The Trip of a Lifetime (PL & BPB) (7/15/02)

Associated parks:
None

Saturday, September 14, 2002 7:56 PM

Part 5- Southport Pleasureland & Blackpool Pleasure Beach


“Why am I feeling guilty for having this much fun?”…………


My roommate for the tour, Jeff Johnson set his alarm clock for the night before, but accidentally sat it under a pile of clothes. The result you might ask? How about not hearing the alarm and waking up an hour late. We didn’t have to leave until 8:00am but that didn’t give us a lot of time to get ready considering we woke up at 7:30am. In about a 20 minute time frame, I took a shower while Jeff got his stuff ready for the big day, then I got my stuff ready while Jeff took a shower. Sure, we had to skip breakfast at Pontin’s, but we were on time and ready to go by 8:00am. Needless to say that my shower consisted of one “Pontin’s cycle.”


The drive to Sourthport took about an hour and a half. To me, this felt strange considering we could see Sourthport from Blackpool but if you look at a map, you can see that we had to drive all the way around the coastline to get to our destination. The drive didn’t seem to take as long as it did, which was the case with all the drives so far. Once we arrived at the park, we were greeted by the General Manager of Southport Pleasureland. He had wristbands for everyone. I helped him dispense them while most everyone else went inside the park. Once everyone had a wristband, I walked in to find people heading in different directions. Some people wanted to go ride coasters, while others wanted to do THE Fun House at the start of ERT, myself included.


---The Fun House---


Folks, it would be very difficult to cram more fun under the roof. As the name suggested, this is indeed a fun house, but not in the way that most of us are familiar with. When I think of a fun house, I think of one of those trailer mounted attractions we see at carnivals and fairs. The fun house that we were just getting ready to enter was one large room with several attractions to…..well, have fun on. Walking inside this place for the first time was the equivalent to Willie walking into the heart of the Chocolate Factory for the first time.


Quite a few of us headed right for The Wheel! I am not sure if the ride actually uses that name or not but I will use it for the rest of this report. I am sure you have read somewhere about The Wheel at Southport. If not, just imagine a human roulette wheel that spins around at a fast pace and throws people off of it. I had no idea what to expect. We didn’t get to see the wheel in action before we entered so a group of us took our shoes off (required), hopped over a small padded wall, and into the center of the wheel and waited. The wheel started to spin slowly. At first, I thought this was easy because after all, this whole area is designed for children and I just couldn’t see children flying off into the wall because…..


“ WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAH!!!!!!”


The wheel then picked up some serious speed and threw half of us off and into the padded walls that reside a bit below it. If that wasn’t enough, a few seconds later the wheel speeds up again throwing everyone off with the exception of one lucky person. I wasn’t that person, and in return, bonded with the padded wall. That was fun. Almost too much fun. As a matter of fact, I kind of felt bad for those that couldn’t make the trip because of all the fun we were having…and this was just the first ride of the day.
I tried the wheel a few more times before moving into other areas of the room.

I then tried something called the Social Mixer where people climb in a circular area, sit down, and soon, spin in a circle. The feeling and motion was very similar to that of a Rotor but this was much smaller. After my ride I realized that there were coasters on our ERT to ride so I left and went to go ride my first one of the day.


The two coasters for ERT were on different sides of the park so we got to walk around the park a bit in the process and see what to ride when the park officially opened. I will save the details of what we saw for a bit later in this report but for now, it was time to ride a coaster.


===Cyclone===(#417)


This ended up being my 100th wooden coaster. Kind of strange when I think about that considering my 99th wooden coaster was Tremors at Silverwood and I rode that in August of last year. Had it really been that long since I rode a new wooden coaster? The Lost Coaster at Indian Beach could have been my 100th but both times I was there the coaster was closed so I didn’t get it. The Cyclone was a fun ride. The seats on this coaster are virtually like couches. They were very comfortable. The ride itself may not have been the most intense coaster ridden so far, but it was fun. While riding I noticed some old Pepsi Max Big One track sitting in a bone yard of sorts. The Cyclone also gave a great view of the Irish Sea as you crested the lift. Not a bad ride at all. It even had a nice surprise tunnel at the end.


