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Photo TR: The Dark Rides of Blackpool Pleasure Beach


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When it comes to the TPR UK Trip, I can only echo what everybody else has been saying--freakin' fantastic! What a time! Mucho thanks to Robb and Elissa for putting this all together and putting up with all of us.

 

One thing I especially appreciated was the excellent mix of coasters and dark rides. I am a serious dark-ride fan. From the smelly, cheesy carny rides with their bang doors and skeletons on springs to the high-tech animatronics and 3D digital images of Disney and Universal, I love 'em all nearly as much as the coasters.

 

So, instead of a general trip report, I thought I'd focus on Blackpool's cool collection of old-school dark rides (with pics aplenty).

 

Please remain seated and pull down your safety bar. We're off to our first stop . . .

 

Magic Mountain

Well, this is more like Blackpool's version of It's a Small World than of a steel-entwined mountain in Valencia. It even has an incessant, grating theme song: "Welcome to our world!/Welcome to our world!/Welcome to our World of Toys!" Fortunately, the ride vehicle, a train of four cars, makes enough noise to effectively drown the song out. This seems appropriate, as this ride, unbeknownst to many who ride it, is a hard-hitting expose of the darker aspects of the "World of Toys." Yes, this is a ride that pulls no punches, as the following pictures will show!

 

Be warned--this is not for the faint of heart!

 

Stay tuned for more dark-ride goofiness.

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Other Toys try to drown their frustrations in cheap rotgut. Yes, it's not all fun and games in the World of Toys.

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Not that the upper Toy classes care: "Prepare the merwench for the pleasure of Sultan Ali Ben Gropeangrab, ruler of the World of Toys!"

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Such as this unfortunate woman. She doesn't even attempt to hide her shame from us. (Yes, we have a side-boob shot on this ride.)

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We delve deeper into Toy decadence. Here we see a typical opium den, where Toys of all social classes slowly destroy their psyches by smoking and snorting glitter and tinsel. Many take desperate measues to support their habits.

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Many lower-caste Toys are forced to toil for long hours at low pay in the fluff-and-velcro mines of the World of Toys. Unionization is but a distant dream to these tortured souls.

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Behold the Love that Dare Not Speak Its Name: Interspecies Toy Lust!

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Here we see a strange pagan rite from the early Mezowhatzit Era of Toy Evolution--the sacrifice to Eyore, the Great Donkey God. The fluff of many a stuffed animal was spilled in such a manner.

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"B-o-o-o-ard!" Off we go, into the "Heart of Darkness."

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"Now arriving, the Sad-and-Pathetic Express for Magic Mountain's World of Toys! Last call!"

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Hmm--looks like other crazed coaster dorks have commandeered this train. We'll have to wait.

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Welcome to Not Six Flags Magic Mountain! The cheerful entrance belies the darkness within!

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They took out the best scene this winter unfortunately.

 

I think they cottoned onto the fact that black people burning white people in pots is generally not PC anymore....

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As a dark ride fan, I'm looking forward to seeing the rest of this report.

 

I'll be doing something similar with all the newly renovated dark rides at Wildwood NJ and the surrounding area.

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Thanks for the link, Ted. I've heard of this group, but have yet to visit their site. Another good one is http://www.laffinthedark.com.

 

But onward and, well, downward. Please keep your hands and arms inside the boat at all times as we plumb the depths of Blackpool's . . .

 

River Caves

Old-style dark rides tend to be exercises in randomness. Look! The devil just popped up in that window! Eek! That mummy's gonna fall on us! Eww! The shapely naked chick is actually a decayed corpse! Randomness is part of their charm, actually.

 

Blackpool's River Caves, however, seems to take randomness to a new extreme (not necessarily a bad thing). It's a "Tunnel of Love" type boat ride past scenes of exotic places, with a bit of narration here and there (most of which probably doesn't work anymore, I gather). Heck, you even get a peek at one of Blackpool's restaurants during your trip (shades of the Blue Bayou--or is the Blue Bayou the shades of the River Caves?).

 

So here we go around the world in 80 ways, or something. (Some of these pics are a bit blurry--I think the mist effects in the Caves fogged up my lens a bit.)

