Coaster Hipster

England 18' Trip Report - Blackpool, Alton, Thorpe, Chessington

5 posts in this topic

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


MpJUrCe.jpg
qtHCcUW.jpg
6xvrz6R.jpg
foEAiTz.jpg

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

 

nLTqiwf.jpg
EgDHlC9.jpg

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


n3MocAU.jpg

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.

 

DC3xKvC.jpg

Nickelodeon Streak - Apart from the flash colour scheme, it was kinda forgettable really. Not too rattly, nor too exciting either.


0VpFQes.jpg

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...
 

Wny1aPM.jpg
TQLySWH.jpg

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.
 

G5jZM3O.jpg
II8QhhA.jpg
qVrKcAZ.jpg

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.


QcFGY34.jpg
V69UsRc.jpg
XZ7epOc.jpg

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.

 

p2BgyNs.jpg
VoHTBCt.jpg

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

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
 
MpJUrCe.jpg
qtHCcUW.jpg
6xvrz6R.jpg
foEAiTz.jpg
 
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
 
 
nLTqiwf.jpg
EgDHlC9.jpg
 
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 :D
 
n3MocAU.jpg
 
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.
 
 
DC3xKvC.jpg
 
Nickelodeon Streak - Apart from the flash colour scheme, it was kinda forgettable really. Not too rattly, nor too exciting either.
 
0VpFQes.jpg
 
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...
 
Wny1aPM.jpg
TQLySWH.jpg
 
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 :(
 
G5jZM3O.jpg
II8QhhA.jpg
qVrKcAZ.jpg
 
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.
 
QcFGY34.jpg
V69UsRc.jpg
XZ7epOc.jpg
 
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.
 
p2BgyNs.jpg
VoHTBCt.jpg
 
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
  • Like 5

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Day 2 & 3 - Alton Towers

After a very short night (we stayed late at Blackpool and then couldn't find the entrance to Alton's hotel resort for some reason...), I was very excited to walk in Alton Towers for the first time. Heard of the park ever since I became an enthusiast back in 2005, when I couldn't hear but praise about the creativity and quality of the rides. Even with the recent backlashes I was still very curious to experience Alton for real.

hO1ngv4.jpg
jTuitzA.jpg
eZ71ni6.jpg

First impressions: the Mainstreet is alright, however I am quite impressed with the gardens and Castle! The place certainly has a distinct charm, and feels more authentic than most amusement parks. It's just very pleasant and relaxing to walk around.


yqI4fIe.jpg
ll90b9l.jpg

We went to the back of the park and chose to begin the day with Rita. Great launch, but I really feel there is some missed potential here. Intamin launch coaster racing in the woods sounds really, really good on paper. In the end, the actual layout feels rather ininspiring and the forces rather soft. Decent ride, but I can't help but wondering what could have been.

I apparently forgot to take pictures of Thirteen, but I found it enjoyable really. Smooth and fun outdoor section, fairly solid scenery. Obviously knew for ages about the drop trick, but still enjoyed it for what it is.


EIju7hf.jpg

Hex was next. Really liked the pre-show and queue in general. The actual ride is classic, but enjoyable Mad House action. It is a nice touch to walk in and around the castle after the exit.


A long, very long walk leads our group to the most anticipated zone of the trip: Forbidden Valley!

HJIyWNh.jpg
GNq8RLb.jpg
NQD0IpL.jpg

Galactica - I remember loving Superman Ultimate Flight at SFGAdv despite its reputation as a rather tame Flyer, so was looking forward to the one that started it all. I enjoyed gracefully gliding through the short and low to the ground layout, but I thought it lacked a truly breath-taking moment. I guess that's why Pretzel Loops were invented then!


