Monday, 30 June 2014

Childhood Memories: Not Always Worth Revisiting

Blackpool is "the UK's most popular seaside resort", and I remember visiting a number of times as a child. It was always kind of tacky and touristy, but held a certain charm and I always had fun. In fact, here's an old photo of me, my BFF, and my BFF's younger brother posing in front of the tower. Do you love my black shoes/white socks combo, and scrunched up face?
I always loved visiting the Pleasure Beach. Even when I was too scaredy cat to actually go on anything more adventurous than the carousel, I enjoyed having a wander around with my parents and would always beg them for some 2 pence pieces to put in the slot machines. Oh how I loved the slot machines!

I also visited a few times in my late teens and early 20s, when I was no longer a scaredy cat and would brave any ride that the Pleasure Beach wanted to throw at me. Boy had only been to Blackpool once in his life, and he had a broken arm at the time so didn't get to go on anything - and this fact has made me a little sad for him for the entire seven years of our relationship. So, now that we have our lovely car, we decided that this weekend we'd make the trip. I booked a nice cheap and cheerful B&B to stay in on Saturday night, and away we went!

Blackpool Pleasure Beach
I'd had an email from Blackpool Pleasure Beach with a discount code in for pre-booking wristbands, so instead of paying £29.99 each we paid £17. These days, you have to pay to enter the park even if you don't intend to go on anything, and there are security checks at the entrance. Also, pre-booking wristbands doesn't save you any time as you still have to queue with everyone else; there's no special line for collections.
Blackpool Pleasure Beach
Once we were inside, we quickly realised that BPB just doesn't quite cut it when compared with the modern standard of theme parks. My initial reaction was that it wasn't what it once was, but after thinking about it a little longer, I realised it's the opposite: it's exactly what it once was. Only more expensive and run down. Since my last visit, which must have been about 10 years ago, there have been very few changes. In some ways, that's nice - I got to ride most of my old favourites once again. But the park would definitely benefit from having direction signs and wait times displayed. Little things that seem to be present in any other theme park across the world are noticeably absent here - and we heard so many people mention it over the course of the day.

One of my absolute favourite rides at BPB is Valhalla. This was a must-do, even though it was quite a cool, cloudy day. The signs near the entrance state "You will get wet... You may get soaked" and they're not wrong! We did get pretty darned wet! Had it been a nice sunny day we would probably have gone on it more times, but one soaking was enough.
Valhalla at Blackpool Pleasure Beach
Probably the most famous ride at BPB is The Big One. When it first opened, it was the tallest and steepest rollercoaster in the world. 20 years on, it no longer holds those records - but everyone who visits BPB and is rollercoaster inclined wants to go on it. We queued for, oooh, ages, and we got right to the front of the line and even in the gate for the front seats... and the train approaching the station stopped. The other train that had just left the station (that we had just missed out on seats on) was nowhere to be seen from where we were. We continued to wait for another 20 minutes or so, until they announced that they were closing the ride. On one hand, we were disappointed to have missed out on riding it... but on the other hand, we were glad not to have just squeezed on to that last train out of the station - especially as on our way out we could see that it was stuck on the first climb and staff were having to help people walk down. By way of compensation, we were given a speedy pass to use on any ride of our choice, which we thought was a nice gesture.
The Big One at Blackpool Pleasure Beach
At this point, we decided to get something to eat. The first place we happened upon was called Coasters, and I managed to bag us a table in the window that was made from an old waltzer car. I decided on chicken fajitas, and Boy went for beef burritos. I must admit, we were a little disappointed to be presented with this:
Not even a full tortilla wrap in there! Still, we ate it up - it wasn't awful, but it also wasn't very good - and got back to going on the rides. The Big One didn't reopen for the rest of the day, but we did manage to get on all the other coasters. One in particular stood out - Infusion - which is more recent than my last visit. This is a steel inverted rollercoaster, along the same lines as Nemesis at Alton Towers and Dragon Challenge at Universal Islands of Adventure, and is suspended entirely over water. When we were sitting waiting for it to start, I (rather foolishly, in hindsight) asked Boy if he felt like the rides were all tame after everything we'd gone on in Orlando - and he said yes. And then Infusion turned out to be pretty effing fast and vicious!

Overall, although we had a good time at BPB we agreed that if we'd paid full price we would have felt rather short-changed. The value for money just isn't great, and neither are the standards for the modern age. It really was like stepping into past, and paying a hefty price for doing so. I haven't even mentioned the cost of parking - Blackpool Council must be making an absolute fortune there! I don't think we'll be going back in a hurry. Or maybe ever.

On Sunday morning, before heading home we had a drive up the promenade to see the tower and the piers.
For some reason, the weather had obviously decided to play nice on Sunday morning - lots of blue sky and sunshine. It made Blackpool look that little bit nicer, but I am so glad we didn't venture out on Saturday night to see the state of it then. Blackpool is something of a Mecca for stag and hen parties, and general drunkenness - we were rudely awoken in the early hours by a couple in the room next to us having one hell of an argument which went on for hours, and it was obviously partly caused by alcohol.

This last picture is one I took as were getting near home. I've been wanting to visit this castle since I moved up here, but because it's not easy to get to without a car we haven't made it there yet. I'm sure we will soon though!
Raby Castle

How was your weekend?

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  1. We don't have much in the line of amusement parks where I am, but the last time I was at the little one we have my thoughts were pretty similar. Hope you get to visit the castle soon!

  2. This is so fun! Sometimes it's fun to do the more touristy things in the place where you live. Also- I want to go to that castle too!

  3. Black pool was never on my to visit list in England - for precisely all of the reasons you listed above!


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