Blackpool Pleasure Beach

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Blackpool Pleasure Beach
Blackpool Pleasure Beach
Slogan "See It, Feel It, Love It"
Location Blackpool, Lancashire, England
Coordinates 53°47′25″N 3°03′20″W / 53.79028°N 3.05556°W / 53.79028; -3.05556Coordinates: 53°47′25″N 3°03′20″W / 53.79028°N 3.05556°W / 53.79028; -3.05556
Owner The Thompson Family
Opened 1896
Operating season 2016 season:
7 February to (unknown)
Area 42 acres (170,000 m2)
Total 41
Roller coasters 10
Water rides 5

Blackpool Pleasure Beach is an amusement park situated along the Fylde coast in Blackpool, Lancashire, England. The park was founded in 1896 and has been owned and operated by the Thompson family since its inception. It is the most visited tourist attraction in the United Kingdom, and one of the top twenty most-visited amusement parks in the world, with a peak estimate of 5.5 million visitors in 2007.[1] In 2014 it was voted as the best theme park in the United Kingdom and the ninth best park in Europe by the Travelers' Choice Awards.[2]

The park holds many records, including the largest number of roller coasters of any park in the United Kingdom with ten, of which five are wooden– the Grand National, Big Dipper, Nickelodeon Streak, Wild Mouse and Blue Flyer.[3] Many of the roller coasters in the park are record breaking attractions. When it opened in 1994, the Big One was the tallest and fastest roller coaster in the world. It was also the steepest, with an incline angle of 65° and one of the longest, measuring 5,497 feet (1,675 m). Currently, the ride holds the record as the tallest roller coaster in the United Kingdom, standing at 213 ft (65 m), with a first drop of 205 ft (62 m).[4]

The Pleasure Beach is one of only two parks left in the world to operate a traditional wooden Wild Mouse coaster. The ride was built entirely in house, post-World War II and is still in complete working order. The Grand National is one of only three Möbius Loop coasters in existence, where two supposingly seperate tracks interwine and crossover offering a "racing" effect. Pleasure Beach was also the first park in Europe to introduce a fully inverting steel coaster, Revolution[5] and is the last remaining park in the world to operate a Steeplechase roller coaster. The park went on to launch Valhalla , which was designed by Sarner, a UK based theme park design company. At a cost of £15 million it is the biggest and most expensive dark ride in the world. The park also operates Europe's only Nickelodeon Land, the worlds only Wallace & Gromit ride and the oldest amusement park ride in Europe, Sir Hiram Maxims Captive Flying Machines which opened in August 1904. In 2007 the park introducedInfusion which is the world's first suspended looping coaster entirely over water. The latest record is taken by the Red Arrows Skyforce, a Gerstlauer Sky Fly thrill ride costing £2 million which was opened by the Red Arrows on 25 May 2015. It is the first ride of its kind in the United Kingdom.[6][7]

History of the Pleasure Beach[edit]

Early years (1896-1929)[edit]

Pleasure Beach was founded in 1896 by Alderman William George Bean after he failed in his attempt to become an advertising man on New York's Madison Avenue. He returned to the UK in 1897 and opened two separate amusement parks; one adjacent to Euston Road in Great Yarmouth and another in Blackpool, opposite the tram terminus.[8] The Great Yarmouth amusement park consisted simply of a switchback bicycle railway called the Hotchkiss's Patented Railroad. Bean stayed in Great Yarmouth with his wife and their only daughter Lillian-Doris until the end of the century before moving to Blackpool full-time.

In 1903, Bean, along with businessman John Outhwaite, purchased 30 acres (120,000 m2) of land known as the "Watson Estate" which was used to expand the amusement park in Blackpool.[9] Bean and Outhwaite based their ideas on Coney Island in the USA and a small static fairground in London's Earls Court. Their aim was to establish an amusement park that would make adults feel like children again and inspire gaiety of a primarily innocent character[8].

