Jump to content
  TPR Home | Parks | Twitter | Facebook | YouTube | Instagram 

Photo TR: Canobie Coaster's 2017 Foreign Adventures

Recommended Posts


London- See Below

Thorpe Park- Page 1

Blackpool Pleasure Beach- Page 2

South Pier- Page 3

Alton Towers- Page 3

Ferrari Land- Page 4

PortAventura- Page 5

Grona Lund- Page 7

Kolmarden Zoo- Page 8

Liseberg- Page 10

Oktoberfest Part 1- Coasters & Flume- Page 12

Oktoberfest Part 2- Insane Flat Rides & Dark Rides- Page 12

Oktoberfest Part 3- Beer and Things to Do While Drunk- Page 12

Bayern Park- Page 12

Skyline Park- Page 13

Europa Park- Page 13

Holiday Park- Page 14

Phantasialand- Page 15

Chessington World of Adventures- Page 15

Insane Mountain Coaster/Culture- Page 17




2017 was the year I'd finally make it to Europe. I was already had plans to Oktoberfest; however, direct flights to Munich from Boston weren't a thing unless I was willing to fork over the equivalent of 1 month's rent in downtown Boston. Then I found a roundtrip flight from British Airways to London for $400 and would take solo flights in and out of London, but not before stopping at a few parks!


I write the first part of this report as I'm on a train to Blackpool. This was my first time outside the country unless you count La Ronde (I went just for La Ronde, not Montreal) or Niagara Falls which feels American outside of the beaver tails and poutine. So I was a bit of a kid in the candy store taking pictures of the Eye and Big Ben as the famous sights I've seen on Sherlock were right in front of my eyes along with the screaming drunks and street musicians I see regularly back home.



I'm definitely not in Boston anymore.


Looks like an interesting place.


London was beautiful!

Though the first thing I noticed when I stepped out of the Tube station wasn't the iconic clock tower or the massive Ferris Wheel. Those were expected. I was shocked to see a Star Flyer operating. And it wasn't a dinky little one either. This one looked about half as tall as the Eye and part of something called the London Wonderground. If I wasn't in a hurry to make my train I would have considered riding it since the views would probably have been decent enough with a much more thrilling and cheaper ride.



Two massive rides and Not-so-Big Ben.


London Wonderground.

I was coming from Thorpe, but arrived a half hour later than anticipated due to Derrin Brown's queue and an idiot jumping in onto the track. So instead of casually walking to Euston, I left the station in search of food. The winner for convenience was a 3 pound baguette from a street vendor.


And with that I was reminded that the French hate us Americans. While everyone from the UK was extremely friendly and helpful to a lost overseas stranger, the teenagers decided to taunt me in French with every bite.



I ran across this bridge eating my baguette praying Voldemort wouldn't decimate the bridge like in Harry Potter.

I made my train with 5 minutes to spare and started this report that will span England, Barcelona, Stockholm, and Germany!


After leaving Alton Towers, I found myself in London for an evening so I spent some more time around the touristy sites. I also learned the Tube is the best public transit system I have seen. I missed a train and immediately figured I would have to wait at least 7-15 minutes for the next one like Boston, New York, San Francisco. Nope! The next train came in 2 minutes. And that was the same on multiple lines too.


One other thing I love about London is how seamlessly they blend older style buildings with modern ones. The architecture there is truly remarkable.



This is the ultimate tourist shot. Big Ben? Check. Tube? Check. Double decker bus? Check. Looking like an idiot waiting for a bus? Check.


The Eye looked even better at night. Too bad it closed before sunset though.


Big Ben is getting some work done.


Classic building.


Modern building.

Edited by Canobie Coaster
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Replies 165
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Thorpe Park


Last Saturday I landed in London. My plan was to get off the plane, pass through immigration, and get to Thorpe Park by opening using the city buses. Unfortunately I hit a snag on item 2, as the immigration line took almost 1.5 hours.


I was faced with a dilemma, wait for the next bus and get there after opening or Uber. I went with the latter but it was a challenge. Not because of car availability. Rather it was because Heathrow is a black hole for cell service. Once I left the airport, I immediately had better service.


I had considered renting a car prior to the trip. I decided against it because of the lack of availability of automatic cars, but my decision was reaffirmed when I saw cars driving on the opposite side of the road. I knew the UK drove on the left side of thr road, but it still looked wrong to me. I know I would have gone counterclokcwise through a rotary, made a right on red, or done one of the many other driving actions that are muscle memory for me at this point. In about 20 minutes I was at Thorpe.


I hadn't heard a lot of good things about Merlin leading up to my visit, primarily because of the situation with Heide Park’s Colossos. I figured I would be in for a Six Flags day. With those expectations, I was blown away. Thorpe Park was really nice!



First park in Europe!

I felt bad for the security guard who checked my bag. Since I had just come from the airport for a 2 week trip, I had everything on me. On one hand, I packed extremely light all things considered as I stuffed everything in a single backpack (being a nerd payed off as I learned how to pack all my books). On the other hand, an overstuffed backpack is way more than any sane human being would bring to a park. My backpack looked like an ACER's belt after an all you can eat buffet, ready to burst.


It was 60 degrees with a 50% chance of rain. I figured the park wouldn't be too crowded. I was wrong. The Brits didn't seem to find the weather one bit. Before the park opened, I debated getting a Fast Track but decided against it. I figured hitting the park clockwise at opening could get me on everything before lines formed. I was wrong there as well.



The park was definitely more crowded than I anticipated on a cool Saturday.

After crossing the bridge, I entered the Hub. For those unfamiliar with Thorpe, I’ll try to describe it as best as I can. It's basically a giant dome you're funneled through with gift shops, games, food, lockers, and restrooms. It honestly feels more like a mall than a park in there. After renting a very cheap locker (2 pounds!), getting everything in was a puzzle. I had to unload half my clothing to get the darn thing in but I eventually did it. Just ignore the weird American shoveling boxers and socks into the locker.



The hub is a weird entry plaza, gift shop, game area that everyone entering the park is funneled through.

I had a plan to hit Colossus first since I heard that one gets a long line early and keeps it all day. I got to the queue 10 minutes after opening and was greeted with a 55 minute wait. Surely that couldn't be right? It wasn’t, but it was still a much longer than expected wait at 40 minutes thanks to one train ops. That didn't bode well for the rest of the day. On the bright side, the queue provided some awesome shots of Colossus.


