1-3rd July 2005

Blackpool Pleasure Beach
Blackpool Pleasure Beach
Blackpool Pleasure Beach

 

John Livesey
Just on my home from a great day. Big One was down for our ers so we got 75 mins on the ‘National instead. 🙂

Had our evening ers extended to one hour on the ‘Dipper this evening which was still going on when I left

I can honestly say that BPB have pulled out all the stops for us today. Really great atmosphere.

Can’t wait for tomorrow if it’s anything like today.

Great to see everyone old and new

Andy Wright
I can say without a shadow of a doubt that this was the best club trip so far that I have been on.

It was a pleasure to meet and talk with so many new faces and to see some old ones to.

This was a great day the ‘Nash was good Big Dipper was great also. I only did it twice as to much for my back.

One last thing John Padley says that he has never felt so welcomed on a club trip and such a great day that he had with the ECC.

Hope you all enjoy today all them that is going and dont get to cooked.

Clare and Thomas Wright
What a brillant day. Thanks goes to John and all others who organised the day. Also a speacial thanks to Chris from Thomas for keeping him happy.

Just to add does any one know a good physio as i put my back out on the ‘Dipper last night. I new it was a bad itea to site at the back and put my arms up in the air.

Finally Thomas enjoyed his first go on the Zipper Dipper at 7 months!!

Simon Baynham
I’ve just returned home from an excellent BPB weekend. I am absolutely shattered, so just a few words.

The Friday evening pre-registration in the Big Blue Hotel should be an event in its own right. 20-30 enthusiasts were there taking over the bar area and chatting. Nice to meet fellow ECCers and to chat the evening away over a drink or two.

Saturday morning saw an ERS on Grand National and Wild Mouse. The ‘National seems rougher these days. On the climb into Becher’s Brook my spine was given a few jarrings, something I’ve never experienced before on that ride.

Either it’s rougher or I’ve become less tolerable (age-wise). The afternoon welcomed a meal in the Paradise room… mmmm chicken! And an ERS on the ‘ig Dipper. (The “B” is missing in the signage)In the evening many members opted to take in a show. I was just too tired to do this and went back to the B&B just around the corner.

Apparently a few ‘magical’ tricks went wrong in the Mystique show… heh heh heh… comedy & magic!

The park was nicely populated both days, queues were moderate I would say, and the weather was superb. I never waited more than 15 minutes for a ride.

Sunday morning welcomed an ERS on the PMBO and Steeplechase. “Great joy ensued” (One of my favourite FD pieces!). 12:30 saw pizza and pasta being served in the Italian Job restaurant, very nice it was too! By 2:30pm I was just so tired and opted to come home whilst other members stayed on.

Thank you to John Livesey and the trip’s team for putting on another superb event. Thank you to everyone there for taking the time to say ‘hello’ or taking the time to smile and chat: John Padley, Mark Riley, Jenny, Adrienne Smith and family, Margaret D. & Cherry. Mick F.K. and family for those stinging hand slaps during the ‘National ERS 8¬). Chris & Claire, James L. Owen Rees, Paul Orsmond, Brian, Greg and Andy, Phil Ariss, Lee Sullivan, Bob, Roger and Eve, Terry J. Derek, Adrian, Val and Lorna, Rob Warner and anyone else I’ve failed to mention.

See you all again soon!

Clark Jarvis
I’d like to say thanks to the team for a great WKW. Especially to everyone who tried to sing “Happy Birthday” as I set off around the Big Dipper alone, Richard Rodriguez eat your heart out. What a brilliant gift from one and all. One to remember. Thanks again from the “75 Year Old Birthday Boy”.

John Thorp
Sorry if you’ve come across this before, but it seems odd I’ve posted it in at least 3 other forums/lists, but not the ECC list…

Arriving at Preston station on Friday afternoon, fresh from a plush Virgin Train I had finished thumbing through my copy of the Independent, and needed to pass it on… I noticed a group of loud, bawdy twenty year olds, most of whom were shirtless travelling to one platform in particular. These were certainly not the candidates for a free broadsheet, however they did direct me efficiently to the Blackpool platform, without me even having to ask.

