Blackpool, Flamingo Land, Alton Towers and Thorpe – England 2024

A few weeks ago we spent around 10 days in England. Did some sightseeing of course, as well as going to a few parks along the way and finishing up in London. I am going to not drag on with every detail so this is not excessively long, but just highlight/comment the park itself and a few specific rides (not all).

Trip Overview

We flew into Manchester, trained to/from Blackpool and the city of Chester, before getting a car and driving to the city of York… Then we headed down south to Alton Towers, Birmingham (hotel stop) and eventually around London Heathrow before dropping the car off again.

City wise, Chester and York were standouts… Beautiful, medieval cities… Manchester was quite fun and lively, some great bars and restaurants.

London was actually a touch underwhelming for us. Still was cool to visit, though... Just felt a bit ‘generic’ if that is the right word… Much like Frankfurt (OK, maybe not as bad as Frankfurt)... But we still had a great time meeting some new people and hanging out around the town and seeing the various sights.

Birmingham was... a city. But we just had a few hours there as it was mainly a hotel stopover point and I wanted to go to Cadbury World the next morning (I loaded up on chocolate, duh!)… Also had phenomenal Vietnamese for dinner that night, so there was that at least!

Lastly, our final days were near LHR at the Hilton Garden Inn overlooking the airport on the 7th floor (I’m an AV geek, so plane spotting for a day at LHR was part of this trip, as well). Walking around the perimeter to the parks/fields nearby to have these aircraft some ~50ft over your head was amazing in picture perfect weather… Blue skies and 70F. In fact, it only drizzled one day on the trip and was mostly nice 60-70F and sunny at most times. Had really nice weather.

Blackpool Pleasure Beach

The park itself reminds me a lot of the vibes you get at say Knoebels or Kennywood. The park was very clean, quirky and operations were good (park was dead, so didn’t matter much). This is a park ever since I was a little kid that I always had wanted to visit. Not to the same level as Alton Towers (spoiler: #1 bucket list park right there!), but none the less. We thought it had much more charm than expected, with the little oddities and décor scattered throughout. Overall, we both liked this park more than expected, which was a nice way to kick off the trip.

Icon – Really fun ride… The top hat and a few of the elements were great fun, some good moments in the course. It really looses steam at the end and needed some type of ‘finale’ element, though.

Steeplechase – Always wanted to ride this thing… And loved it. A little janky, and I got pretty badly yeeted on the final brake run when I came to a hard stop, but it would be super cool if these came back and parks built them again.

Big One – Like Magnum 2.0… Except Magnum is better… Which isn’t saying much. Iconic, sure, but the ride itself is just… meh.

Avalanche – Probably one of the best bobsleds I’ve ridden? Thing was quick and much more aggressive than anticipated, really caught me off guard. It’s quick, but man, this thing was a blast.

Misc woodies – The park has a handful of smaller and larger woodies, none of which to write home about. I will say Grand National though is quite aggressive/rough, but also has some speed and surprise double downs and whatnot that surprised me. If this thing was smooth, probably be one of the better racing woodies.

The ghost train and other various dark rides were really nice here, too.

Overall, had a really great time at Blackpool. It ended up being our second favorite park of the trip which was not expected.

Flamingo Land

So this place is interesting… The vibe on the ride side of the park is quite barren / plain, feels a lot like Michigans Adventure or something… Or a Cedar Fair park that hates trees. However, the zoo side is quite nice. If it wasn’t for the zoo we probably would have been in/out of the park in about two hours, but still, after 3-4 hours we were good.

Sik – Their new Intamin 10 inversion looper. Always wanted to ride one of these and I think this is the best one to check out first… This ride location, EDM theme and such is great. It feels very unlike the rest of the park, which is a good sign of things in the future? The ride itself was really good, actually. Smooth, the lapbars were super comfy and the endless barrel rolls at the end were super disorientating. Liked this more than anticipated, for sure. Three rides in total.

Kumali – Another ride that has intrigued me, being one of the last SLC’s of the generation but with a fully custom layout. It was actually really good (trains aside). Quite smooth. It was weird not going through the standard cookie cutter SLC layout, haha. The loop, cobra roll and zero-g were all great!

