Rollercoaster enthusiasts have hailed the birth of an Icon, as Blackpool Pleasure Beach’s new ride opens to the public for the first time today.
Some of the leading names in theme park fandom were in attendance at the ride’s launch event this week, and have praised the Thompson family for their new creation, saying it confirms the resort’s reputation as the ‘Mecca’ for coaster fans.
Andy Hine, chairman of the Roller Coaster Club of Great Britain, said the £16.25million ride had even gone above expectations.
“This is one of the most anticipated new rollercoasters this year - and it has been delivered to an even higher level than we’d expected,” he said. “I would say that what makes a good ride is one that leaves you wanting more, but this one just gives you more; as you think it’s coming to an end, it goes into a tunnel and does even more twists and turns so you get twice as much for your money.
“You get on smiling and get off laughing - and just want to go on it again.”
Andy said the partnership between the Thompson family and the engineering and design teams at German company Mack Rides had created a fantastic addition to the South Shore amusement park.
“What’s perfect about the Pleasure Beach is that it is the rollercoaster Mecca of the world, as it still has traditional wooden rides alongside new steel ones,” he said.
“A visit is like experiencing the history of rollercoasters all in one place; Icon is cutting edge and thrills in one way, while the Grand National is thrilling is a completely different way - and you only get that in a place like Blackpool.
“The fantastic thing about Icon is that it intertwines with the old and the not-quite-so-new; near the traditional Big Dipper, the unique Steeplechase and through what was the highest and fastest coaster when it was built in the Big One.
“If you put Icon in a field, you would get a good ride, but when you put it in Blackpool Pleasure Beach you get a better one.”
And although Andy admits being a fan of the traditional ‘woodies’, he believes Icon is a world-class ride.
“They’ve got a top-five coaster on their hands here,” he said.
And Justin Garvanovic, founder of the UK-based European Coaster Club, called on Blackpool residents to support the Pleasure Beach - urging them to appreciate what an important destination it was, putting Blackpool on the global map for rollercoaster enthusiasts.
“I don’t know if local people realise just what they have here, on their doorsteps, with the Pleasure Beach,” he said at Wednesday’s media and press day.
“If I go to America, or anywhere with coaster enthusiasts abroad, they say this is the park they want to go to, without a shadow of a doubt.
“The people of Blackpool should appreciate what an amazing world renouned, world class place this is.”
He also hailed the Thompson family’s approach to creating a new ride like Icon - by putting the design and engineering first, over budget, and believes that will retain Icon’s place in coaster history for years to come.
“Anything the Pleasure Beach does is great,” he said. “If they have a £5 budget, they spend £5; commercial companies if they have £5 they’ll spend £4 but try to get it nearer £3.
“The corporate companies, when creating a new ride, put a budget up and do what fits that budget.
“The Thompsons did it the right way, they looked at what they wanted before they looked at the cost.
“With Icon, here, with the Thompsons it’s personal, they want the best and they want to buy something which will be a great ride for five years. The commercial parks, they look at two years.
“Icon will be iconic for five, maybe even 10 years.”