20th March 1999

Pleasureland (Southport, England)

 

Cathie Cook

Southport Hands On 3. What a wonderful time we had, from beginning to end.

TraumaTizer is just great. Maybe it’s not the fastest roller coaster I’ve ever ridden, but, to my amazement (the name Vekoma being the general caveat it tends to be; bang bang ouch), it’s certainly one of the smoothest. Not a bash or a crunch in evidence anywhere, which means you can confidently relish the wild contortions through which it flings you, without having to treat each circuit as a challenge or a feat of endurance; and that can’t be anything but good. It’s refreshing, too, to ride a couple of slightly different elements, rather than your standard loops and corkscrews. Plus, of course, it’s very interesting to try a suspended coaster, which is only two seats wide, and isn’t ground-hugging. Not to mention the fact that we were riding it so early in its operational life, that its station and theming weren’t even complete! Congratulations to both Vekoma for getting it right with TraumaTizer and to Pleasureland for having the courage of their convictions, and putting it in. It should do marvels for the park, especially as Blackpool’s got nothing even remotely akin to it.

And then, across the way, there was the Cyclone, being as joyously bounding and airtime-filled an experience as ever. We had many rides, arms in the air, flying out of our seats, and whooping like big kids. This classic woodie may look meek and unassuming from the ground, but those back seats deliver. Like it. Like it lots.

So, apart from the rides themselves, what were the highlights of the trip, personally, for me?

The first has to have been the eleventh hour opportunity to walk the Cyclone’s track. Thanks to a bit of lucky timing, and a kind yell over from Justin, it was enthusiastically appreciated. All I can say is that the Cyclone looks immeasurably higher and hairier when seen from up there, rather than from its trains, and a whole lot steeper than I’d ever have anticipated. It makes your thigh muscles ache for days. When you ride it, afterwards, it gives it extra meaning to have clambered around up there yourself. Thank you Pleasureland for letting us do it.

The second highlight – and they don’t come much more special – was the chance not only to ride TraumaTizer before it was open to the public, but that I was fortunate for my name to be drawn for the very first train. The atmosphere was magic – as it was for both exclusive sessions; grateful thanks again to the staff for giving us the extra time – and it was well worth the journey for that one ride alone.

The third highlight was the charity auction. Plenty of fun and tense excitement all round, as well as being for a good cause. It was fun to share a few rides with the firemen on their 36-hour charity marathon on the Cyclone, riding backwards.

Lots of other things to say as well, but if I listed them all, you’d be reading all week. So, I’ll just settle for saying one big thank you to Pleasureland, both management and park staff, for making our visit so enjoyable and interesting. Another to the Club, for bringing it all together; and last but not least, a round of thanks to everyone who attended the trip for being great company. What a day to remember!

 

James Lloyd

Just a quick note to say thanks for the Southport trip. The day was excellent and TraumaTizer was very good – Vekoma have made some big improvements to their design to produce a smooth ride.

I hope that Southport will be the first of many Club trips for me!

 

John Livesey

The Southport Hands On III was a weekend full of “firsts” for me. It was the first time I’ve walked a coaster track, first time on an SLC, first time to Southport on a Club trip and most impressively; being one of the lucky people to ride the first ever public ride of TraumaTizer. I also hold the dubious honour of being one of the first members of public to get stuck on TraumaTizer!

TraumaTizer was amazingly smooth; in fact almost B&M smooth. I was a little apprehensive after the reports of SLCs being rough, but I’m pleased to say that Vekoma and Southport have excelled themselves with this one. The whole trip was excellent and the Pleasureland management and staff couldn’t do enough for us – a big thank you to them all.

The highlight of the day was the appearance of Mrs. L. D. Thompson during lunch. She sat at the back of the restaurant whilst the charity auction was taking place and even signed a copy of the latest First Drop to be placed under the hammer. The auction had many unique and interesting items up for sale. The bidding was quite fierce and competitive at stages, and I’m now the proud owner of commemorative ticket 001 for TraumaTizer. Other lots included Cyclone signs, the Rollercoaster Tycoon game, promotional material for TraumaTizer and even a bolt from TraumaTizer along with a bit of wood from the new Twister at Knoebels park! The auction raised over £350 for charity.

Finally, I’d like to offer my thanks to all the ECC team involved in organising this trip and I can’t wait for Blackpool!

 

Tim Tipler

Thank you for another excellent day at Pleasureland – and thanks to the BBC for getting the weather forecast wrong. We had no rain all day, and even some sunshine in the afternoon – they said it would rain.

Over the past few years, Tony Corfield has said things will change at his park – and he kept his promise with the new generation SLC. Having ridden El Condor in the Netherlands, I found it to be good, but having a little roughness. The Pleasureland ride is even better, and I really enjoyed it. As for the name, TraumaTizer is a good choice, as a lot of people will be traumatised by it.