Mumbo Jumbo – Ugh, what a horrid ride. I really, really dislike almost anything S&S does coaster wise (Freespins or El Loco’s). Just no…

Velocity – Wow, punchy launch on this Vekoma Motorbike. Had a wonderful front seat ride, a lot of fun.

Overall, the park was worth visiting for SIK and Kumali, but the rest? Hmm. They had a really cool old school ghost train.

Alton Towers

This place has been THE bucket list park for me since for 20+ years, probably. With Nemesis being a primary reason for that. We originally planned this trip last year, but when they announced the closure/retrack, we postponed naturally. Anyway, we stayed at the Alton Towers hotel and visited Alton Towers two days (love those 10am-4pm hours! Not).

Alton Towers was all I had hoped/expected it to be. Beautiful grounds with the castle and gardens throughout and a very solid, strong collection of rides. Loved that every ride had its own soundtrack, themed uniforms and theming. We had two days of minimal crowds visiting during the week, so everything was basically walk-on outside of Smiler that we waited 25 minutes for (longest wait of the entire trip, actually).

Nemesis Reborn – Can’t put into words the feeling of walking up to this ride for the first time… Or the last time after about 10 laps on this thing over the two days. Can’t say enough great things about this ride and it lived up to the hype, easily #1 ride on this trip and likely broke my #10 somewhere. Smooth, intense and snappy, just how I like my B&M inverts! This ride really is timeless and here’s to another 30 years or so, hopefully!

Wicker Man – What a cool ride… The theme, pre-show and ride itself are fantastic. We didn’t expect much after being a bit underwhelmed with Invadr at BGW, but this ride is a clear step above. The tunnels, fog, fire effects and smell of burning wood were just amazing. Took a handful of rides on this as well, very good ride and runner up to Nemesis.

Smiler – What the hell just happened? This ride is just insane… A bit bumpy/rattly, but not so bad to kill the ride. I still don’t know what we went through on this thing. I liked it, but it’s for sure a one and done.

Oblivion – The OG dive… And still holds its own. Fantastic drop into the tunnel with great airtime. Much more air than the new school dives with the stupid vests. Not as good as Griffon, Sheikra, Baron… But I’d probably put it above Valravn, honestly.

Rita – Meh. Kind of a pointless Intamin accelerator that ran pretty rough with the horrid Maverick-style trains. Launch was fine, but that was really the only good part of it.

Galactica – Probably my favorite flyer behind FLY, to be honest. Not a fan of the super intense pretzel loops of say Manta or Tatsu, and this ride just works the concept very well. I liked that you just fly around the trees and terrain, plus the fly to lie (and reverse elements) were fun. Just a more comfortable flyer, which I appreciated.

Did not ride Th13teen as I am too tall. So did not attempt.

Two standout attractions – Nemesis Sub Terra and the Curse at Alton Manor… Wow, both stunning dark rides that really blew us away.

Also, with our hotel stay we received free mini-golf which was super challenging, but super themed. Fun time there.

But overall, Alton Towers was fantastic. Would easily go back on a future trip without hesitation. Only downfall is the food options are just horrible… For being such an epic park/resort otherwise, their food can be significantly improved. Expensive, generic. We ended up driving into Alton to go to a pub to get drinks and food instead of eating at our hotel… So yeah… Oh, and those park hours... 4pm is crazy.

Thorpe Park

While I was bummed we were going to miss Hyperia by just two weeks (but then probably not as it closed down after its opening day and won’t open for another week, or so), I was still excited for the rest of the park. Overall first impression was that the park was much smaller of a footprint than expected. Again, much like Flamingoland, it just had a very generic six flags type vibe. It was clean and operations were good, though... haha

Swarm – This was a really good B&M wing coaster… Similar to X-Flight at SFGam, but with better theming… Some good elements scattered along the course, the station roll was fantastic and was the standout at Thorpe ride wise.

