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So here we go, for the final time in a while, we're off to Blackpool Pleasure Beach! Yay!

A bit of background first. I come from a town that's just a short distance from the Pleasure Beach, then moved to Yorkshire for university and stayed here since. But each year my wife and I will come over to the Pleasure Beach for a day. As a child I firmly believed Blackpool was absolutely God-awful as a town - and still do (edible crotchless underwear available in capsule machines on the sea front). But the Pleasure Beach is one of the few things it has going for it.

We're travelling to the Pleasure Beach with our two-year-old son and my brother-in-law, and are joined by two friends at the car park opposite the football ground (or, as we locals used to call it, "the skip"), with my parents-in-law arriving later and joining us in the park itself. It's probably about a 10-minute walk to the park (after they've increased the bloody car park fare to £12, I think it was, and payment by card only) past all the B&Bs, one of which is called "Roachville". I have little doubt it lives up to its name. Arriving at the park and it's customary to go to the loos just outside, which of course lacks baby changing in the men's.

Finally into the park itself (after getting our wristbands that we bought online, being given all sorts of promotional bumpf, going through the metal detectors and collecting our belongings from the trays) and I do have to say that, whilst the Pleasure Beach doesn't look great, it most certainly is. If you're ever in the UK then it's probably THE park you want to do, probably even moreso than Alton Towers. It doesn't have the nice, peaceful tranquility or massive modern rides of the big, big parks but it makes up for it in just how unique it is.

We head on over to Infusion first of all, an SLC that's set entirely over water. In fact, I think it's still the world's only roller coaster built entirely over water. It's a good little ride (we go on it twice whilst the queues are low) but it does batter me a bit with element after element after element. There's not much space, but it is very tightly compressed. It does really look the part though - the park have done very well with this, fitting it into a small space whilst allowing people to look onto it from a long observation area (where there are plenty of food places). Even better is that the Big One and Big Dipper run alongside this, as well as the train! The queue area is also strangely great, basically consisting of bridges going over the water and between the track struts.

Next up was Avalance, during which I decided to stay off-ride with my son (one of our friends looked after him whilst we were on Infusion). Avalance is a bobsled coaster, and it's not too bad but nothing special for me. Over far too quickly. But it does take a while to queue for (for some reason). I think I remember this opening, and my sister getting stuck on it when it broke down. Ho-hum. Kept my son entertained by watching the Revolution with him, which he loved as it went round the loop.

Last main ride, at the moment at least, was the Big One. The tallest roller coaster in the world when it opened, the lift hill is 235ft above sea level (but 213ft above ground) and, whilst the height has been overtaken many times over the years since, it's still a great coaster. It would definitely be in my top 10 in the world, especially for the following four reasons:

1 - the first quarter of the ride is BRILLIANT. There is a roll to the right on the lift hill drop but I quite like that. Then so many great straights up until you nearly come out of the park (so by this point you've travelled most of the length of the park), before a corner and then back the same way, whilst running alongside Infusion and Big Dipper.

2 - the sheer size of this coaster, and the unique layout of the Pleasure Beach. Because of the size of the land the park has (hint - not much) and keeping so many old attractions, the Big One winds around - and actually through - quite a lot of the park. If you want to see the Pleasure Beach, this is the way.

3 - it lasts AGES. Compared to a lot of major UK coasters this one really gives you a lot of value for money.

4 - loads of people on it are wimps, screaming and holding on for dear life. I just tend to laugh as I put my arms in the air (as much as I can without thwacking my wife in the face).

And yes, as it's sponsored by Pepsi Max, it's painted in appropriate blue and red and, before the lift hill, goes through two giant Pepsi Max cans. It did suffer a bit of a breakdown as we arrived, but the queue wasn't that big.

Following this, my in-laws have arrived and so, whilst the rest of the group go on the Steeplechase, I go with the in-laws and my son to Nickelodeon Land so he can go on some stuff. Which is fair enough - he quite enjoyed some of the rides once he got into the swing of things. Steeplechase, though, is a ride I really can't go on any more - my legs seemed too long last time to ride on it (the only steeplechase coaster left in the world, like sitting on carousel horses but they're on a roller coaster track) and I fell over in pain when I managed to get off the ride. Not really a ride I'm bothered about, but it would definitely be a pity if it went.