I was planning on trying the front, but I scrapped those plans with the one train ops. That line looked to be 7 trains long. Instead I picked second from the back. Why not the very back? Colossus had early generation Intamin trains and the pitch on the back rows of each car is insanely tight. Most people had to ride spread eagle with the seat back in front of them. No thanks, I would wait until Blackpool to go spread eagle.


Along with the long lines, I also heard Colossus was pretty rough. While the first bit was spot on, I didn't find the ride rough at all. Sure there were 1-2 moments of light headbanging, but it was no worse than a rougher B&M corkscrew at those points.


Oddly enough the worst part of the ride was the first drop. That's a rarity for me, but it just isn't steep at all. Thankfully the rest of the ride is an unrelenting barrage of inversions. The vertical loop was forcefup, the two corkscrews were snappy, and the cobra roll was just ok. So that's 5 inversions. Where are the other 5? The ride ends with 5 barrel rolls.


Many may call this repetitive, which I agree with. However if it isn't broke, don't fix it. It’s like a hypercoaster having 4-5 airtime hills at the end. Is it repetitive? You bet. But do you really want anything else there? That's how I feel on the barrel rolls. They gave solid hangtime and were pretty disorienting due to the sheer number of them.


I would have loved a second ride, but the line simply didn't allow it. I could have gotten a Fast Track but decided against it due to the cost and how far back the merge points are on most of the rides. Still from my one ride I can say Colossus is one of the better loopers I’ve been on after B&M inverts. 8 out of 10



Here's Colossus even though it's dwarfed by pretty much every other coaster in the park.


I expected the worst but it was mostly smooth.


I love how close the ride gets to the queue and pathways.


Colossus gets a bit repetitive at the end...but that's fine with me since the inline twists were the best part of the ride.

I had seen in the app that Saw was down, but saw that it was testing as I queued for Colossus. Once I got off Colossus, I went over to Saw since I wanted to knock that one off early due to the 8 passenger cars. And luckily it was open...with an 11 minute wait. Yes 11 minutes. That is definitely the most random queue time I had ever seen, but it was really only a 1-2 train wait.


The ride reminded me a ton of Mystery Mine, only smoother and with a longer outdoor portion. The indoor section was very well done. There's some decent torture/Saw related theming and the whole feeling of dread is captured well. The indoor drop is very steep with powerful air and the barrel roll is smooth with a good chunk of hang-time.


The second half is where the ride really shined. It began pretty typically for a Eurofighter with a beyond vertical drop. However this one was taller than most and didn't seem to slow down cresting the top. This resulted in air more powerful than usual, and the regular Eurofighters already have some powerful ejector air. The following Immelmann was surprisingly smooth and enjoyable. I hadn't heard much about Saw so I had a bad feeling it would be somewhat rough and jerky, but outside of a bump at the bottom of the big drop, it was nice and smooth.


I figured the ride was pretty much over at that point (Mystery Mine would), but nope, there was a MCBR. Much to my amazement, the brakes were barely on, so the plunge off the brakes provided air on par with the beyond vertical drop. The final inversions are disorienting and smooth like the first ones. There wws also a nice little airtime hill hidden in there that launched everyone from their seats.


I compare Saw to Mystery Mine since more people are familiar with the latter. Saw had just slightly worse theming, but a much better and longer ride. By the time I exited, the line was spilling onto the midway with a 36 minute (seriously is there a Saw reference I am missing or something). I wanted to make sure I got on everything once before reriding anything. 8 out of 10



Saw is the best Eurofighter I've been on.


It's like Mystery Mine, but with a longer outdoor section and smoother.


I seriously had no idea the layout was as long as it was. A good chunk of it was hidden behind the station.


Anyone know why Saw's queue times were oddly specific?

With possible rain in the afternoon's forecast, I went to Stealth next. It also seemed like a good idea in case it snapped a cable or had some other breakdown Inramins seem prone to. It was only a 10 minute wait, so I decided to wait for the front, which appeared to be a 5 train wait (so 15ish extra minutes).


I ended up waiting almost an hour. There were 4-5 groups from disabled access that chose the front seat and then Stealth remembered it was an Intamin and closed for 15-20 minutes. I didn't want to bail out since I was a train away from riding and the queue was posted at 60 minutes at this point.


Xcelerator was the prototype and launched from the station. The latter accelerators I’ve been on like Top Thrill Dragster, Kingda Ka, and Storm Runner all launch outside the station presumably for capacity. However, Stealth launched directly from the station. There was a separate load-unload platform to help speed up dispatches thankfully.


How was Stealth? Basically a mini Kingda Ka right down to the unnecessary OSTRs and the hump after the top hat. The launch was strong, not quite Xcelerator or the stratas but more on par with Storm Runner. The top hat gave some wonderful air and I was shocked the hump afterwards launched me from my seat as well. That hill does absolutely nothing on Kingda Ka so that was a pleasant surprise. It's a very short ride but it was my favorite at Thorpe. 9 out of 10



Stealth is like a baby Kingda Ka.


Except the final hill actually gives airtime. Oh and I'm sure you can guess why that train is empty. It is an Intamin after all.

After being shot up, I decided to be dropped down on their drop tower. Themed to Angry Birds, Detonator is a rare Fabbri model I believe. The tower looks pretty small and I’d guess it's only around 120-130 feet. But as the Larson towers taught us, size doesn't necessarily matter. I was shocked the ride only seated 12 riders since most of the towers with circular carriages seat more than that. It wasn't a major problem though as it was my shortest wait of the day at 15 minutes.


I rode on the side of Nemesis Inferno, so I got a nice little preview of my next ride. The drop itself was excellent, probably just a notch below the Larsons in terms intensity. The airtime was very good and this is yet another model that poops over the S&S models. My one gripe with the ride was the drop countdown. I have had countdowns for launches, but never for the drop, so the plunge, while very good, was less climactic than on other towers. 8 out of 10



I feel like this shot makes Detonator look taller than it really is. Fun ride though!


I think they missed an opportunity theming their S&S Sky Swatter to Angry Birds.


Instead it's blocked off. Is this the last one out there?

