Blackpool Pleasure Beach

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Blackpool Pleasure Beach
Pleasurebeach-logo1.png
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 6 November [1]
Area 42 acres (170,000 m2)
Rides
Total 41
Roller coasters 10
Water rides 5
Website Blackpool Pleasure Beach

Blackpool Pleasure Beach commonly referred to as Pleasure Beach Resort or simply 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 one of 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.[2] 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.[3]

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.[4] 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).[5]

Pleasure Beach is one of only two parks left in the world to operate a traditional wooden Wild Mouse coaster, the other being Luna Park Sydney in Australia. 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 a singular track "loops" around itself, creating a facsimile out-and-back layout and offering a "racing" effect. The park was also the first in Europe to introduce a fully inverting steel coaster, Revolution[6] and is the last remaining park in the world to still operate a Steeplechase roller coaster. Sir Hiram Maxims Captive Flying Machine is the oldest amusement park ride in Europe having opened in August 1904. Recent records include Valhalla which at a cost of £15million is the biggest and most expensive dark ride in the world. The park also operates Europe's only Nickelodeon Land and the worlds only Wallace & Gromit ride, the Thrill-O-Matic. The latest record is taken by the Red Arrows Skyforce, a Gerstlauer Sky Fly thrill ride which is the first ride of its kind in the United Kingdom.[7][8]

History of the Pleasure Beach[edit]

Early years (1896-1930)[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.[9] The Great Yarmouth amusement park failed to generate much interest and so Bean moved to Blackpool full-time towards the end of the century.

In 1903, Bean, along with local businessman John Outhwaite, purchased 30 acres of land known as the "Watson Estate" which was used to expand the amusement park in Blackpool.[10] The original Pleasure Beach was built on sand and consisted of a few roundabouts, a Bicycle Railway and several Gypsy stalls. Bean and Outhwaite based most of their ideas on Coney Island in the United States and a small static fairground in London's Earls Court. Their aim was to establish a fun park of relative size that would make adults feel like children again and inspire gaiety of a primarily innocent character.[11]

The first notable attraction of interest to open at Pleasure Beach was Sir Hiram Maxim's Captive Flying Machine, a rotary swing ride designed by the British inventor of the same name in 1904. A Mill Chute water ride was opened in 1905 under the name The River Caves of the World and The Scenic Railway followed in 1907. It was during this time that the name "Blackpool Pleasure Beach" was founded. In 1909, Bean expanded the Pleasure Beach business by opening a second amusement park up the coast in Morecambe under the name West End Amusement Park, which later become known as Frontierland, Morecambe. The success of the Morecambe park 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 including The Velvet Coaster, the House of Nonsense, The Joy Wheel and The Whip. Outhwaite died in 1911, leaving most of the remaining business to Bean, however the Outhwaite family still obtained shares in the park and would occasionally have input into its growth. Following World War I investment at the park ceased due to the difficulty in exporting rides from the United States and the next investments would not be until 1922 when The Virginia Reel and Noah's Ark opened.

Further into the 1920s Bean invested in the Casino Building, a triple-tiered Art-Deco building designed by local architect and then Blackpool Mayor Alderman R.B. Mather, JP. The exterior of the building featured a white ferro-concrete façade with white electric lighting and the interior housed a billiard hall, cinema, restaurant and shop.[12] Today the Casino Building is used as the main ticket centre for guests.

In 1923, land was reclaimed from Blackpool seafront and it was during this period that the Pleasure Beach moved to its 42-acre (170,000 m2) current location along the promenade. The same year Bean brought in John Miller to design and build the Big Dipper, an out-and-back wooden coaster and shortly afterwards a boating pool was built for boat rides. This was Bean's final investment before he died of pneumonia in 1929, having spent 33 years shaping and developing what would become the most famous amusement park in Europe. Following his death his only daughter Lillian-Doris and son-in-law Leonard inherited the Pleasure Beach business.