A piece of chewing gum was growing stale in my mouth, as I milled around the platform, trying to find somewhere to dispose of it. Who do you need to sleep with to find a bin in Preston station?! Nobody, thankfully, as I clocked one hooker, a guy with a pirate eye patch and sunglasses, and a bloke in a pin striped suit who looked like a disgruntled twelve year old, yet clearly considered himself Lancashire’s very own Al Capone.

The line to Blackpool South took me swiftly across the plains of the Fylde, and notably past a reverse bungee ride at some sort of village fete. If you hadn’t guessed by now, I was heading for the Pleasure Beach, or more specifically – the ECC’s White Knuckle Weekend 8. I could make out the Big One in the distance, as the train headed in an entirely different direction for a while, before I departed at Blackpool South. Special guests for he weekend would be Ben Hodgson, Alex May and Adam Rooke (more commonly known as Skum001 on various forums). They would be arriving from the flattest part of the UK to the flattest part of the north later in the evening, so I had some time to kill at the park.

Hurrah! At long last the park had bothered to process my season pass, and despite my mugshot looking like I’d been shot at during the snap, it was all in order. The place was pretty dead, but the weather was nice for starters – bumping into Phil Arris, Rich Holmes, Greg Pearn and their respective partners we sampled the airborne delights of the Flying Machines, and the Grand National and Derby Racer. Two equestrian based rides which would set the running theme for the rest of the trip. I ambled to Fieldings, a chippy of quality, but resisted their fried delights until my ‘crew’ arrived, which I later learnt was a silly move.

Back to ‘the amazement park’, I clocked up a few more rides, and did some milling about, before picking up my season pass, and heading to the ‘Aleda Holiday Flats’. After a lengthy wander around the back streets of South Shore, past various amorous couples and escaped dogs, I concluded that ‘Station Road’ would probably be…near a station (!) and found it within minutes. The previous evening I had been to my local cinema to see ‘War of the Worlds’, and left my phone in the auditorium, which meant I had no way of contacting my late co-occupants. Eventually I spoke to Alex, who was “somewhere on the M6”, rather unhelpfully. I had plenty of time to sit and ponder the film, and wondered what would happen if aliens rose in war machines from the Golden Mile, and started to obliterate the town and its residents. It would be a shame for that to happen to Blackpool, but less so if it had happened to Morecambe, mainly as it would take about a week or so for anybody to notice.

All my apocalyptic pondering well and truly done, I was invited into the flat by the owners, and after handing over my money rather sooner than I expected, lay down on the sofa, catching the end of a classic Simpsons, and then dozing off… I had an odd dream. I was watching the television, and Coronation Street came on. Fred Elliot was in his butchers, and two near clones of him were in there giving him, rather appropriately’ a good ribbing… a knock on the door not only made me jump, but indicated this wasn’t a dream at all, but an odd storyline. Who says TV isn’t as good as it used to be?!

The others had arrived, after apparently knocking for ages at the door. I showed them around the perfectly serviceable accommodation, and we all had a good chinwag, before leaving to get some food. I was absolutely starved by this time, and watching Fred Elliot carve up an animal carcass had only made me more hungry. Disappointingly, Fielding’s Fish Bar had now closed surprisingly early, but we found salty solace in a small place around the corner. As the sun began to set, we made our way onto South Pier, but only after mentioning to the security guards we weren’t from Blackpool, as apparently all residents of the Las Vegas of the North are now barred for trouble causing. I soon saw two pensioners with broad west Lancarshire accents walking their dog however, so I would have loved to see the outcome of shouting, “Sir! Sir! These scallywags have snuck on, call the law sir!”

