I like Rollercoasters, I don’t know exactly what it is other than the adrenaline it packs into you but also the thrill of going really fast, really high more ways than one, but also the ride of a rollercoaster is just so much fun; lots more fun than simply riding the train to and from somewhere, or even the longer journey of going by car somewhere. As Rollercoasters go, when you find yourself in an especially exhilarating one the only disappointment is that eventually it will come to an end, and you just wish the queue was a lot smaller. Anyway, the world is filled with Rollercoasters, but not all of them are exciting per say, it’s easy to say that some are just lame and downright boring, however living where I do; if I wanted to go on some really good rollercoasters I needn’t go far to do so, as Blackpool Pleasure Beach has some of, if not the best rollercoasters I have ever been on, and it’s not too far away either.
I would easily consider Blackpool Pleasure Beach to be the best theme park in the UK. For me as said above it is not too far away or hard to get to, while theme parks like Alton Towers and Thorpe Park are down south and can be pretty out of the way; such as Alton Towers. One thing Blackpool has over these places, well one of the things it has over these places is that for a large theme park, it is pretty well contained. Everything is within walking distance from each other, and while that can still be a long walk, it’s about no more than 10 minute walk from one side to the other. Compare that to Alton Towers, or even Thorpe Park, which is still pretty well contained, the walking distance is still astronomical. Other things it has over the other two major parks is that while it is a small area, it has so much packed into it. Most rides are less than a minutes’ walk from another ride, and there is so much diversity in several spots, but when it comes to its bigger rides, they are nicely well placed around the park so that no matter where you are, you are still pretty close to one of its major rides. Other things that is has over other parks include a much cheaper entry fee, queues are generally shorter due to the use of several cars (I am not saying those other parks don’t, but the amount of room on BP rides allows definitely more passengers er go than everywhere else), there is more variety in ride formats and styles than other parks, but also, it’s not just for thrill seekers, as there are several rides that those who prefer a more gentle solution can go on. The last time I went (just a few weeks ago), I got an enormous amount of pleasure from the Flying Machines ride; and I had gone on the Big One twice.
I have always wanted to do a post like this about some of my favourite Theme Park rides, but never really figured it out. Last week however I went to the park by myself (4th visit) during the school term times, which meant there were virtually no queues and that I could go on nearly all the rides I wanted to plus revisit ones again. I had a really enjoyable day and it was going through my head about how I should do a post on it. So while my mind considered doing a general rides post, as I did not get to go on all the rides due to some being closed, I decided to be fair and just do my Top 10 Rollercoasters. Now, of course it has been announced that the park is to build a brand new rollercoaster to open hopefully in 2018. Now I can’t look into the future, but from experiencing the park’s other major rides and from looking at this new one, I am already pretty excited, but for now let’s concentrate on what they already have. Originally I was going to do this just as a Top 5, but as the park currently has exactly 10, I thought I would include them all. So, sit back, relax and (hopefully) enjoy this selection of fine rollercoasters, all located within Blackpool Pleasure Beach.
10. Wild Mouse – The Mild Mouse Rollercoaster is a small wooden rollercoaster where up to 2 riders are strapped into small cars shaped like mice. The ride is pretty small and very contained in a small space. It is only one of 3-5 Wild Mouse Rollercoasters still in existence and is highly regarded for being a very extreme ride; I can understand why. It is a very fast coaster; it contains lots of steep deeps and sudden climbs. It goes round bends at high speeds and always finds a way to speed up. It is the epitome of the term Wild Mouse, as it never stops until you reach the end. It is easily one of the most terrifying of rides at the park. Terrifying because one it is made of wood and you feel like it will break any second, but also, for a small wooden rollercoaster, the height of some of the drops is just perplexing and the speed is near unbelievable. You will genuinely think twice before going on it again; it is a really fun ride, but is ravenously terrifying to contemplate, and that’s just as you reach the top of the hill.
9. Blue Flyer – Formerly known as both Zipper Dipper and Warburtons Milk Roll-A-Coaster, Blue Flyer in essence is really a kiddie’s rollercoaster. It’s not one for those who are expecting thrills, nor those who want big drops. It’s really for little kiddies and the parents who get dragged on with them. It’s not going to create thrills and spills for thrill seekers, but I am sure it will for those who are under the age of 10. So why is it at number 9 on this list, well, for a small kiddy coaster, this thing is unbelievable fast. It does not contain much in drops, maybe two or three at most (four if you include the embankment the plat form is on), but the first drop is actually still pretty decent, and the ride journeys down what feels like a flat straight, building up a nice level of speed as it goes before it dives and plunges into an underground cave and then finishes it off. It’s more of a little wobble here or there for grownups, but for the exuberating speed alone, it’s worth a go.