l68IHmL.jpg
cutBnSa.jpg
cJU8NyB.jpg

Nemesis - Going straight to the point with this one: Nemesis lived up to the hype for me! I just love how well this smaller invert breaks the generic B&M formula of "loop, zero G, another big inversion then corkscrews". I feel every portion of the layout flows so well and the terrain interaction makes the whole thing even more impressive. Most of the layout is intense, though not to the extreme levels of complete gray/black-out, except for that insane downwards helix right after the first corkscrew. Helixes are generally for me a monotonous affair, sometimes intense, but most often lacking a 'sudden' element to make it truly exciting imo. (Not sure if I worded that well) Not Nemesis'. With the sudden acceleration and change in height, that helix has such a wonderful dynamic and feels like being caught in a whirlwind! Definitely a 'favourite coaster moment' in my books.


YLOuJJe.jpg
lo8ao8h.jpg

Dark Ride Shooters are most often good fun, and Duel is no exception. Having only done it once and trying too hard to get a high score (and of course, failing to do so), I was too distracted to really appreciate the theming. I think it was quite good though.


f6idUUk.jpg
blQ5KnI.jpg

We then proceeded to Wicker Man, but its Q was approaching 2 hours so we walked even further to The Smiler. I have to admit I was always perplexed by this record-breaker, inversions don't over-excite me and the original Gerstlauer Infinity has 14 of them. It does look quite appealing off-ride though. The whole scenery made out of mostly concrete and metal fences is really weird to me, but it kinda... works? I mean it feels a little out of place compared to other Alton Towers, but isn't short of entertainement value. Got a 2nd row middle seat, and the first half wasn't actually that bad. Mostly smooth upside-down action and a decent pop of airtime squeezed somewhere in-between. The second act was some headbanging galore however, putting me on defensive riding mode the whole way through :( It's kinda worrying for a relatively young coaster really.

At this point the group split off, and I chose to head straight back to Forbidden Valley hoping for some re-rides on Nemesis.

uTGCTFy.jpg

Oh yeah.

In the end, managed 10 consecutive laps on Nemesis! Was a perfect way to conclude the day.


Be3OHwp.jpg

The following morning, we went straight to the Wicker Dude for some early hotel guest ERT, but the thing was down, and we ended up waiting over an hour on a surprisingly busy Monday at the park.

IBP3fVr.jpg
A4XR3oo.jpg

To be honest, I was actually unaffected by the hype and hype backlash around the ride's construction and only followed the whole thing from a distance - as you may know I was more preoccupied with the endless Hyperion updates showing the same pullouts every time ;) So I sat aboard the train expecting something in the range of InvadR, nothing overwhelming, but a fun family woodie type of coaster. And it felt just like that. I found Wicker Man to have rather good pacing (even that flat turnaround did not bother me very much), little airtime but an emphasis of laterals in a ride that feels a little short in duration. Nice use of the terrain, too.

I also didn't watch the preshow stuff beforehand. Pretty impressive video mapping imo!

The ride happened to break down right during the lap of some in our group - another half-hour gone due to an ordinary smaller GCI somehow not working properly! Thankfully though, we were compensated with Fast Passes, which were duly utilized later that day for some walk-on rerides on Wicker Man. Customer service was really decent overall during my visit I might say. Despite the issues here and there, still felt there wasn't much faffing around and that the staff was actually trying their best.

We then tried - and eventually failed - to get the remaining creds.


CDK2gZw.jpg
9JHiFUN.jpg
jrGq22z.jpg

The hour-long Q at Spinball Whizzer was partly responsible for the failed cred hunt. Noticed some distinctive structure shuffling each time a car goes through some specific sections of the layout which made me worry about how comfortable the ride would be. Turns out it was a pretty intense spinner! Threw me around quite a lot, and the whole experience was wonky, but fun. I feel guilty for thinking this is more exciting than Winjas, despite the latter's wonderful theming and tricks.


pIFMxcC.jpg
mKWh9vw.jpg

I like how Alton created a nice zone to enhance Oblivion's drop. It really is an elaborated build-up for the big moment. Not sure if that's an unpopular opinion, but despite all that, the ride itself wasn't as thrilling as, per example, Griffon. The drop definitely feels better at the front, however even there, I thought it wasn't as much of a deal as the whole build-up suggests. Still an enjoyable machine though.