===Traumatizer=== (#418)


Our first Vekoma SLC of the trip and probably the newest one I have ridden. There are a couple SLC coasters that I have no desire to ride again, but at the same time, I have ridden a couple SLCs that haven’t been all that bad. I don’t know what Pleasureland is doing to this coaster, or if my rule about riding in the back for the smoothest ride worked better or not, but I was actually having a lot of fun on this coaster. To me, it didn’t feel like a typical SLC in any way. I found the ride to be very smooth with some nice transitions. Not one time did my head hit the restraints. I heard from other people that they had a horrible ride, but I know I am not alone in those that liked the ride a lot. My mother, who hates rough rides, rode Traumatizer 8 times in a row and loved each ride. It should also be noted that the name for this coaster comes in part with the UK drink Tizer which I never got around to sample.


After one ride on those two coasters, I realized we still had 45 minutes left for ERT. I went back to the Fun House and tried the other attractions inside. I walked up some wacky stairs to reach a balcony looking over the two spinning attractions. I tried something that I could only describe as a “Lumberjack Simulator” with its spinning drum that people tried to stand on. I also went down a spiral slide (hadn’t been on one of those in probably 15 years), and jumped around a bit on a ground level trampoline. I even ran and jumped around a bit inside an inflatable castle type thing. A few others did the same thing. Bret Ulozas said it best by, “I forgot how cool this was.”


Joe Campanella showed off his flipping talents on the trampoline while Alan showed how he loves the floor by flipping onto the ground. Honestly, I have never met someone that seems to love falling onto the floor, no matter where it is, before. Jeff Johnson showed off how he would do a cartwheel while standing in one place thanks to the aid of a large rotating barrel. The only bad thing is on Jeff’s first attempt, he bumped into someone that was trying to walk through the barrel, sending them to the bottom and rolling uncontrollably for 15 seconds or so before they attempted to stand up again. It was funny to see but the man rolling around probably wasn’t having any fun. I attempted 3 times to do the handstand but fell on my back, knees, and shoulder with each try. I could get upside down easily but after watching the footage Jeff shot of me, I just didn’t have my arms spread out enough as I was tall enough to accomplish the stunt. Oh well, next time.


Once we had our fill in the Fun House, and the fact that the park was open, we decided to explore what else the park had to offer. Since the park already had made a huge impression on me, I couldn’t wait to ride something else. A group of us went over to the parks kiddie coaster to give it a ride. As with the small coaster we found at Flamingoland, we were welcomed by a long line. We still had plenty of time left to see the rest of the park so we waited it out.


===Big Apple===(#419)


This is a standard Pinfari Wacky Worm complete with a double pass through a large themed apple. The ride operator was getting a kick out of how many adults wanted to ride his coaster. The rest of the day was spent riding various rides. Forgive me if my order is not correct but I believe we then went to the next coaster.

===King Solomon’s Mine=== (#420)


Ahhh. My first true wooden mouse. From the looks of the line, it was quite popular, but then again, it was filled with ACE members. Watching this peppy little sucker from the line resulted in a lot of response from those watching. This coaster looked just like the wooden mouse coasters from Roller Coaster Tycoon complete with tilting cars. At one pass, we saw a man going over one of the ejector hills and seeing his change coming out of the car and landing on the midway. Funny stuff. We also got a kick out of hearing about how sore people were from the wheel. I myself had a few scrapes and burns but nothing compared to others. Joe Campanella had a large part of his back burned from sliding across the floor, and Jim Raimar had holes in his pants from the same machine. Fun comes at a price, but it was well worth it the way I see it.


Jeff Johnson and I crunched into the car and off we went. The track itself is strange looking. There are two rails in the middle of the track that act as guide, and upstop rails, as well as more track to the side that acts as the main guiding rails. The lift was quick as were the first couple of turns where we really got the feeling that the car was going to tip over. It was a blast, but also scary at times since there were no brakes that I could feel or see. The drops on the ride are pretty brutal but result in some very powerful airtime. As we came to the brake run, Jeff and I were speechless as to what just happened. What a fantastic ride!


===Wildcat=== (#421)


This is a standard Wildcat coaster complete with a chain brake at the end, just like the one that used to operate at Holiday World (named Firecracker). Yet another surprise for the day. This coaster was smooth and fast. There were even spots of airtime that usually isn’t felt on coasters like this.


As we exited the ride, my mother out of all people had to show us some things in the gift shop. There were all kinds of gift and gags in the shop, but a few things shocked us. I honestly -can’t type the name of a few of these things without violating the terms of this site, but you can use your imagination. Once we exited the gift shop, she showed us something even more bizarre. There was a candy store that sold all kinds of candy but what was so strange was the fact that the sell something called Little Willies and Twin Titties. Use your imagination. ‘Nuff said.