Lunch was eventually called for and the only place on-site which could offer anything half good is a Burger King (or Hungry Jacks as they're called in Australia). Fair enough. Got an "Angry Whopper" which apparently has hot sauce baked into the bun. That, fries and a drink for, I think, £6, which isn't bad for theme park food prices.

Alright, what else did we do? After this it becomes a bit hectic.

Various other rides with my son in the Nickelodeon Land. Also, the others went on the Nickelodeon Streak (new name for the Roller Coaster / Velvet Coaster, which is now painted bright orange). Again, not really a ride I'm too bothered about, but it's good to see that Nickelodeon chose to keep it rather than dismantle it or change anything. Good old coaster.

Wild Mouse with my wife. This thing hurts. A very compact, lethal little coaster. If you think "well, I've been on a Wild Mouse elsewhere and they're nothing special", boy are you wrong about this one. Made of wood (and I have to duck at one or two bits, otherwise my head will collide with parts of the track overhead), this thing consists of 90-degree turns (and even 180-degree turns) that are incredibly sharp and taken at speed. You can choose to sit alone or, if you're sadistic (as we are), sit with someone else, one person between the others' legs.

The Big Dipper was ridden a few times, as was the Grand Nash. Both of these coasters are old wooden ones and firmly fit into the category of "ow ow ow my spine". The Grand Nash is of particular note as it's a racing coaster but only has one track - it just loops back on itself. If you choose the train on the right, you'll arrive back on the left. It is a single track with two cars. Both Grand Nash and Big Dipper are pretty old, with the Big Dipper apparently being built in 1923, and are pretty interesting to ride and see how they make use of the space. I especially like how the Grand Nash goes through the "garden" bit of the park (which ordinarily you can't go to) and you can see the greenhouses where plants are grown, as well as weeds coming up through the track as it passes close to the ground.

In terms of the roller coasters we went on, Revolution finishes the bill. Previously the Irn Bru Revolution (with orange and blue colours, though now it's not it's simply painted a dull grey), this is Europe's first fully looping roller coaster. A simple premise - you climb up the stairs to the station, get on it and it does a loop and then stops. Then it goes backwards through the loop, back to the station. Still pretty good, and it's one of my wife's favourites.

We did do a few other rides, mostly with my son. We took him on Alice In Wonderland, an old dark ride where you sit in the car and go past some mostly static sets, which he didn't seem that fussed about. Then we took him on the Ghost Train, which is mostly the same thing (and probably about as scary as Alice), but it also has a small "roller coaster" element in which you basically go down a ramp really fast, and then back up. He seemed to quite like watching this bit before the ride (as this bit comes outdoors, then goes back indoors) and didn't seem to mind the ride. We also took him on the River Caves - a cool little boat ride that looks like it goes through the sunken remains of the Crystal Maze sets, with a tiny drop at the end, which he was quite interested in. And for ourselves - he didn't want to go on it - we went on the Wallace & Gromit ride, a new dark ride which is basically Alice In Wonderland, but with Wallace & Gromit. We also did the Ice Blast (previously the PlayStation), which is a drop tower and fair enough.

That basically makes up the Pleasure Beach, which I think was closing at about 6:30 (or something like that, having opened at 10:30). Following this we went to a nearby pub for dinner, and then started heading home at about 9-ish, my son having been awake since about 7 in the morning. Somehow he hadn't slept all day and zonked out immediately on getting in the car.

Should also mention that we did consider doing Valhalla, but it was near the end and none of us really fancied it. Valhalla is basically an indoor water ride par excellence - absolutely thoroughly brilliant, if you like water rides. I haven't come across one that comes near it. Ripsaw Falls at Islands Of Adventure is the nearest, but pales in comparison to Valhalla. It is brilliant. It is fantastic. It will absolutely soak you, no questions asked. You will jump through flames, backwards, whilst travelling through a giant freezer and if somehow you don't end up soaked (you will), someone will be on hand at the end to tie you down and pour sixteen buckets of ice-cold water over you. Again, you will get soaked, and unfortunately you're in Blackpool, one of the places in the world where you're least likely to get dry in the sun (a foreign concept to the locals).