At this point, we only had about 2 hours left, so we decided "m*rde with the +1 creds, let's re-ride the good stuff instead!" Which we duly did. Along with the aforementioned Fast Pass laps on Wicker Man, we returned to Forbidden Valley for a final time.


is7RAY6.jpg

My best attempt at capturing both B&Ms in action.


Rj8YvF0.jpg

I was really impressed with Alton Towers in the end :) The valley and forest background are just superb, it is so unusual to wander a bit and to end up in a quiet, relaxing grove inside an amusement park. I appreciate a lot the park's emphasis creating an intricate ride storyline and atmosphere. The coaster line-up has some good depth and variety. However only Nemesis provides a truly breath-taking, superlative experience in my opinion. With AT's ride height restrictions, it was always going to be a tough act to follow and subsequent Secret Weapons did a reasonably good job, while never reaching the creative peak of Nemmie. Maybe I'm getting spoilt, but I can't help but imagine the park could have been even better with a more ambitious Rita, or a truly ground-breaking woodie. Despite those nit-picky considerations, Alton Tower easily becomes one of my favourite parks. It's a charming place that I would really, really recommend to my GP friends!

Edited by Coaster Hipster
  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We visited Alton in 2010.

Th13teen was a fun ride, quite enjoyed it.
Air (Galatica) broke down as it did, but we waited. Really enjoyed that sense of flying.
Spinball Whizzer was fun, agreed on the movement of the structure, it was doing that in 2010!
Oblivion - remember getting up the top, thinking the view was amazing and then "oh sh*t, why am I doing this" on the reverse chain at the top of the drop. Exhilarating as you plunge into the darkness, but all that energy gained is wasted with the shortness. A real one trick pony.

Ran out of time for anything else, never got to ride Nemesis. 😩
 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In July I went on pretty much the same trip you've done here. Good to see some Nemesis love. The UK enthusiasts I was with told me over and over again that Nemesis is overrated, but all I've ever heard about Nemesis is that it's overrated to the point where I'm not sure if it's really overrated at all.

It was a phenomenal ride, I don't buy the "most intense ride experience" line (The Smiler is more intense), but it certainly is my favourite coaster I rode in the UK. I didn't share the love of icon to the same level as the others in the group I was with. Sure, it's a fun coaster, and insanely re-rideable, but I found it not as good as Nemesis or even the Smiler. I want to be able to explain it logically but it's really difficult to. 

Icon had some amazing moments, (top hat, immelman, the roll, and a couple of the airtime hills) but Nemesis' layout just destroys it as far as I'm concerned, even if it has a much shorter ride time. Perhaps riding DC Rivals killed Icon for me. I know they're quite different coasters but both rides have twists and airtime bunny hills, icon's were lacklustre in comparison, (as you'd expect when comparing a mack multi-launch with a hyper), yet they make up the majority of the layout. The unique elements that icon has were its standouts, perhaps it should have focused more on things like that. When thinking about it though, at a park like blackpool the limitations on what they could design must have been really difficult to work with, I think they've done an incredible job considering the circumstances.

Nemesis just had an incredible layout, it's like nothing else I've ever ridden. The way it dives multiple times into the terrain and picks up speed as it continues rather than having one big drop at the start and slowing down afterwards like most coasters do was an amazing feeling. I think I annoyed people with my opinion on it compared to my opinion on icon, maybe they're so used to nemesis that they don't realise how good it is.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Parkz Crew

    Support Parkz... join the Crew for:

    • Ad-banner free viewing
    • Parkz Crew profile badge
    • Extended editing
    • See who's liked your posts
    • Purchase discounts

    Join Now from $20/yr

  • Recently Browsing

    No registered users viewing this page.