Up next was Nemesis Inferno, aka the invert everyone would like so much more if they had no knowledge of Alton’s Nemesis. The ride had a posted 70 minute wait, so I decided to wait it out. The queue line, like Colossus’s, provided some excellent photo opportunities for the coaster. I love how most of the park's major coasters interact with the queues.


I ended up waiting closer to 50 minutes, and that was with an extra 10 minutes going towards a ride in front. The pre-lift segment through the misty tunnel is pretty weird. It's fun, don't get me wrong, but it feels out-of-place on an invert. The rest of the ride is well landscaped, but barren with regards to theming.


The first drop was a pretty gradual incline which screamed Silver Bullet, a comparison no invert wants. Thankfully the rest of the ride was superior. It doesn't have the intensity of the older inverts, but I still found the loop pretty forceful. The zero-G roll was fantastic as always. This invert also borrows B&M’s interlocking corkscrews from their floorless coasters, which is a nice off-ride visual. Ride-wise they were decently snappy. The final helix is relatively light on Gs but it serves its purpose to get you back to the station.


It’s definitely not in my top 2 tiers of inverts, but it's in the middle class with Great Bear and Afterburn. The ride’s intensity is a notch below those 2, but Nemesis Inferno makes up for it with the nice landscaping. 8.5 out of 10



The drop was reminiscent of Silver Bullet, which isn't a comparison an invert should want.


But the rest of the ride is quite good.


The zero-G roll was great as always.


This was my favorite ride in the park to photograph.


Poor Nemesis Inferno. The ride's older brother at Alton gets a series of trenches while Thorpe's gets just a tunnel below the station.

I had 3 hours until closing (another reason I didn't want Fast Track, the short operating day) and still 3 coasters to hit. Next I decided to ride X. No I didn't magically fly to Magic Mountain. This is X, aka the techno laser dance party in a box.


I waited about 25 minutes for this one, with the last 5 minutes spent waiting for a partner. The park enforces a no single rider policy on X which confuses me. The lapbar has a bar down the middle so you can't slide around in your seat. Does anyone know why this ride has a single rider policy?


I immediately thought of Skull Mountain when the ride began and the rides are similar if you remove the two things that make that ride great, the OMFG drop and the heavy metal music. X’s drops are pretty mediocre and MCBRs slow the train down after it builds any sort of speed. The turns are decent and the ride is smooth, so it's not a bad family coaster. 5 out of 10



This reminded me so much of Skull Mountain...if you remove the OMFG first drop and heavy metal music.


The ride felt like a rave. All that was missing were shots and a DJ.

Before getting to the last major coaster, I had a date with the Flying Fish. A Mack powered coaster, the ride felt weird. I have been on powered coasters before, but they were either kiddie ones (ex. Canobie’s Dragon) or enclosed (Thunder Run). On this one, the train maintained a constant speed the whole way through. My brain was confused when the train didn't accelerate going downhill. Its a tame ride but not a bad junior coster. 3 out of 10



This was actually a respectable kiddie credit.


Powered coasters feel weird to me. They accelerate in places they shouldn't and don't in places they should.

Swarm was next. I read a tip to save Swarm until the late afternoon as its placement near the gate causes it to build a significant wait early but then it dies down. I saw the peak wait time at 80 minutes, so when I arrived and saw a 45 minute wait that was much more palatable. Even better was the fact that was a gross overestimate and I only waited 15 minutes, and that was queuing for the front too!


Swarm had looser vest restraints than some of the older wing coasters in the US which is a major plus. For those of you that have been on Wild Eagle, you know just how hard those restraints can dig into your collarbone. It feels like you're getting a crappy acupuncture job. No such problem on Swarm.


The ride began with an amazing wingover drop. This is an element every wing coaster needs as this and a “keyhole” are the genre’s two signature elements in my opinion. The following zero-G roll had plenty of floater air and it was followed by a great pass through a billboard. Think Backlot Stunt Coaster except actually traveling faster than 20 mph.


The inclined loop was just ok in my opinion but the corkscrew was very good. It wasn't forceful but it was graceful and drawn out. The final inversion redefines the station flyby for me. GCI’s straight sections are child’s play now. Swarm flies over the station via an inline twist with even more hang-time than the zero-G roll.


If you want a forceful coaster, you will be sorely disappointed. If you enjoy the wing coasters for what they are (graceful, hangtime filled rides), you’ll really like Swarm. I’d say it's in the middle of the wing coasters. It's nowhere near as good as GateKeeper or Thunderbird, a smidge better than Wild Eagle, and quite a bit better than X-Flight. 9 out of 10



Swarm was a very good wing coaster. I love how the major coasters all had little areas themed to them.


As great as Wild Eagle's drop is, wing coasters need the wing over drop.




They should put this sign by B&M inverts.


This redefines the station fly by and poops all over the straight sections on GCIs.

Originally I was planning on skipping Derren Brown's Ghost Train for a few reasons. 1) I’m generally not a big fan of VR on rides. 2) The queue. The line approached 90 minutes for most of the day and the only way to Fast Track it was the unlimited option at ~$130.


However, I had an hour before closing and 1.5 hours before my bus (the time I really cared about). By this point, I had come to realize many of the park's wait times were inflated. Also my disdain for VR is because I have only experienced it on coasters not originally designed for VR. In the case of DBGT, the VR was designed around the ride so I was optimistic it would be better. The wait was posted at 55 minutes and I probably waited just south of that, but it was fairly accurate.


A big thing about this ride is to not spoil anything. That is reiterated many times during the attraction. Going in, all I knew was that the ride took place on a train, had VR, and was prone to more downtime than Lightning Rod last year (thankfully that appears corrected).


What I can say about the ride is this- do not spoil it for yourself. I had no clue what was going to happen throughout and that was probably the scariest thing about it. The VR wasn't what I expected, but what they do choose to show is pretty darn convincing and how they show it adds a ton of suspense into the ride. One other thing I want to add is that the VR headsets have audio with them, which adds another element to the attraction compared to the audio-free VR offered by Six Flags.