Jeff and I took a quick ride on the Sky Ride before walking around a bit more and seeing more of the park. One thing I noticed that this park was blaring 80’s pop music just like Lightwater Valley did the day before. Now, I know a lot of 80’s pop came from this country, and I really do like some of it, but is it still that popular that it is played all day in some places? Quite odd if you ask me.


Jeff and I walked past an arcade. Sitting right in front was another Dancing Stage machine. The machine we saw on the tour. I played a few games by myself, then with Joe Campanella. During our last game, our whole team of coach drivers walked up and watched us play. Nigel took out his digital camera and shot some footage of us playing because he had never seen anyone play that game before. He seemed like he got as big kick out of watching us jump around like fools, as we did playing.

Soon after, Joe and I headed to the lunch area. I was surprised to see many different type of food being served for us. They even had pizza! Woo hoo! Call me impressed! The ladies that were pouring the drinks were great to talk to and asked quite a bit about why we were at the park. Once we were done eating, we decided to go ride as much as we could because we didn’t have a whole lot of time left. However, our time was going to be sucked away faster if we didn’t get away from those Dancing Stage machines. As luck would have it, there was a machine in the same place we ate lunch, so Joe and I once again played a few games before leaving.

By this time, I decided to ride a few things by myself while Joe and the others left to go ride a boat ride or something. I rode a dark ride with another ACE member, and then gave my first ride on a Helter Skelter a go. The whole attraction was being taken over by about 20 ACE members at this point and they gave me tips on how to get the most out of my ride. Basically, you grab a straw placemat, climb up a few flights of stairs, then slide down to the bottom while on the outside of the structure. The ride ends with a drop into a large wooden bowl.

I grabbed two mats as suggested by those that were having fun on it, walked up the stairs, and hopped into the slide. With one mat on my foot and the other under my rear, I let go and rapidly slid down the whole way and into the bowl. Now I can see why so many people like this ride.

I then went for a ride on an Old Mill-type ride and met up with Joe, Sean Winder, Ivan Hurtado, and a few others. We had just heard that Chris Trotter and a few others had to be evacuated from the ride because a boat almost tipped. This added to our excitement. The ride itself was very well done and is probably one of the longest dark rides I have ever ridden. It even had that old smell that seems to linger in Kennywood’s Old Mill. As we exited, Chris pointed out the funny audio near the exit and had a whole description of that could only be told by Chris. If you know Chris, you know exactly what I am talking about.


We then headed off to the new Double Shot. At first, I thought this was a standard Big Shot because of the 110’ height, but soon found out that this was the biggest Double Shot I have seen. Just as most of the others I have ridden, this didn’t disappoint and I would have ridden it again if time wasn’t running out. I ran into my mother and she suggested we go ride the carousel because the ride operator wanted some ACE members to ride his ride. Sadly though, only two of us were interested so we went anyway. The ride op was so happy he got at least 2 of us on his ride and them asked about how to join ACE once the ride ended. Maybe we will see him at an event in the future? Who knows?


It was now time to leave Southport Pleasureland and head on back to Blackpool. I had a great time at this park, if not the best time I had on the trip so far. I am really going to miss it but I know I will be back some other day. As I walked up to our coaches, I saw that Phil, the driver of the Pink Coach, had invested in a couple gags from the gift shop and had as much fun with them as possible. It really was a site to see.


We made the hour and a half drive back to Pontin’s, dropped off whatever we wanted, and drove down the street to one of the most famous parks in the world. Blackpool Pleasure Beach!!!


I will be honest here. I had thought there was no way that this park was going to live up to the hype. I told myself in advance not to get disappointed if the park “isn’t all that.” I mean, it looked cool from the video and pictures I saw, but would it really be THAT fun? I guess I was about to find out in one way or another.


A few park reps greeted us in the coach area and told everyone to stay in one general area until they give the go ahead to enter the park. They handed us wristbands and soon gave the word that we could enter the park, BUT, only if we walked behind the same people that gave us the wristbands. They made it very clear they didn’t want anyone running into the park but rather a kind of walk into the park by park personnel. Unfortunately, the fact that we had ERT in 15 minutes brought out the worst of people for some reason and I witnessed a whole group start running into the park as the same kind folks that brought us those wristbands shouted out for them to stop. Ignoring their pleading, more people joined the group and continued to run, or just walk fast into the park. I personally found this to be very rude and not a good representation of our group.