Lillian-Doris Bean married Leonard Thompson, an Oxford Natural Sciences graduate and businessman in 1928. The Thompsons' lived in London where Leonard worked at a Swedish Match Company, however upon hearing of Bean’s death the couple returned to Blackpool, where decisions regarding 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 on a mutual agreement with his wife it was agreed that Thompson would take over the running of the Pleasure Beach and have full responsibility of all its affairs. His first move was to appoint Oscar Haworth as the General Manager and George Palmer as Chairman of the company. Over the next two years, Thompson worked with the Outhwaite's to expand the business further, starting with construction of The Ghost Train which opened in 1930.

Later Years (1931-Present)[edit]

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. The following year Watson Road was built underneath the park, which resulted in the closure of The Velvet Coaster. Thompson's next major investment was the construction of the Fun House in 1934 and The Grand National, a Möbius Loop wooden coaster built by celebrated coaster designer Charles Paige in 1935. Paige had designed numerous other rides at the Pleasure Beach, including the Rollercoaster, another wooden coaster that was constructed on the site of The Velvet Coaster in 1933.

The success of Paiges' wooden coasters resulted in a complete reprofiling of the Big Dipper in 1936, which was extended towards the south-westerly side of the park. During this time Thompson hired Joseph Emberton, an award winning architect who was brought in to redesign the architectural style of the Pleasure Beach rides and buildings, working on The Casino Building, Noah's Ark and the Ice Drome, a 2,000 seat ice rink. 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 today.

Investments steadily decreased during World War II during which time the park was used to shelter war veterans, however the park returned to prominence between 1958-1961 when The Wild Mouse, Derby Racer and Alice Ride opened. Over the next few years the scale of investments increased, with the world's longest Log Flume opening in 1967 and The Goldmine opening four years later. 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 spent most of his early working life administering 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. Geoffrey invested millions of pounds developing the business, carrying forward his fathers legacy, which was for the Pleasure Beach to always be at the forefront of global amusement parks. He hired 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). Thompson's reign saw the opening of the Steeplechase, Avalanche, Revolution and Ice Blast: The Ride. His most notable investments include the Big One which opened in 1994 and was the tallest and fastest roller coaster in the world at the time, and Valhalla which opened in 2000 and remains the companys' largest investment to date.

Geoffrey was actively involved in promoting tourism in the North West of England. He sat on almost all the relevant agencies, including the English Tourist Board and the British Association of Leisure Parks, Piers and Attractions, and was awarded the Order of the British Empire status along with his mother for their contribution to tourism. In 1986, Blackpool Pleasure Beach Limited 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.[13]

Despite his reputation as a leading businessman in the industry, Thompson often found himself in dispute with Blackpool Council over their decision to allow private traders to operate on land opposite the Pleasure Beach. He also clashed with 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 attendance Thompson closed Frontierland in 2000 indefinitely, which had operated for 91 years. Many of the rides were either destroyed, sold or moved to Thompson's other parks.[14] Further investments followed at the Pleasure Beach, including the Big Blue Hotel in 2003 and Bling, a Zierer Star Shape thrill ride the following year. Geoffrey Thompson died of a heart attack at Blackpool Pleasure Beach on 12 June 2004 while attending a party to celebrate his daughters wedding. Doris Thompson, MBE OBE died nine days later, on 23 June, the date of her sons funeral.[15]

Amanda Thompson, Geoffrey's eldest daughter and a director of the park for over 15 years took over the whole Pleasure Beach business. Nicholas Thompson became the Deputy managing director and Fiona Giljé (née Thompson), a fundamental architect became a senior 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.[16] 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, 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 despite extensive investment and development had not turned a profit for several years. This move coincided with the closure of Pleasure Beach's Log Flume, Drench Falls and resulted in the introduction of Infusion, the park's first new roller coaster in 13 years. Infusion was relocated from Pleasureland, where it had operated under the name of Traumatizer since 1999, and was built on the site of the Log Flume.

In 2011, the Thompson family signed a contract with Viacom, owners of the American-based Nickelodeon brand to open Nickelodeon Land, a 12-acre theme park situated within the main park. Nickelodeon Land was a £10million redevelopment of the parks' previous children's area Beaver Creek which closed in 2010. Notable changes include a complete retheme of the Rollercoaster which reopened under the new alias Nickelodeon Streak and the use of the formerly defunct Space Invader 2 building which is now occupied by a large pizza restaurant. Many of the other rides were either replaced or repainted and renamed to represent the Nickelodeon brand. In 2013, the park worked alongside Aardman Animations, owners of the Wallace & Gromit and Shaun the Sheep brands, who introduced Wallace & Gromit's Thrill-O-Matic, a dark ride which replaced The Goldmine, and in 2015 the park teamed up with the RAF to open the Red Arrow's Skyforce a thrill ride based on the famous air acrobatic team. In early December 2015 the Tom Sawyer bridge was removed and replaced with a new walkway.