Only wanting a few rides, making your way down the pier is pretty nightmarish, as a melee of stall owners bully you into winning something doubtlessly utterly useless. When you arrive at the head (leg?) of the pier, you have a few choices of thrills – most involve overpricing and dangerous looking plunges from metal towers. And so, the Breakdance it was going to be. Suffice to say, I feel we made a good choice. I’m confident this particular Breakdance is not of the Huss variety – it feels particularly ripped off from it though, the basic design and cars being pretty much identical, but for copyright reasons the set of pods sit on small arms which raise and lower as the platform rotates. Overlooking the slight copyright infringement (the absolutely slanderous illustration of Tom Cruise behind it added to the theme), the ride was totally and utterly mental, the ride op clearly enjoying himself immensely, as we entered “hyper speed!” and went “up in the air!” various times. The ride could have done with an extra minute or so for best value, for the £3 asking price, but we couldn’t resist putting another pound in the pot for a re-ride.

The Big Blue Hotel had been over-run by ECC members, and registration indicated I was in charge of the lunch and drink vouchers for my cousin and brother, arriving the next day. The ECC clearly don’t know me well enough. A pint of Warsteiner later, and we were back to the flat, before realising we had no food and venturing out again. The Aleda holiday flats seemed like a quaint establishment, printed signage advising us to respect the residents and stay quiet. However, placing an ornament resembling a small urn on an oddly angled mantelpiece, is not only very random but just asking for trouble in relation to a group of ‘youthful’ guests. We had some biscuits and teabags we never used, as well as some bread that was pretty useless, the choice of spread for it being biscuits or teabags.

I was alone sleeping on a rather comfy foldout bed in the living room. At around 3AM, I woke up to the sound of two lovely young ladies rather vocally beating the crap out of each other outside my room for a good twenty minutes, before some friends decided to break them up. Ah, Blackpool.

I woke up at 8:30AM, the time we were welcome at Coaster’s Bar and Diner for tea and coffee (something I would have killed for), but in no real rush, wandered to the restaurant, arriving at 9:10AM. On the way, the others recounted how they could hear a sound outside the window that very closely resembled that of a tap dancing horse, and that subsequently they were in hysterics to the early hours. To be honest, that sounded a lot more pleasant than the filming of Kill Bill Volume 3 I had to endure. Just as I was about to take a bite into my ‘Mr. Funshine’ branded shortbread, when I realised I was missing my Season Pass. Luckily, my Mum had dropped off my bother and cousin, so she drove me back to the flat, as I rushed in to pick it up (watch the urn!) returning spot on as the ERS began.

The Big One was having some problems, so the ERS on the ‘Nash and Wild Mouse was swapped from the Sunday morning to the Saturday. The Wild Mouse was empty for the duration practically – I do like the coaster, but it’d be unhealthy to ‘enjoy’ multiple rides on board. The ‘Nash was running fine, and hand slapping and re-rides galore abounded. Some guy on the opposite train ended up grabbing my hand as we traversed the lift hill, before his train suddenly and abruptly sped ahead of mine, almost ripping my arm out my socket. As always, it was bloody excellent, and enough to make grown men dash back around with glee.

PBB’s staggered ride opening is a little annoying – quite a crowd had gathered outside the gates by 10:30AM, and they were let in with a choice of around four attractions. Unsurprisingly, the retail and catering outlets were open, and we bought a Mars bar each – as a Mars a day helps you work, rest and play, and waited for Spin Doctor to open. With little surprise, it did, soon sending two arms worth of ECC members spinning through the air, before dispersing them to grumble about how short the whole thing was. Alex had visited in the past, but Ben and Sku were new to the park, and so I made it my mission to show them what they needed to see. As rides opened we would dash on with minimal queuing, covering a few rides at a leisurely pace before lunch. These included Fruit Shoot, a truly awesome kids ride, and then Bling a truly awesome kids ride. One of Bling’s redeeming features is that despite it’s gaudy travelling appearance, it looks pretty spectacular when in motion. Oddly, the Pleasure Beach seem to think it’s a style that can be expanded on, the area under the Big One’s shadow now littered with pay per play games, including the Looney Ladder that has an image of Millennium Force plastered on it. It seems odd that cash is ploughed into ‘stylish’ developments like the Ice Parlour, yet this area looks like Pleasureland did until a while ago.

