The process of selling tickets is, in general, straight forward; one need only determine (or be told) how many tickets are required and exchange same for the appropriate amount of money. Even without training it is reasonable to assume that the various steps should not take more than a minute or so per group. In Pleasurewood Hills however the admission staff took over a quarter of an hour to work through a group of no more than twenty people for reasons unclear. When we finally reached the front we were handed what we assumed to be tickets to pass to the staff at the gate. As it turned out, however, these were actually coupons for a discounted visit later in the season; what was actually required was our till receipt, in my case buried moments earlier in the darkest recesses of my wallet.
The signature coaster in the park has a variety of different names, the exact one dependent on which sign you read. Enigma (#705) (or Cannonball Express) is the only example of the Schwarzkopf Jumbo V, a development of the well-known Jet Star family built in the early eighties for German showman Kinzler. The ride was originally designed to operate multiple cars, but over the years most have become parts donors; just one eight seater vehicle was in use today. It got stuck in the brakes just as we approached, but fortunately we didn't have to wait long; maintenance turned up in less than two minutes (a certain American park chain take note!), and had things sorted out almost as fast. The ride wasn't the smoothest, to put it mildly, but we enjoyed our lap nevertheless.
We took the improbably named Merry-Go-Straight sky ride across the park to the other coaster, Snake in the Grass (#706), a standard Tivoli coaster retrofitted with a fiberglass tunnel over the lift to allow operation during wet weather. At the end of our circuit, the operator asked if anyone wanted to get off, and as only one person did the rest of us were sent around again. With that done, we spent a bit of time exploring. The most interesting thing we found was a large area of devastation in the center of the park that is to be the new home of the Missile from the now defunct American Adventure. Signage indicates that the relocated Boomerang is due to open in August, though this seems more than a little optimistic to me given that the foundations have yet to be laid. It'll be interesting to see what happens.
Joyland Children's Fun Park
14th May 2006
Joyland Children's Fun Park is a park aimed exclusively at children, tucked away on one end of the sea front at Great Yarmouth. However, it holds interest for any park enthusiast purely because the vast majority of the attractions present are more than fifty years old. Walking through the gate is like stepping into a time capsule that shows what amusements would have been like in years past. It is a very small park, but it still manages to support two roller coasters and a powered coaster. The latter, Snails, has a total height differential of no more than five or six feet, but it nevertheless manages to take several small hills at a fair speed.
Spook Express (#707) is the newest attraction in the park, having been installed on the roof of a building housing several other rides. Though undisputedly a family coaster, it rides well, and its location makes it the perfect vantage point for photographing the rest of the park, in particular the Tyrolean Tubtwist (#708). The latter is the last surviving Virginia Reel coaster anywhere in the world, with the spinning assisted by a motor. The end result was particularly disorientating, making it an exciting challenge to try to walk in a straight line afterwards!
Great Yarmouth Pleasure Beach
14th May 2006
Great Yarmouth Pleasure Beach is located just five minutes walk from Joyland Children's Fun Park. Though smaller than its more famous brother in Blackpool we found it to be bustling with activity, with a good mixture of new and classic attractions. During our walk it became clear that the Evolution spin ride had gotten stuck, with passengers hanging upside down. Engineers had managed to lower the ride back to earth by the time we actually arrived, but the experience had clearly taken its toll on one passenger, who was taken away by ambulance, presumably suffering from shock. Mechanical failures happen occasionally, but I cannot help but wonder why the ride cars didn't at least right themselves; it seems an obvious failure mode to design into the system. Throughout the rest of our visit the engineers continued working on the ride, running it empty to test, presumably to work out why it had seized up in the first place.
The star attraction at the park is without question the Roller Coaster (#709), one of the few remaining scenic railway coasters and one of just two in England. These rides are distinctive due to their use of a brake man on board each train to regulate the speed, with the one here sitting on a raised seat in the middle of the train. It is sometimes hard for those who have not ridden coasters like this to understand why they are such classics, but the reality is that scenics have stood the test of time well. Great Yarmouth Pleasure Beach has a real gem in their collection, and hopefully they will continue to preserve it for future generations to enjoy.
We rode the Monorail as a means of photographing the park, before heading over to the Big Apple (#710). This model had probably the least knee room of any version of the ride I've been on, and it was a real challenge to get the lap bar to close, but somehow I managed. With that done we tried the Haunted Hotel dark ride which was interesting but nowhere near as enthralling as the truly surreal Funhouse. Guests for the latter donned 3D glasses, although I'm really not sure why, as the effects within were quite crazy enough without them. Lest anyone get the wrong idea here, I really liked it, more than anything else for its sheer what the heck was that value!
We managed four more rides on the Roller Coaster before finishing up the day with a quick ride on the Sky Drop. It was fun being told by a local that it really wasn't too scary, though it looked pretty high when up there; we couldn't help pointing out that we'd survived Blue Fall. I think I am forever spoilt for smaller drop towers now.