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 42-acre (170,000 m2) site along the South Promenade (Ocean Boulevard) area of Blackpool, approximately 2.2 miles from Blackpool North Railway Station. It is bordered by the Promenade, Balmoral Road, Bond Street, Burlington Road West and Clifton Drive, and is situated above Watson Road, which is underneath the grounds and runs under the centre of the park. The main Ticket Centre can be found on the ground floor of the Casino Building which is situated to the north of the park. The rest of the ground floor space is taken up by a showbar named The Horseshoe and a large restaurant named Tiger Bills. The second tier of the building, known as the penthouse floor is home to a function suite named The Paradise Room and The White Tower Restaurant, a luxury restaurant overlooking the promenade. Above The Paradise Room is a second Moroccan-themed function room named The Attic. The basement area of the building is taken up by another licensed bar named The Horror Bar and an interactive horror maze named Pasaje del Terror.

Outside The Casino building towards the left of the main entrance is a second theatre named The Globe. The main park can be accessed via a number of turnstiles, each manned by a security ambassador at the north entrance. A separate entrance towards the south end of the park is available for hotel residents only, and a third entrance is situated towards the east side of the park via The Arena. The park is heavily secured by giant metal gates, however these gates are occasionally opened to permit large groups of guests into the park during the peak season. The park has 5 car parks and a coach park. Blackpool Pleasure Beach railway station and the Big Blue Hotel are towards the south end of the park.

The park is split up into 3 sections: North Park, Nickelodeon Land and South Park. The main park is divided by separate themed areas. These are North Entrance Plaza, Heidi Strasse, Bean Street FY4, The Watson Overpass, The Tom Sawyer Bridge and South Entrance Plaza. Many of the rides in the park are built over or under other attractions and buildings making the Pleasure Beach the most densely populated amusement park in terms of ride space in the world.

Pleasure Beach is the only private company in the United Kingdom not imposed by planning restrictions, however attractions over 60 meters in height must meet strict regulations set out by the Civil Aviation Authority. These regulations include the placing of red and white lights at the top of structures and warning signals and beacons to alert airline traffic.[17] As of October 2014 Blackpool Airport has ceased operation, however all rides at the Pleasure Beach over the 200 ft height marker still obtain their beacons.

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 [18]
  • 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[19]
  • 2011: Top Ten Best Theme Parks – Golden Ticket Awards
  • 2011: Big Blue Hotel - Loo of the Year Award[20]
  • 2013: Best Attraction for Groups- Lancashire Tourism Awards [21]
  • 2014: Best Large Tourist Attraction – North West In Bloom[22]
  • 2014: Arena- Favourite Rink- LAMBCO [23]
  • 2014: Second Best Seaside Park- Golden Ticket Awards [24]
  • 2014: Valhalla: second best water ride in the world – Golden Ticket Awards[24]
  • 2014: Best Theme Park in the United Kingdom; 9th Best Theme Park in Europe - Travelers' Choice Awards[25][26]
  • 2014: Big Blue Hotel- Third best hotel in the United Kingdom- Travelers' Choice Awards [27]

Incidents[edit]

  • 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.[28]
  • 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.[29]
  • 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.[30] 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.[31]
  • 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.[32]
  • 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.[33]

Rides[edit]

Roller coasters[edit]