DBGT is an easy 10 for me. I thought it was worth the wait solely because of how unique and ambitious the ride is. I haven't been on anything close to being like it. Was it scary? Honestly I didn't find it overly scary, but it was more along the lines of unnerving and I enjoyed the whole WTF is happening element of it. In the age of POVs and forums, it's easy to have things like this spoiled so I’ll just say to go ride it yourself or PM me if you want to discuss the ride. 10 out of 10



I was blown away by the Ghost Train. I usually am not a fan of VR-centric rides, but Thorpe knocked it out of the park.


A one way ticket to the park's most thrilling attraction.

I didn't ride them since I had a 2.5 hour train ride after the park closed, but the park appeared to have all their water rides open. Tidal Wave, the colossal shoot the chutes, has an entire area themed to it, something that I thought I'd only ever see at Canobie. Depth Charge looked like an interesting slide but not worth a 30 minute wait. I also skipped Storm Surge and its 45 minute wait since I rode the version at SFNE several times until it was removed, a removal I had no qualms about.



For some odd reason this had no wait on a 58 degree day. Note the sarcasm.


For some odd reason, this one had a 45 minute wait on a 58 degree day. I'm serious on this one.


Interesting looking water slide.

I had also heard Thorpe felt similar to a US park. Sure there was the ever familiar KFC and corporate sponsorships, but there were also some never in America things such as DodgeArm. You would pay (though really I think the spectators should have to pay ) to try and dodge 2 sweeping arms. Let's just say I saw a few kids get clobbered. Am I going to hell for laughing?



KFC reminded me of home.


You probably wouldn't see a path like this in the US.


You definitely wouldn't see this in the US. You paid to basically dodge these large sweeping arms. A bunch of kids kept getting clobbered by them. Was it bad that I laughed?

Overall I had a wonderful time at Thorpe Park. Sure lines were longer than expected but outside of the one train ops on Colossus, I thought operations were very good. None of the coasters are world class in my opinion, but they have 5 very good ones. If they ever rounded their park out with a hyper or a RMC, I think their collection would be perfect. Along with the coaster collection, I was really impressed with the park’s theming. No the theming wasn't Disney, but it was about on par with a Dollywood. The combination of theming and rides made Thorpe a great park in my opinion.


Up next is Blackpool! Though that may be a while due to the cell/wifi service being awful for upload speeds.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Oh, didn't realize you were starting a brand new thread for your European reports! Completely missed this until just now. Good stuff -- as always, I enjoy your photos and writing.


I have actually seen one of those DodgeArm things over here, not at a park but as part of the Great Allentown Fair last year. I want to see a park take it a step further and do Wipeout: The "Ride", complete with mud pits and the big balls (and I'm sure a lengthy waiver, as well).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks! I named them deliberately since I felt they were two distinctly different things. I knew I had this trip coming later this year.


That's cool that it made its way to the US. Figures it's at a fair I mean it's no worse than a mechanical bull, right?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm glad to see the inflatable spinning arm things coming to more parks! They were really fun at IAAPA and like you said, no worse than a mechanical bull!


I'm glad you had a good time, the park is fine but gets a lot of Six Flags comparisons due to clientele, one train ops, and wait times.


And you made the fatal mistake about the weather...it's important to note that American's are sissies when it comes to the weather compared to pretty much everyone else! They're out in rain, cold, sleet, whatever! Parks stay open longer and run stuff in snow! We don't do that here!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think I went on a good day then since everything other than Colossus seemed to be going at max capacity. When that happens I can't fault a park for generating long lines. Honestly I'm impressed they had that many people with the weather. I'm glad we're at least getting more Holiday in the Park events in the US. Just dress appropriately and any weather short of a twister, category 5 storm, etc is fine for a theme park.


I also found the clientele respectful, but I can see how that would be possible based on some of the people I ran into in London and on the trains.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

...And you made the fatal mistake about the weather...it's important to note that American's are sissies when it comes to the weather compared to pretty much everyone else! They're out in rain, cold, sleet, whatever! Parks stay open longer and run stuff in snow! We don't do that here!




Great report on Thorpe. Thanks for sharing.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

...And you made the fatal mistake about the weather...it's important to note that American's are sissies when it comes to the weather compared to pretty much everyone else! They're out in rain, cold, sleet, whatever! Parks stay open longer and run stuff in snow! We don't do that here!




Great report on Thorpe. Thanks for sharing.


Thanks! I really wish people stateside cared less about the weather.


I was curious about your opinions since I've realized Thorpe is the one major UK park I'd skip if I hypothetically needed to. I'm glad you had a good visit. Entertaining report as well!


Of the big 3 parks, I'd put Thorpe last. It's not a knock against Thorpe, rather it's just how good Alton and Blackpool are.


Great report, seems like a fun park. Love your shots of London, always have wanted to go there.


As much park visiting I had planned this trip, I wanted to make sure I had time to see London, Barcelona, etc. Both cities were very impressive.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A massive USA trip report and now Europe? What did we do to deserve this! Really surprised by your take on DBGT.. mainly because I haven't seem much discussion on it and figured it was a dud or over hyped! Glad it was worth it and I'll continue to stay in the dark about that attraction.


Looking forward to more.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

^ If I waited 90-100 minutes or had the ride breakdown on me like a lot of others, I could see why an opinion may be different on the ride. It's also my understanding they revamped it this year after feedback was that it wasn't scary enough last year.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Blackpool Pleasure Beach


My train arrived in Blackpool the night before at almost 11 pm. I had heard a lot of things about Blackpool from natives and most of them described it as rubbish, dumpy, etc. You know what, the same could be said about Pigeon Forge but I love a good tourist trap and Blackpool is a great one! My experience began getting off the train and seeing herds of drunks frolicking across the street like gazelles. Good to know they have the same feelings about jaywalking as Massachusetts .



Blackpool didn't disappoint. It was a glitzy drunken tourist wonderland.

Because I knew I’d be getting in late, that eliminated a majority of hotels since many of them don't have a 24 hour front desk. I assumed a tourist town would have more with that perk, but I guess that's one way they keep their rates half of what Motel 6 charges. Since I also didn't want a Pontins experience (see TPR’s UK trip if you don't know the reference), I stayed at Pleasure Beach’s Big Blue Hotel. It was pricier than what I usually pay but I felt like a millionaire there. It was one of the nicest hotels I’ve ever stayed at (a theme of this report since Europe lacks the Days Inns and Motel 6s I swear by...if they have a minimum rating of 3 stars on TripAdvisor).



