If you’re coming to Blackpool looking for a thrill, it’s not difficult to find yourself disappointed by walks on the Promenade and time in the penny arcades. However, the Pleasure Beach might hold the answer; as one of the UK’s top-rated theme parks, it’s the perfect place for anyone looking for an adrenaline rush. Literally hundreds of rides have come and gone during the time the park has been opened, many of them during the attraction’s heyday in the late sixties and seventies, when a great many additional, smaller rides were run as concessions by outside operators. With new rides starting operation fairly frequently, as well as an impressive turnover on exhibitions and shows, it’s likely that every visit you make to the Pleasure Beach will have something new to show you.
Without a doubt, though, the biggest attraction (quite literally, standing as it does 213ft in the air and making it Blackpool’s second-tallest structure after the Tower itself) is the Pepsi Max Big One. Offering a 205ft, 65 degree drop, speeds of up to 74mph and forces that nudge 3.5 times that of gravity, it’s an absolute must for connoisseurs of rollercoasters – or anyone looking for a thrill from their time at Blackpool. At three minutes per ride, however, the queues can often mount up, and it might be an idea to avoid it at peak times; although it’s capable of getting through 1,700 riders per hour, the Big One’s fame as the tallest coaster in the UK (and, until recently, the fastest too) means that it’s always a very popular choice for people coming to the park.
However, there’s a lot more than just the Big One to draw you to the Pleasure Beach, including a multitude of water rides and rollercoasters both old and new, including the infamous Steeplechase, Irn Bru Revolution, and Valhalla – at the time of its construction, the most expensive flume ride ever built. The new Infusion ride, opened in 2007, is the first inverted rollercoaster to be suspended entirely over water. Despite being one of the oldest theme park attractions in the UK, it’s easy to see that Blackpool Pleasure Beach is doing a great job at keeping up with the times, providing a constant stream of fascinating new rides that will delight even the most hardened of thrill-seekers.
An unlimited ride pass wristband is priced at £15-35, depending on the time of the year and whether or not the Pleasure Beach is running any special offers at the time. As such, you’re well advised to check before you get to the ticket office, as you could save yourself a considerable amount of money by being prepared. This pass will get you onto all of the rides and most of the attractions in the park, and so is a good investment if you plan on staying for most of the day; previously, before the pass was introduced, attractions were priced on a per-ride basis, and so could end up being much more expensive. As of the 2009 season, however, entry to the park itself isn’t free, even if you don’t plan on going on any of the rides or attractions. There’s now a £5 ‘Freedom Pass’ charge if you want to get in, unless you’ve first purchased one of the Unlimited Ride passes. While this has been widely criticised by fans of the Pleasure Beach, the fee has been levied to make sure that people who enjoy the park’s shows and non-ride attractions (such as the Chinese Maze) are still contributing something to the attraction’s upkeep costs.
Once you’re at the Pleasure Beach, though, you’ll need a place to stay. Thankfully – for those who feel like splashing out a little extra, that is – the Big Blue Hotel is right next door to the park itself. This four-star hotel offers everything you’d expect, including a gym and a restaurant that was recently voted Hotel Restaurant of the Year at the Blackpool Tourism Awards, and while it can be a little pricey, it’s about as close as you can get to the amusements of the Pleasure Beach without physically sleeping on one of the turnstiles.
As such, it’s easy to see that the Pleasure Beach is an absolute must for anyone who’s spending some time in the town and feels like seeing exactly what this seaside thrill-fest can offer.