Reviewed by Louise Totton
Last Thursday (18 October 2018), my other half and I decided to take advantage of a rare child-free day and head off to Blackpool to blow away some cobwebs. I hadn’t seen the illuminations since I was a small child and being a southerner, he had absolutely no idea what they were, so we planned on spending our day in the Pleasure Beach followed by an evening of strolling through the lights an eating fish and chips.
Fortunately, we picked a glorious day for it – as we got into Blackpool at 10.30am in the middle of October, the sun was shining, the sky was blue, and the sea looked almost sparkly. The Pleasure Beach is well-signposted from the motorway, but I was following sat-nav instead which seemed to get a little confused but nevertheless, we found it and managed to find a free parking spot around 10-minute walk from the entrance. There is ample paid / car-park parking available but because we were planning on being there all day and into the evening we thought that would get a little expensive so found unrestricted parking in the surrounding streets.
What we hadn’t reckoned on was that whilst the English schools were not on holiday, the Scottish schools had already broken up so the really quiet, off-peak day we’d expected wasn’t going to happen and the place was absolutely heaving! We decided to grab a coffee at a nearby coffee shop for half an hour to allow some of the entry queues to diminish a little before we went in.
Once in, we went through a security check and were handed park maps. Just next to the entrance is a locker room. Because it was so warm, we decided we didn’t want to carry our coats and bag around with us so we rented a locker for £4 for the whole day. I thought this was good value and the size we chose had enough room for a large rucksack and two coats.
One of the great things about the Pleasure Beach is how compact it is. There are loads of rides – plenty of big thrill rides and lots of family rides too, but they’re not spread far and wide. So it doesn’t take ages and ages to walk between them. this is a particular advantage for families with young children and disabled people as the day doesn’t become unduly tiring. Speaking of disabilities, whilst the Pleasure Beach doesn’t offer a free carer for disabled guests like some other theme parks, its disability access scheme is fantastic. The qualifying criteria and evidence required is on the website, and we met the criteria so were issued with an EvE (Entry via Exit) wristband, which means that for people with a medical condition that makes queueing difficult, the wait time is drastically reduced. Having said that, even though it was Scottish half term and the park seemed busy, we did often not bother using our EvE band as the queues weren’t too bad and they did seem to move quickly.
Before we arrived, the ride I most wanted to go on was the The Big One / Pepsi Max. We have been to the Pleasure Beach a few times over the past few years but have always had the kids with us so haven’t managed some of the bigger rides, so I was incredibly excited to get the chance to ride it. It was absolutely amazing and I have to say probably my favourite ride all day.
My boyfriend, however, loved ICON – the newest ride in the park, and the the UK’s first double launch rollercoaster. Actually, we both loved it, so much so that we went on it twice. The initial acceleration is exhilarating and whilst the ride twists, loops and accelerates often, it is a very smooth ride. Quite a contrast from some of the older coasters like the Grand National and The Big Dipper, which are also fabulous in a different way.
We were in the park from 11.30 until around 4.45 – the park shut at 5pm (do check opening/closing times on their website as can vary). In that time, we managed to go on The Pepsi Max, The Grand National, Steeplechase, Infusion, Avalanche (twice), ICON (twice), Wallace and Grommet, and several other smaller rides. We also paid £30 for a pass that gave us a digital copy of every ride photo that was taken as well as any four large prints in a presentation book. I think that was great value and a lovely memento of the day out.
We had a wonderful time in the park and can’t wait to return. The Illuminations capped off a fantastic day for us. We had our fish and chips, then strolled up the main road towards the Tower whist it was dusky. After sitting on the beach for a while waiting for it to go fully dark, we walked back to the car through the fantastic light show. The whole day was fabulous and so much less stressful (and less expensive) than the bigger theme parks, and no shortage of rides to suit all tastes.
Wristbands for entry and rides cost £33 (11 years and under), £39 (12+ and adult). Book online before before midnight, the day before you visit, for discounted prices (£26/£28).
Pleasure Beach Pass cost £6 per person and gives you entry to the park and you can then buy tickets to go on just the rides that you want to.
For more information or to book tickets online visit www.blackpoolpleasurebeach.com.
Blackpool Pleasure Beach, 525 Ocean Boulevard, Blackpool, FY4 1EZ | 0871 222 1234