I took this shot the next day since it just looked like the Big Black Hotel at night.

I was also able to get some fantastic night shots of the Big One. It baffles me the park closes at 5 considering just how crowded the Promenade still was at 11 pm. The place really looks amazing at night. Did they used to have longer hours?



The park looks so nice at night, but by this point it had been closed for 6-7 hours.


The Big One looks amazing at night.


That first drop looks absolutely nuts.

I began with a hearty English breakfast of scrambled eggs, fried eggs, hash browns, and bacon. My doctor said my cholesterol was off before the trip...they said it was too low. Since I am genuinely concerned about my health, I made sure to load up in that area. Plus by stuffing myself American style before going to the park, I wouldn't have to lose time to lunch.


The hotel also allowed me to enter through a VIP entrance. There was no line (yes!) but nothing by the VIP entrance opened until a half hour after the park. The only rides open were a few by the main entrance, so I had to trek across the park where the crowds already were located. So I'm not sure just how much of a perk this is unless you want to start queuing for the Big One.



The VIP entrance was hassle free but a long way from rides that opened with the park.

Though I quickly made sure that lines wouldn't be an issue. A great perk of the hotel was that I could get a VIP Speedy Pass (think Gold Flash Pass) for just 12 pounds. Sign me up! Some rides were excluded like Grand National or Red Arrows Sky Force unless I paid a surcharge but it was still an amazing deal.


I began with Ice Blast, one of the 4 rides open and one older S&S space shots. I rode next to a native who could immediately tell I was from America from my accent (or lack of one depending on your perspective). He was amazed I had come to Blackpool (again why does every local say this) and I asked if he wanted to visit America. He said yes and I figured he'd want to visit New York, San Francisco, etc. But you know where he wants to visit? Ohio. Yes Ohio. And it wasn't for Cedar Point. “I love the culture there.” Before he could elaborate, we blasted off.


I could have continued the conversation since the launch was weak. Weak enough that I think a double shot’s launch could have propeled the car the same distance up the tower. Even with weaker launches, the S&S towers at least give a top of air. Nope, nothing here since the car doesn't even make it to the top of the tower. The lone bright side is that the view was fantastic, but I could get the same thing from the Big One’s lift and a far superior ride. Though Ohio loved it. If he enjoyed something this bad, he’ll be living the American Dream in Cleveland. 2 out of 10



Here's the observation tower. Wait I meant drop tower. Or did I?

Flying Machines was next (again slim pickings were to be had). This historical ride looks great perched above a gift shop at the main entrance. I had ridden Disney's modern take on the classic at California Adventure, so I was eager to see how the original compared. Since this ride is a capacity machine (I honestly think it could hold almost 100 people), I had no wait at all.


The ride gave a refreshingly crisp breeze as it circled around the main entry area. It wasn't thrilling, but it was a fun and relaxing ride. It also gave a long cycle. So long in fact that the Big One started running by the time I got off. 7 out of 10



A true classic.

Since I had a Speedy Pass, I decided to casually make my way towards the Big One hitting rides along the way. Unfortunately, Grand National nor Valhalla, the two largest rides by the main entrance wouldn't be open until 11. Even more upsetting was the fact that the Wild Mouse was closed for the day. 99% of the time, that statement is only something that would make a credit whore ball their eyes out harder than a girl reading a Nicholas Sparks book, but as you all know Blackpool’s mouse is special and well-known for terrifying air. I hope the closure was just a temporary thing as I remember someone posting on the park forum the ride could be on the chopping block.



Usually I wouldn't shed a tear at a closed mouse but this one stung.

That was impossible to ruin my day though, so I went on Impossible next. One of the most well-known aspects of Blackpool is their extensive dark ride collection. Impossible was a hybrid mirror maze and science museum. The mirror maze was among the harder ones I’ve done due to the darkened lighting. Then the second half consisted of a series of optical illusions and science exhibits. I could have easily spent more time in there, but capped myself around 5 minutes. 7 out of 10



One part fun house, one part science museum, one part mind warp.

River Caves was next. This one was a tunnel of love style boat ride. I rode alone with my thoughts but thankfully the ride didn't have extended dark sections. Instead the ride had really expansive interior sections. I’m not quite sure what the theme was since we traveled from China to Egypt to the Cavemen, but every scene looked fantastic. The ride also finished with a climactic 1 story plunge. No I did not forget a 0, it's just a 10 foot plunge. The drop itself is nothing special but I appreciate that they added one in nonetheless. Of the park’s dark rides, River Caves was easily my favorite. 9 out of 10



Not sure how cavemen and China are related, but it was a great dark ride.

It was coaster time and the first operating coaster I came across was the Big Dipper. I wasn't expecting much from this classic woody, just a nice and smooth out-and-back coaster. Let me start by saying that the ride’s station looks amazing. The fountain is massive and seems more fitting for a midway than a queue line. Then there's that picturesque and impossibly tight turn after the lift that I’m sure you’ve seen a million times (and you’ll see it here too).


I snagged the back and was impressed by the lap bar only trains but that seemed to confirm my thought it wouldn't be too crazy of a ride. The pre-lift section was funky but necessary in order to position the lift such that it can traverse that elevated 180 degree turn.


Then came the drop and holy moly did it catch me off guard. I was expecting some cute little floater air not the standing ejector air I received. Wow! The second drop provided similar air. Why hadn't I heard anything about this coaster? Then came the turnaround portion.


It wasn't bad. It fact it was so wild I took my hands down and held on for dear life. However, it was pretty darn bumpy riding in the back. There's one small drop that gives a tiny pop of air along the way before beginning the return leg. The return leg kicks it off with the ride's last big drop and it too provided great ejector air. The return hills are noticeably tamer but 2 of them gave pops of air.


I tried the coaster again in the front later and can say without a doubt this is a back seat ride. The front was quite a bit smoother but there were only a few hills with air and they were pretty weak. I loved Big Dipper much more than expected. Yes it's pretty bumpy in the back, but you don't normally get lap bar only ejector airtime like that. 8.5 out of 10



Such a beautiful station.


The obligatory Big Dipper shot.


It looks so innocent but that drop is a force to be reckoned with.

