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Review: Blackpool Pleasure Beach - That's Old!

When telling someone you've been to Blackpool Pleasure Beach, they might look at you like you have just said something really strange. 'Pleasure Beach' doesn't really sound like a theme park, does it? So it's often referred to as BPB or just Blackpool. Located right on the shore of Blackpool, this park has a total of 10 operating rollercoasters! And they are not just ordinary rollercoasters..

After visiting Alton Towers for two days, we wanted to fill our third day with something else. Some of us were looking into swimming pools and a spa. And some of us had set their eyes on a tiny attraction park just 1.5 hours away from our hotel. Thus we decided to split the group, so everyone could do what they wanted. I was really invested in this idea of going to Blackpool Pleasure Beach, mainly because of a few rides that were high on my list. So the evening before I bought the entry tickets, a parking ticket and unlimited onride photo pass (ofcourse, why wouldn't we?). The process of ordering tickets was no problem. The 'problem' began after receiving a confirmation in my e-mail. To obtain your tickets, you had to upload a photo of the 'owner' of the ticket?! I was so confused, but apparently this was really needed to get your tickets. Reluctanctly we uploaded our photos (why do you need a picture of me?!!). We would soon understand why this was needed. The next morning we left for BPB, which was a 1.5 hour drive. Upon arriving, which was very easy navigating btw, the man at the parking already recognized my license plate. I told him we had a reservation and he immediately proceeds to nod and open the gate for us. Apparently my last name in combination with my Dutch license plate was enough, no need to prove lol.

BPB is located in Blackpool, a popular summer location on the west coast of the UK. Driving through Blackpool was idyllic, the typical English houses, the old streets, the sea view. And then that massive coaster construction towering above the city. From the parking lot, they lead you through the gift shop to the park entrance. Which was very smart because we already saw merchandise we wanted to buy. The entrance felt like an airport security, but.. less secure? Anyway, tickets scanned and through the gates. The park welcomes you with a nostalgic feeling, everything looks old and janky. But in a good way. First thing we had to do, was activate our onride photo pass in the Wallace&Gromit ride shop. Employees were very friendly and keen to help us and we were quickly set up, ready to go! We didn't have a park map, let alone a plan which rides we wanted to do. The first thing we encountered was the Big Dipper, with ride ops patiently waiting in the station for people to come in and fill the empty train. I had done some research on the park and all the rides, so I knew this was their 100 year old wooden coaster. We went for it, because where else can you experience a 100 year old coaster? Walking to the station we realized why the photos for our tickets were needed. This park operates on a 'scan your QR code for every single ride to get access' thing. And upon scanning the QR code, our photos popped up on the screen and we were let into the loading station of the coaster. It's kinda weird, as you already had to scan your ticket to enter the park.. Apparently, this is how they work here.

So after scanning our QR code, we were greeted with an empty Big Dipper train. We chose the backrows for this experience. This whole ride is nostalgia, it literally breathes nostalgia. The seats are cushioned velours and the restraints just a janky old bar. They immediately send out the train and off we went, on this old machine. Every turn this woodie makes, you can feel the train wants to go straight forward but is forced to turn. I can't describe the feeling, but it's funny! And I can tell you, this whole ride is hilarious. It is so rough, it has insane airtime to the point I literally didn't touch my seat anymore. I had to hold on for dear life on every drop! Coming back in the station you can see the ride ops handbraking the train, that is how old this thing is. We loved this ride even though it was so rough we could do with a hip replacement.. Off to a good start in BPB!

Next to this old coaster, is a Vekoma SLC called Infusion and I can't stress enough: Do. Not. Ride. This. But for the credit, we did it. I can't say much more, besides that it's painful. We quickly walked away from this ride to enjoy the rest of the park. Next thing we encounter is a bobsled, Avalanche. Always good fun and as the park was deserted, there was no queue for any of the rides. So after this we decided to find where the Steeplechase ride is, as we saw it from the other rides we did. This Steeplechase was really high on my list, because it is the only one left in the world! We were desperately searching for the entrance, and you know why? Because BPB is so PACKED with rides that intertwine.. You have no idea where to find anything! This is exactly what makes this park so amazing. The amount of rides they managed to squeeze on such a small area.