Colossus – Ugh… What a difference to SIK. While I know SIK is a newer version with much better trains, I did not expect the ride quality to be THAT different. Colossus was janky/rattly and uncomfortable all-around. SIK is miles and miles better, no contest.

SAW – Another Ugh. Might be one of the worst Eurofighters I’ve ridden. Super rough, uncomfortable and just… Ugh.

Stealth – A mini Kingda-Ka, if you will… But so much worse. Common theme for this park… The launch was good, but that was it… The top hat was super rough/uncomfortable and man, I couldn’t wait for it to be over. I hate those trains, so much.

Nemesis Inferno – Thankfully, some quality at this place! Still not the smoothest B&M invert, but tolerable. It wasn’t as strong of a ride as I had anticipated, but it’s hard when following its cousin up north… Still a fun ride, though.

Walking Dead – A goofy little indoor coaster. Wasn’t too bad.

Ghost Train – Well executed, Thorpe! Probably a highlight of the place that we almost missed/skipped. The live actors were fantastic and it was just a really, really fun time. Hard to explain what this is, but think of like Disaster at Universal, but the actors guiding you in/out of rooms, load you up on this train, spooky stuff goes down, they rush you off into another room, then back on the train, etc… Just a lot of (good) chaos.

Thorpe was the biggest let down I think... The ride collection was sub-par and the rides were running horribly. The park is generic and honestly, even with Hyperia I wouldn’t go out of my way to go back. Rides opened 1-2 hours late, food/drink stands were closed, etc… I don’t know, just a very middle of the road park… Low tier by European standards, for sure.

Overall, we had a really good time finally visiting these parks and exploring England… Finally checking off Alton Towers and Nemesis off the bucket list was a long time coming!

Some pics from the parks:

Last edited by SteveWoA,

And just some "other" pics from the various cities and sights along the way.

kpjb's avatar

I was at Blackpool years ago while visiting with family in Scotland. Sad to see how much historical stuff they've gotten rid of, and to hear that the woodies aren't running that well. It was impeccable back in the 90s.

Alton looks spectacular. I'd love to get there some time.

And I see your airplane pictures, and raise you Aeroflot!



hear that the woodies aren't running that well. It was impeccable back in the 90s.

To be clear, all the woodies ran quite good! The only exception was Grand National which was brutal in parts (PTSD from Son Of Beast days...) haha. But the others ran great! Smooth and well maintained, I thought. Just the layouts and such themselves were not the most exciting, is all.

eightdotthree's avatar

Great trip! Thanks for sharing. Ever since seeing Nemesis on the VHS tape that I wore out I've been fascinated with Alton Towers. I'll be England for a few days in July but too far to make the trip this time.

Thanks! That's a bucket list trip for us as well. Great TR!


getting a car and driving to the city of York… Then we headed down south to Alton Towers,

For the non-UK among us, it's worth pointing out that Alton Towers is a bit of an oddity in terms of location - it's not easily reached by public transport unlike pretty much every other park in the UK. It's approach roads are country lanes rather than 'main' roads or dual carriageways too. They did float getting a better road access in some years ago, on their tab, but as with all things Alton Towers, the neighbours objected. The same neighbours who also complain about the traffic on their sleepy little roads.

Did you do Valhalla at Blackpool?


I'll be England for a few days in July but too far to make the trip this time.

Bummer! But sounds like you at least have been before?

Barry Wellington:
For the non-UK among us, it's worth pointing out that Alton Towers is a bit of an oddity in terms of location - it's not easily reached by public transport unlike pretty much every other park in the UK

Yeah, same for Flamingo Land I assume as well? It seemed pretty far out in the middle of nowhere.

But driving on the other side of the road was an experience... Not too bad, actually. Having a car also allowed us to make a few stops out in the countryside, so well worth it if not just sticking the big cities.

Barry Wellington:
Did you do Valhalla at Blackpool?

Did not... Knew about it, but was not up for getting soaked lol

Rick_UK's avatar

Glad you enjoyed your time on our shores !

Nothing to see here. Move along.

eightdotthree's avatar


Bummer! But sounds like you at least have been before?

No. I’ve only been to England once before for work and a night in London.

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