The first major attraction to open at Pleasure Beach was the "Hiram Maxim Captive Flying Machine" in 1904. The next attraction, a water ride similar to a Mill Chute was opened in 1905 under the name "The River Caves of the World." The same year the name "Blackpool Pleasure Beach" was founded. Outhwaite died in 1911, leaving the initial business to Bean, however the Outhwaite family still owned shares of the park, and would occasionally have input into the park's growth. In 1909, Bean expanded the Pleasure Beach business by opening a second amusement park down the coast in Morecambe under the name "West End Amusement Park" (which would later be known as Frontierland Morecambe. This led to a third amusement park opening four years later in Southport under the name Pleasureland Southport. Meanwhile the Pleasure Beach was developed, with frequent large scale investments opening, including the Virginia Reel, Whip, Noah's Ark, Big Dipper and Dodgems. In the 1920s Bean invested in the "Casino Building" a grand Art-Deco building which remains to this day.

In 1923, land was reclaimed from Blackpool seafront. It was at this period that the Pleasure Beach moved to its 44-acre (180,000 m2) current location above Watson Road, which was built under the Pleasure Beach in 1932. Much of the original park was built over sand, hence the name "Pleasure Beach"

The Thompson Family[edit]

Since 1931, the Pleasure Beach has been owned soely by the Thompson family. In 1928, Lillian-Doris married Leonard Thompson, an Oxford Natural Sciences graduate and businessman. After their marriage, Leonard and Doris moved to London, where Leonard worked at a Swedish Match Company. A year later, Bean died suddenly from pneumonia. On hearing of Bean’s death, the Thompson’s returned to Blackpool to console Doris’s mother, whilst decisions about the future running of the Pleasure Beach were in discussion. Leonard, up until that point had not had any active involvement with the Pleasure Beach whatsoever, however Bean's will stated that upon his death his daughter would inherit all of his shares in the business. On a mutual agreement with his wife, Leonard Thompson took over the running of the Pleasure Beach and had full responsibility of all its affairs. He appointed Oscar Haworth as the Managing Director and George Palmer as Chairman of the company.

Over the next two years, Thompson worked with the Outhwaite's to expand the business further, however in 1931 the remaining Outhwaite family sold their share of the park to the Thompson's, who now had complete control and ownership of the business. During this time Joseph Emberton, a famous architech was brought in to redesign the architectural style of the Pleasure Beach rides and buildings, working on the Grand National roller coaster, Noah's Ark and the Casino Building to name a few. Emberton continued to design for the Pleasure Beach up to his death in 1956, after which Jack Ratcliffe, who had been involved in the Festival of Britain, was brought in to continue the work. Ratcliffed worked for many years at the park and much of his work can still be seen around the park today.

After many successful years as the managing director of the Pleasure Beach, Leonard Thompson died in 1976, having run the business for 47 years. Following Thompson's death, Doris Thompson was appointed chairman of the business. Their only son, Geoffrey Thompson inherited his fathers role and became the new managing director.

William "Geoffrey" Thompson was born in Manchester in 1936. He had previously administered the New Era Laundries in London before returning to the family business as head of catering at the Casino Building. He married his wife, Barbara Thompson (née Foxcroft) in 1962 and shortly afterwards they had three children, Amanda, Nicholas and Fiona. After his fathers death, Geoffrey and his mother steadily extended the Pleasure Beach business. His first move was hiring Keith Ingham to make extensive alterations to the Casino Building which was re-launched as the "Wonderful World Building" (since then the building has reverted to its original name). Under Thompson's reign, the Pleasure Beach business expanded quite dramatically. He saw the opening of the Steeplechase, Avalanche, Revolution, Big One, Ice Blast: The Ride and Valhalla.

Like his father before him, Geoffrey was often regarded as the front man to the steady growth of amusement parks globally and was regularly involved in promoting tourism in the North West of England. He sat on almost all the relevant agencies, such as the English Tourist Board and the British Association of Leisure Parks, Piers and Attractions, and was awarded an OBE for his contribution to tourism. In 1986, Pleasure Beach became one of the first companies in the United Kingdom to register with the Government Profit Related Pay Unit. Under this scheme the company agreed that, where profits exceeded £1 million, 10 per cent would be distributed among the permanent staff according to their length of service.[10] Despite his noble reputation as a leading businessman in the industry, Thompson often found himself in dispute with Blackpool Council over their desicion to allow private traders to operate on land opposite the Pleasure Beach and Morecambe Town Council, who would regularly oppose and disrupt his plans to develop the Morecambe amusement park. As a result of his frustration and due to declining ticket sales, Geoffrey Thompson closed Frontierland in 2000 indefinitely, which had operated since 1909. Many of the rides were either destroyed, sold or moved to Thompson's other parks.[11] The same year, Thompson opened Valhalla at the Pleasure Beach, which to date is the company's biggest ever investment. Geoffrey Thompson died at Blackpool Pleasure Beach on 12 June 2004 of heart problems, while attending a party to celebrate his daughters wedding. Doris Thompson, OBE died nine days later, on 23 June, the date of her sons funeral.[12]