After all of that was over, I walked into the park with everyone else that wasn’t running, and headed for ERT. Yes, the park gave us ERT in the middle of the day. I don’t think I have done that before and considering the coaster they gave us for ERT, it made it that much special.


===The Pepsi Max Big One=== (#422)


Finally, after seeing it on TV many times, reading about it in coaster articles, and looking at it every night while at Pontin’s, it was time to ride. As promised, our ERT took place during the middle of the day. Most everyone went to this coaster first while others went for the other coaster during ERT, Big Dipper. As we entered the station of the Big One, we were amazed to see the whole vertical transfer system work up close as the park was adding a second train for our ERT. I decided to take my first ride on this coaster in the front of the last car.


We left the station to the familiar sounding siren I have been hearing since 1996 on various shows. We passed through the Pepsi Max tunnel, and up the lift, which was quite noisy. I could see the heads of riders going over the crest and knew it was time to……..


“WOAH! WHAT THE…?”


Without warning, the train rips over the lift and made 3 brutal transitions down the first drop. This caught me off guard because I was for some reason expecting a semi-gradual twist, but instead was thrown to the side of the car with great force. Once the shock of the first drop was over, I took a moment to realize that I was actually on this coaster. The next hill, while not an outstanding one IMO, provided a great view of the park to the right, and the Irish Sea to the left.

After dropping down again, we soon rose and made our way around the very high turn around. I honestly was surprised at how high above the ground this part of the ride is. If you are sitting on the left side of the train, you get a great hanging sensation. Two more hills followed that gave us a closer view of the park. The train then goes under a small section of the Big Dipper before popping up into the block brakes. There was a nice pop of airtime at this point. While the braking on the blocks might have been heavy, it didn’t ruin the rest of the ride IMO, then again, I have really never understood how some consider a ride to be “ruined” because of more braking. The way I look at it, if a ride is still taking on riders, it can’t be ruined.


The last half of the ride provided us with a helix and a nice little dive into a tunnel before hitting the final brakes. This coaster was dead on what I thought it would be minus the first drop. While not the most intense, it was a fun ride with a great view. It’s a shame that I heard some enthusiasts complain about how boring they thought the coaster was because I found a lot of joy from riding this coaster. To each his own.


I then went around for another ride. This time near the front if I remember correctly. As with my first ride, I had a great time. I decided to not ride a third time because we had just heard the park was going to close at 9:00pm. Like Kennywood, BPB doesn’t have a set close time on most nights. They usually close whenever they feel like it. With the light crowds, I could easily see the reason behind the 9:00pm close. This still gave us 3 hours in the park to ride as much as we could. After my second ride, a small group of us decided to just walk around the park and ride whatever we came to.


This was the start of one of the best times I have ever had at a park.


===Steeplechase=== (#423)


As with everything in this park, I had wanted to ride this for a long time. The ride was more fun than I thought it would be. There are some nice hills on the ride, but the majority of fun for me came in the result of racing friends. With 3 tracks, you can imagine how much fun it would be to race two other friends on two other horses. I believe we rode all 3 tracks before moving on to…


===Revolution=== (#424)


Here is something you don’t see much nowadays. An Arrow shuttle loop. This being my 3rd ridden. Walking up all those stairs provides some awesome views of Steeplechase and the surrounding areas. The loading station was mostly orange (Go orange!) and contained a funny spiel counting down the launch. The ride itself was in great shape and didn’t beat us up in the slightest. Perhaps if more parks took care of their shuttle loop the way Blackpool did, there would be more of these around?


===Space Invader=== (#425)


We walked over to this enclosed coaster. The outside is very well themed to look like a, well, kind of like a square moon or something. This was the longest wait of the day in the park. A whole 20 minutes!! The time we spent in line was mostly spent commenting on how strange it felt standing on an angle while walking up the stairs. It’s kind of hard to explain but it did feel strange. We also got a kick out of all the change that was stuck inside some of the plastic theming.


The ride was very dark once inside the main ride building but had a few lit fly bys. There were only a couple of intense moments due to sharp curves and our shoulder restraints but nothing too bad.


===Avalanche===(#426)


Our first Mack bobsled of the trip. It took us a couple of tries to find the entrance to this one but once we found it, we were on the ride in a matter of about a minute. This is probably one of the shortest bobsleds I have ridden, but the intensity of this machine is incredible. You want sharp curves taken at high speeds? Check. You want a very out control ride yet smooth? Check. You want a good moment of airtime? Check. Yes, this is the first bobsled I have ridden that provided a moment (although small) moment of airtime as you make your way out of the helix portion.

