Blackpool Pleasure Beach

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Blackpool Pleasure Beach
Blackpool Pleasure Beach
Slogan"See it, Feel it, Love it!"
LocationSouth Shore, Blackpool, Lancashire, England
Coordinates53°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
OwnerThompson Family
Opened1896 (First Rides)
Operating season2020 season:
15 February – 29 March
1 April – 1 November[1]
Area42 acres (17 ha)
Roller coasters10
Water rides5
WebsiteBlackpool Pleasure Beach
StatusTemporarily Closed

Blackpool Pleasure Beach is an amusement park situated in the South Shore area, of Blackpool, Lancashire, North West England. It is one of the most visited tourist attractions in the United Kingdom 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 was founded in 1896 by A.W.G. Bean and his partner John Outhwaite, and has been family owned and operated since its inception. The current Managing Director is Bean's great-granddaughter Amanda Thompson.[4]

The park is host to many records, including the largest number of roller coasters of any park in the United Kingdom with ten, of which four are wooden: the Big Dipper, Blue Flyer, Grand National and Nickelodeon Streak.[5] 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).[6]

The park was the first in Europe to introduce a fully inverting steel coaster, Revolution[7] and is the last remaining park in the world to still operate a Steeplechase roller coaster. The Grand National is one of only three Möbius loop coasters in existence, where a singular track "loops" around itself, offering a facsimile out-and-back layout and creating a "racing" effect on two parallel tracks. Sir Hiram Maxims Captive Flying Machine is the oldest amusement park ride in Europe having opened in August 1904. At the cost of £15 million, Valhalla was one of the largest and most expensive indoor dark rides in the world. Designed by Sarner and manufactured by Intamin, Valhalla won "Best Water Ride" at the 2018 Golden Ticket awards, an accolade it has held over a consecutive number of years. The park also operates a Nickelodeon Land and the world's only Wallace & Gromit ride, the Thrill-O-Matic. In 2015 the park introduced Red Arrows Sky Force, a Gerstlauer Sky Fly thrill ride which is the first ride of its kind in the United Kingdom.[8][9] The latest record is taken by Icon, a multi-launch coaster manufactured by Mack Rides in Germany.[10] Icon is the first coaster in the UK to feature a double launch and is the largest-ever single investment at the park costing £16.25 million.[11]

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 United Kingdom in 1897 and opened two separate amusement parks; one adjacent to Euston Road in Great Yarmouth and another in Blackpool, opposite the tram terminus.[12] 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.[13] The original Pleasure Beach was built on the sand dunes along the promenade and consisted of a few roundabouts, a Bicycle Railway and several Gypsy stalls. Bean and Outhwaite decided to grow the business after visiting Coney Island in the United States. Using a small static fairground in London's Earls Court for inspiration, Bean added more rides and sideshows to the Pleasure Beach which began to garner the attention of holidaymakers. Bean's aim was to establish a fun park of a relative size that would "make adults feel like children again and inspire gaiety of a primarily innocent character".[12]

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 followed in 1905, which opened under the name The River Caves of the World. Both of these rides are still operational today. In 1907 the park opened its first wooden roller coaster, which was known as The Scenic Railway. It was during this time that the park began to trade under the name Blackpool Pleasure Beach. In 1909, Bean expanded the Pleasure Beach business by purchasing a second amusement park up the coast in Morecambe under the name West End Amusement Park, which would later become 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 the First World War 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. Despite the lack of investment, profits at the Pleasure Beach soared, and the company was noted as being one of the most prolific employers in the north-west of England.

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 ferroconcrete façade with white electric lighting, and the interior housed a billiard hall, cinema, restaurant and gift shop.[14] Today the Casino Building features a number of function rooms and offices, and the ground floor space is used as the main ticket centre.

In 1923, land was reclaimed from the Blackpool seafront, and it was during this period that the Pleasure Beach moved to its 42-acre (17 ha) 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 one of the most significant amusement parks in the world. Following his death, his only daughter Lillian-Doris 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 for 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 Outhwaites to expand the business further, starting with the 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 Thompsons, 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. He worked 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. Ratcliffe worked for many years at the park, and much of his work can still be seen today.