After the death of her father and grandmother, Amanda Thompson, Geoffrey's eldest daughter and a senior director of the park for over 15 years took over the whole Pleasure Beach business. Nicholas Thompson became the Deputy managing director and Fiona Gilje (née Thompson), a fundamental architect became a company director. Amanda had previously rose to prominence as the founder and president of Stageworks Worldwide Productions, which produced numerous high profile shows at both the Pleasure Beach and across the world. .[13] Like her father and grandmother, Amanda was awarded an OBE for her contribution to tourism. During Amanda's reign, the park has seen vast redevlopment, including the introduction of mass branding, as well as the removal of numerous rides including the Whip, Log Flume, Space Invader 2, Turtle Chase, Spin Doctor, Trauma Towers, Noah's Ark, Black Hole, Bling and Super Bowl. In 2005, the family decided to close Pleasureland Southport which had been losing the company money for several years. This move coincided with the introduction of Infusion, which would become the park's first new roller coaster in 13 years, having previously operated at Pleasureland Southport under the name of Traumatizer.

In 2011, the Thompson family signed a contract with the Nickelodeon brand to open Nickelodeon Land, a 12-acre theme park situated within the main park. This deal included a long term £5 million loan from Blackpool Borough Council, as well as £5 million investment from the company itself. In 2013, the park worked with Aardman Animations who introduced Wallace & Gromit's Thrill-o-Matic ride, and in 2015 the park teamed up with the RAF to open the Red Arrow's Skyforce a ride based on the famous air acrobatic team.

Managing directors[edit]

Managing Director Seasons Active Year
1890s 1900s 1910s 1920s 1930s 1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s 2010s
John Outhwaite 16 1896–1911  
William G. Bean 34 1896–1929  
Leonard Thompson 48   1929–1976  
Doris Thompson 76   1929–2004  
Geoffrey Thompson 29   1976–2004  
Amanda Thompson 12   2004–

Current Park[edit]

Pleasure Beach is situated on a 44-acre site along the South Promenade (Ocean Boulevard) area of Blackpool, approximately 2.4 square miles from Blackpool North Railway Station. It is bordered by the Promenade, Balmoral Road, Bond Street, Burlington Road West and Clifton Drive, while also positioned directly above Watson Road, which is underneath the grounds and runs under the centre of the park. A ticket office used to be located in the tunnel, but has now closed. The main Ticket Centre can be accessed through the Casino Building which is situated to the north of the park. Blackpool Pleasure Beach railway station and the Big Blue Hotel are towards the south end of the park.

Awards & Accolades[edit]

  • 2007: Best brand for leisure and tourism – North West Top 100 Brands
  • 2007: Pleasure Beach training team: Best Practice in Tourism Training – LETTS awards
  • 2007: Fifth best amusement park in the world – Golden Ticket Awards
  • 2007: Best seaside park award – Golden Ticket Awards
  • 2007: Best radio commercial – IAAPA Brass Ring Awards
  • 2007: Pleasure beach website – distinguished excellence – IAAPA Brass Ring Awards
  • 2007: Valhalla: second best water ride in the world – Golden Ticket Awards
  • 2007: Best North-West brand for leisure and tourism – Hill Dickinson [14]
  • 2007: Revitalised Brand of the Year – Leisure Report Awards
  • 2008: North-West Brand for Leisure and Tourism – Hill Dickinson
  • 2008: Ripleys Believe It Or Not!: Franchise of the Year and Guest Service Award – Ripleys Executive Board
  • 2009: Forbidden: Best Overall Production – IAAPA Big E Awards
  • 2009: Hot Ice: Best Overall Production – IAAPA Big E Awards[15]
  • 2011: Top Ten Best Theme Parks – Golden Ticket Awards
  • 2011: Big Blue Hotel - Loo of the Year Award[16]
  • 2013: Best Attraction for Groups- Lancashire Tourism Awards [17]
  • 2014: Best Large Tourist Attraction – North West In Bloom[18]
  • 2014: Arena- Favourite Rink- LAMBCO [19]
  • 2014: Second Best Seaside Park- Golden Ticket Awards [20]
  • 2014: Valhalla: second best water ride in the world – Golden Ticket Awards[20]
  • 2014: Best Theme Park in the United Kingdom; 9th Best Theme Park in Europe - Travelers' Choice Awards[21][22]
  • 2014: Big Blue Hotel- Third best hotel in the United Kingdom- Travelers' Choice Awards [23]


