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13 years later - Blackpool PB - 25/06/2022


TS Member
Favourite Ride
Air / Blue Fire
I hadn't planned to write a trip report for my quick stop in Blackpool, but its been 13 years since my last visit and surprisingly I found there was a lot I wanted to talk about. Even for rides I'd been on before, which I feel now I can see them from a different perspective.

I'm kind of surprised it's been so long, and yet it was lucky this trip happened at all. I'm away so much for work most of my recent Theme Park trips have been opportunistic rather than planed. This trip was no different. I was in Blackpool for 1 night but it happened to be a night the park was offering late night riding. An evening ticket was available at just the time I planned to arrive.
Perfect, so I booked it. Then the Pleasure Beach cut the event. Not ideal, but I'd already booked the ticket and I guessed it would still give me a few hours ride time.
At 6:30pm I pulled into an already vacated spot at the front of the main car park. Start the stopwatch, 1:30 until close.

Ideally I was hoping to get on as many rides as I could, but there was only one ride I was really there for. Icon. I've loved the Mack Mega Coasters ever since I first rode Blue Fire nearly 12 years ago. Yet this would only be the second I'd had chance to ride. So even though it was the only ride I'd have to queue for I headed straight to Icon.
Icon is surprisingly (and rather ironically given the name) well hidden amongst all the other rides. Enclosed within the structure of The Big One and surrounded on all side by other coasters. I started to doubt it even existed, as my walk through the park seemed no different to the last time I was there. That is until entering the rides plaza, at which point it seems to be everywhere. I loved how they'd stylised the plaza and the queue is a great opportunity to watch the ride through much of the layout.

I'm not normally one to criticise a slow launch. I enjoy Blue Fires launch; despite it not being punchy it builds speed and sustains the moment of acceleration. But Icons launch really is a non event. I un-ironically found myself thinking "looks slow" when I first saw it from the queue. And it was. Which proved to be lucky for me. I'd forgotten to take my glasses off while boarding and managed to casually remove them and slip them into a zipped pocket mid-launch. Not something I could see myself managing on Stealth.
Thankfully the hill that followed was a lot more exciting. As I floated over the hill, with near complete freedom of motion I remembered everything I love about this ride type. The first half of the layout is great, lots of close encounter moments with the the midway and other rides. The tighter elements even have some force to them, although I noticed something while snaking under the steeplechase I'll pick up on shortly. The corkscrew and following small drop that sets up the second launch are clear highlights of the ride. Two really well executed elements, and the hangtime on the Jr. Immelmann makes me really excited for if Project Exodus gets the go ahead!


The second half of the layout isn't quite as good as the first. And it's here I really noticed my main fault with the ride. Unfortunately I don't think Icon benefits from being closed in by other rides. Unlike Nemesis that takes advantage of a really compact layout Icon feels more restrained than inspired. There are lots of great elements within the rides layout but in an attempt to fit them in they are smaller than how they'd ideally be. This turns them into "blink and you'll miss them" moments along with a lack of breathing room between each element to enjoy them before the next one hits. Later while watching some of the tighter manoeuvres the term "Micro-Mega" sprung to mind. The track and trains almost seem too big for the layout they've been given.
It's why the second half of the ride doesn't feel like it's doing much. There's a few good moments in their, including the jump over the Big Dipper. But none of them have time to sink in before they've flown by.
Overall I really enjoyed Icon but I see why it's not as well received as the other Mack Mega's.

Talking of Mack they could learn a lot from Icons great merchandise. I hadn't intended to waste any time in the shop, but came away with a few great looking trinkets. We need more T-shirts with ride Blueprints on, get on it EP.

Red Arrows Sky Force
Leaving Icon I saw Sky Force was still running, which was another ride type I'd been desperate to try ever since Gerstlauer revealed the Sky Roller. I managed to slip onto the last ride of the day. An inside row, which made getting a full swing quite a challenge. But about halfway through I finally managed it and got 12 rotations in before the end if the cycle! Great ride, was as fun as I hoped.

Wanting a nostalgia hit next I headed for the Big One. But the wind had picked up, closing it for the night. Not this time it seems. But the Revolution was open.

Revolution - minus the Irn-Bru
Still holds up! Sometimes a simple ride can be one of the best. I'm glad it doesn't have any corners as the ride still has the feel of a classic Arrow coaster without having to worrying about any of the headbanging associated with a ride of its age.


View across the south side of the park. It was turning into a great evening.

Avalanche was next, and this would be the first time I'd been on it since riding the bobsled at Europa. I was shocked to be reminded how dynamic and Intense Blackpool's version is. A bit shorter but only because it cuts out the boring bits. Also I'd forgotten that the station is quite well themed. Very glad I got the chance to re-ride this classic.

Wallace & Gromit's Thrill-O-Matic
Another new ride next. I was kind of nervous to check this one out. The gold mine was a classic and I lamented the loss of the cavern where it, the River Caves and the restaurant all interacted. So I was surprised to find that it's IP based replacement was more than a worthy successor.
It falls into the trap of most IP rides that it's just a highlight reel of the series greatest moments. I'd have loved to have seen a whole new Wallace & Gromit story around the invention of the Thrill-O-Matic. But for a series that already contains so many iconic moments its one of the few times a coherent story isn't really missed. Each scene perfectly captures the feeling of the same moment in the series. My highlight was seeing the mice by the spaceship, which with a simple little motion perfectly mimic the sunglass gag. I couldn't help but laugh. And there were lots of well timed moments like this. The ride was also far longer than I remember the goldmine being. I'm sure it is the same length, but as each scene stood out more it felt like a longer experience.
Overall it's not a masterpiece but definitely holds up against other similar rides around the world. And in the UK it's one of the few dark rides left that doesn't feel in some way compromised.

The Big Dipper
Feeling the day wouldn't be complete without riding at least one classic woody I headed to the Big Dipper. It held up just how I remembered it, by which I meant it barley held itself together at all!
Those 5 row carriages always seem ridiculously long for how tight the corners are. In particular the corner around the steeplechase which is taken at speed feels like the train is shaking itself apart. It's not uncomfortable to ride, just a bit disconcerting. At least the drops are great. Still wouldn't say no to this ride getting updated, although having GCI rework it (Cyclone style) I think would be preferable to an RMC overhaul.

With minutes left until the park closed I decided to splash out a bit and end by booking a ride on Enso.
After hearing all the rave reviews for the Ride to Happiness (pun intended) I couldn't bypass the chance to at least get a taste of what an inverted spinning coaster is like. With Enso being just a modification to the back rows of Icon I knew it wouldn't be the proper Xtreme Spinning Coaster experience, but some of the elements still looked like they'd have some funky results.
I came off Enso feeling a combination of blown away and a little bit sick. Unlike a proper Xtreme Spinning Coaster Icons layout wasn't designed with spinning in mind, and as predicted some elements work while others don't. Taking the launch at an angle is really cool and both inversions and the first hill were absolutely breath-taking. But the sections I previously critiqued for not having enough breathing room blurred any sensations further with random disorientating spins also thrown into the mix. It was midway through the second half that nausea became the overwhelming feeling.
Still the standout moments were worth it. If it wasn't an upcharge and I had all the time available to re-ride Icon I'd probably pick 1 in 5 of those as a ride on Enso for the absolute highs of the elements that work. I'd love to see a true Xtreme Spinner come to the UK.


At this point the queue line doors had been closed, and with half the staff already leaving I grabbed a few pictures and headed out.

Overall it was a lot better a visit than I could of hoped for. I ticked off 4 rides that'd been on the to-do-list for many years, and rode a few classics too.
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