Investments steadily decreased during the Second World War; however, the park remained open throughout the year to offer solace to the British public. The park returned to prominence between 1958 and 1961 when The Wild Mouse, Derby Racer and Alice In Wonderland opened and 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. The Walt Disney Company visited the park earlier in the decade, and Pleasure Beach was one of a few parks which became the basis for the first Disneyland Park in Anaheim, California. Walt Disney formed a friendship with Thompson, and the two would regularly inspire one another when developing their respective parks. 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 father's 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 father's 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,[15] and was the company's' largest investment until Icon 2016.[11]

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.[15]

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.[16] Further investments followed at the Pleasure Beach, including Spin Doctor in 2002, 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 daughter's wedding. Doris Thompson, MBE OBE died nine days later, on 23 June, the date of her son's funeral.[17]

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 risen 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.[18] Like her father and grandmother, Amanda was appointed an OBE for her contribution to tourism. During Amanda's reign, the park has seen vast redevelopment, 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 £10 million 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 2018 the park opened Icon, a £16.25 million multi-launched coaster built by Mack Rides of Germany and the first roller coaster to be built at the park in over a decade. In 2019 a second hotel The Boulevard Hotel was built on the site of the former Star Pub. The hotel features 120 en-suite rooms, two restaurants and ten suites.

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 15   2004–
Nick Thompson 15   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 14 miles (3.6 km) 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 a tunnel bridge in 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 show bar named The Horseshoe and a large Costa Coffee Café. 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 metal gates; however, these gates are occasionally opened to permit large groups of guests into the park during the peak season. The park has five car parks and a coach park. Blackpool Pleasure Beach railway station, the Big Blue Hotel and the Boulevard Hotel are situated towards the south end of the park.

The park is split up into three 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 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 (200 ft) 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.[19]

Awards and 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[20]
  • 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[21]
  • 2011: Top Ten Best Theme Parks – Golden Ticket Awards
  • 2011: Big Blue Hotel – Loo of the Year Award[22]
  • 2013: Best Attraction for Groups – Lancashire Tourism Awards[23]
  • 2014: Best Large Tourist Attraction – North West In Bloom[24]
  • 2014: Arena- Favourite Rink – LAMBCO[25]
  • 2014: Second-best Seaside Park – Golden Ticket Awards[26]
  • 2014: Valhalla: second-best water ride in the world – Golden Ticket Awards[26]
  • 2014: Best Theme Park in the United Kingdom; 9th Best Theme Park in Europe – Travelers' Choice Awards[27][28]
  • 2014: Big Blue Hotel – Third-best hotel in the United Kingdom – Travelers' Choice Awards[29]
  • 2016: Valhalla: Best Water Ride in the world – Golden Ticket Awards.
  • 2016: 6th-best amusement park in the world – Golden Ticket Awards
  • 2016: 2nd-best seaside park in the world – Golden Ticket Awards
  • 2017: Valhalla: Best Water Ride in the World – Golden Ticket Awards[30]
  • 2018: Valhalla: Best Water Ride in the World – Golden Ticket Awards
  • 2019: Valhalla: Best Water Ride in the World - Golden Ticket Awards


Roller coasters[edit]