8. Steeplechase – Steeplechase is a three tracked racing rollercoaster where up to two people can ride a horse shaped vehicle. Basically there are three different coloured lines of track right next to each other, and a coloured horse for each section of track. All the vehicles leave at the same time and race around the track. It’s the only steeplechase rollercoaster operating in the world today and provides a unique experience where you are actively racing other people in a race style format. While the park does have another racing rollercoaster, it is not in the steeplechase format. This is not technically one coaster, but three amalgamated into one. The ride experience is a fun yet weird one, as though while it is a steel based rollercoaster, the vehicles can feel like they are buckling as the track goes on, and due to the design of the vehicle seats, when it does buckle and belt it can hurt your sides a little (if you value your kidneys, maybe avoid this one). Despite this issue though, it is really fun to ride what on the outside could be seen as another kiddie’s coaster. The bends and drops are actually pretty fast and the racing element adds another element, making this not just a ride, but also a little game.
7. Revolution – Revolution is possibly one of the most famed rollercoasters in the park’s history. It was the first fully looping rollercoaster in Europe, and remained the parks only looping coaster until the introduction of Infusion in 2007 (28 years later). The ride was also famously shown in a BBC TV Show, when a group of Scouts decided to eat their lunch on the ride. This was then done again a couple of decades later with the now grown up scouts doing it again, as well as homage featuring a group of Goths drinking Irn Bru on the train, receiving similar results; this though was more due to the ride being sponsored by Irn Bru at the time. The ride experiences starts with the large climb up some stairs which can take it out of you, however the high platform is necessary for the ride to work. Riders are strapped into a car, and are then propelled at high speed down the track, down a dip and then round the loop at high speed before then going up a hill and arriving at another platform. Instead of getting off however, the ride is then sent backwards, once again at high speed, round the loop and back into the station; at this point, riders are now allowed to get off. The ride experience is shocking as first you are launched at high speed, and then go down before entering the loop. Just as you think it’s then over, it does it again, backwards. I don’t go on rides all that much that involving going upside down, but the speed this goes at, plus the feel, the feel of being upside down is just unnatural as you begin to think that you are leaving the chair, although you are strapped in tight. It’s short but sweet, although I wouldn’t exactly call it sweet.
6. Infusion – Originally Infusion wasn’t called Infusion; neither was it built for Blackpool Pleasure Beach. Originally the ride was built for Pleasureland Southport; it was opened in 1999 with the name Traumatizer and was painted Red and dark Blue. When Pleasureland Southport was closed in 2005, Traumatizer was dismantled and relocated to Blackpool where it was painted light and dark blue and built over water. It was the first rollercoaster to do this; it was also the parks first Inverted Rollercoaster (I think). Infusion is actually quite a big lengthy rollercoaster tightly compacted into a small space. There is hardly a main straight during the ride experience other than the very end ride brakes and the station. The rest of the ride is a combination of loops, twists, bends, lifts, drops and a whole lot of speed. It takes you upside down more than one way, not just with loops that point your feet to the sky but also twists that shoot and turn your body round much quicker. In some respects it’s like being in a fighter cockpit; it takes you on a high speed journey and promises you more than speed as it bends and flips you round more than most. I was pretty scared about going on this one at first, but I found the whole experience to be rather pleasurable and a thoroughly enjoyable if intense experience.
5. Avalanche – Avalanche is the first Bobsled Rollercoaster (and as far as I know the only one still active) to be opened in the UK, and was opened in 1988 by Eddie “The Eagle” Edwards in 1988. The ride is themed around an alpine bobsled course and the stations design and livery is designed to match this including three bears on the outside playing similar instruments. The ride itself has a chain of cars, each car being able to fit 2 people. Being based on Bobsleigh, the ride has no track per say; it does not utilize rails, but instead is more like a skid plate to give a real sense of being in a bobsleigh. The ride itself does not drip or drop, but instead curves around; bending and twisting in different directions, but going down a gradient which creates speed; resulting in a ride that can actually be quite fast. It’s not the most intense ride at the park but given its unique design and style plus ride quality it can still provide a real thrill. I consider it more as a build-up coaster, one that gives you a little experience to get the adrenaline going that then allows up to have enough to go on something a little bigger.
4. Nickelodeon Streak – Originally called simply Rollercoaster from its original opening in 1933 to 2009, the Nickelodeon Streak was later renamed and repainted bright orange as part of the park’s Nickelodeon Land area, opened in 2011. Despite being located in what is technically the Park’s children’s area, the Nickelodeon Streak is actually a pretty big and genuinely fun rollercoaster for anyone who wants to go on a big ride. It is very traditional in its construction which includes the important chain driven hill, to then a set of drops and lifts at speed round a long and continuing circuit which does last a good time. It can be fast in spots and the drops are pretty big. While the Blue Flyer is more a kiddies coaster, this one is more for those who want to go on something a little bigger but are still too scared to go on the Big One. The drops are not too steep, but the speed achieved is still pretty good. The ride, much like the other Wooden Rollercoasters at the park does buckle a bit on the turns but is generally more comfortable in those sections. You will find yourself preparing to brace yourself in spots, but really you only just need to place your hand on the bars to steady yourself. While not the biggest thriller at the park, it is one of the most enjoyable; for any age.
