A Californian in England- Blackpool PB

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Monday, February 21, 2005 1:58 PM
Blackpool Pleasure Beach can be described in a single word- unique.

This place is a true slice of amusement park history, and nearly every attraction in the park attests to that fact.

I'll start off from the very beginning. I caught a coach at 11:30 PM in London. I expected to sleep the whole way and arrive in Blackpool at about 8 AM. Needless to say, sleeping was nearly impossible, considering its not that comfortable being on a bus, and that many people are jackasses. It just pissed me off to have this family sit down next to me after midnight and precede to start a loud conversation. I guess they didn't realize they were the only ones talking on the bus. Next, they bust out bread and chicken paste for the kids. Just take my word for it- it smells just as bad as you imagine it would! I think they shut up evenually, and I got some intermittent sleep.

I arrived at 8 AM, and the park didn't open until 12. I didn't have much choice in my coach arrival time, so the 8 AM arrival would have to do. The coach station is about a 30 minute walk from the park, albeit down one main street next to the ocean! Oh well, I had lots of time. Blackpool is a strange place. I've never been, but I'd imagine it would be something like Atlantic City in America. Lots of gambling and cabaret places. Not the nicest place in the world, IMO.

I went down to the beach, so now I can say I've been in the Irish Sea. I stopped at McDonalds for breakfast. Some things are very consistent from continent to continent, and McDonald's breakfasts are one of those things. I took my time eating, then walked over to the park. I preceded to walk the entire lap outside the perimeter of the park. I seriously had that much time on my hands.

I did get to see the world's largest disco ball! Sitting right there along the beach in Blackpool. It just makes me wonder, "why?"

Blackpool is a very quirky place. Here's a reason why: the park opened 40 minutes early.

That was great for me! I headed towards the Big One first. Its a big one all right- a big dissapointment. The ride was utterly forceless. No airtime and no positive G's. This was early in the morning, so I tried to give it the benefit of the doubt, but it was no better even in the evening (just more cold!). The first drop is odd- it literally slams to the side as it twists, unlike the great sensation on Viper or Phantom's Revenge. Thats really the only "Arrow" moment though. So unlike Magnum, the ride is smooth- it just doesn't do anything! (2 rides)

Fortunately, there is a lot more at Blackpool than the Big One.

Steeplechase wasn't open yet, so I went into the hedge maze. Hey, we dont have those in Southern California! I thought it was pretty neat. Like a lot of things in this park, it was very unique! (1 ride)

My next stop was a walk around this confusing park! It really is tightly packed!

I wound up back at the front of the park for the Grand National. Wow! This ride is great! Its like a mix of all 3 of Kennywood's wooden coasters. Its got the forces and air of Thunderbolt, the wild airtime of Jackrabbit and the great racing aspect of Racer. I was very impressed with the Grand National. The tiny hill after the first drop has a truly sick moment of airtime! Its a very well done ride! (2 rides)

I went over to Noah's Ark next. I'd done Kennywood's and thought it was pretty neat. I think I like Kennywood's version a little better, though this one seemed a bit more authentic. (1 ride)

After that, I walked over to Wild Mouse. After a quick 10 minute wait, I was off. Words cannot express how kick ass this ride is! Its truly awesome! It just hauls through the whole course, with tons of (scary!) airtime and headchoppers that wouldn't be ok back in California. I loved this one moment when you are heading directly at this support before doing this wild sidestep to miss it! I can't explain it, but if you've been on the ride, you'll know what I am talking about. (3 rides)

I seriously can't remember the order from this point, so I'll just review from here on out.