# Name Manufacturer Type Opened Ride Ticket Cost Description
1 Avalanche Mack Rides Bobsled
£6 or Wristband A steel bobsled roller coaster. It was the first and only bobsled-style roller coaster to ever be built in the UK.[31]
2 Big Dipper John Miller, Charles Paige, Joe Emberton Wooden
£6 or Wristband A wooden roller coaster which was built in 1923 by John Miller and extended in 1936 by Charles Paige and Joe Emberton.[32]
3 The Big One Arrow Dynamics Steel Hypercoaster
£10 or Wristband A steel hypercoaster with its highest point being 235 feet (72 m) above sea level or 213 feet (65 m) above the ground. It reaches speeds of up to 74 mph (119 km/h).[33] It was the tallest and steepest roller coaster in the world when it opened in 1994 and was designed by Ron Toomer.
4 Icon Mack Rides Launched roller coaster
£15 or Wristband A multi-launched steel coaster built by Mack Rides. Icon is 88 feet tall, reaches speeds of up to 55 miles per hour (89 km/h) along 3,750 feet of steel track and features two launches and a corkscrew.
5 Grand National Charles Paige Wooden racing roller coaster
£6 or Wristband A wooden dual-track racing roller coaster. It is themed around the Grand National horse-racing event and is one of only five Möbius loop roller coasters still in existence.[34]
6 Infusion Vekoma Suspended Looping Coaster
£8 or Wristband A steel inverted roller coaster. It is a standard 2,260 feet (689 m) Vekoma Suspended Looping Coaster.[35]
7 Revolution Arrow Development Shuttle
£6 or Wristband A steel shuttle roller coaster that launches from an elevated station, through a loop before stopping and doing the same backwards it reaches up to speeds of 40 mph and forces of up to 4 g.[36]
8 Nickelodeon Streak Charles Paige Wooden
£6 or Wristband 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.
9 Steeplechase Arrow Development Three-tracked racing coaster
£6 or Wristband An Arrow Development three-tracked racing steel roller coaster and the last of its kind in existence.[37]
10 Blue Flyer Philadelphia Toboggan Coasters Wooden
£5 or wristband 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. It has also been sponsored by Warburtons and was known as the Milk Roll A Coaster.[38]

Thrill rides[edit]

# Name Manufacturer Type Opened Ride Ticket Cost Description
11 Ice Blast S&S Power Launch/Freefall Shot Tower
£5 or Wristband Stands at 210 ft (64 m) above sea level, although is actually 180-foot-tall (55 m). Opened as Sony PlayStation – The Ride.
12 Red Arrows Sky Force Gerstlauer Sky Fly
£5 or Wristband Stands at 72 ft (22 m). The ride features individual planes on a long arm which spin as the rider rocks side to side. Replaced Bling.

Water rides[edit]

# Name Opened Ride Ticket Cost Description
13 Dora's World Voyage
£3 or Wristband A mini-boat tub ride located in Nickelodeon Land, opened June 2011. Replaced Magic Mountain.
14 The Rugrats Lost River
£3 or Wristband 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
Free (With Pleasure Beach Pass) Classic river caves dark ride, visiting displays of "around the world".
16 SpongeBob's Splash Bash
£4 or Wristband Located in Nickelodeon Land.
17 Valhalla
£10 or Wristband Viking-themed dark flume ride, laden with special effects. Currently SBNO for a major refurbishment. Reopening 2021

Family rides[edit]

# Name Opened Ride Ticket Cost Description
18 Alice's Wonderland 1962 £4 or Wristband Children's dark ride featuring scenes from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass. The cars are big Cheshire cats.[34] Built by Arrow Development, for a cost of £50,000. The ride's audio consists of a loop of the opening title music from Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.
19 Alpine Rallye 1990s £2 or Wristband 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.
20 Chinese Puzzle Maze 1997 Free (With Pleasure Beach Pass) A traditional maze with interactive features, scenery, and water traps.
21 Derby Racer 1959 £4 or Wristband 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.
22 Dodgems 2010 £3 or Wristband Dodgems attraction with Icon theming
23 Eddie Stobart Convoy 2002 £2 or Wristband All trucks are painted in Eddie Stobart Ltd. colours including names.
24 Flying Machines 1904 £4 or Wristband The oldest attraction in the park. Original flying experience attraction.
25 Gallopers 1919 £3 or Wristband Ornate traditional English carousel.
26 Ghost Train 1930 £4 or Wristband 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.
27 Grand Prix 1960s £4 or Wristband Electrical powered car ride (in the past, cars had petrol engines). Self-drive cars travel down a spiral track and under The Avalanche Rollercoaster.
28 Impossible 2002 £3 or Wristband (Previously 1001 Troubles and The Haunted Swing). A mirror maze, followed by displays of optical illusions, and a haunted swing ride.
29 Pleasure Beach Express 1934 Free (With Pleasure Beach Pass) A miniature railway featuring scenery from wildlife in a jungle to dangerous dinosaurs from the Jurassic era and interactive effects.
30 Thompson Carousel 1990s £2 or Wristband A mini-carousel ride. After Beaver Creek closed the ride was relocated to under the Avalanche lift hill, and renamed from Veteran Carousel.
31 Wallace & Gromit: The Thrill-O-Matic 2013 £5 or Wristband Replaced the Gold Mine. Dark ride featuring scenes from the animated Wallace and Gromit series.