3. Big Dipper – Originally installed in 1923 to be then extended in 1936, The Big Dipper is the oldest surviving and working Rollercoaster at Blackpool Pleasure Beach. The ride is a traditional Wooden Rollercoaster, constructed mostly out of wood but with metal rails. When the ride disembarks, the train travels down a small route before climbing up the big main hill. At the top of the hill, the train travels around the corner, illuminating the sign ‘Big Dipper’ as it goes past for anyone looking at the sign down below, a nice little feature. The ride then goes down one giant hill before going on a successive trip of up hills and down drops that on some occasions can seem bigger than the first drop. The ride bends and buckles due to its original design and there can be occasions where you feel like you are about to launch out of the seat. The ride begins to calm down on its dripping and dropping journey, but feels to get faster as you go round a big curve halfway round the course. Just as you think it may be coming to an end, there are more dips and drops, and your mind warps as you think there is still more than half the ride to go, only to realize that that is what you have just been on and in actual fact you are entering the station once more. The Big Dipper can feel like a bruising, but for sheer speed as well as thrilling excitement only the top 2 on this list can deliver more of, but are still too scared about the Big One, The Big Dipper is a good ride to help build you up to the much bigger rides; but can still deliver a terrific experience, even if you decide that that is your limit; providing endless levels or re-ride-ability.
2. Grand National – It can be pretty confusing having two rides with similarly themed names at the park, so much so that even a 4 time veteran of Pleasure Beach Blackpool can still get the names mixed up between the horse racing rollercoaster, and the racing roller-coaster that has no horses on it. It’s something though that you will want to get right, because while one ride is steel based structure giving riders the opportunity to compete in something of a horse race, the other is a completely different experience. The Grand National Rollercoaster is a wooden Mobius Ring Rollercoaster: What this means is that while it may look like two rollercoasters, it is in actual fact one big one, something you will discover the minute the train arrives back in the station, and realize that it’s not the same station you started at. The idea with this coaster is that it’s very much themed around the Grand National: Two trains set off at the same time and race each other round the course/track going up and down continuously at great lengths of speed. The train is much like a traditionally wooden built rollercoaster; it starts with a big hill, and then goes up and down along the course, with hills named after famous sections of the Grand National Horse Race Course. The racing aspect of this rollercoaster is what makes it more unique than compared to the other wooden coasters at Blackpool; it can be quite exhilarating winning the race, and still relatively boring when losing. While it does belt and buckle at times and is more of a one ride machine, The Grand National is a very fun but also thrilling and exciting experience, delivering one of the fastest, as well as shockingly scary experiences at the whole park.
1. Big One – Not just a Rollercoaster, but also a cultural landmark. When opened in 1994; the Pepsi Max Big One as it was originally known; was the tallest and steepest rollercoaster in the world as well as the fastest in Europe. While those records have since been defeated by others, and more beyond; to this day it is still the Tallest Rollercoaster in the UK. Now 22 years old, it is more than just a Rollercoaster, but also a visual landmark to the town of Blackpool, quite possibly just as famous as Blackpool Tower, You can even see it from as far away as Southport Pier.
But can this Rollercoaster offer more than just historical and cultural meaning; yes it can, t can provide one of the fastest and smoothest, yet also terrifying Rollercoaster Experiences of your life. They don’t call it the Big One of nothing; it is big, while no longer the tallest in the world it can still create a panicked fright as you ascend up its mighty climb. The climb may be slow and gentle, but the view down is just unbelievable, and it can cause this even when you have yet to reach the top. Even as you continue to climb and can see the end in sight, you know what is coming next. When I went on this last week, I had to try hard to beat down a near panic attack, I was scared. Then as it levelled out, and I knew that first drop was coming, and so as I felt the line begin to bend, I closed my eyes. I did not want to look at that drop. You can feel the descent, and you can feel the speed. Once I felt it coming to an end though, I reopened them, only to remember that the first drop is less than half the ride. From here on it is a trip of going up a hill at speed, going down a hill at speed, going up around into a bend, only then to descend once more. I did not need to close my eyes again as the drops were relatively gentle, but the speed was astronomical, and the end was nowhere in sight. Mercifully, as you bank around from the front of the park the ride breaks briefly, only then to speed up once more, descending into a circular darkness, and then just for the cherry on the top, the ride throws in one final fright, that of the corner of the station jutting out and the belief that you are going to clip it. I enjoyed this ride so much; I just had to do it again. For years now I would have considered Grand National as the Best ride at Blackpool Pleasure Beach, but when you go on this, there is no bending or buckling, just a smooth scary ride that takes thrill rides to a whole new level. Yes, it may be over 20 years old and not the newest ride at the park for some time at that; but this ride’s experience proves that even today it can match up, and even surpass many of the UK’s, if not the World’s; top Rollercoasters.