  • Avalanche: In the summer season 1997, the Avalanche ride was involved in an accident when the first carriage's braking system automatically engaged, causing the following carriages to collide into one another in a rapid stop. 14 people were on the ride at the time, an 11-year-old boy suffered bruised ribs. The ride was out of commission for 5 weeks of repairs.[24]
  • Big Dipper: On 11 August 2009, two trains carrying a total of 32 guests collided, resulting in 21 guests requiring treatment at a nearby hospital for injuries ranging from whiplash and broken noses, to cuts and bruises.[25]
  • Big One: In July 1994, only a week after the ride's opening, eight people were injured when the computer system failed to completely stop a train returning to the station. The result of this brake failure was a collision with a waiting train at the ride's station. The injuries were all only minor but the incident was widely publicised by the media. On 14 June 2011 the train stopped, causing minor injuries. One person was reported to be hospitalised with whiplash injury.[26] On 31 August 2000, 23 people were injured, when two ride vehicles collided due to a failure of the ride's braking system. Of those injured, 21 were taken to the hospital.[27]
  • Fun House: On 16 December 1991, the Fun House attraction (first opened in 1934) was completely destroyed by a fire caused by vandals. Valhalla (opened in 2000) was built in its place.
  • Grand National: On 20 May 2004 the Grand National’s station was destroyed by a fire that also damaged Alice’s Wonderland and Trauma Towers. The ride was repaired and re-opened five months later on 28 October 2004. In 2014, 58-year-old Robert Sycamore broke his neck whilst riding the Grand National. Sycamore, who suffered from spondylitis, an inflammation of the vertebrae in the back ignored safety warnings and rode the wooden roller coaster with his thirteen year old nephew. Upon returning to the station, Sycamore was found slumped in the carriage and was rushed to hospital, however as a result of the accident was left paralyzed.[28]
  • Space Invader 2: On 21 July 2000, Christopher Sharrat, an 11-year-old boy died after falling out of a ride vehicle on the Space Invader roller coaster. Reports say that he may have panicked on the dark ride and unfastened his seatbelt. As a result of the accident, the ride was closed and carriages were re-fitted with over the head restraints. The ride opened after a short hiatus as Space Invader 2.[29]


Roller coasters[edit]

# Name Manufacturer Type Opened Description
1 Avalanche Mack Rides Bobsled
Avalanche is a steel bobsled roller coaster. It was the first Bobsled style roller coaster to be built in the UK.[30]
2 Big Dipper John Miller, Charles Paige, Joe Emberton Wooden
Big Dipper is a traditional wooden roller coaster which was built in 1923 by John Miller, and extended in 1936 by Charles Paige and Joe Emberton.[31]
3 Big One Arrow Dynamics Steel Hypercoaster
The Big One is a hyper coaster with a highest point of 71.6 m (235 ft) above sea level or 65 m (213 ft) above the ground. It reaches speeds of up to 119 km/h (74 mph).[32] It was the tallest and fastest roller coaster in the world when it opened in 1994, and was designed by Ron Toomer.
4 Grand National Charles Paige Wooden Racing roller coaster
Grand National is a wooden dual-track racing roller coaster. It is themed around the Grand National horse-racing event and is one of only three Möbius Loop roller coasters still in existence.[33]
5 Infusion Vekoma Inverted
Infusion is a steel inverted roller coaster. It is the first of its kind to be build entirely over water, and was relocated to Pleasure Beach from Pleasureland Southport.[34]
6 Revolution Arrow Development Shuttle
Revolution is a steel shuttle roller coaster that launches from an elevated station, through and loop before stopping and doing the same backwards, it reaches up to speeds of 40 mph and a g force level of 4.0. It was named "Irn Bru Revolution" until 2011 when it reverted to its original name.[35]
7 Nickelodeon Streak Charles Paige Wooden
A classic wooden coaster found in Nickelodeon Land. From 1933 to 2010 it was known simply as Rollercoaster however in 2011 was renamed Nickelodeon Streak. It was built using the lift hill from the Velvet Coaster, which was built in 1909.
8 Steeplechase Arrow Development Three-tracked racing coaster
An Arrow Development three-tracked racing steel roller coaster and the last of its kind in existence.[36]
9 Wild Mouse Frank Wright Wooden Wild Mouse
One of only three operating wooden wild mouse roller coasters in the world. It is known to be one of the most intense Wild Mouse roller coasters in existence.[37]
10 Blue Flyer Philadelphia Toboggan Coasters Wooden
A children’s wooden coaster composed of bunny hills and a tunnel. Originally known as Zipper Dipper then renamed to Blue Flyer and re-painted in 2011.[38]