Nickelodeon Land rides[edit]

# Name Opened Ride Ticket Cost Description
1 Blue Flyer 1934 £5 or Wristband 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 £5 or Wristband A Mega Disk'O, Opened May 2011
3 Dora's World Voyage 2011 £3 or Wristband A mini-boat tub ride, opened June 2011.
4 The Rugrats' Lost River 2011 £3 or Wristband 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 £2 or Wristband Retheme of the previous 'Bradley Beaver's Pirate Ship Ride'
6 Nickelodeon Streak 1933 £6 or Wristband 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 £2 or Wristband A Zamperla bus ride
8 Diego's Rainforest Rescue 2011 £2 or Wristband Opened May 2011
9 Fairy World Taxi Spin 2011 £3 or Wristband Opened May 2011
10 Krusty Krab Order Up 2011 £2 or Wristband Retheme of the previous 'The Shoot' ride.
11 SpongeBob's Splash Bash 2011 £4 or Wristband A Mack Rides "Twist N' Splash". Opened May 2011
12 Wonder Pets! Big Circus Bounce 2011 £2 or Wristband Opened May 2011

Past rides[edit]

Past rides and 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 and reopened in 1979, then closed permanently in 2004.
Joy Wheel 1909 1915 A roundabout style ride.
Velvet Coaster 1909 1932 A wooden coaster replaced by Roller Coaster/Nickelodeon Streak.
Witching Waves 1913 1923 A large oval course with a movable metal floor ridden with steerable scooter style cars made for two people.
The Whip 1921 2008 A teacup/waltzer ride, removed in 2008.
Noah's Ark 1922 2008 Indoor walkthrough attraction. Permanently non-operational
Virginia Reel 1922 1982 A spinning wooden coaster replaced by Ranger Morph.
1001 Troubles 1927 2001 Mirror maze. A shortened version now forms the first section of Impossible (2002).
Junior Whip 1927 2008 A smaller version of The Whip.
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 and replaced by Valhalla.
Turtle Chase 1935 2004 A tumble bug ride. Closed in 2004, the area stands empty.
Ferris Wheel 1936 1984 A traditional Ferris wheel ride, but with two wheels.
Sidewinder 1939 1961 A dive bomber ride replaced by Astro Liner.
Haunted Swing 1955 2001 Swing ride. Now incorporated into Impossible (2002).
Cableway 1960 2000 A classic Von Roll VR101 2-passenger gondola lift. Hourly capacity of 300 pph.
Monorail 1966 2012 Opened as an aerial transport system with three stations, but closed as a non-stop scenic ride. The track still remains in the park.
Drench Falls Log Flume 1967 2006 A log flume replaced by Infusion.
Monster! 1968 1995 An octopus ride replaced by Ice Blast.
Astro Swirl 1969 2003 A gravitron ride.
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 tow boat ride by Intamin.
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.
Astroglide 1970s 1992 A giant slide.
Astro Liner 1970s 1980s A simulator ride.
Ben Hur 1970s 1980s Similar to The Whip; however, with a pedal to help start motion.
Space Tower 1970s 1992 A slow spinning bird eye view tower relocated to Frontierland, Morecambe, as POLO Tower and 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 (originally The Haunted Hotel) 1980 2008 Indoor haunted walkthrough attraction. On 8 January 2018, the façade of Trauma Towers was demolished to create space for future rides.
Paratrooper 1981 1980s Spinning funfair ride.
Bobslay 1982 1982 A bobsleigh ride.
Ranger 1983 1987 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 SkyForce.
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.
Wild Mouse 1958 2017 In January 2018 it was announced that Wild Mouse had been permanently dismantled.