Eventually we did find the Steeplechase entrance, which operated on only 2 of the 3 tracks. This 'coaster' is a single rail horse-ride. You are only strapped in your seat with a seatbelt. And even though it is really rough on your hips, it's good fun! I really hope they will bring back these kind of rides. After this ride we decided to do The Big One, the UK's tallest coaster (not for long anymore though) standing at more than 200ft! And it is massive! Not only in height, but the whole track is super long! Half of the train was filled with sandbags on this quiet day. I wondered why they do this, but apparently it is to weigh the train down more so it doesn't valley with the strong sea winds. It literally NEEDS the sandbags to make it all the way around, crazy! Going up the lifthill is awesome, as you feel like you are about to drop into the sea. Even though this ride has been retracked on certain parts, it is still very rough.

Circling around the park we came across several other wooden coasters, which were all very much the same. They are all the 'out and back' type, which means they do nothing but going up and down, turn around, up and down and back in the station. It's literally just airtime hill after airtime hill. They are still good fun, especially for families! Some of them were a little more uncomfortable than others, but that is what makes these old woodies. They should be rough, they should rattle and shake. And you should feel like you are bruised and need a hip replacement. It's all part of the nostalgia that these old machines bring you.

Besides a lot of old wooden coasters, BPB also has a more recent steel coaster with absolute awesome Japanese theming! It's ICON, their MACK multi-launch coaster. The entrance to this ride is beautiful and the gift shop is the best I have ever seen. Imagine a gift shop for just one coaster, with so many different merchandise items! This is one their iconic (hehe, pun intended) rides, as this is so smooth and nice to ride! It's not the most forceful ride, but it is definitely my favorite in this park. The way it intertwines with other rides is amazing. And the best feature on this ride? The rotating seats on the back of one train, called ENSO. Mind you, this is an upcharge option that will cost you £15 per person! Which is pretty expensive if you ask me, but it does narrow it down to the real coaster enthusiasts I guess. For a brief second I hesitated, do I want to pay this much for a rotating seat on a coaster? I quickly changed my mind, because I wanted to experience this and didn't know if I'd ever come back to BPB. And I was so glad I did, because ENSO is absolutely a-ma-zing!! It makes ICON way better and way more intense.

Now that we have done all the rollercoasters in this park, it is time to tackle all the other rides they have. And they have a lot! Blackpool has some many quirky old darkrides, we had to experience those! The Wallace&Gromit ride for example, this was really weird but good fun and quite a long ride. Right behind this is the Ghost Train, this one is really old and one of those 'fun fair' like ghost trains. It's not scary at all, but really well made and enjoyable. Same goes for the Alice in Wonderland darkride, nothing special but nice in between your rough coaster rides. Enjoy a fun little boat ride? Then go for the River Caves, which has some really cool scenes for such an old boat ride! All in all, you will love this park if you like coaster and quirky dark rides.

So let's talk about one dark ride in particular. Which is more of a.. darkride watercoaster that had a massive refurbishment and was newly opened for 2023. I'm talking about Valhalla. The entrance to this ride is huge and amazing. I knew this ride was awesome, but didn't look into too much as I wanted it to be a surprise. Only thing I knew: It's a massive soaker! Be prepared, I'm not joking. They are vacuuming the water out of the boats right as they come back into the station. This thing is serious. It was down for a couple hours that day, but when it re-opened we rushed into the entrance. This ride can be best described as a 'log flume water coaster' I think. It's one of the longest darkrides in the world, with over 4 minutes of ride time. I will not spoil too much, as you need to experience this for yourself! It features several drops and amazing special effects. If you are into Vikings / Norse mythology, you will love this ride! We did it twice because there is so much to see during the ride, you'll miss out on a lot on your first ride. And again, be prepared to get drenched. A simple poncho will not help you stay dry.

Last but not least, we wanted to do the flying machines ride. This is the oldest ride in the whole park, as it operates since 1904! It's nothing more than a simple swing/whirligig ride, but with rockets instead of individual seats. But the fact that it is so old and still operates to this day, makes it a really cool experience. It's a wonderful way to enjoy the park and feel the seabreeze in your hair. I certainly enjoyed every second of it, thinking of all the people in the past that have enjoyed it too.

And that is exactly why Blackpool Pleasure Beach is such a nice park to visit. It proofs that you don't need the biggest, fastest or craziest rollercoasters to be a good park. It's all about the vibe, the way everything is built in a small area, the feeling you give you visitors. I felt like going back to a time where people enjoyed the little things, where it didn't matter who you were, how old you were or what rides there were. I had such a good time here, that I will never forget this experience. There is so much to do and see in this park, it's perfect for every age. Even though Blackpool is not likely to get a lot of new rides, I will definitely revisit in the future! Surely I have forgotten a lot in this review, but our day was so pack with rides that I can't remember everything! We did a total of 24 different rides in just under 6 hours park time (11am-5pm) on this quiet day.

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