We ended up riding this twice because we liked it so much. At this time, we knew there were a couple of things in the kiddie area we wanted to check out so we mad our way over there. A lot of people were telling us to find the Magic Mountain dark ride. Once found, we quickly took our seats and had a great time talking to the old ride op who was amazed that coaster enthusiasts were interested in riding his ride.

Once in the dark part of the ride, we traveled by many scenes that really didn’t make a lot of sense. There would be scenes showing rabbits having fun, then another one with aliens doing something. I found this to be a very strange ride. About half way through, we came to a scene that shocked the heck out of us. I honestly don’t want to mention what it was we saw because it was totally non-PC and in our eyes, very bad. If this ride ran in the US with this scene included, they would probably shut it down the day it opened. Everyone in our train that saw it had exactly the same reaction and that actually made us laugh a bit, but that was ended once we realized how tacky the whole scene was. Perhaps we were over reacting a bit or something, but we talked to others who had ridden it who thought the same about the ride.


===Roller Coaster===(#427)


We knew we were in for a special treat the second we sat down on the trains. Not only were these 4-bench trains, but they felt more like sitting on a sofa. There were no restraints to fasten or pull down so we expected a ride with mild hills. As it turns out, the ride ended up being much more thrilling than I thought it would be. The layout featured an out-and-back course while gently going over many hills. I enjoyed this and wanted to ride again sometime before the day was over but we still wanted to ride the other coasters as well.


===Circus Clown===(#428)


Just one of the two coasters that reside in the kiddie area of the park. Basically this is a themed kiddie coaster with a very short oval layout with one section passing through a large drum. We had an entire train of ACE members riding it and once again, the ride operator was amazed that we would want to ride it. I think we ended up getting like 6 or 7 laps before he stopped the ride.


===Zipper Dipper===(#429)


The park’s junior wooden coaster. The layout for this one is basically a large oval with some mild hills through on. It ends with a trip through a tunnel before hitting the final brakes. This is a great ride for the kids not tall enough to ride the other coasters.


We had heard about some of the incredible dark rides at Blackpool but with the exception of Magic Mountain, we hadn’t seen any until we found one near Big Dipper. Forgive me because I have already forgotten the name. The trains and track resembled a coaster but the ride was indeed powered throughout. We also met up with some other people from the Orange coach and rode together. The level of detail on this long ride was great. At one point we passed by a restaurant while the people sitting at their tables waved.


As we exited, I wanted to video tape a glimpse of the ride we had just ridden when I accidentally dropped my video camera. This was not good. It hit the ground hard but didn’t look like it suffered any damage out the outside other than a few scrape marks. I just hoped that something wasn’t broken inside. I tested it for a few minutes and found that it looked fine. Time for another dark ride.


Once again, I apologize for the lack of knowing the dark ride names, but we rode a haunted one next. This one was long also and included several moments of going back outside towards the loading area. At one point the cars go down a drop that some would argue makes it a coaster, but since the car is powered the entire ride, I didn’t count it. This was one of the best dark rides I have ever done. Many things tried to scare riders. I was had twice. The major highlight I remember about this ride was nudity. There was an actual scene that depicted a nude woman in all her glory. Once I was off the ride, I taped the reactions of everyone coming off the ride and they all mentioned the woman also. What a bunch of horn dogs we are.


Time to go ride some more coasters. I had totally forgotten about this next one until we walked up to it.


===Wild Mouse===(#430)


Yes! Another wooden mouse! I had never ridden a wooden mouse before this morning, and I end up riding two in the same day. This one had a much different layout than the one at Southport, and was larger. Alan Conceico and I rode this together. While going up the lift, they make it VERY clear not to stand up as there is a large section of track you go under that you can hit your head on if you are not careful. At the top of the lift I wasn’t paying attention to what was ahead of me but rather looking at the awesome layout. Alan and I both were freaked out when we left the lift and made a tight right turn just missing the part of another building. I mean, for some reason, this freaked the heck out of us. We weren’t expecting it at all.


There are some mean drops on this sucker followed by a few hairpin turns and more drops. All of us that rode together were more than impressed with this wicked ride. Ivan thought he broke his tailbone on one of the drops. It’s that sick! Justin Garvanovic told us that we would love it, and he wasn’t joking. It just sucks that we don’t have anything like this in the US. Perhaps The Gravity Group could cook up something like this?