Thank you Pleasureland for all your efforts, and keep up the good work. The park is changing and I am sure there is more to come.

 

Mark Fulcher

The start of the coaster season certainly got off to a flying start! TraumaTizer went far beyond my expectations for a Vekoma coaster. At last they may have finally cracked it for smoothing out those rough “hang and bang” bits. We couldn’t have packed anymore into the day if we tried and I am very grateful to all at Pleasureland.

Well done ECC, another well-organised trip.

 

Dave Dowson

After the success of the first two ECC Southport trips, it was going to be interesting to see how the third trip would compare, especially with the arrival of a new coaster at the park.

Approaching Southport from the south, TraumaTizer is visible a few miles down the coast, but it was soon obvious that the work was not complete. A few concerned members could be seen wondering if we had all wasted our time travelling to Southport. Needless to say, with Chris and Justin’s organisation, the coaster was running and we were given the privilege of being the first members of the public to ride it. A draw for the first train was held and I was one of the lucky members selected to ride. Having ridden El Condor I was expecting a good ride, but with the usual Vekoma trademarks. I was very pleasantly surprised with the ride, as it was very smooth and impressive.

The morning’s one hour ERS ended with a minor problem with a train stuck outside the station for a few minutes, but the minor discomfort endured by the unlucky riders resulted in a further one hour ERS after lunch. A nice gesture from the park that was much appreciated.

The remainder of the day followed the traditional Southport trip agenda with ERSs on the Cyclone and Wildcat, Fun House and Go Karting – and the whole day was terrific. Following lunch, an auction of ECC and Pleasureland memorabilia was held, raising money for charity. It was a very pleasant surprise to see Doris Thompson making a brief appearance.

What impressed me most of all however, is the transformation of Pleasureland over the last few years from a run down seaside park to its current incarnation. A return visit over Easter proved the point as the park was packed. I would like to thank Southport for their efforts in getting TraumaTizer complete and allowing us the privilege of being the first people on it. I am sure TraumaTizer will put the park on the map.

Many thanks to Justin and to Chris for all the effort in organising the trip, but I don’t know how you will be able to follow it next year.

 

John Cook

Just a quick letter to say thanks again for another excellent trip. It’s hard to appreciate just how much effort everyone puts in when the day goes so smoothly and enjoyably, but a great deal of thanks must go to everyone involved from both the Club and Southport Pleasureland.

As for the coasters, TraumaTizer is a welcome addition, and the old Cyclone was very much a wolf in sheep’s clothing. What can one say about TraumaTizer that everyone else probably isn’t saying already? Probably not a lot, so just go and ride it if you haven’t already (it’s excellent).

As for the Cyclone’s ability to serve up airtime – I think it was very well named. And this doesn’t even take into account the opportunity to walk around bits of it.

Generally, the park was a pleasure to visit and I hope it continues to develop along the same lines. I shall certainly be visiting Southport again.

 

Graham Walton

It’s 6 o’clock in the morning and I’m off to Pleasureland for Hands On 3, but I have a few worries – it’s not over riding TraumaTizer (great name by the way). The nerves are more over the fact I might not get my ERS, as I have visions of me plummeting off the Cyclone during the track walk!

I arrive at Pleasureland where all the track walkers are gathered together. So on to the track we go, the first thing I notice is that my shoes have good grip. One thing you can not appreciate until you actually walk the track is just how steep the hills are, it really is quite tricky walking up and down them.

Next up was the Cyclone and Wildcat ERS. I stayed at the Cyclone, which was running as well as ever. Then onto the main event – TraumaTizer.

I had never ridden an SLC, so I was really looking forward to it, but mindful of Vekoma’s hang ‘n’ bang reputation. Now the first thing that stands out about it to me is the colour scheme, it really does look fantastic. Hopefully, Pleasureland will invest in floodlights to show it off at night.

It was time to ride and we entered the still to be completed station to be the first members of the public to ride it. I was on the third train, just behind the front, but it was here that I found the only complaint about the ride. The way the harnesses were pushed down with such force, leaving me with bruised shoulders.

So what’s my opinion of it then? Well in my view, Pleasureland have got a winner on their hands because it really is a fun ride and an excellent one at that, so hats off to Vekoma for producing a fantastic and smooth ride. After about 40 minutes, the ride developed a small technical fault which left some members hanging around for a short while, at this point the rest of us made our way to the Fun House for the usual “torture” session.

At dinner Tony Corfield, the park manager gave us a ten-minute briefing on TraumaTizer, which was very informative. We also received two bits of good news; after dinner we could go back to TraumaTizer for another ERS as we had not finished the first one. We were also told that after the park closed we could go back to the Cyclone and stay on as long as we wanted with the charity riders.

After some free time it was over to the go-kart ERS which resulted in a lot of collisions and us being banned from having the full nine cars on the circuit at any one time. At this point I vowed to make sure I did not leave the park at the same time as the rest of the members fearing for my cars bodywork!