This has allowed for future rides to be placed there. Was one of only four operating wooden wild mouse roller coasters in the world.


Tetley Tea Cup Ride 1990s 2017 Spinning tea-cups ride relocated after the closure of Beaver Creek and relocated to underneath the Revolution. Also known as 'Crazy Daisy'.
Bridgestone Go Karts 1990s 2017 Additional Charge Go Karts which closed for the construction of Icon, which now forms part of its track circuit.


There have been several incidents at the park over the years. These incidents include a minor collision between two trains on 'The Big One' roller-coaster and a similar collision on the 'Avalanche' bobsled coaster where passengers suffered only minor bruising, whiplash, cuts and one broken nose.[citation needed]

On 21 July 2000, 11-year-old Christopher Sharrat died after falling from a ride vehicle on the 'Space Invader' roller-coaster. He was reported to have possibly panicked on the dark ride and unfastened his seatbelt. Following an investigation, police were confident that the death was accidental.[41] The ride closed in 2008 and has since relocated to Brean Leisure Park, operating from 2011 as Astro Storm.[citation needed]

On 31 August 2000, 23 people were injured, when two trains collided on The Big One due to a failure with the rides braking system. Twenty-one were taken to hospital.

On 11 August 2009, two trains on The Big Dipper carrying a total of 32 guests collided, resulting in 21 people requiring treatment for injuries ranging from whiplash and broken noses to cut and bruises.

On 14 June 2011, a train on The Big One stopped abruptly, causing a few minor injuries to the occupants. One person was reportedly taken to hospital suffering from whiplash.

On 24 October 2014, 58-year-old Robert Sycamore accompanied his 13-year-old nephew on The Grand National coaster. When the ride returned to the station, Mr Sycamore was found in the bottom of the carriage with neck and back injuries. It is understood he had an underlying back complaint of spondylitis.


Hot Ice[edit]

A seasonal show performed at The Arena (previously the Ice Drome). The show has been running since 1936 and is produced by Amanda Thompson and choreographed by Oula Jaaskelainen. The 2019 production Utopian runs between 4 July and 7 September.

Ken Webster: Mentalist Hypnotist[edit]

A seasonal adult comedy hypnotism show performed by veteran hypnotist Ken Webster. Webster's show at the Pleasure Beach is the longest-running comedy hypnosis show in the world, which has played at the resort for over 25 years.[when?]

Evolution of Magic[edit]

A Las Vegas-style magic and illusion show performed by award-winning magicians Craig Christian and Elizabeth Best. Performed seasonally in The Horseshoe.

Spectacular Dancing Water Show[edit]

A £500,000 half an hourly musical water show designed by Aquatique Show International. It features thirty individual jets synchronized to move to different styles of music, and a water cannon capable of shooting water up to 100 feet into the air.

Other attractions[edit]

  • Adventure Golf: A 12-hole course situated on the Pleasure Beach-owned Flagstaff Gardens. Opened in 2008.
  • 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.
  • Pasaje Del Terror: Interactive horror maze, situated towards the north end of Ocean Boulevard, adjacent to the entrance to Pleasure Beach. Opened in June 1998.
  • The Arena: A large ice rink situated towards the east of the park. Home to Hot Ice and open year-round.
  • Sandcastle Water Park: Although not officially part of Pleasure Beach it is a large indoor waterpark situated opposite.


A family hotel "The Big Blue 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.[42]

In 2019 a second hotel the Boulevard Hotel was built on the site of the former Star pub. The hotel features 120 rooms and 10 suites and is the second four-star hotel to be operated by the company.