Thrill rides[edit]

# Name Opened Description
11 Ice Blast
An S&S Power Launch/Freefall ride which stands at 210 ft (64 m) above sea level, although is actually 180 ft (55 m) tall.
12 Red Arrows Sky Force
A Gerstlauer Sky Fly ride which stands at 72 ft (22 m). The ride features individual planes on a long arm which spin as the rider rocks side to side.

Water rides[edit]

# Name Opened Description
13 Dora’s World Voyage
A mini boat tub ride located in Nickelodeon Land, opened June 2011. Replaced Magic Mountain.
14 The Rugrats Lost River
A semi-themed one-hill log chute originally in the park's previous Beaver Creek area, which is now Nickelodeon Land (resulting in the ride being renamed and rethemed).
15 River Caves
Classic river caves dark ride, visiting displays of "around the world".
16 SpongeBob's Splash Bash
Located in Nickelodeon Land.
17 Valhalla
Viking-themed dark flume ride, laden with special effects.

Family rides[edit]

# Name Opened Description
18 Alice's Wonderland 1961 Children's dark ride featuring scenes from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass. The cars are big Cheshire cats.[33] Built by Arrow Development.
30 Alpine Rallye 1990s A children's automobile track ride similar to the Convoy. After the park's Beaver Creek closed the ride was renamed from Thor's Turnpike and relocated.
19 Chinese Puzzle Maze 1997 A traditional maze with interactive features, scenery, and water traps.
29 Tetley Tea Cup Ride 1990s Spinning tea cups ride relocated after the closure of Beaver Creek. Relocated to underneath the Revolution.
20 Derby Racer 1959 One of only three in the world, the ride is essentially a large carousel of 56 horses in four rows, the outside row being the fastest.
21 Dodgems 2010 Standard dodgems attraction.
22 Eddie Stobart Convoy 2002 All trucks are painted in Eddie Stobart Ltd. colours including names.
23 Flying Machines 1904 The oldest attraction in the park. Original flying experience attraction.
24 Gallopers 1919 Ornate traditional English carousel.
25 Ghost Train 1930 A dark ride. This ghost train was the first in the world and is where the ride name "Ghost Train" originates. It was built by Mr Joseph Emberton.
26 Grand Prix 1960s Electrical powered car ride (in the past, cars had petrol engines). Self-drive cars travel down a spiral track and under The Avalanche Rollercoaster.
27 Impossible 2002 (Previously 1001 Troubles and The Haunted Swing) A mirror maze, followed by displays of optical illusions, and a haunted swing ride.
28 Pleasure Beach Express 1934 A miniature railway featuring Scenery of Wild life in a jungle to Dangerous Dinosaur from the Jurrasic Era also includes interactive effects.
31 Thompsons Vintage Carousel 1990s A Mini carousel ride. After Beaver Creek closed the ride was relocated to under the Avalanche lift hill, and renamed from Veteran Carousel.
32 Wallace & Gromit: The Thrill-O-Matic 2013 Replaced the Gold Mine. Dark ride featuring scenes from the animated Wallace and Gromit series.

Nickelodeon Land Rides[edit]

Main article: Nickelodeon Land
# Name Opened Description
1 Blue Flyer 1934 A children’s wooden coaster composed of bunny hills and a tunnel. Originally known as Zipper Dipper then renamed to Blue Flyer and re-painted in 2011.[38]
2 Avatar Airbender 2011 A Disk'O Coaster, Opened May 2011.
3 Dora’s World Voyage 2011 A mini boat tub ride, opened June 2011.
4 The Rugrats' Lost River 2011 A semi-themed one-hill log chute originally in the park's previous Beaver Creek, now located in Nickelodeon Land.
5 The Backyardians' Pirate Treasure 2011 Opened May 2011.