After being blown away by the Big Dipper, it was time for a coaster that generally blows, the good ole SLC. I have to say, Infusion looked fantastic. The ride’s placement over the water with the fountains and waterwall was quite visually striking.


The Speedy Pass satanically got me assigned the back row. Lovely. As I began my ascent on this torture device, I distracted myself by looking at the water. Then the drop came and the head-banging... didn't start? Has hell frozen over or have SFNE’s new restraints made my memory foggy but I could have sworn the pain started on the drop. Surely it began on the rollover then. Nope! I didn't think a SLC without the Morey’s renovation could be this smooth.


Now there was still a bang every so often (it was a SLC and Blackpool afterall) but this SLC was moderately enjoyable. The overly bulky restraints still made the few bangs a tad uncomfortable but if the park didn't have as many great dark rides and unique coasters, I would have ridden it again. This is the best SLC without the vest restraints. 5 out of 10



The only SLC of the trip...


Wait it doesn't bash my head too much?


And it has water effects? This actually wasn't a dumpster fire!

My reservation for the Big One was ready, but I made a detour to ride Steeplechase first since the latter was a walk-on and not included on the Speedy Pass. I had built many of these coasters in Roller Coaster Tycoon, so I was interested to try the last one left.


The seating position was surprisingly comfortable thanks to the minimalistic restraints. It's far superior to the Zamperla motorbike seating that squashes your nuts. I can see why something like this (along with it being an older ride) doesn't exist in America.


The ride itself was unique and whole lot of fun. The tallest drop was probably no more than 5-10 feet but it didn't need drops. The racing aspect on this one is far superior to the wooden racing coasters I’ve been on. I couldn't help but come off laughing. The ride is pretty smooth too. The two left sides were open, so I rode twice. A shame I missed out on the right side but I had heard the park usually only ran two sides. 7 out of 10



I wish more parks still had these steeplechase coasters.


And the winner is...

Time for the coaster featured in all the old coaster documentaries, the Big One. And it's just that as it completely dominates Blackpool's skyline, stretching across the length of the park. This was probably the best ride in the park for the Speedy Pass since you went up the exit and got on immediately. As a single rider, I asked the ops to put me in a single seat since there were quite a few to pick from. Otherwise you could come up the ramp and take someone else's seat, and I feel like a dick doing that.


I got several rides on the Big One. My first ride came in the front since a family of 3 put the 2 sitting next to each other in row 2. So I sat down and off we went. The ascent provides great views of Pleasure Beach and the views only get better when you crest the lift. I loved the view of the Atlantic atop Hydrus, but the view of the sea was even more breathtaking here being up 3 times as high. This view augments the drop which is as epic as it looks. The track disappears beneath you as you are whipped (comfortably) to the right. What an amazing start!


From there it was all downhill by comparison. That's usually the case after the first drop but it’s very pronounced on the Big One. The rest of the ride feels like an overgrown mine train touring the park. The ride does maintain its speed decently well and pulls strong Gs at the bottom of hills, but I'm looking for airtime on a hyper. One look at the overly gradual angles on the hills will immediately tell you that airtime just isn't in the Big One's nature. The only hill with really good airtime was the one before the MCBR. Other than that there were maybe two tiny pops of air if that.


The ride is still a whole lot of fun though because it's reasonably smooth (just brace for the transitions at the bottom of drops) and has a cool layout that covers the entirity of the park. I rerode the Big One several times throughout the train, including the back. I found the further back I went, the even crazier that first drop became. But the tradeoff was what little air you got in the front row became weaker to non-existent. Compared to other hypers, this is as poor as they come (only beating the Giovanola ones), but it's still a good, fun coaster. 8 out of 10



The ride dominates the park's skyline.


The first drop is the only truly excellent part of the ride, but it's one of the top drops I've experienced.


Coca Cola fans weep.

Up next was one of the last of a dying breed, Revolution. An Arrow launched loop, the ride was a workout. I fully expect to have to climb a flight of stairs like this for slides wnd water slides, but it's cruel and unusual punishment to have to do that on a roller coaster. I didn't even have to Speedy Pass this one as the hike seemed to deter people from riding.


I was always interested to try one of these since I love the drops and vertcal loops oj Arrows. It's anytime you turn (corkscrew, helix, etc) where Arrow went wrong. Revolution skips the coat-hanger bits and doubles up on the good parts. The drop off the main platform gives incredible ejector air, particularly in the back, thanks to the added speed of the little launch. The subsequebt vertical loop is really forceful and the ascent to the second platform gives a pop of air as well.


Then I got to experience it again in reverse. The backwards ejector air was very thrilling as was a backwards vertical loop, with the latter reminding me of a boomerang. When we returned to the station, I can say that I rode an Arrow looper (not named Tennessee Tornado) where I didn't bang my head once. It won't beat many full circuit coasters but I’d take it over a boomerang or a corkscrew, even if I do get my daily stairs workout. 7 out of 10



Few of these launched loops are still operating. It's a shame since it's a compact, forceful ride.


Arrows go wrong on helixes and corkscrews. Revolution has neither which is why it's so comfortable to ride.


The worst part was the walk up these stairs. I felt like I was at the gym as opposed to a theme park.

I’d heard that Blackpool's bobsled was one of the wildest so I hopped aboard that one next. I have to say that Avalanche's station looked great, as it was themed to a German fest haus. I know it's more representative of an actual bobsled, but I personally prefer the seating arrangement on the Intamin ones where you have a seat as opposed to this style where your legs are outstretched.


I can definitely see why this is considered the best bobsled by quite a few people. While the others gain some speed and then lose it moments later to a MCBR, Avalanche has no MCBRs so it's constantly gaining speed throughout its course. The final helix has some really good sliding and pulls a few Gs thanks to the built up speed. I did notice the trough vibrated for most of the ride down but it never became uncomfortable and ruined the ride. I too will join the camp that this is the best bobsled out there. 7 out of 10



Feel the rhythm, feel the rhyme.

Because people in England didn't care the weather was chilly, I was able to hit the park’s two water rides. Everyone is familiar with Valhalla but first I hit their traditional log flume on the way, Rugrats Lost River. As we rode along, I couldn't help but be impressed by the theming. They had some nice ruins and as I squinted to read the hieroglyphics, a nice stream of water drilled me in the face. Provoked like a wild animal, I took the rest or the ride's theming with a cautious eye but it appeared I was safe...for now.


