|Trip Report: |
"As usual around this time of year, the Electrical and Electronic Engineer's Society (henceforth referred to as EEESoc) of The University of Manchester made the trip to Blackpool, to take advantage of the cheap February tickets at Blackpool Pleasure Beach. This generally involves some minor discomfort, as the weather tends not to be so good at this time of year. Luckily it was just cold this time, a substantial step up from the snow of last year. Upon arrival at the park, having wandered down Blackpool Promenade (picking up fish and chips for lunch on the way), it became apparent that it was going to be busy. South Pier also looked to be taking advantage of the crowds with several rides visible running, unfortunately I didn't have time to visit as well. Having booked tickets online for £10 we headed to the Globe Theatre to collect our tickets rather than join the chaos at the main desk. We were able to collect our wristbands and enter the park after checking the closed rides (Flying machines, Roller Coaster, Steeplechase, Whip and Derby Racers).
Once through the metal detectors we faced a difficult choice, what to ride first? For my first coaster of 2007 I wanted a good ride so I immediately proposed Grand National. Even better as we approached it appeared to have no queue. The reason for this quickly became apparent as I was informed by a ride op that the ride was still closed and would hopefully be open within the hour. Darn. We headed a bit deeper into the park ignoring the huge queue for the Wild Mouse to see what else we could find. On the way I stopped to have a look at Blackpool's latest rollercoaster, Infusion (aka Traumatizer with a shiny new blue paint scheme). While I can't say I'm happy with the way Blackpool acquired this ride, seeming shutting down Pleasureland Southport for a new attraction and chain sawing a vintage wooden coaster in the process, the ride is looking nice and will hopefully be an interesting new addition to the park. I didn't find Traumatizer to rough when I rode it a couple of years ago, so hopefully the will be a better than average SLC to ride. While I also miss the log flume, at least the park still has one log flume in the Beaver Creek area.
As Infusion hadn't even had it's track completed, a ride was going to be unlikely (or fatal), so I looked for another attraction to ride. Big Dipper, being right next door, was an obvious choice. This was the first example that Blackpool Pleasure beach needs longer queue line, this was the first of many queues spilling out onto the midway. Nevertheless the queue moved quickly and we were soon taking a front seat ride on Big Dipper. The ride was good and less rough then I remember it, including decent air time on most hills.
The next attraction was Revolution, a ride I was looking forward to as I've never ridden an Arrow Launch Loop before. After a reasonable queue I got the ride (and the credit). I feel I may be spoilt with launched coasters now but after such rides as Rita: Queen of Speed at Alton Towers or Space Mountain at Disneyland Paris, the launch didn't really do much for me. Doing the loop backwards was fun however.
Having ridden Revolution we headed for Avalanche, a fun Mack Bobsled coaster. Here to the queue was beyond the queue line, almost reaching the whip (sadly SBNO) and unfortunately within earshot of Blackpool's famous 'laughing man'. You apparently can pay 20p to hear the mechanical man laugh, but being as he does it randomly anyway, I'd happily put in 20p to shut him up. From this position it also became obvious that Blackpool hasn't found anything to put on the site of the Big Apple kiddie coaster they had briefly after Morecombe Frontierland shut down, possibly something from Southport may end up on this spot. Finally we got into the chalet themed station and mounted the ride. It was at this point I decided that should Blackpool ever scrap the ride I would endeavor to purchase the trains as armchairs, they really are that comfortable. The ride is also fun, quick, and exciting.
At this point we remembered Grand National was probably open so we headed back to that. It quickly became apparent that the ride was now running so we joined the queue. Grand National is my personal favourite rollercoaster at the Pleasure Beach, and it didn't disappoint this time either. The ride is full of air time, head choppers and racing moments. As we got off the ride we headed straight for the dodgems for a fun free-for-all of ramming each other.
We then headed back into the park towards Space Invader 2. Before we got there however we took a little stop in Beaver Creek to ride Zipper Dipper (Yes I'm a credit (word automatically removed)). Despite being a tight fit, this ride was good fun with even a little airtime. With this little diversion over, we started queuing for Space Invader 2. Space Invader 2 is the original Space Invader (a Zierer Four Man Bob) with new cars from Kumbak Coasters. These introduced restraints to prevent the reoccurrence of a fatal accident which happened on Space Invader. Unfortunately the new 3 man cars do little for the throughput of a ride which was only 520 people/hour to begin with. The lost of a seat means the ride is operating at 75% efficiency (a throughput of 390 people/hour for those who don't want to do the math) and a 40/50 minute queue really doesn't help a ride that, while butter smooth, is just fairly dull. All in all, while a good family coaster, I can't see myself queuing for it again. Blackpool must be credited for the theming on this attraction however, there is plenty to look at in the first part of the queue and while on the ride itself.
Next stop was a ride that was in no way smooth, Pepsi Max Big One. While it's height makes it a big draw to the park, unfortunately it just isn't that good in my opinion. The first drop is fine, but the lack of airtime throughout the majority of the course and general roughness ruins the ride somewhat. In fairness it was running better than the last time I rode it, being less painful and with a couple of pops of air, but I'd still rather ride Avalanche or Grand National. The queue for the ride wasn't too bad, while it was long it moved quickly. Another point of interest is that Blackpool still claim on the voiceover announcement that the Pepsi Max Big One is the tallest, fastest roller coaster in Europe, a record I think they'll find they lost to Silver Star 5 years ago.
Having ridden the Big One our group split, with most of the group wanting to re-ride the Big One and myself and my friend heading back the the Grand National. Most amusingly in a schadenfreude fashion, was my friend getting his restraint poorly aligned, as a result he stopped several pops of ejector air with his groin. As a result when the rest of the group rejoined us and some wanted another ride on Grand National, he elected to sit out. While I took my third ride on Grand National, he and some of the others rode the nearby Wild Mouse, I ride I know from previous experience is brutal, if fun so I wasn't particularly upset I missed it. Oddly my train won all three races on Grand National, maybe I need to eat a little less. With that last ride over, we headed for home, pausing only to grab some fresh donuts and a burger on the way."