After tea and some more free time, it was 7 o’clock and about 20 of us made our way back to the Cyclone for some more rides on it although this dwindled as the hours passed. Indeed by midnight their was just five of us left when we decided to call it a night. By this time I had managed to get in 101 rides on the Cyclone which really was flying as the night went on.

I would like to say it really was great to see Mrs. Thompson come to Pleasureland, she really did deserve the rapturous applause that greeted her.

I’ll sign off by saying thank you to the people at Pleasureland who really did make us feel welcome and a big thank you to Chris and Justin without whom none of this would have happened.

 

Richard Davis

Well, what a great introduction to the ECC this trip was. Due to other commitments over the past year or so, I have been unable to make any Club trips until this year. So, off to Southport I went wondering just what a Club trip would be like. I came away having enjoyed my day so much that I wished I could have made all last years trips too! From the personal welcome on the way to the meeting point, to the goodbye and hope you enjoyed the day – the park could not have made us feel more welcome had they tried!

Opening a new coaster for us to test when the area was still a building site was one thing, but no one expected another 45 minutes of it later in the day. Or the fact they built the entrance ramp the day before so we didn’t have to use a ladder to get up to the station! I managed five rides on TraumaTizer, and came off feeling like I had almost been on a B&M. Having only heard about the roughness of SLCs, I was very surprised at how smooth it was!

With another 45 minutes on TraumaTizer later in the day, the park really did make a huge effort. The weather was great if a little cold and the whole day was over before we knew it! I eventually got back to South London at 1am,  thoroughly knackered but very happy that I had found the ECC!

Thanks must go to Mark Cook for making me feel very welcome, and to the Park for putting on such a great day.

 

Richard Ball

First off I would like to thank all the people who arranged and provided lifts to and from Southport for me, you know who you are and I’m deeply thankful to you as you enabled me to experience a great ECC trip.

As I arrived I was pleasantly surprised by the SLC, as it was more compact and taller than I had imagined. Strangely, the Cyclone ERS was to be my first UK woodie, so I was really looking forward to it. The Cyclone proved to have possibly the smallest first drop on a coaster, but managed to pack in quite a lot of airtime at various points around the circuit. On the whole it was a good coaster that just leaves me wanting more.

Immediately following the Cyclone ERS came the highlight of the day – TraumaTizer. The minimal theming on the station had been finished and it looked really good. The trains were quite comfortable and the overhead restraints very padded. The first drop was good, and with no pause it was into the butterfly element, which on the first few runs was very slow. All in all, the SLC proved to be a very enjoyable ride, which at points was slightly rough but from what I’ve heard of previous SLCs, this one is a big improvement.

After the TraumaTizer ERS we had some time in the Fun House , which as the name would suggest, was great fun. Lunch was finished off with the unexpected appearance of Mrs. L.D. Thompson. After a long applause, she signed a copy of First Drop for the charity auction.

At lunch we had received our wristbands, so after the second unexpected ERS on TraumaTizer we had the rest of the park to enjoy. Chaos was good fun although it seemed to be quite temperamental with it seeming to break down every 15 minutes! At the end of the day it was time for the go-carts which were excellent, with plenty of crashes throughout the session.

On the whole, a great trip which leaves me very grateful to the people who organised the trip and my lifts that enabled me to attend. Thanks.

 

James Tipler

Thank you for letting me and my dad walk the track of the Cyclone, it was really good. The Go-Karting was excellent as was the rest of the day. I hope to see you on another trip soon.

 

Chris McFarlane

I hope that everyone enjoyed the Hands On III event at Southport Pleasureland and the first rides on their new TraumaTizer coaster, which is thankfully a smooth one. As ever, the staff put on a good day for us and I would like to thank everyone involved for making it such an enjoyable and easy to organise day, especially Tony Corfield, Steve Christian, Lynne Walker and Mark Lee.

 

Justin Garvanovic

What a day! All in all we had 4.5 hours of organised ERSs, but then to top it off, the park allowed members to ride the Cyclone with the firemen doing their charity marathon. This led to some people getting another five hours of solid riding in!

We picked the date to give the park plenty of time to get TraumaTizer up and running, but as the date approached, it became obvious that the ride might not be finished in time. Indeed this turned out to be the case, and Pleasureland had every right to say, “sorry, we can’t do a TraumaTizer ERS.” It was then even more special when they allowed to us to ride this still unfinished ride, and become the first members of the public to ride it. Many thanks to the powers that be.

I personally can’t see how the team at Pleasureland could have done more for us; it now seems that this event has firmly planted itself down as the season opener for us. Now all we need to do is figure out how to top it next year, but they will, of course, have a SkyCoaster…

Like Chris, I would like to thank: Tony Corfield, Steve Christian, Lynne Walker and Mark Lee as well as Helen O’Neill and Mrs. Thompson – her appearance was the icing on a particularly enjoyable cake.

Day index