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"I say, Friday, what the hell was that all about?"

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Aghh! Snake! Where's Lara Croft when you need her?

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And now the Wayback Machine sends us to the ancient city of Ankhor Wat. I wonder if Angelina Jolie is in town?

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Randomness kicks in again: "So shall it be written, so shall it be done" in the times of ancient Egypt.

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And so we do. Here's Mad King Ludwig in the sumputous grotto under one of his Bavarian castles (the restaurant overlooks this cool-looking set). Looks like his Highness has been on a serious bender (and has a sick thing for dolphins).

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"Hey, stupid mammals in the boat! This is my period--you best get back to the future!"

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But then we go back to the time of cavemen--the hell?

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Welcome aboard the River Caves! First, we pay a call on an ancient Chinese emperor as he grants an audience to Boy George.

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You missed out the squirting elephant! That gets me with a face full of water every time!

 

I really enjoy a ride on PBBs River Caves (Old Mill) but if you're a bloke, you feel a bit awkward going under the entrance arch with highly-visible illuminated sign reading, "TUNNEL OF LOVE" (Apparently it is 'traditional' to have this sign, but it embarrasses the hell out of me)

 

Read you later

 

Simon Baynham (UK)

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Awesome focus, Chuck! I also love darkrides, from really good ones to really bad ones, each one is unique. Blackpool has loads of them and some are really tough to find, but it seems like I end up riding them all on each trip there, some multiple times. I think my favorite part is how both the River Caves and the Gold Mine are in the same building, and even share a scene together, along with a restaurant.

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Wow Chuck - I too missed the MM Dark ride and I have only been to BPB about 60 times

 

No problem though as I am back in October and I will make a point of taking it all in -yay

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^I would've missed it, too, but I merely followed a bunch of TPRers from the Zipper Dipper. MM is an experience best shared with a group (after a pint or two), I think.

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Dark rides are a truly under done aspect of parks these days. Other than parks like Universal and Disney, hardly any have put in dark rides. Dark rides have a certain charm to them, and are enjoyable for everyone, not just the thrill seaker.

 

Great TR! I'm looking forward to seeing more.

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I'm gald that folks are enjoying my little tour of Blackpool's dark rides. No smoking of any substance while the ride is in motion, please. Besides, you'll already feel pretty stoned when you enter the black-lit, psychedelic world of . . .

 

Alice in Wonderland

I've no idea which came first--the ride at Disneyland or the ride at Blackpool. Both have outdoor segments (the best is at Disneyland). Both are inspired by the original illustrations that accompanied Lewis Carroll's novel (Disney's, of course, look more like their movie versions of the characters, Blackpool's more like the book). Both are rather whacked out. But only Blackpool's uses "I've Got a Golden Ticket" from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory as background music (the hell?).

 

So, take a big drag on your hookah, and check out a few scenes from Blackpool's take on Alice.

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Yep. I've definitely breathed in a few too many fumes from the Mad Hatter's "tea" party. Bunnies, indeed!

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Uh oh! I'm starting to hallucinate extinct birds! Time to mellow out . . .

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Humpty Dumpty takes the "big fall" as "all the king's horses and all the king's men" try to bust him for possession.

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Looks like the Walrus and the Carpenter have a serious case of the munchies.

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Yeah, dawg! Be a pal and save some for your friendly neighborhood Chessire Cat, eh?

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Hey, dawg, don't bogart that joint!

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Looks like the White Rabbit is going to be late to meet his man and score some of the good stuff for the Queen's party.

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^Actually, I posted this around 9:00 am Willy's Burg, Va., time--after I had breakfast and a cup of coffee.

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I take it you have something to post about the Gold Mine there? Thought I'd ask ya...

 

And yeah, most of these ride-thru attractions could have used Major Updating and/or Upkeep to them.

 

And I loved it when most (if not all) of the dark rides on the tour usually had Exit Doors either half-open to the outside world (the light, the liiiiiiiight!) or stood out in-your-face without any trying to conceal it in the ride itself.Where IS the Disney Group when you need'em, hmmm?

 

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