Lunch was taken in the Casino’s Paradise Room. Now, don’t get me wrong, it’s a nice room – I’ve been in a fair few rooms in my time, I’ll tell you, and this is not one of the worst, but ‘Paradise’ is a slight overstatement.

Dinner was pretty tasty – Chicken, Chips and Beans did the trick fine. At this point, we were joined once again by Rich Holmes avec missus, and headed to the Superbowl back on park, when John Livesey announced there would be a takeover on the ride, as trip attendants prepared to go bumper to bumper.

While queuing, the DJ on the criminally poor Holiday Rock FM reminded us that Live 8 were just starting, and basically, those who had shelled out £30 an a wristband were missing such an event.

Noah’s Ark, is a ride that in internet terms would accurately be described as ‘WTF!?’ but is one of those slightly challenging, intensely random but shamelessly enjoyable attractions you can only find at the Pleasure Beach.

One of my group particularly loved the fish tank breaking the darkness in one section, but I remain a fan not only of the bouncing policeman with a piston impaling itself up his arse, but also of the ‘table that goes up and down for no reason in particular’. It’s a bit Europa Park in theming really – it doesn’t do much in particular, but you’re glad it’s there.

When you’re visiting with Plesh virgins, it’s really great to see their faces as they experience all new things, but it also has a downer – you’re entitled to at least one ride on Valhalla. I didn’t particularly mind today actually, as the sun was blazing, and I was up for anything. Before our journey into the Viking whateverness of the ride, Rich kindly let us drop off our jackets and belonging in his hotel room. Rich was staying in the Big Blue Hotel, the lucky scamp. No, we may have not had a DVD player or food in our room, but what I missed most was the fact that on Rich’s bed’s headboard, the material allowed you to paste in dirty words with your fingers and rub them off without any evidence.

Going back into the park, we passed through Beaver Creek, and after being rudely ignored by Bradley Beaver himself, made our way to Magic Mountain, which for the uninitiated (as were my group) is a truly frightening dark ride hidden away beneath the Rollercoaster’s first drop. As the train negotiates through small tunnels and caverns, the fear grows, and the ride becomes more and more politically incorrect. We emerged in a state of bewilderment and hysterics, while the father in front who’d just paid £6 for he and his children to ride simply looked angry.

A few would say riding Valhalla is a waste of time whenever, however today a trip on board the longboat was particularly regrettable. I decided to pinch a few ponchos out of the bins in the shop, save paying the £1.50 for a piece of branded plastic, and for this, we were all severely punished. I didn’t get one for Ben’s rucksack. Ben’s rucksack which at the time contained hundreds of pounds worth of electrical equipment, including my camera.

Realising we may have made a slight misjudgement (ehem) on the safety of our belongings, we politely asked the attendant in the station for a spare poncho out the bin’s on the platform, to protect out bag. In an Eastern European accent, he shrugged his shoulders and said he couldn’t. The camera is now recovering in my airing cupboard. May the Gods of the heater be with it! It’s nice to see that despite Valhalla’s ‘electricity cage’ effect being out of action, the park have taken the liberty of placing a strobe to highlight the thousands of pounds worth of bare equipment that isn’t there or doesn’t work.

Continuing the watery theme, we made our way to the Log Flume, a decent little ride I hadn’t enjoyed for a while. I’m quite a fan of it, particularly the speedy straight section at the beginning, which proves the park don’t need to rid of it for a water coaster as they’re already half way there.