The Alice in Wonderland dark ride was interesting. The spinning tunnel didn't seem to work. Eh, I'll stick with Disneyland's version! (1 ride)

Another highlight of the day was the Steeplechase. Its very gentle, but it is tons of fun! Very unique ride (how many times will I say that in this TR?). I loved the bushes and brick walls that the "horses" jump over. Its just a lot of fun, and had a fast moving line, believe it or not. I'd love to see these make a comeback of some sort. (2 rides)

Avalanche, a mack bobsled coaster was nice as well. I thought the station was pretty nicely themed. Aside from Disaster Transport, this is the only other bobsled I have been on. (2 rides)

Impossible was an attraction that I had no idea about. I kind of suspected what the end "ride" part of it might be, but wasn't really sure. The mirror maze was neat, as were the optical illusion exhibits along the way. I'll say this once and for all: this ride has the WORST pre-show ever! Thankfully, the finale of the attraction bails it out. (2 rides)

The effect was really convincing, and the system itself was nothing like what I had envisioned. It was a nice surprise overall.

The River Caves proves once and for all that drugs are very bad for you. There is a big sign reading "Tunnel of Love" over the start of the ride. Unless you find dinosaurs, egyptian temples, fish and other random stuff romantic, then this ride is certainly not a tunnel of love! It was cool, though none of the scenes had any correlation whatsoever with one another. Its one of just a few old mill rides left, so that is neat. (1 ride)

I went to this German food place for lunch. Had a bratwurst, fries and a drink for less than 5 pounds! Thats simply amazing at a park! It would be a comparable price to a meal at McDonalds outside the park. So cheap, and very good!

Because I am a credit whore, I did the Clown Coaster and Zipper Dipper, two "family" rides. I've always thought the family wooden coasters are kind of refreshing from the typical kiddie coaster. This was one was pretty darn good! (1 ride on each)

The last coaster I hit was Big Dipper. I've never seen 4 bench PTC trains! Honestly, I'm not sure how those trains made it around any turn, but they did. The ride was decent, though more tame than the Grand National and Wild Mouse. (1 ride)

I did try the Gold Mine, which seems like a near clone of the Calico Mine Ride (chessy animatronics and all!), with the exception that this ride didn't have a driver or narration. But the scenes and "feel" of the ride very right out of Knott's' famous dark ride. (1 ride)

I didn't go on Bling. It looked pretty cool, but had a long line. That, and the fact that it has the worst name ever for a ride. I also didn't try Valhalla, as it was around 40 degrees all day, and it looks like you get soaked. They did have a cool "people dryer" at the exit that you could pay for and stand in to get dryed off. Maybe that would work at Perilous Plunge. I also didn't do Ice Blast, the S&S Space Shot, as it too had a longer line than I cared to wait in for a ride that can be found at home (though with scream shields!).

The rides closed at 6:30, and the park closed at 7. Its pretty funny actually- when they say that the park closes at 7, it means that the lights are out and the gates are locked by that time! It wasn't more than a few minutes after I walked out the gates that the floodlights on the Big One and Ice Blast were all shut off!

I survived the long walk back to the coach station. I actually doubted that at times, as the area wasn't too great, and certainly no better after dark. Its more expensive, but the timing is probably better (won't get there 4 hours early!), the station is right next to the park, and who knows, I may even get sleep on a train!

That pretty much sums up my day. If you ever end up across the pond, I highly recommend the park. Great mix of coasters and dark rides. Some rides individually have some very nice theming.

They have a great staff- very friendly. A few asked where I was from or how my day was going. Thats a nice touch! Another note about their staff: twice on the day I witnessed a belligerent guest literally yelling at the ride op. These two ride ops (in different situations) yelled back and shut the troublemakers up. Now there's something that probably wouldn't fly in America! Either way, I thought it was entertaining!

Thanks for reading, though I'm not sure if anyone will be able to make it through that epic (but congratulations if you did!).

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Monday, February 21, 2005 2:44 PM
Sweet TR, thanks! :)

BPPB is *the* park I still need to get to...sure, there's others I want, but that is the park I CRAVE...of course, I hope to have the Weegie tour guide along...

gator, has watched "Nash" PoV more than all other PoV footage put together...