So. Pleasure Beach. Absolutely brilliant place, so long as you can get the right time and queues aren't massive (we normally manage okay). Yes, you've got scummy parents smoking pot in the queue for the Wild Mouse and yelling at their effing kids, and the weather's not too brilliant (it rained for the morning, but then turned okay for us). But it has a fantastic collection of rides (the ones we did are most certainly not all of them, but definitely most of the major ones) with a new coaster in the works.

And again, it has such a unique layout! Constrained by space and planning restrictions, it is like Alton Towers where rides have to be imaginitively planned, but with hardly any room. And somehow it works! During the Big One, you will travel over part of the Big One track, alongside Infusion, alongside the train, over the Big Dipper track, over the Grand Nash station, over Steeplechase and underneath a part of the Nickelodeon Streak. The Revolution, arguably one of the smallest "big" coasters known to man, still allows people to walk under the loop. So many rides just wind around each other, unlike other parks where each coaster is nicely sectioned off from everything else - even the park itself. The Pleasure Beach has absolutely no qualms about putting a garden directly underneath Avalanche, for instance, so you can have a walk around them whilst the coaster roars overhead. It can be a confusing park at times - occasionally, near the mid-area, you have to deal with some things being on different levels (coming off Big Dipper, for instance), and it's easy to forget that the park actually has a road that runs underneath it too (we used to park on it when we went ice skating). The park has, sadly, gotten rid of three of my favourite attractions in recent years - the old Gold Mine (think halfway between a dark ride and a roller coaster, which has now been replaced with the much more sedate Wallace & Gromit), Noah's Ark (a brilliant "fun house" walk-through attraction, which always made me wonder how they fit it all in), and Bling (a recent flat ride which was fun, now replaced with Red Arrows - a "Gerstlauer Sky Fly thrill ride" which was boring).

Soon after I went to Cedar Point back in 2011, I joined the park's unofficial forums. Some people on it thought they couldn't think of another park which had to fit so much into so little space. Pleasure Beach does that, but on a much smaller scale. I guess Movie World kinda does, but it does seem to scale down some of the rides a lot. Pleasure Beach doesn't. Somehow it still has pretty big rides but it still works.

If you're ever doing a roller coaster tour of Europe, Blackpool Pleasure Beach is one you need to go to. Probably as much as Alton Towers, if not moreso.

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Great trip report thanks for this!!! I went to Blackpool in 2004- and absolutely fell in love with the place!! Its history, its unique atmosphere that sort of reminded me of Luna Park on steroids. Absolutely brilliant! 12 years is a long time and I have watched Blackpool change over these years- the introduction of Infusion that came there after the wicked closure of Southport Pleasure Beach. 

Loved the coasters in this place- especially the grand old dames Roller Coaster, Grand National and Big Dipper. When I went, Blackpool still had The Whip and one of the last operating original Traver company Tumblebugs. Both have sadly been removed but i feel grateful that I had the chance to ride these 2 pieces of important theme park historical artifacts.

Loved Sir Hiram's Flying Machines, The Ghost Train and The River Caves. All products of a bygone age and extremely fun to ride.

The Steeplechase is also great fun- and of course unique. 

Absolutely agree 100% with you- if you are in England then do not leave Blackpool off your list. Sure Alton Towers and Thorpe Park have better coasters, but they will never , ever have the history and atmosphere that Blackpool provides. If you are lucky enough to go when the Illuminations festival is on then jump at the chance!!

Really enjoyed reading your trip report- it took me back 12 years ago to a memory of a great time and place. 

Blackpool Pleasure Beach is what I would have envisaged Luna Park Sydney to be like if the 1960's park had survived to the present day, albeit on a smaller scale. Priceless!

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Sadly, the Pleasure Beach normally closes before it gets dark nowadays. Riding the Big One in the dark (why hello there Mr Innuendo) is great fun (stop it already).

If what's being rumoured at the moment for the new roller coaster surfaces, we'll have to make a trip back...

