parts. However what wins the park over as the place to go is the park's classic Roller Coaster, Snails & Fun-house attractions which are all great in their own ways and the former makes me excited for when Dreamland's open reopens amongst the day I visit Tivoli Gardens & Bakken [to a lesser extent]. Until then Oakwood, Disney and countless Halloween events remain ahead plus my second big non Uk park in November on my first trip to Efteling.
Hi and welcome to this third part of my exciting weekend in Blackpool. Here's how the story continues after our wet immersive ride on Valhalla. It's heading towards the end of the day and twilight has arrived [no the ride sadly]. The park looks really beautiful at sunset, and despite being the tail end of the day it just makes the park come to life, it looks just as beautiful as Thorpe does at this time of day. By now it was time for some final evening/ twilight rides. Another round on the Grand National was first which provided an even more amazing experience this time, as our train was literally flying through the circuit giving lots of airtime and excitement, helped by the fact we won the race too. We had another go on Big Dipper was very good again, but not quite on Grand National's reign. Another go on Wallace and Gromit was taken, I'm just a very big fan before our final final ride during our trip. But which Big attraction did this turn out to be? For a brief moment, I would just like to mention just how beautiful the park looks at night, it's amazing and quite possibly the best park I've seen at night. Anyway back on topic, I'm sure you've guessed the final ride of the day [or should that now be night?] and that's The Big One. The ride at night was both very good and very bad this time. Very good in the remarkable night time views you see below, the racing around the track at night and the first drop being even more intimidating at night. The drawbacks of course were the ride still lacks force in most parts and the ride was also surprisingly rough too as it was rather violent and jerky TBH [who said you need shoulder restraints for a rough ride?]. And the day was over. Blackpool is a really good park despite the place getting a lot of slack as they seem to try and put a lot of effort in to the place despite the amount of empty and SBNO ride spots. Apart from the slightly grumpy cleaner lady at the end, It was an absolutely fantastic day and I get to return here again one day. For the 4-5 hour drive up here, the journey was just about worth it. Another thing here is just how many firsts and records I have achieved during this trip including my first wild mouse, first racing Steel & Woodie, Tallest coaster in the uk [and tallest one I've done yet] plus doing my first SLC. Moving on, our trip at the Pleasure Beach may be finished but our trip and time away certainly isn't. Whilst having some chips, cheese & Gravy up the promenade whilst looking at the beautiful illuminations which just look amazing along with the occasional dressed up and lit tram which was a magical experience, we headed to the South Pier. While most headed for the Waltzer, I headed for the Log Flume with Toofpik which cost a fairly reasonable £3. The ride was alright, just a standard general compact two drop log flume you see at many fairs and small parks. Good for another ride credit, although it does make The Flume look like Chipas. We then headed to Central Pier where there were more fairground rides around, but none of us could be bothered to do any more and just had a cheeky drink at the bar at the back of the pier. When finished, we set off back down the pier to head to one of the best themed and looking amusement arcades on the whole promenade, Coral Island. Full of many amusements and video game machines, I was quite excited of visiting this place at first, plus not to mention what makes this place look better than most other arcades is it includes a couple of rides including a Pirate monorail and ghost train ride. Walking you do feel quite excited and with rides and arcades over here it's almost like going in the indoor bit of Fantasy Island or the Trocadera [in it's hey day when it was open]. Sadly the Ghost Train was closed when we arrived meaning we first headed for the Pirate Monorail which for £1 was quite a bargain. And so began the ride. It's not a bad little attraction, which goes around most of the floor space of the building giving some ok views of the surrounding area, plus there's also a brief random inside section which is separated from the rest of the arcade which includes some pirate theming elements and random audio music too. There's also guns to shoot random targets along the ceiling too although sadly the scores were turned off at the time we were riding. It's a very lucky we were actually able to ride this in the end as the lady operating this was a bit funny as she said this was a kids ride and weren't able to go on it without children. Luckilly Peaj managed to talk with the op and we were all finally to get on the ride. The events with staff didn't get much better as the time progressed as security guards pushed us on from a couple of video machines for no reason which gave me quite a bitter taste in my mouth. They're supposed to be bringing in customers, not scaring them away! decent arcade, unpleasant staff. After walking back to our hotel where dominoes pizza, TPM twister and general meet chat and banter occurred it was time for bed as we headed off in preparation for the second and final day that awaited us in the morning. But what towering events await us? When will the trip excitement unravel like a circus and who's waltzing off in a magical world only Merlin could control? Wait and see in Part 4.