# Name Manufacturer Type Opened Description
1 Avalanche Mack Rides Bobsled
1988
Avalanche is a steel bobsled roller coaster. It was the first Bobsled style roller coaster to be built in the UK.[34]
2 Big Dipper John Miller, Charles Paige, Joe Emberton Wooden
1923
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.[35]
3 Big One Arrow Dynamics Steel Hypercoaster
1994
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).[36] 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
1935
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.[37]
5 Infusion Vekoma Inverted
2007
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.[38]
6 Revolution Arrow Development Shuttle
1979
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.[39]
7 Nickelodeon Streak Charles Paige Wooden
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. It was built using the lift hill from the Velvet Coaster, which was built in 1909.
8 Steeplechase Arrow Development Three-tracked racing coaster
1977
An Arrow Development three-tracked racing steel roller coaster and the last of its kind in existence.[40]
9 Wild Mouse Frank Wright Wooden Wild Mouse
1958
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.[41]
10 Blue Flyer Philadelphia Toboggan Coasters Wooden
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.[42]

Thrill rides[edit]

# Name Opened Description
11 Ice Blast
1997
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
2015
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
2011
A mini boat tub ride located in Nickelodeon Land, opened June 2011. Replaced Magic Mountain.
14 The Rugrats Lost River
1992
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
1905
Classic river caves dark ride, visiting displays of "around the world".
16 SpongeBob's Splash Bash
2011
Located in Nickelodeon Land.
17 Valhalla
2000
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.[37] 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.[42]
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.[43]
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.

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.

Ken Webster: Mentalist Hypnotist[edit]

A seasonal adult comedy hypnotisism show performed by veteran hypnotist Ken Webster. 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.

Russ Brown's Carnival of Magic[edit]

A magic and variety show performed by award winning children's magician Russel Brown. Runs from September–November 2016.

Spectacular Dancing Water Show[edit]

A £500 thousand musical water feature designed by Aquatique Show International. Featuring 30 individual jets and a water cannon capable of shooting water up to 30 meters into the air, the jets are synchronized to dance to different styles of music and shows run every 30 minutes.

Other Attractions[edit]

  • Ripley's Believe It Or Not!: A museum of oddities built across two floors and based on Ripley's Believe It Or Not. Situated along Ocean Boulevard.
  • Haunted Crypt: A haunted house-type walkthrough attraction next to Ripley's.
  • Pasaje Del Terror: Interactive horror maze, situated towards the north end of Ocean Boulevard, adjacent to the entrance to Pleasure Beach. Opened in 1996.
  • The Arena: A large ice rink situated towards the east of the park. Home to Hot Ice and open year round.
  • 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.[44]

Ghosts[edit]

Pleasure Beach is alleged to be haunted by several ghosts and over the years there have been a number of high profile paranormal investigations held within its grounds. The most well known and reported ghost story involves the Ghost Train ride, which is supposedly haunted by the spirit of a former ride operator named "Cloggy". Other stories involve poltergeist activity in both the gift shop under Sir Hiram Maxims Captive Flying Machine and The Star pub on Ocean Boulevard. The Arena is also said to be the home of a ghostly presence which inhabits the backstage dressing rooms and tractor bay.[45] The park has featured on many paranormal related TV shows, including Most Haunted and Great British Ghosts and features in many books written on the subject.

In popular culture[edit]

  • In 1997 the Pleasure Beach was the subject of a 6-part fly on the wall BBC documentary which focussed on the daily operation of the park. Each episode featured interviews with park management and dealt with the numerous triumphs and hurdles of running the park.
  • The 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.