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      I am quite happy with my first day at Blackpool. Some areas feel quite tacky, but the whole place is lively and I appreciate its unique selection of dated vintage rides (RIP Wild Mouse though). Icon adds a much-needed quality ride experience to compliment well the heritage coasters. I wouldn't return soon unless they add anything big, but BPB was a pleasant start to our trip!
       
      Next part: Alton Towers
      For whatever reasons, I never visited English amusement parks until this year, even though coasters across the Channel - especially Alton's - had my interest ever since I became an enthusiast back in 2005. But with the additions of both Icon and Wicker Man and the opportunity to join fellow French/Belgian goons on a road trip meant I finally got the chance to experience creds in England!   Day 1 - Blackpool     Icon - I was actually quite worried about the Qs after seeing quite a packed entrance, but in reality the wait times were fine throughout the whole day - 30 minutes at most on the new coaster. Rode it 6/7 times and while Icon doesn't reach the graceful bliss of Helix or the insanity of Taron, it remains a pretty solid ride experience. Some weak spots here and there, but also a couple of strong highlight elements as well! It is a grower for sure. Definitely preferred the back seat for the nice mix of airtime and laterals exiting the Immelmann.   Highlights: The first hill, the twisted hill and the Immelmann (back seat) Lowlights: The first launch is kinda weak, the meandering turns around Stepplechase       After starting the day on a high, our group decided to tick off the classic woodies one after another.   Big Dipper - Was quite worried to ride this, fearing a really unconfortable experience. In the end it was pretty harmless, and even delivered some fun little pops of air! Re-rode later in the day with a bulky guy, which meant I had a lot of space between me and my lap bar. Flying over those small hills was quite exciting actually     Grand National - Only got to try the left side. It was quite bouncy, but not to the point it became too rough. There are some definite moments of sudden airtime only old woodies (and maybe some wonky Pax coasters) deliver. The racing element also made the experience quite enjoyable.       Nickelodeon Streak - Apart from the flash colour scheme, it was kinda forgettable really. Not too rattly, nor too exciting either.     Blue Flyer - Couldn't help mispronounce this kiddie "Blue Fire" instead. Kinda cute coaster actually, and I would have loved to have this sort of ride at my home park when I was a child.   With the woodies done, we went for a lunch break before getting on the Arrows...     Stepplechase (yellow side) - Hmm... ouch?! The seating position was really awkward and almost every turn entrance or exit was jolty. Really unique ride for sure and I wouldn't want it to be torn down, but it's really unfortunate that the ride experience is not so comfortable     Big One - I have to say this Arrow hyper looks really photogenic and mighty. Aboard, it provides nice views of Blackpool and the coast as well. Otherwise, this is arguably one of the shakiest coaster I've ever ridden! Definitely had to hang on to the bar in front of me. For some reason though I couldn't help laughing during the whole experience - despite the rattle, the coaster carries some good speed throughout the whole layout making for an 'entertaining' experience. Actually wished I could get a second ride on it but the train valleyed in the final turns so... nope.     Revolution - The whole thing looks really weird - first climbing some stairs as if you were about to do some water slides, then entering this 'station' without a ceiling and with no doors between the platform and the train. But for all the weirdness, Revolution is quite a fun ride actually. Fairly intense loop and some little pops of airtime on the drops.     Avalanche - Was surprised by the second half. I ended up being crushed by the bar with the ending helixes being unexpectedly intense and twisty! The lack of MCBR arguably helps the momentum of this Bobleigh, and it feels smoother than Trace du Hourra back home.   Didn't get to ride Infusion as it closed right when I was about to enter the Q. Not that I care much about that.     I am quite happy with my first day at Blackpool. Some areas feel quite tacky, but the whole place is lively and I appreciate its unique selection of dated vintage rides (RIP Wild Mouse though). Icon adds a much-needed quality ride experience to compliment well the heritage coasters. I wouldn't return soon unless they add anything big, but BPB was a pleasant start to our trip!   Next part: Alton Towers
    • By Coaster Hipster
      I've had a nice and cheerful experience with the guys at CoasterForce at Parc Astérix, so I decided to join them for another, bigger trip! This time I would also discover 3 new parks in Germany, in addition to a return to Phantasialand...