Retheme of the previous 'Bradley Beaver's Pirate Ship Ride'

6 Nickelodeon Streak 1933 A classic wooden coaster found in Nickelodeon Land. From 1933 to 2010 it was known simply as Rollercoaster however in 2011 was renamed Nickelodeon Streak.
7 Bikini Bottom Bus Tour 2011 Opened May 2011.
8 Diego’s Rainforest Rescue 2011 Opened May 2011.
9 Fairy World Taxi Spin 2011 Opened May 2011.
10 Krusty Krab Order Up 2011 Opened May 2011.

Retheme of the previous 'The Shoot' ride.

11 SpongeBob's Splash Bash 2011 Opened May 2011.
12 Wonder Pets! Big Circus Bounce 2011 Opened May 2011

Past Rides & Attractions[edit]

Name Opened Closed Description
Switchback Railway 1891 1922 Out And Back wooden coaster. Replaced by the Big Dipper.[39]
Hotchkiss' Bicycle Railway 1896 1900s Remnants of this attraction are held in the Pleasure Beach archive
Scenic Railway 1907 1933 A wooden coaster replaced by Grand National.
Water Chute (1907 - 1939) 1907 1939 A Wooden Water Ride, Closed In 1939, & Reopened In 1979, Then Closed Again In 2004, And Never Reopened Again After That
Joy Wheel 1909 1915
Velvet Coaster 1909 1932 A wooden coaster replaced by Roller Coaster/Nickelodeon Streak.
Witching Waves 1913 1923
The Whip 1914 2008 A Teacup/Waltzer Ride, Removed In 2008
Noah's Ark 1922 2008 Indoor walkthrough attraction.
Virginia Reel 1922 1982 A spinning wooden coaster replaced by Ranger Morph.
Junior Whip 1927 2008
Magic Mountain 1932 2010 Junior dark ride replaced by Dora's World Voyage.
Funhouse 1934 1991 An indoor walkthrough, it was destroyed by a fire & replaced by Valhalla.
Turtle Chase 1935 2004 A tumble bug ride. Closed In 2004, Area Stands Empty
Ferris Wheel 1936 1984
Sidewinder 1939 1961 A Dive Bomber ride replaced by Astro Liner.
Cableway 1960 2000 A classic Von Roll VR101 2 passenger gondola lift. Hourly capacity 300pph.
Drench Falls Log Flume 1967 2006 A log flume replaced by Infusion.
Monorail 1966 2012 Opened as an aerial transport system with three stations, but closed as a non-stop scenic ride.
Monster! 1968 1995 An octopus ride replaced by Ice Blast.
Astro Swirl 1969 2003 A gravitron ride
Astroglide 1960s 1990s A giant slide
Calypso 1960s 1960s A spinning ride
Speedboat 1960s 1978 A slow boat ride
Gold Mine 1971 2011 A dark ride that has been replaced by Wallace & Gromit: Thrill-O-Matic.
Cyclone 1974 1987 A pinfari coaster replaced by The Avalanche.
Tom Sawyer Raft Ride 1974 1993 A boat ride
Swamp Buggies 1979 2011 An extra-charge bumper boat ride. Replaced by plant pots.
Water Chute/Vikingar (1979 - 2004) 1979 2004 Previously Closed In 1939, Reopened In 1979, Renamed Vikingar In 2000, Followed By The Opening Of Valhalla, Permanently Closed In 2004
Alpine Golf 1970s 2009 Swiss-themed miniature golf, previously located under Avalanche. Replaced by Alpine Rallye.
Astro Liner 1970s 1980s A simulator ride
Ben Hur 1970s 1980s Similar to the Whip, however with a pedal to help start motion.
Observation Tower 1970s 1992 A slow spinning bird eye view tower relocated to Frontierland, Morecambe as POLO Tower & replaced by Pepsi Max Big One.
Safari Bugs 1970s 2002 Animal vehicle roundabout has been relocated to Pleasureland Southport and then relocated to Lightwater Valley in 2007.
Tidal Wave 1980 1997 Pirate ship was relocated to Pleasureland Southport,then relocated to M&D's.
Tokaydo Express 1980 1997 A figure eight coaster, it was relocated to Brean Leisure Park, but not there anymore.
Trauma Towers 1980 2008 Indoor haunted walkthrough attraction. SBNO.
Paratrooper 1981 1980s spinning funfair ride
Bobslay 1982 1982 A bobsleigh ride
Ranger 1983 1986 A black pearl ride replaced by Rainbow.
Space Invader 1984 2008 Indoor roller coaster, it was relocated to Brean Leisure Park in 2011.
Rainbow 1987 1990s A thrill ride
Black Hole 1980s 2006 A waltzer in a dark replaced by 4D Cinema.
Phantom Chase 1980s 1980s A spinning thrill ride
The Twist 1980s 1996 A spinning ride
The Greatest Show on Earth 1990 1997 A suspended dark ride replaced by Burger King.
Clown Coaster 1995 2008 A junior coaster, relocated to Wicksteed Park
Spin Doctor 2002 2006 A dive booster ride, One Of Them Possibly Relocated To Pleasure Island And Renamed Hydro Max
Big Apple 2003 2004 A caterpillar roller coaster. Replaced by The Beast.
Bling 2004 2011 A Zierer Star Shape ride Replaced by Red Arrows Sky Force.
4D Cinema 2007 2008 Extra-charge theatre attraction. Replaced by puppet/magic show.
The Beast Unknown Unknown A simulator ride of the wooden rollercoaster at Kings Island.