Gallery[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ https://www.blackpoolpleasurebeach.com/park-guide/plan-your-day-out/opening-times/?month=01-11-2016
  2. ^ http://www.connectingindustry.com/downloads/pwteaerasupp.pdf
  3. ^ "It Really Is The Big one!". The Daily Mail (London). 1 July 2014. 
  4. ^ http://rcdb.com/4795.htm
  5. ^ http://knowledge.apm.org.uk/project/pepsi-max-big-one-ride-case-study
  6. ^ https://www.blackpoolpleasurebeach.com/rides/revolution/
  7. ^ http://www.blackpoolgazette.co.uk/what-s-on/red-arrows-to-soar-for-ride-opening-1-7224271
  8. ^ https://www.blackpoolpleasurebeach.com/rides/skyforce/?gclid=CMH34u_A3cUCFVHKtAodmEkAfA
  9. ^ http://entertainmentdesigner.com/history-of-theme-parks/the-history-of-pleasure-beach-blackpool-the-uks-number-one-amusement-park/
  10. ^ http://www.nfa.dept.shef.ac.uk/nfa20/coll06.html
  11. ^ name="entertainmentdesigner.com"
  12. ^ https://content.historicengland.org.uk/images-books/publications/iha-historic-amusement-parks-fairground-rides/heag057-historic-amusement-parks-iha.pdf/
  13. ^ "Geoffrey Thompson". The Independent (London). 19 June 2004. 
  14. ^ "A look back at Frontierland". The Lancaster Guardian (Lancaster). 15 January 2015. 
  15. ^ "Obituaries Doris and Geoffrey Thompson". The Guardian (London). 30 June 2004. 
  16. ^ http://www.amandajthompson.com/html/profile.html
  17. ^ name="knowledge.apm.org.uk"
  18. ^ http://www.hilldickinson.com/pdf/NW%20Top%20100%20Brands%20Report%202008.pdf
  19. ^ http://www.iaapa.org/about-iaapa/iaapa-awards/history/2009-big-e-award
  20. ^ http://www.loo.co.uk/winners/2011/category.php4
  21. ^ https://www.blackpoolpleasurebeach.com/lancashire-tourism-awards
  22. ^ http://www.northwestinbloom.co.uk/nwib-current-awards.html
  23. ^ http://lambcoskating.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/Arena-Awards-LAMBCO.pdf
  24. ^ a b http://goldenticketawards.com/2014-park-ride-winners/
  25. ^ http://www.tripadvisor.com/TravelersChoice-Attractions-cAmusementParks-g186216
  26. ^ http://www.tripadvisor.com/TravelersChoice-Attractions-cAmusementParks-g4
  27. ^ http://www.blackpoolgazette.co.uk/news/business/local-business/resort-hotel-is-a-hit-with-families-1-6389292
  28. ^ 'Pleasure Beach' (BBC MCMXCVII) Ep. 1
  29. ^ Malvern, Jack (11 August 2009). "Big Dipper accident leaves thrill-seekers injured". London: The Times. Retrieved 11 August 2009. 
  30. ^ "Rollercoaster 'one of the world's best'". BBC. 1 September 2000. Retrieved 25 July 2011. 
  31. ^ Gray, Chris (1 September 2000). "23 injured as roller coaster carriages collide". London: The Independent. Retrieved 5 January 2007. 
  32. ^ http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/man-breaks-neck-freak-accident-4524404
  33. ^ "Four hurt in fairground fall". bbc.co.uk. 30 July 2000. Retrieved 30 January 2007. 
  34. ^ "Avalanche (Pleasure Beach, Blackpool)". Roller Coaster Database. Retrieved 15 September 2007. 
  35. ^ "Big Dipper (Pleasure Beach, Blackpool)". Roller Coaster Database. Retrieved 15 September 2007. 
  36. ^ Marden, Duane. "Big One  (Pleasure Beach, Blackpool)". Roller Coaster DataBase. Retrieved 22 May 2012. 
  37. ^ a b "Grand National (Pleasure Beach, Blackpool)". Roller Coaster Database. Retrieved 15 September 2007. 
  38. ^ "Infusion (Pleasure Beach, Blackpool)". Roller Coaster Database. Retrieved 15 September 2007. 
  39. ^ "Irn-Bru Revolution (Pleasure Beach, Blackpool)". Roller Coaster Database. Retrieved 15 September 2007. 
  40. ^ "Steeplechase (Pleasure Beach, Blackpool)". Roller Coaster Database. Retrieved 15 September 2007. 
  41. ^ "Wild Mouse (Pleasure Beach, Blackpool)". Roller Coaster Database. Retrieved 15 September 2007. 
  42. ^ a b "Zipper Dipper (Pleasure Beach, Blackpool)". Roller Coaster Database. Retrieved 15 September 2007. 
  43. ^ "Switchback (Blackpool Pleasure Beach)". Coasterpedia. 
  44. ^ "Welcome to the Big Blue Hotel". Pleasure Beach, Blackpool. Archived from the original on 11 October 2007. Retrieved 15 September 2007. 
  45. ^ http://www.blackpoolgazette.co.uk/news/local/ghosts-said-to-haunt-pleasure-beach-1-425217
  46. ^ 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]