===Big Dipper===(#431)


I have always wanted to ride this coaster. I didn’t know much about the layout, but I have always wanted to go around the top of the lift and circle that odd Big Dipper signage. Finally, after a lot of years, I was on the coaster. One of the things I liked about BPB so far was the uniqueness of everything we rode so far. Everything had a very cool vibe about it and this coaster was no exception.

Once we left the station, we entered a dark tunnel with lit warning signs before reaching a very small lift. This lift takes you up a hill then releases you into a curve so you can go up the main lift. Thought of Knoebel’s Twister come to mind here for some reason. Once at the top of the main lift, we went around the Big Dipper sign that I mentioned, and made our way through the out-and-back type layout. There were some nice pops of air on this ride as well as a few surprises like a pass under the Steeplechase track. The seats were like Roller Coaster’s seats (couch like) and provide an ultra-comfortable ride.


===Grand National===(#432)


I have heard a lot of about this ride, but had idea what the layout of this ride was. I new it was a mobius racer (only one of 3) and was very popular with Nigel. While I was standing in line, I met a few girls from Scotland. I had never met anyone from Scotland and due to their heavy accents, it was a bit difficult to understand them, but I got used to it by the time we took our ride. They seemed fascinated with the fact that I was from America and started to ask me some questions about America but I couldn’t’ make out most of the questions.


I won’t go into a play by play of the layout but I will say this coaster blew me away. There are some very violent moments on it that I enjoyed greatly. The airtime is amazing as is the overall pace. The interaction between the other train was fun. I would even go as far as saying this was the most fun I have had on a racing coaster. It should be no surprise that the seats are couch like once again. I wish I could see seats like this in America on some of their wood coasters as I think they would provide a much better ride for some of those coasters that are rougher than normal.


Of course, I just couldn’t stop with one ride so I went around again and tried the other side. This time in the back and was even more blown away. The airtime is very sever and if you don’t watch it, could be very painful.


I looked at my watch and realized we had done all coasters in the park within 3 hours, and we still had some time left to do other things before we were to leave. I found a Dancing Stage machine in front of Grand National and played a couple of games before I decided to cool off a bit. I met back up with Alan and a few others and rode a dark boat ride around the same area. I don’t remember much about this ride other than it had a small drop and splash at the very end.

Joe, Alan and I also gave the Ice Blast shot tower a ride. While the launch to the top was good, it was slowed way down before we reached the top so we didn’t have a fantastic ride on it. I never had that feeling on an S&S tower before


With some time left before the 9:00pm close, I decided to walk over and give Valhalla a ride by myself. This is a (if I am not mistaken) Intamin forwards/backwards flume ride that is very heavily themed. When Blackpool opened this attraction, they promised it would be very immersive. I walked up to the attraction and noticed a lot of people purchasing ponchos. I decided to pass on this and soon hopped in to a boat and started the adventure. The ride begins with a near pass under a waterfall before going into the dark portion or the ride.


There are a lot of animated figures like a giant rat near the start of the ride. Soon, we went up a lift, and went into heat portion of the ride. It truly was warm during the portion. We soon were heading right for the edge where we could see down to the rest of the park, when suddenly we stop. We were on a turntable at this point and it turned us so we could take a small journey backwards down a small drop. Nice effect! We enter a pitch dark area and experience the wind portion of the ride. You want wind? You got it. A LOT of wind. The people who were sitting in front of me were yelling because their ponchos were ripping because of the wind.


We left the wind area and went into the cold portion of the attraction. Sure enough, it was chilly in this area. We entered a heavily fogged area with a very nice drop hidden within the fog. As you end the drop, you pass through an awesome water tunnel. It is at this part that I became rather soaked. I didn’t mind though. We still had a ways to go. We went up a very long lift and prepared for what lies ahead when all of the sudden, it stopped just as we were cresting. Emergency lighting came on and an announcement was made to stay in our boats. About 5 minutes later someone came up to where we were and told us we were going to have to walk down the lift.


A lot of people would be freaked out about this but I enjoyed it. It’s not every day I get to do something like that and I was more than happy to take part in it. The ride operator that escorted us down kept on saying she was sorry we wouldn’t get to finish the ride but I knew I would be back tomorrow to give it another try. Once outside, we walked behind the main ride building in an area that is usually off limits, and then were escorted back into the park. I then met up with others who wanted to ride but I told them what happened so we decided to head towards the exit.