The final drop has the slowest ascent I have ever seen on a flume, which is impressive because the drop can't be more than 25ft tall. It was a surprisingly steep little drop too considering its size. I was thinking how great of a ride it was and then was doused by a wall of water. I knew Valhalla would soak me (I came with a poncho) but didn't think I’d have to face Aquaman’s fury on this little flume. So future riders be warned! It was still a fun ride though; I just wish I had been more prepared for the soaking. 6 out of 10



A cute little log flume with a big ugly splash.

Nickelodeon Streak was the next wooden coaster I would ride. I know it's in the Nickelodeon Area but it still looks wrong to see an orange wooden coaster. I’ve been indoctrinated to accepting blue on a woody thanks to Dutch Wonderland but orange seemed a step too far.


The trains on this one are really comfy. Honestly they feel a lot like couches which is a good thing, not because the ride is rough or anything but because who doesn't like sitting on a couch? I got two rides on this classic woody.


My first ride was in the front. 5-6 of the hills gave nice pops of air and I was a fan of the ride’s simple out-and-back layout. Hoping I may get a Big Dipper situation I tried the back but there was no crazy airtime to be had. The drop off the turnaround gave better air in the back than any hill in the front, but as a whole the front was the better seat. At most parks I’d give this classic woody a few more rides. Except Blackpool fills my woody quota with a few better ones. 7 out of 10



An orange woody looks so wrong to me. It'd be like seeing a blue apple.


Looks aside (and name), Nickelodeon Streak had everything a classic woody should have.

Blue Flyer is the pinnacle of junior woodies. All too many of them have the same layout but this one has a true out-and-back layout. The drops are steeper than expected for a junior woody. No air, but they do have some nice zip to them. But I think the coolest thing about this coaster is the tunnel through the building. Blackpool really does have a woody for everyone. 5 out of 10



A blue woody looks odd, but Dutch Wonderland's woody got me used to the color.

Next was the water ride that has claimed the title as the world's best water ride per Amusement Today, Valhalla. You can take that award with a grain of salt whether or not it's truly the best, but I figured with the praise it received it had to be up there as far as flumes go. I was worried this soaking ride would be closed for two reasons. 1) Something this soaking would never be open in below 60 degree weather in the US. 2) It's an Intamin. After visiting Thorpe, it was apparent the second item was the only thing that could go wrong and thankfully it was open.


Usually I laugh at people who wear ponchos on water rides. Why go on a water ride if you don't want to get wet? On this day I made an exception. When you have a 2 hour train ride and it's too cool to properly dry off, a poncho suddenly seems like a necessity. I packed one from home, but the park has a kiosk selling them in line that probably gets more business than a New England Dunkin Donuts. I’d say 95% of people riding wore ponchos and I don't blame them.


The outside facade of the building looks amazing! The massive waterfall combined with the rustic wooden station and viking head is one of the most striking and ambitious ride buildings I have seen, and that includes Disney. The theming didn't stop there as the boats looked fantastic too; they reminded me of the old Maelstrom boat.


You know where the theming did stop? The ride. After entering through the iconic tunnel, we approached the first lift and I had no clue what was going on. Was there a broken effect? I just heard endless chants of Valhalla in the darkness. I could see a faint TV monitor up ahead but it was far too blurry to make any sense of what I was seeing. They could have been showing Viking porn or Sesame Street and I wouldn't have been able to tell the difference.


The theming did start back up atop the lift, but not before decimating my shoes. When I boarded the boat and saw the drenched seats, I was thankful to have a poncho. However, the poncho did nothing to protect the lone pair of sneakers I brought on the trip. For those who have been on Escape from Pompeii, Valhalla did the same thing, the entire floor of the boat was filled with a few inches of water. Curse you Intamin! For the rest of the ride, I was careful to raise my feet for any drop.


I still have no clue what the ride's story is or if there even is meant to be one, but the ride does look very cool. The water vortex is a visually striking effect (as long as you have a poncho since gravity will get you wet) as well as the fire after the final drop. But it was the bit after the second lift that really impressed me. I think we were being pursued by vikings or thrown into a war or something since there were a variety of spiked logs and axes thrown our way. And the effects were massive which was a pleasant surprise since they occurred on the top level of the building.


Where Valhalla really succeeds is in the drop department. The backwards drop is pretty lackluster but the two forwards ones are great. The first one in particular stands out. It's very tall (I’d estimate 60-70 feet), steep, and in total darkness. I got a pop of air going down this drop and it's superior to the drops on Splash Mountain or Ripsaw Falls. The second drop is a much more unique double down. While the first one sneaks up on you, this one doesn't due to the “Don't lean forward on the drop” warning that plays. I understand why they have the audio though since it's a pretty wild drop. Not as good as the first, but better than 90% of flumes out there.


By the end, I was soaked head-to-toe. I honestly stopped paying attention to what got me wet on the ride. Just know there is no way you're coming off dry. You have a better chance winning power ball than coming off dry. Afterwards I caved and paid for one of those full body driers, which work extremely well I might add. I took off my socks and shoes to dry them out as a preventative measure against blisters.


If riding Valhalla wasn't such a process I would have easily gone a few more times since it's the best ride in the park. It's also the best flume out there with the exception of Splash Mountain (yes it's better than Ripsaw Falls). However, it was worth the soaking. 10 out of 10



Ooh fire! But where's the waterfall?


There it is! And not long after my shoes were waterlogged.

Alice in Wonderland was next. Honestly if you showed me a quick picture of the outside of this ride, I may mistake it for Disneyland's. The exposed outside portion is almost identical, right down to that funky, elevated outdoor portion. Not quite sure how Blackpool managed to not make the mouse angry, but I certainly wasn't complaining since that was one of the better dark rides at Disneyland.


I only rode the one at Disneyland after the most recent renovation, but this one definitely felt older. The scenes were still enjoyable, but I found that I preferred the park’s other dark rides instead. 7 out of 10



I think this is what Disneyland's version probably looked like before the upgrade.