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Monday, February 21, 2005 2:55 PM
*** Edited 2/21/2005 7:58:51 PM UTC by Grant***
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Monday, February 21, 2005 3:15 PM
LOL bill - the Weegie tour guide will definitely be there along with plentiful supplies of Irn Bru and tattie scones :)

Matt - great TR - even 34 years after my first time there I am still like a kid in a toy store whenever I get down to the Pleasure Beach.

as for the Nash, well always has been and always will be my number one woodie!


-Jim

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Monday, February 21, 2005 3:23 PM
I was in the park Sunday too - didn't recall seeing/hearing any Americans. I saw some people wearing European Coaster Club jackets, but that was it. Glad you enjoyed the park. Maybe you saw me, I was one of the 1% of males in there not wearing track-suit bottoms.

I thought it was great that the park opened early. You forgot to mention that it was only £10 (about $15) for a ride-all-day wristband.

There were also several rides closed, including the Rollercoaster, Space Invader 2, Revolution, and Spin Doctors. That's 4 major rides, including 3 coasters, plus the Big Apple, which I'm told has been sold and will be removed shortly. Sadly the Turtle Chase (Tumble Bug) and Vikingar are no longer on the park map, which means they are most likley to be removed too.

You didn't miss much with Bliing, I've only ridden it once but it looks a lot better than it is. You did miss out on Valhalla though, that is one of the best water rides in the world, and won the Golden Ticket for it in 2003. Although most of the effects weren't working on sunday, I suspect they were turned off to save money, as soon as it was so cheap to get in.

I'm surprised you found the staff friendly, maybe I should put on an American accent and they might be nice to me for a change. However, you're comment about the ride-ops yelling back at the guests just about sums them up. The ride ops on the Grand National were acting more like doormen/bouncers to night clubs than ride ops, which is fine if there is trouble, but they don't need to be like it all the time. The ride op on the Zipper Dipper though was great, and someone on the steeplechase actaully said hello.

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Monday, February 21, 2005 3:31 PM
What do Americans sound like?
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Monday, February 21, 2005 3:33 PM

Grant said:However, you're comment about the ride-ops yelling back at the guests just about sums them up.

I remember the good old days when they didn't shout at guests - they'd simply pull out a pistol and shoot them ;)


-Jimvy!

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Monday, February 21, 2005 3:56 PM
Neuski said:
What do Americans sound like?

We don't have that British accent like Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

hehe, just kidding.

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Monday, February 21, 2005 4:00 PM

crazyforcoasters said:
Neuski said:We don't have that British accent like Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

Neither do I!


-Jim ;)

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Monday, February 21, 2005 4:03 PM
Grant:

I did get the "carnie" vibe from some of the ride ops, as well as their odd problem-solving method.

But I can't be too harsh, as many of them did seem genuinely nice and struck up a conversation. Then again, its only the second day of the season. ;)

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Monday, February 21, 2005 4:59 PM
Ni! ;)
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Monday, February 21, 2005 7:50 PM

Neuski said:
What do Americans sound like?

Different to what people sound like in Blackpool.

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Wednesday, February 23, 2005 12:06 AM
Matt,

It's nice to hear you finally made it to Blackpool. It's easily my favorite park in England that I visited. I look forward to going back again, whenever that may be.

Thanks for the trip report.

-Sean

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Wednesday, February 23, 2005 8:43 AM
I agree with Sean. There are plenty of great parks in the UK, but Blackpool was the best of the bunch.
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Wednesday, March 2, 2005 1:06 PM
Third that.

You should've eaten at Coasters. The seats in the restaurant are old vehicles from retired rides. That was... what's the word?... unique.

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Wednesday, March 2, 2005 1:46 PM
I walked by it- Coasters looked really cool. I guess I didn't think of it during the course of the day, but I saw all of the old vehicles- very neat stuff. Maybe next time!
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