EuroOd 1.3.2 & 1.4 -- Blackpool (July 15 & 16)

Associated parks:

Blackpool Pleasure Beach. Quite possibly the ultimate amusement park. Home of 5 classic wooden roller coasters, 11 coasters in all. Location of such rare attractions as the last tumble bug in Europe, a Noah's Ark, and a hedge maze. And yet also the site of such modern rides as a space shot tower and a modern themed water chute that rivals even BGW's mighty Pompeii.

Yes, I liked Blackpool. We arrived at Blackpool the evening after Southport. Blackpool has a "soft" closing time, so we weren't sure exactly how much time we'd get, but we already knew they would be open later than any other park in the first week (9pm both nights, as it turned out). On the first day, we would get an afternoon ERT on Pepsi Max: The Big One (from 5pm to 6pm, in the middle of park hours. This surprised us at first, but given the soft closing time it actually did make sense). On the second day, ERT would be on the Big Dipper and Steeplechase, again during park hours. Finally, we were given tickets for our second day to the evening performance of Eclipse, a "circus musical".

Although the park stayed open until 9, crowds died down very quickly, much like the other parks, leaving us with PLENTY of time to enjoy Blackpool. And enjoy we did.

First, the coasters (in order of first rides, since that's how my notes work :) ):

Pepsi Max: The Big One (9 laps the first day, 1 in 1-3; 1 lap the 2nd day, front row) -- I didn't have high hopes for this hyper, to be honest. I'd heard a lot of negative comments about it -- that it was rough, didn't provide much speed or air, and so on. Well, while it certainly isn't my favorite hyper, it IS a LOT of fun. The first twisting drop is reminiscent of that of Steel Phantom/Phantom's Revenge, only much longer and with a VERY pretty view of the ocean setting. From there, riders are treated to a wild, bucking ride of a hyper, a lot of fun.

Steeplechase (1 ride first day; 2 rides 2nd day) -- This coaster is unlike anything you'll find elsewhere. Each "car" consists of a single horse. You sit on the horse and hold on, and race with up to 2 other people (three tracks run parallel). There IS a seatbelt, but holding on is still advisable. The ride is incredibly fun, and was pretty popular. Each horse COULD take two people, but most people rode by themselves.

Revolution (1 ride first day, front seat; 1 ride 2nd day, back seat) -- an old Arrow shuttle. Climb up seemingly 100's of stairs to get to the station, where you go into a slow launch down the hill, up into a reverse station, and back again. Short, simple, and to the point.

Space Invader (1 ride, first day) -- An indoor steel coaster with a space theme (the Star Wars theme was playing inside, in fact). The trains seat two people inline. Interesting, but not something that grabbed me right away.

Circus Clown (1 ride of 8 laps, first day) -- A small steel kiddie coaster. The operator was laughing, "But this is for kids!" I didn't observe how many times around one could normally ride, but he let us go a full 8 times around, laughing the entire time.

Avalanche (1 lap first day; 1 lap 2nd day) -- a bobsled ride along the lines of the one at PKD, but with a difference. Ever ride a bobsled with airtime before? I hadn't. Not very strong, but air nonetheless.

Roller Coaster (1 lap first day; 1 lap 2nd day, back row) -- What a great old woodie. The rolling stock on this consists of 4-bench cars with a fixed bar, and thick padding. Very comfortable, and fun.

Big Dipper (1 lap first day, in 1-4; 5 laps 2nd day, 1 in back, in in 1-4) -- Yes, another woodie with 4-bench cars. Not just a fixed bar this time, but still providing the opportunity for plenty of room. This woodie, like all the others at Blackpool, ran very well, but the best is yet to come.

Wild Mouse (1 lap first day; 2 laps 2nd day) -- Another wooden mouse. While this was fun, I actually found myself preferring King Soloman at Pleasureland.

Grand National (2 laps first day, 1 in front; 8 laps 2nd day, 3 in back, 2 in 1-3) -- Oh My God. The best woodie not only at Blackpool, but on the entire tour. I know some people would disagree with that statement, but that's how I feel. A racing roller coaster where the sides switch, much like Kennywood's own Racer. However, Grand National is a much faster, wilder ride. From the double-down on the first drop to the headchopping final dive at the end, this ride was moving. Add in the racing aspect (when they were close, that is) complete with handslapping action, and this was just the most fun coaster of the stay.

Zipper Dipper (1 lap, 2nd day) -- We managed to completely miss this junior woodie on the first day. Nothing terribly exciting, but fun and worthwhile.

Add 'em up, folks -- that's 11 coasters, and 5 of them CLASSIC wood. And only a single loop in all of them.

But Blackpool is about so much more than just coasters. Watch out, these are about to come rapid-fire.

There's the hedge maze, which was fun and annoying at the same time. A Ghost Train haunted ride. Alice in Wonderland, a cutsy-fied take on the ghost train type of ride. A Noah's Ark, which was longer than the one at Kennywood and not as modified, but Kennywood's contains nicer animals.