The last coaster is one that is frequently considered the park’s best and the airtime king of the UK, Grand National. A fee to be added onto my Speedy Pass, I decided to wait since it was only 15-20 minutes. The retro station is a treat to see, but the queuing area does get pretty cramped. However, they still do let you wait for your seat. Naturally I grabbed the back. Unfortunately Grand National has more modern trains than the other woodies which meant the PTC lapbars that really staple you in. I would have loved to experience this with the older trains, but I'm just glad I got to try this classic.


Outside of the lift hill and return humps, the entirity of Grand National's layout is hidden from view. All I knew coming in was that you raced and got airtime, both of which were true. The first drop is a surprise double down with the second half absolutely launching you from your seat. Many of the hills before the return leg provide the same kind of abrupt ejector air. One other particularly noteworthy hill is an unassuming little hump no more than 5 feet tall before the last 180 degree turn. I wouldn't have been here to write this report if my lapbar failed. The return leg is cool in the fact that it hugs the ground, but it's sadly airtime free.


So why is it getting just an 8.5 if the airtime was that strong? The smoothness or lack there of. The valleys were pretty brutal on this one. I rode later in the second to back and experienced much of the same. It's still a wonderful ride (if you’ve ever queued for this you know why I use that word), but the roughness did deter consecutive rides. This was tied with the Big One for my favorite coaster at Blackpool, though I have a feeling that would have changed if Icon were open 8.5 out of 10



A classic station for a classic woody.


Red appears to have a bit over a head start.

Speaking of Icon, I took a look at the construction site. The ground looks mostly clear at this point and vertical construction hasn't started yet. These Mack loopers look great. I’ll be riding Helix tomorrow and Blue Fire next week so I can experience one first hand, but from the POV and Mack’s reputation, Icon should become the park’s best coaster.



The new for 2018 coaster will surely be an icon at the park.


The site is clear, but vertical construction was yet to start on my visit.

I still had two dark rides to hit. Next was one themed around one of my childhood favorites, Wallace and Gromit. While I said you rode in what felt like couches for Nickelodeon Streak, you actually ride in couches on this one. They're about the ugliest dang couches you've ever seen though and I'm pretty sure my better half would set fire to it if I ever bought one like it, but it works for the ride.


I thought they made great use of the IP. The scenes were large and expansive and brought me back to my childhood. I did notice some dead space between some of the earlier scenes though. But by the end it's quality scene after quality scene before ending with a surprise. 8 out of 10



If you enjoyed Wallace and Gromit, you're in for a treat with this ride.

At this point, I was starving. Every time I exited the Big One, I passed a donut shop that smelled really good and they were! This was one of those mini donut places that bake the donuts fresh in front of you. They were as good as what you'd find at a country fair without the sketchy one-toothed carny. Also are donuts a big thing in the UK? I’m not complaining but they seemed as common as fish and chip places (in Blackpool at least).



I was shocked how common donuts were in the UK but I wasn't complaining.

As I devoured my donuts, I noticed the last Steeplechase track had opened. So naturally I got back in line. Only 2 tracks were running still, but they had taken the middle one offline. The ride was fun as before. Actually it was even funnier since I was racing an animated kid. I couldn't help but think of the screaming British kids I used to hear online when I played Call of Duty.


It was late enough in the day that I figured it'd be a good time to hit the the last major ride not on Speedy Pass, Red Arrows Sky Force. I had ridden a similar style ride at Canada’s Wonderland (that one was a tower instead of a rotating arm). These things are absolutely insane if you can get that first rotation going. From that point, you aren't stopping and better have a strong stomach. However, the one at CW had a painfully short cycle so I got one insane ride and couldn't even flip once on the other.


Red Arrows was difficult to get that first inversion on, but fortunately it had a long cycle. You really have to time when you use the paddles and throw your weight around strategically, but after 7-8 rocks I got the magical first inversion. From that point the ride was a blur. I believe I got something in the neighborhood of 60-70 flips. Tell me what other ride comes close to that other than a crazy European top spin. I preferred the spinning arm to the tower. Since the arm spun at an incline, your inversions would pick up speed on the downswings. I would love to see more of these types of rides as they're one of my favorite flats and better than a majority of coasters. 10 out of 10



You can either have a peaceful ride or go balls out and get 70 flips. Guess what I picked.

The dark ride was also the only one not on the Speedy Pass, Ghost Train. A more traditional take on the ride than Thorpe's, I absolutely love the theming around the ride. As I was taking a photo of the ride, I almost fell into the little moat they set up on the pathway around it. I ended up waiting 15 minutes, which went fast thanks to the 10 or so cars they had running.


Most of the ride’s effects are old-school, but they've clearly been maintained well. Nothing was really scary but you couldn't help but come off without a smile. There were a few newer effects mixed in too such as a shattering window with an associated air blast. Oh and the little drop was neat too. And no it is not a credit. 8 out of 10



The whole area around the Ghost Train looked fantastic.


I'm sure some people count this as a coaster thanks to that intimidating 10 foot drop.

I wish the park stayed open later than 5 since I was having a great time. Pleasure Beach has done a fantastic job blending newer rides with old classics you just don't see anywhere else. I'm a sucker for seaside parks and Blackpool’s ride collection shatters the frisbees and galaxi coasters typically there. Even Santa Cruz’s Beach Boardwalk (an awesome park) is beat by Pleasure Beach.


Up next was a quick stop at South Pier. Unless my eyes deceived me, I saw a Wacky Worm with my name on it from atop the Big One.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

BPB is one of the places I want (need!) to visit most. So, I'm over here seething, but simultaneously appreciating the time and detail you put into this report. I wasn't aware of some of those awesome-sounding rides...what a collection. Valhalla sounds terrifying! Shame about the hours, though.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

^ Heh, I call Grona Lund "the Blackpool of Sweden".


And then stateside we have our own Grona Lund in Indiana Beach (though the ops are awful).


BPB is one of the places I want (need!) to visit most. So, I'm over here seething, but simultaneously appreciating the time and detail you put into this report. I wasn't aware of some of those awesome-sounding rides...what a collection. Valhalla sounds terrifying! Shame about the hours, though.


Thanks! Valhalla is only terrifying if you hate water or don't have a change of clothes/shoes.


The weirdest thing on the hours is that the English parks opened early and closed early (10-5ish) while the Swedish parks I visited later did the opposite (3-11).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.

  • Create New...

Important Information

Terms of Use https://themeparkreview.com/forum/topic/116-terms-of-service-please-read/