Park Entertainment[edit]

Hot Ice[edit]

A seasonal show performed at the park's Ice Arena (previously the Ice Drome). The show has been running since 1936 and is produced by Amanda Thompson and choreographed by Oula Jaaskelainen.

Other shows[edit]

The Horseshoe Bar and The Globe Theatre are home to various magic and variety shows throughout the year, including Ken Webster Comedy Hypnotist. Webster's show at the Pleasure Beach is the longest running comedy hypnotism show in the world having played at the resort for over 25 years. Famous magician Richard De Vere performed magic shows at the park for 21 consecutive seasons, until his death in 2014.

Ocean Boulevard[edit]

Ocean Boulevard is situated along the south promenade area of Blackpool. The quarter-mile strip is home to the Pleasure Beach and is intersected with Watson Road. A number of catering outlets, restaurants (including Pizza Hut), shops and the Big Blue Hotel are situated along the Boulevard.

Other Attractions[edit]

  • Haunted Crypt: A haunted house-type walkthrough attraction.
  • Pasaje Del Terror: Interactive horror maze, situated towards the north end of Ocean Boulevard, adjacent to the entrance to Pleasure Beach. Opened in 1996.
  • Starr Pub: A pub situated towards the south end of Ocean Boulevard, underneath the Big One's first drop. Closed in 2012 and briefly re-opened as the Apple and Parrot in 2014.
  • Coasters American Diner: A Mexian themed diner situated towards the south end of Ocean Boulevard. Closed in 2009 and relocated inside the park.
  • Education Academy: Situated next to Ripley's. A learning and training centre that housed many of the Pleasure Beach's archives and past artifacts. Closed in 2014 and currently used as storage.

The Big Blue Hotel[edit]

A family hotel with a four star AA rating, situated adjacent to Blackpool Pleasure Beach railway station towards the south end of Ocean Boulevard. Opened in Spring 2003.[40]

Television series[edit]

In 1997 the Pleasure Beach featured in a six-part BBC documentary, which followed the day-to-day running of the park. It was mainly focused on the rides and the park managers, Jim Rowland and Keith Allen. The film crews also spoke to Geoffrey Thompson and Amanda Thompson, the director and producer of Stageworks Worldwide Productions (which directs, produces and choreographs the shows within the park.)