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 Maxim's 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.[43] 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 2001 film The Parole Officer (with the film's protagonist repeatedly vomiting on the riders behind him) and in one episode of A Touch of Frost.
  • The music video for Simply Red's 1995 UK #1 hit "Fairground" was shot here, as were the videos for The Killers' "Here With Me" and 5 Seconds of Summer's "Try Hard".
  • The Infusion rollercoaster featured in the 2009 Specsavers advertising campaign.
  • In 2002 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 2010 short film His Haunted Laughter. 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.
  • Popular ITV soap opera Coronation Street was filmed at the park many times over the years.
  • 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 were 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 online 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.
  • The Ghost Train features in Tim Burton's 2016 film Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children.
  • The One Show filmed at the park in 2016 and gave a demonstration on ride dynamics including how the compact shape of a vertical loop on the Revolution has to be a certain diameter to make the ride safe and measurements of the G-force pressure accumulated on the Ice Blast ride.
  • In November 2016 BBC's Strictly Come Dancing featured a segment where contestant Judge Rinder visited the Pleasure Beach and rode the Ice Blast ride.


See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 9 April 2008. Retrieved 2008-03-26.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  3. ^ "It Really Is The Big one!". The Daily Mail. London. 1 July 2014.
  4. ^ Shelina Begum. "A rollercoaster ride for boss behind Blackpool Pleasure Beach". Business Live. Retrieved 5 April 2020.
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  6. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 6 August 2016. Retrieved 19 June 2015.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  7. ^
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  9. ^
  10. ^ "Pleasure Beach's new coaster consolidates relationship between two amusement industry stalwarts". Park World. Retrieved 3 October 2016.
  11. ^ a b "New Blackpool Pleasure Beach rollercoaster named Icon". Mail Online. Retrieved 17 April 2017.
  12. ^ a b "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 6 August 2016. Retrieved 19 June 2015.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  13. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 21 August 2014. Retrieved 2015-06-20.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  14. ^
  15. ^ a b "Geoffrey Thompson". The Independent. London. 19 June 2004.
  16. ^ "A look back at Frontierland". The Lancaster Guardian. Lancaster. 15 January 2015.
  17. ^ "Obituaries Doris and Geoffrey Thompson". The Guardian. London. 30 June 2004.
  18. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 19 June 2015.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  19. ^ name=""
  20. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 20 June 2015.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  21. ^
  22. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2 May 2015. Retrieved 2015-06-20.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  23. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 12 April 2016. Retrieved 20 June 2015.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  24. ^
  25. ^
  26. ^ a b
  27. ^
  28. ^
  29. ^
  30. ^ "Winners Announced!". The Golden Ticket Awards | Presented by Amusement Today. 9 September 2017. Retrieved 9 May 2018.
  31. ^ "Avalanche (Pleasure Beach, Blackpool)". Roller Coaster Database. Retrieved 15 September 2007.
  32. ^ "Big Dipper (Pleasure Beach, Blackpool)". Roller Coaster Database. Retrieved 15 September 2007.
  33. ^ Marden, Duane. "The Big One  (Pleasure Beach, Blackpool)". Roller Coaster DataBase. Retrieved 22 May 2012.
  34. ^ a b "Grand National (Pleasure Beach, Blackpool)". Roller Coaster Database. Retrieved 15 September 2007.
  35. ^ "Infusion (Pleasure Beach, Blackpool)". Roller Coaster Database. Retrieved 15 September 2007.
  36. ^ "Irn-Bru Revolution (Pleasure Beach, Blackpool)". Roller Coaster Database. Retrieved 15 September 2007.
  37. ^ "Steeplechase (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. ^ "Wild Mouse (Pleasure Beach, Blackpool)". Roller Coaster Database. Retrieved 15 September 2007.
  41. ^ "Boy's rollercoaster death 'accidental'". BBC News. 30 October 2001. Retrieved 10 April 2008.
  42. ^ "Welcome to the Big Blue Hotel". Pleasure Beach, Blackpool. Archived from the original on 11 October 2007. Retrieved 15 September 2007.
  43. ^
  44. ^ 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]