Pleasureland Southport

15th July 2002

Pleasureland Southport

Yesterday's experience on The Bullet came back to haunt me this morning in the guise of two extremely sore shoulders. Some stretching alleviated the worst of the problem, allowing me to resist the temptation of pain killers.

I arrived at the coach to discover that the departure time had been changed to be an hour later than the original plan. Many people had found out about this the night before, but somehow the word never filtered down to me. One very choice swearword later and I was off back to my room.

We began our morning with a visit to a rather unique fun house, filled with stunts and attractions which are apparently much too dangerous for the United States. The best of these (pictured) was called The Wheel. The premise was simple; as many people as possible sat on the wheel, which began to spin, gradually getting faster and faster. The last person to be thrown off was the winner. This was seriously good fun, if a little on the dangerous side for heavier people. Apparently the wheel broke down later in the day due to excess weight on the motor, which reflects the clientele in the park today!

Our first coaster of the day was Traumatizer (#55), a production model SLC from Vekoma and my second of the genre. This one was apparently one of the smoother models, which didn't say a whole lot for the rest of them. One of my intrepid companions captured a rather amusing photo of me on board the ride in the process of having my head bashed, which has since appeared in print in the club magazine. It is, to say the least, a long way from the most flattering picture I've ever appeared in. Apparently there are at least twenty more SLCs for me to ride in the future, making me wonder if counting coasters is really worth the effort.

The classic wooden Cyclone (#56) was a much more pleasant experience. It was more than a little disconcerting to notice the fact that the lift hill was not in fact straight. This was particularly obvious from looking at the chain, which appeared to go from side to side. Fortunately the rest of the construction seems to have been much better, making it great fun to ride. It was the first coaster I've ever wanted to ride more than three or four times; in the end I clocked up ten circuits on it today.

There was also a wooden wild mouse ride by the name of King Solomon's Mines (#57). No doubt the ride is perfectly safe, but it sure didn't feel that way. Sharp bends were taken at a serious speed, making me feel that the cars were very close to coming completely off the track. Apparently this ride was moved to Southport after the demise of its original home at Frontierland, a park which closed at the end of the last century; the owners are to be commended for preserving a piece of history like this.

One quick circuit on the Big Apple (#58) brought me over to the final coaster in the park. Wild Cat (#59) didn't look like much from the ground, which just goes to show that one should not judge a book by its cover. The layout proved to be surprisingly good fun, and once again I decided to ride several times.

Also at this park was a relatively small Space Shot tower, a thrill ride which launches passengers straight up at high speed. I'd never done a ride like this before, and frankly wasn't hugely enthusiastic about this one. However, it was just about small enough for me to consider. My legs were like jelly for at least ten minutes afterwards, but it wasn't bad enough to put me off doing another one in the future.


Blackpool Pleasure Beach

15th July 2002

Blackpool Pleasure Beach

We left Southport in the early part of the afternoon and made our way across to Blackpool Pleasure Beach at last, after several evenings of accommodation in its shadow. With three hours to kill it seemed a good plan to try to do as many of the roller coasters as possible. Amazingly there turned out to be (just) enough time to do them all, despite me going for four circuits on the Pepsi Max Big One (#60).

The station announcement for the Big One proudly declares it to be the tallest, fastest, and steepest roller coaster in the world, something which was true when the ride was built, but hasn't been for six years. It also advises riders that they will be experiencing vertical reality, something that also isn't true since the steepest drop on this ride doesn't exceed a 65° angle. False advertising aside, however, there is no doubt that this ride is a signature coaster for the whole Blackpool area, not least due to its superb first drop. Unfortunately from then on the ride was pretty dull, thanks to some gently sloping hills that didn't really do much. Furthermore, anywhere other than the front of the train was surprisingly rough, greatly limiting enjoyment.

One of the strangest attractions in the park is a roller coaster called Steeplechase (#61). This ride was designed to simulate a horse race, and to that end there are three parallel tracks which run with unusual horse shaped vehicles. Riders are balanced precariously on top and harnessed in a distinctly haphazard fashion that feels very insecure. On the plus side, the ride earned points for uniqueness. On the minus side, one can only assume that real horses have better cornering ability then these cars did. The coaster counters were left with dilemma as to how to count this ride, with some choosing to count it as three separate coasters. They probably need to get a life; the park considers it to be one attraction, and thus so do I.

There was a rather long walk up to the station of Revolution (#62), a so-called launched loop. The tape on this ride also needed some updating, as it didn't seem to me like I was going to experience the most thrilling ride of my life. Be that as it may, it was still an interesting experience to be accelerated backwards, especially since it was impossible to know exactly when my car would hit the drop.

From there I went to experience five wooden coasters in a row; Zipper Dipper (#63), Roller Coaster (#64), Wild Mouse (#65), Big Dipper (#66), and Grand National (#67). Unfortunately my brain merged all of these into one, so rather than write something incorrect it's probably best just to note that I'm developing a real taste for wooden coasters. Later on somebody told me that this park is the only one in the world with five wooden coasters in it, an interesting accolade which the park should probably promote.

After ticking off Circus Clown (#68) I made my way to a new type of coaster for me, and one that quickly became a new favourite. Avalanche (#69) simulates what it must feel like to ride a bobsled through a snow course. England doesn't typically experience snow in July, so the designers here have built a trough out of steel. The idea seems a little odd but it works, and brilliantly. It is also likely somewhat safer than the original version!

I'd just made it through the queue entry for Space Invader (#70) when it was closed off behind me. This ride was fully enclosed, but rather than being dark inside there were some brightly lit model planets in a plethora of headache inducing colours. The coaster itself didn't do a whole lot for me, but it was still a good way to finish the evening.