In popular culture[edit]

  • The Pepsi Max Big One is featured in the film The Parole Officer (29001) and in one episode of A Touch of Frost.
  • The music video for Simply Red's song "Fairground", The Killers' "Here With Me" and the 5 Seconds of Summer's Try Hard music video were shot here.
  • The Infusion rollercoaster featured in the 2009 Specsavers advertising campaign.
  • In 2002 Living TV's Most Haunted conducted an investigation at the Pleasure Beach.
  • The Laughing man was briefly portrayed as a psychotic French clown in Jamie H Scrutton's: "His Haunted Laughter" short film in 2010. The artist performed in the role of the character.
  • The park was included in the drama Waterloo Road. Finn Sharkey (Jack McMullen), Lauren Andrews (Darcy Isa), Sambuca Kelly (Holly Kenny) and Tom Clarkson (Jason Done) visit the park.
  • In 1988 the children's television programme Blue Peter visited the park. Presenters Mark Curry and Yvette Fielding rode the then newly launched Avalanche coaster and interviewed Doris and Geoffrey Thompson.
  • Professional Wrestler Darren Kenneth Matthews, most commonly known as William Regal began his wrestling career at the park at aged 15.
  • Parts of the Harry Hill Movie was filmed at Pleasure Beach.
  • An advertising campaign for Irn Bru featuring a group of goths riding the Revolution roller coaster (then sponsored by the brand) was filmed at the park.
  • British boy band JLS rode on the Big Dipper in early 2012, singing their hit "Everybody in Love" as they did so. Their ride was filmed and posted on line via their official Facebook page.
  • Kevin Bacon rode the Big One with a young child to advertise EE 4G The advertisement was then aired on national television in May 2014.


See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ "It Really Is The Big one!". The Daily Mail (London). 1 July 2014. 
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^ a b
  9. ^
  10. ^ "Geoffrey Thompson". The Independent (London). 19 June 2004. 
  11. ^ "A look back at Frontierland". The Lancaster Guardian (Lancaster). 15 January 2015. 
  12. ^ "Obituaries Doris and Geoffrey Thompson". The Guardian (London). 30 June 2004. 
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^ a b
  21. ^
  22. ^
  23. ^
  24. ^ 'Pleasure Beach' (BBC MCMXCVII) Ep. 1
  25. ^ Malvern, Jack (11 August 2009). "Big Dipper accident leaves thrill-seekers injured". London: The Times. Retrieved 11 August 2009. 
  26. ^ "Rollercoaster 'one of the world's best'". BBC. 1 September 2000. Retrieved 25 July 2011. 
  27. ^ Gray, Chris (1 September 2000). "23 injured as roller coaster carriages collide". London: The Independent. Retrieved 5 January 2007. 
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  29. ^ "Four hurt in fairground fall". 30 July 2000. Retrieved 30 January 2007. 
  30. ^ "Avalanche (Pleasure Beach, Blackpool)". Roller Coaster Database. Retrieved 15 September 2007. 
  31. ^ "Big Dipper (Pleasure Beach, Blackpool)". Roller Coaster Database. Retrieved 15 September 2007. 
  32. ^ Marden, Duane. "Big One  (Pleasure Beach, Blackpool)". Roller Coaster DataBase. Retrieved 22 May 2012. 
  33. ^ a b "Grand National (Pleasure Beach, Blackpool)". Roller Coaster Database. Retrieved 15 September 2007. 
  34. ^ "Infusion (Pleasure Beach, Blackpool)". Roller Coaster Database. Retrieved 15 September 2007. 
  35. ^ "Irn-Bru Revolution (Pleasure Beach, Blackpool)". Roller Coaster Database. Retrieved 15 September 2007. 
  36. ^ "Steeplechase (Pleasure Beach, Blackpool)". Roller Coaster Database. Retrieved 15 September 2007. 
  37. ^ "Wild Mouse (Pleasure Beach, Blackpool)". Roller Coaster Database. Retrieved 15 September 2007. 
  38. ^ a b "Zipper Dipper (Pleasure Beach, Blackpool)". Roller Coaster Database. Retrieved 15 September 2007. 
  39. ^ "Switchback (Blackpool Pleasure Beach)". Coasterpedia. 
  40. ^ "Welcome to the Big Blue Hotel". Pleasure Beach, Blackpool. Archived from the original on 11 October 2007. Retrieved 15 September 2007. 
  41. ^ Beesley, Paul (4 July 2008). "Behind the scenes – A closer look at Blackpools Monorail". Ridemad. Retrieved 9 October 2008. Pleasure Beach Blackpool bought the monorail in 1964 from the Lausanne expo in Switzerland and it was opened in Pleasure Beach in 1966. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Walton, John K. (2007). Riding on Rainbows: Blackpool Pleasure Beach and its Place in British Popular Culture. St. Albans: Skelter Publishing. ISBN 0-9544573-6-6. 

External links[edit]