      Summary

      Part 0: Phantasialand - Return of Taron
      Part 1: Movie Park Germany - Star Trek is actually underrated!
      Part 2: Heide Park - My first Wing Coaster
      Part 3: Hansa Park - Lovely management and stunning Kärnan

      Part 0: Phantasialand
      Although not an official part of GhosterForce, many people from CF added a stop to Phanta before the main event. The temptation to return there and get more night Taron craze was too much!


      One of my car-mates was Rachel, who was visiting the park for her first time, and her excitement was infectious! It's always a special feeling for me to return there and enjoy unique creative theming and rides, but to share the experience with someone who's never visited before added to my joy and certainly made me proud of my favourite park We also met CSLKennyNI, which was a real pleasure. Really cool guy with great insights on the park and the German coasters in general




      Starting with Maus au Chocolat allowed us to avoid long lines there, and therefore the high-pitch mice noises didn't get too annoying. I find this shooter dark-ride to be a lot of fun, despite the shoulder pain it indulges and despite my actually terrible aiming skills!
       



      The walk to Wuze Town includes a stopover near the much-discussed F.L.Y. sign. Winjas was good family fun as usual. It has a lot of gimmicks, but it truly adds to the experience instead of being a marketing overhype. Only complaint is that the cars are really narrow, even for a skinny dude like me :eek:


      We cleared off this side of the park with two of its more dated rides: Temple of the Night Hawk and Hollywood Tour. I suppose that, along the Berlin entrance, Phantasialand will work on refurbishing this zone to bring it to the standards of the park. Temple is actually fairly smooth and has some decent pace, but its family-ish layout calls for much more theming than a ride in the complete dark with no effects whatsoever.



      Chiapas is for me what a flume ride should be. Gorgeous, immersive theming and music that keeps you entertaining throughout. The disco part never ceases to keep me excited!


      After that, I split a while from the group to take more pictures and off-ride videos, we rejoined for Mystery Castle. The launch took me by surprise as I was expecting some more wait before the boost kicks off. I know it's part of the theming, but I wish it weren't so dark during the actual ride experience, so you could see the others as you drop and launch up again during the short program. Still a creative and exciting take on the usual drop tower/space shot type of attraction!
       


      We walked through the Klugheim zone but did not ride the gem Intamin yet. Not exactly sure how we resisted the temptation with so many breathtaking interactions with the ride, but I also remember Rachel really really wanted to make Taron her #300!



      Colorado Adventure was I believe her final stepping stone before reaching 300. I still like this Mine Train very much, the long layout provides a enjoyable ride. However, Big Thunder Mountain in Paris did have more of a wild out-of-control feel since its rehab. The banking on Colorado is funky at times. You have some wonky laterals which gets really fun during the dark section. Not having hard OTSR on an old Vekoma (and no inversions either) really helps I suppose!




      Can we ride Taron now then? Yessss!!!

      After that exhilarating Night ERT last April, I was curious to ride again the much-praised Intamin Blitz. Predictably, it wasn't as intense at noon, but Taron still surprises me, notably with the wicked change of direction right after the first airtime hill! Really snappy twist coming after a dive under some building so you can't really see it coming if you're not familiar with the layout.



      I split again from the group for the launch break. I was planning to shoot more videos of Taron, but a 5 minutes wait for single riders decided otherwise... Not gonna refuse such a treat! Did 3 more solo rides then, and also grabbed a front row ride on Raik, which does have a twisty bit of its own. It's a cool extra really




      Black Mamba at the front was still remarkably forceful. The layout is kinda generic, but very enjoyable nonetheless. The drum beat playing as the train exits the station always makes me more excited! Did a couple more re-rides later in the day which confirmed my positive thoughts about the Invert.


      I somehow forgot to take a picture of Talocan on fire. Such a spectacular thrill ride and once again, the scenery and atmosphere really enhance the experience there!


      Onto the final "new" attraction of the day: I never did Hotel Tartuff in 7 previous visits to Phantasialand. :eek: It's very easy to miss it and mistake it for yet another merch store in the Main Street. The CF lively atmosphere made the Fun House quite fun actually!
      The rest of the day was re-rides so let's skip to the most exciting part...