Dinner was at Fieldings, and was… you guessed it, chips. They were above par, but only just, to be frank – consistency needed I think. Ben had ventured back to the flat in order to drop off his bag and attempt to get his phone working after it’s trip on Valhalla. He took a while getting back, and I wondered if our late night laughter had disturbed her sleep, before remembering she was up into the early hours teaching horses to tap dance anyway. Back into the park, at least four blokes were outside Pasaje Del Terror offering leaflets aiming to part us with a fiver to be scared witless.

‘In the beginning you will feel afraid. Later on you will know what horror is, by then… it may be too late’, they exclaimed. Well, fair enough, but why don’t I just go ride Magic Mountain again?

Big Dipper, a ride I presume we’d purposefully avoided all day was next, for a one hour ERS. Running two trains, not only was there plenty of freedom of choice for seats, but it was quite possible not to see other members for a whole hour. Ben couldn’t take the duration, complaining that not only was the back seat too much, it gave him carpet burn.

So, with an hour left of rides, we progressed to Avalanche. When on three train operation, the ride gobbles guests. On two train, it provides a speedy queue. Regrettably, we were provided with a one train operation meaning what would have been a five minute wait was a fifteen minute one. Following this, we rode the Grand Prix, after a demonstration by the hilarious operator of his operating regime aboard the ride. A Thorpe Park worker, Ben was in stitches and amazement that not only do PBB ride workers have freedom and space, but they actually trust the public!

The actual ride was less enthralling. I broke one of the cars, holding up the majority of the vehicles on the circuit, meaning the ride photos consisted of the riders looking frustrated they weren’t moving anywhere. Bah humbug. It interests me that Jordan has sponsored the ride. I know after the Revolution were meant to take interest in buying an Irn-Bru, and the Flying Machines urges us to travel to Ireland on a budget, but are the children who frequent this ride meant to leave and ask their parents for a high performance racing car?

Ice Blast’s seating arrangements were particularly suited for our group, and Sku craftily took Ben’s seat, forcing Mr. Hodgson to reply with possibly the most hilariously situated swear word ever. It even almost made the ride mildly entertaining!

Talking of the Flying Machines, this and a visit to the Superloos, containing ’14 high quality mahogany cubicles’ completed our excellent day at the Pleasure Beach, with various rides left over for the next day. But my friends, the night was still young! As the park don’t provide the fun of being lurched at by security to clear the park, nor the ‘Goodbye’ tune anymore, we didn’t wait around.

Ben fancied a bite to eat at ‘Mr. Fu’s Sailing Junk’, a rather appetising looking restaurant along the park’s Ocean Boulevard. This was followed by a trip along the promenade in front of the park, all lovely and decked out in a pleasant modern style these days. The highlight is probably the three famous concrete circles, once believed by over excited enthusiasts to be footers for the top hat of the park’s long fabled launched coaster. As exciting as it was to be beside the seaside, we made the odd choice of catching a tram towards the centre of Blackpool, carefully choosing the safest side of the promenade in relation to it being stag and hen party central.

As the sun had set, the wilds of the town had emerged – Alex has a penchant for all things security, and we were confident we had spotted an incident this early in the evening! We realised they weren’t ‘real’ policemen when a passing hen party were practically attacked by them. The tower illuminated providing some good photo opportunities (for those with cameras still intact!) and we made our way onto Central Pier, past another selection of games. A gruff Scottish bloke seemed majorly determined to have me playing.

“Doe yar smook or drank sonnie”? our north of the border chum enquired.

“Well yes I do drink reasonably often. In fact, I’m going to the Big Blue Hotel bar later, and it’s pricey there, so I’ve got no money for you game!”

I exclaimed. Oh yeah, I was on fire.