Magic Mountain is a cute indoor train ride in the kiddie section that had me thinking "It's a small world after all..." The Gold Mine is another dark ride that some people were ready to argue is a coaster, but remains powered throughout. Trauma Towers, a haunted castle walkthrough leading to a dark spinning ride (if my vague recollection of it is accurate). River Caves, an Old-Mill style ride similar to the one at Pleasureland.

Turtle Chase, a tumble bug much like the one at Kennywood, with a few key differences. For one thing, the land around this tumble bug has been filled in, so that the Turtles run on the terrain. Another, interesting, difference is that there is no chain across the entrance of the turtles, which surprised me.

Black Hole, a Waltzer with strobes but without an operator kicking you around. I didn't enjoy this as much as the other two, but it was still a good ride. Impossible, a mirror maze leading to a house of illusions (Escher-esque paintings and such) leading to another Haunted Swing.

And finally, Valhalla. Take a large chute-the-shoots ride and add in lots of elaborate theming. You DO get wet on this. Very wet. In the late evening on the 2nd day, just before going to see the indoor Eclipse show, is not the time to get wet, so we went on with ponchos with the sleeves tied off and the hoods held down. At one point there was fire that felt like it was going to melt those ponchos into us. I found this ride to be even better than the similar one at BGW.

All that, and there were STILL things at Blackpool I didn't hit. It's amazing how much they have crammed into a relatively small area.

By now it was the evening of the second day. Faced with the choice of staying in the park, or taking up on Blackpool's generous offer to see the Eclipse show in the Globe Theater, I opted to see the show. This show was, as described, a "musical circus". It was compared to Cirque du Soleil by many people. Having never seen that show, I can't make the comparison myself, but I CAN say that the show was quite enjoyable in its own right. Trapese, trampoline, balance beams, acrobatic juggling clowns, all set to music with dancing and singing. Not everyone's cup of tea, but to me a nice way to cap off an incredible park.

I WILL be back. Count on it.

"Are you justified in taking life to save life?" -- The Great Debate, Dream Theater
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*** This post was edited by GregLeg on 7/24/2002. ***

Man, I miss that place. They really do have it all! What an excellent TR, it's great to hear about the Euro Trip:).

Kara (car-uh)
861 Laps
458 in '02
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Good TR. Blackpool seems very fun.

Steel: 1)MF, 2)Goliath, 3)Magnum
Wood: 1)Villain, 2)Beast, 3)Roar(SFMW)

I do envy you, Greg. We wanted to make this trip, but scheduling wounldn't allow. And this review of Blackpool makes me think I'll have to book a trip accross next year.

Thanks for the great TR.

Without the chaindog, you'd never get up the lifthill...

NIce TR! I would think for 11 coasters there would be more than 1 inversion.


*** This post was edited by SFgadvMAN on 7/24/2002. ***

Nope, just one, on the Revolution, and no more are necessary. Blackpool is very much a "traditional" park. Let's look at the coaster offerings:

5 woodies -- no loops there

Circus Clown -- kiddie steel, nope.

The Big One -- Arrow hyper. Next.

Avalanche -- a bobsled. No way.

Steeplechase -- Yeah, as if.

Space Invader -- Indoor wildcat-like ride. No loops there, either.

Revolution -- There we go, one loop, taken twice.

What does this prove? That you just don't need loops to be successful...

"Are you justified in taking life to save life?" -- The Great Debate, Dream Theater
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WOW! So much in a 42 acre area, that's less than 1/8th of the size of CP, but only 4 coasters less. Sounds really great and a must visit if I'm ever in the U.K.

What is it Lassie? Did Timmy fall down the well again? Rough. Did Mr. Wilson have a heart attack? Rough. Is the drug dealer here for his money? Rough Rough. RUN!

kpjb's avatar

It might be smaller than CP, but they really pack it in. There are rides built atop gift shops, restaurants under coasters.(Those of you who harp on CP having a space problem may want to make a note of this...)

Greg, I'm glad you got out to Blackpool. I was hoping it'd be part of your trip. This is one of my favorite parks ever. I absolutely loved PepsiMax, and Grand National seems to be a fusion of the Jack Rabbit and Racer's best elements all thrown in to one great ride; and I like their "old-fashioned" Noah's Ark better than ours, actually.

I have no idea why there aren't more Steeplechase rides, I found this to be so much fun, the only coaster where I always am holding on.

No Haunted Swing or Old Mill, though?

Did you get a chance to eat at Coasters by the shore? All of the seats in the restaurant are from retired rides... eat in a coaster car, a Tilt-A-Whirl carriage, etc.

I told them ahead of time that I was coming (through Kennywood) and they treated my family and me like royalty the whole time we were there.

Glad you had a good time.

"When I was growing up, we were taught something called manners. You'd understand that if you weren't such an idiot." - Jack Handey

No loops on Steeplechase? LOL. Great TR. Blackpool certainly seems worth the trip alone. Seems like Grand National is the hidden gem.....but the "Turtles on the ground" effect is an awesome idea! Don't feel bad, my recent CA trip left me with unfinished business too! Not enough hours in the day, not enough days in the week....
Brad Sherman
BuzzCon Frequent Flyer, responsible for guests fleeing the queue in horror!
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