      Exclusive rides on Taron for the hotel guests, yay! I have to say, while the coaster does feel less borderline insane than before, I still get the adrenaline rush that makes me run in excitement from the station exit to the ride's gates all across the empty line again and again. The epic fanfare, the magnetic roars, and a twisty fast-paced layout really kept me excited during the whole hour. I ended up riding Taron 10 times during that session, and 15 times the day overall. Phantasialand really had a superb idea to make this hotel ERT, that's a brilliant piece of marketing there!
       
    • By Coaster Hipster
      Traveling and crossing borders in Mainland Europe isn't too bad, so I took the opportunity to visit again two parks in nearby countries north of France!
      Part 1: Efteling

      As I moved on from simply visiting and credding to filming videos at parks. I started appreciating places that actually care about theming and landscaping a bit more. I had visited Efteling 2 years ago, and while I thoroughly enjoyed that trip, I felt I needed to go again sometime to fully enjoy the merits of the park. That's why to my surprise, I did not need a new coaster, as the addition of Symbolica and night opening were attractive enough to get me back there!

      I arrived shortly after the 10 am opening. The entrance must be one of the most distincive and majestic among theme parks.



      I went against my instincts by strolling along the lake to take some pictures. Efteling is a really large park, and the distance covered by the lake is only a fraction of it!



      I had surprisingly pleasant memories of Bob, one rare surviving iteration of the Intamin Swiss Bob model. My ride this time was not as enjoyable - the fun swinging and relatively steep drops couldn't make up for what was some noticable bouncing in the train. I waited 45 minutes, completely forgetting about the single rider line nearby. Oh well...




      Went for the second row on Baron 1898 and got right wing seat. It was a bit underwhelming. The drop didn't feel as floaty and impressive as I remembered, and I felt a couple of minor headbanging during the inversions. Nothing too serious of course, but still surprising. Hopefully I got a couple of rerides afterwards, but that's for a another paragraph




      (Ugh, my camera sometimes fails to get a non-blurred picture. Frustrating!)
      Joris ended that run of (slight) disappointment as it happily matched my expectations. Went for Vuur first, and it was running pretty well! Good pace and a lot of fun laterals.



      Ever since my Poland trip, I have the unreasonable curiosity in (re)riding any old Vekoma to put to the test my recent love for the Dutch manufacturer. Equipped with vest restraints, Python turned out only slightly uncomfortable. There was some notable rattle during the drop and vertical loops, but the ride as a whole felt more uneventful than really horrible.




      The Pagoda is the only ride (to my knowledge) which provides great overviews of the park and where you can bring your camera. It's really valuable since the views from up in the air are quite impressive!

      Symbolica was another eye-drawer from outside. Really like this type of architecture as I find it fitting for the carefree atmosphere of a theme park, and here it is implemented really well! This dark ride was the 2017 and it shows its infant age. Really sophisticated and enjoyable addition. The scenery is appealing except for the stairs leading down to the station which lack some details. Loved the atmosphere and wish I could have done it more if it weren't for the substantial queue wait...



      Wanting to give Baron another try, I was rewarded with a fun lap at the front! It eliminated the (minor) jolts issue and provided a much more impressive drop!




      At this point I went across all the park to take more pictures. I also wanted to buy some merch before the crowds flood the stores right before closure. Went back to Joris only to find it temporarily closed for some minor technical problem.

      The issue was quickly solved however, which meant I ended up waiting a little less for my lap on the Water side! That one is certainly my favourite of the two. Some really good hops in quick succession here

      (That picture was taken hours before)
      Vliegende Hollander never impressed me in videos or on-ride. Not a single exciting layout element and the boat section is almost completely in the dark. Too bad for a ride with such a fab queueline and building


      Night ride on Baron was undoubtedly the best I've had. I even got a small pop of airtime of the final hill, which was really cool



      I then wasted too much time on taking (yet more) pictures, and it ended up costing me a final ride on Joris. Unfortunate, but Baron was still an excellent way to end the day on a high note!
      Next in Part 2 will be Plopsaland with another night opening!
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