On the way, Sean, Ivan, Joe, Alan, and a few others decided to ride the Alice in Wonderland ride. No, we weren’t at a Disney park, but they had a ride based on that story. While the ride was very tame, it was long and featured a few flower scents while riding. I thought it was pretty cool but I couldn’t’ figure out why the soundtrack being played was “I’ve Got a Golden Ticket” from Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Sean picked up on this as well.


As we were exiting the ride, we heard the infamous ‘Goodbye, Goodbye” song that the park plays when they close. We thought it was quite funny and hoped to hear it again the following night. We decided to walk over to the pier across the street and try a very sick looking flat ride called the Mexican Wave. It kind of resembled the Flying Kangaroo at Kennywood but without the ramp. The bouncing was done with hydraulics and provided a rather intense ride…..both forward and backwards. We also ran into fellow coach captain Jason Pytka, Jim and Danielle, Flemming Cook, and a whole lot of others. One of the locals that were around the ride was quite drunk and made a scene while trying to get on the ride. Luckily the ride operators threw him off and called the police.


After riding our flat ride (the coaster on the pier was closed), we went back towards Blackpool and paid some money to go through a scary looking walk-through. While the attraction featured live actors, nothing really ‘got’ me and a few of us commented that we should have saved our money. The people at the front of the place were nice and hooked us up with a discount though so we can’t complain I guess.


Since the coaches had left an hour earlier, we walked back to Pontin's. Alan, Joe, and I decided to walk down to the Irish Sea again and talk about the whole day. At first, we decided to sit on the large cement wall that protects the sea from inland. This required a bit of a hop up. Joe went first, then me, and then Alan. When Alan went up, he almost fell off the other side if Joe wouldn’t’ have grabbed his arm. He would have fallen into some large cement hexagonal holes and would have been severely injured. Perhaps it wasn’t the smartest thing to sit up on that wall, but it was worth it once we were up there. It was around 11:00pm and there was still some sunlight visible. We couldn’t believe it.


We stayed up there for a few more minutes before walking down to the coastline and taking it all again. This was one of those moments that seemed to last forever. We reflected back on one of the, if not the, best days of our lives. We looked out across the Irish Sea and just relaxed. It was very dream like. We couldn’t believe we were in England. We couldn’t believe we were at Blackpool. We couldn’t believe everything was going as perfect as it did, and we couldn’t believe it was only the 3rd day of the tour. It honestly felt like we have been away from the US for a month.


We didn’t want to leave the area because we were having such a great time chatting away and absorbing the moment, but we knew we had to get some sleep so we headed back to Pontin’s. I believe Joe and Alan went to the pub once we were back at Pontin’s, but I went to the front gate area and asked for some soap as they didn’t enter our rooms again. By this time, I was used to it so I didn’t mind. I watched a bit of TV once I was back in my room before falling asleep.


I honestly can’t describe the feeling I had this day. While I did try and describe it to you, there really is no way to interpret the mood. I know the few of you there were there can probably relate, but the only other way I could attempt to describe it would be magical. Truly magical. There are only a few times in my life where everything was so perfect that I had not a care in the world about anything at all, and this was one of those days.


Next up………


Another day in paradise and SCAD diving!


Thanks for reading,


-Sean

*** This post was edited by Sean F. on 9/17/2002. ***

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Saturday, September 14, 2002 11:45 PM

Sean,

Really enjoying the series so far, keep em' coming! I enjoy your sense of humor and I appreciate the fact that you really try to accentuate positive things over negative ones.

-----------------
Mike Miller - on the gravy train to coaster nirvana.

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Sunday, September 15, 2002 12:03 PM
Sean, I am absolutly loving your Trip Reports of the whole Trip,just a few comments though


we rode a haunted one next. This one was long also and included several moments of going back outside towards the loading area. At one point the cars go down a drop that some would argue makes it a coaster, but since the car is powered the entire ride, I didn’t count it

This was probably the famous Ghost Train Ride, there isnt too many of these around England nowadays, so its nice that Blackpool still has one, and I love the small drop on the ride, it actually made the ride a lot of fun


We had heard about some of the incredible dark rides at Blackpool but with the exception of Magic Mountain, we hadn’t seen any until we found one near Big Dipper. Forgive me because I have already forgotten the name. The trains and track resembled a coaster but the ride was indeed powered throughout. We also met up with some other people from the Orange coach and rode together. The level of detail on this long ride was great. At one point we passed by a restaurant while the people sitting at their tables waved.