We walked windswept back to the Pleasure Beach just in time for Mystique to finish, which considering our rather unexciting jaunt up the coast, we should have opted to see. While waiting for Rich to emerge to visit the pier, we noted resident magical master, Richard De Vere and his pet Pooch Schnorbitz were outside the theatre for photo opportunities. Good job I knew who they were to be honest, as it was probably odd for the others to see this rather self important looking man in a cape standing in a carpeted foyer with a big daft dog.

Walking back up South Pier (“Ach, ye lads wannae ween a beeear?”), we found the Breakdance was just waiting for customers and hopped straight on. Were as the previous night the operator had chance as his chosen flavour of tune, this evening film themes and gothic twinged rock were the pick of the bunch.

Our first ride, lasting a little longer than 4 minutes and set to Evanescence’s ‘Wake Me Up Inside’, was utterly ace. “How was it for you this evening gents?” said the operator. We beamed, and invited ourselves back on for another spin, this time set to the Mission Impossible theme tune.

Fantastic stuff and a good job the token booth sits right next to the platform. “Come on lads, hop on board!” said the Miami operator. I think he was lonely.

Back in the sophisticated warmth of the Big Blue Hotel, I enjoyed a couple of beers, and then realised how shattered I was. Rising from my plush chair, I felt my legs lunge under me, the fifteen-minute walk back seeming like it took forever. I also managed to get hay feverish along the way, which at 1:15AM beside the sea is plain unusual. Safe in the knowledge I’d set my alarm on my now recovered phone I feel flat face down on the bed, looking forward to the tea and coffee in the morning…

I had not been awoken by the alarm. It was light outside, my eyes were red and crusty and I suddenly panicked, turning over my phone. 9:30 AM.

Expletive deleted.

By now, we should have been riding the Big One, but instead I was tidying the flat, panicking. Phenomenally, we had vacated the flat in 30 minutes, the owners happy with its state, and hopping in Ben’s car, we made our way to the South entrance, not the only one’s late. Thanks to Phil Ariss and Operations Manager Keith Allen, we got in fine, with 45 minutes of the ERS left. The way the Big One was running, that was ample time, thank you very much! Steeplechase was allowing single person races, and you could easily sit on a specific horse/big one car for the whole session if you wished. My brother managed to clock up 25 circuits on the latter during the morning… lunatic.

Starting in a similar pattern of Mars Bar > Spin Doctor, we filled in the time in the morning with some of the more lesser attractions, of which their great randomness Sku had become quite accustomed too. His favourite was Alice in Wonderland, though I still remain adamant that the River Caves is the best. Trauma Towers isn’t half bad either, come to think of it. The Ghost Train warrants a ride as not only does it have skeletons on bikes, but also a lift hill facing downwards, which presumably has anti roll forwards.

The attendant loading us was the man from the Grand Prix, who spoiled for me that despite the claims of Most Haunted the ride wasn’t haunted. I suppose a ghost engineer called ‘Cloggy’ was a bit of a push.

Lunch in the Italian Job was unlimited, and very tasty, pizza and pasta – Alex was absolutely delighted, and I enjoyed it a lot too.

Another ride on Valhalla revealed that the bin I’d been stealing used ponchos from wasn’t at all poncho exclusive… ugh. In the fabled superloos, I was drying myself and my poncho, when a young lad said something… in Scottish. After a minute of trying to decipher what the hell he was saying, his handy tip was “Why not keep your poncho to use later”?

The Beaver Creek Log Flume seemed to struggle to take our weight, the front of the boat dipping into the water and giving the two front riders a small drenching. Good old stinking poncho!

It was sad to see the likes of Vikingar and Turtle Chase closed – we actually only ran out of rides to do 45 minutes before the others left. That would have filled in the gap nicely. And so it was 3PM, and the South called for the others. Leaving the park, I purchased fresh pineapple from a fruit stall – take that, Burger King!

Making my way home, very tired but satisfied, I remarked how much fun I’d genuinely had, and I already have a few ECC trips earmarked, so thanks to the organisers, my flatmates and the park’s hospitality. T’were right grand.

 

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