I wonder if this was the Mine Caves Ride(I think that was the name) i remember when I first went to ride it, I thought it was going to be a coaster, but instread it was a neat little dark ride taking you around caves etc, It was also a Powered ride.


I met back up with Alan and a few others and rode a dark boat ride around the same area. I don’t remember much about this ride other than it had a small drop and splash at the very end.

I think that was the River Caves Ride, It kinda like the ride at Southport I believe, and it does have a rather neat little drop at the end

Also Sean, did you do both weeks of the tour, I havent as yet seen any fully detailed Trip Reports of the 2nd week yet, so it would be good to finally hear from one of the people what they thought of the parks in Enrope????

*** This post was edited by PaulD on 9/15/2002. ***

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Sunday, September 15, 2002 12:45 PM

That does sound like the River Caves. Sean, to put another persective on it, did it look like Kennywood's Old Mill (in terms of the boats and such, different scenes) with a small drop at the end? As Paul says, Southport also has one, although I believe theirs doesn't have a drop. The group I was with made it a point to hit both of those, as there are very few "Old Mill" type rides remaining.

Yes, Sean did both weeks of the tour. I'm anticipating his week two reports himself. Reliving week one is great, but it's the 2nd week that I really want to hear about.

-----------------
--Greg
"Now all I want is to find a way home, to warn Earth -- look upward, and share the wonders I see..."
My page

*** This post was edited by GregLeg on 9/15/2002. ***

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Sunday, September 15, 2002 3:20 PM
Sean wrote:
We had heard about some of the incredible dark rides at Blackpool but with the exception of Magic Mountain, we hadn’t seen any until we found one near Big Dipper. Forgive me because I have already forgotten the name. The trains and track resembled a coaster but the ride was indeed powered throughout. We also met up with some other people from the Orange coach and rode together. The level
of detail on this long ride was great. At one point we passed by a restaurant while the people sitting at their tables waved.

This one was called Gold Mine. In addition to the restaurant, you could also see part of the River Caves (a very well-themed Old Mill) ride and vice-versa.

Once again, I apologize for the lack of knowing the dark ride names, but we rode a haunted one next. This one was long also and included several moments of going back outside towards the loading area. At one point the cars go down a drop that
some would argue makes it a coaster, but since the car is powered the entire ride, I didn’t count it. This was one of the best dark rides I have ever done. Many things tried to scare riders.

This one was called Ghost Train and was by the Wild Mouse.

The dark rides of Blackpool:
-Alice in Wonderland
-Gold Mine (goes thru restaurant and River Caves)
-Ghost Train
-Magic Mountain (the un-PC ride)
-River Caves-old mill (goes through restaurant and River Caves)
also:
-Trauma Towers, a haunted walk-through with a Tagada at the end


Jann***

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Sunday, September 15, 2002 3:43 PM
Wow, we actually hit all those. I have to thank Sue for that, though -- she came on the trip with a list of "must-hit" attractions for every park. Very organized, far more than I was. I was very much planning to just "go with the flow" on the tour (as my evolving plans for the first Friday demonstrated. "Chessington. No, wait, Indian on Brick Lane. Ok, now what. Hey, Dali Universe! Hmmm, guess it's time for the London Eye. Ooh, bumper cars in Namco Station...") Fortunately, "the flow" turned out to have a plan. :)

-----------------
--Greg
"Now all I want is to find a way home, to warn Earth -- look upward, and share the wonders I see..."
My page

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Sunday, September 15, 2002 4:46 PM
Kickass TR Sean! For those of us who didn't go to Europe but wanted to your TR's are a treat.

I am there for the next Euro trip. :-)

-------------
Feel The Adrenaline....
www.intenserides.com

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Sunday, September 15, 2002 9:02 PM

Thanks again!

Mike, its nice to see someone else acknowledges that I look for the more positive things in parks. Just recently, I was at PKI and "someone" accused me of being positive about parks just so I could "kiss up".

Not only was that assumption totally wrong, but I told the person that if they looked at parks in a more positive way, their enjoyment for the hobby would intensify. All they would have to do is give it a try and see what happens. It sure works for me.

Paul, Greg, and Janna. Thanks for the info on the dark rides. Everything was such a blur that day that I forgot to notice the ride names. In a way, it kind of added to the moment, but once I got back, I felt stupid for not remembering. Duh! Tina, glad to see that you are enjoying them.

Look for week two TRs starting next week

-Sean

*** This post was edited by Sean F. on 9/16/2002. ***

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