Blackpool once garnered a reputation as a haven for family fun, boasting an average of 13 million visitors each year. But the sunny seaside resort portrayed in television adverts and pamphlets is a world away from the bleak, grey city that overlooks the rusty piers and pebble beaches. Since the nineties interest in this once bustling – and quintessentially English – seaside town has weaned, due to the widespread realisation that seedy arcades and tacky ice-cream parlours just aren’t that fun.
That said, while Blackpool is no longer the go-to resort it was in the sixties and seventies, Pleasure Beach is a highly underrated theme park, often overshadowed by its distant relatives, Thorpe Park and Alton Towers.
Rides and Roller Coasters
It may look like a rickety old fairground ride that will disintegrate at any moment, but the Big One is actually the tallest roller coaster in the United Kingdom, standing at a staggering 235 feet, and boasting a top speed of 87 miles per hour. But, the most impressive ride of all is Valhalla. This indoor dark ride is the largest of its kind and will take you on a thrilling journey through ice, fire, wind and snow, before plummeting down a 60 foot drop. Other rides include the Avalanche, Big Dipper, Grand National, Ice Blast and Infusion.
The roller coaster skyline may dwarf the city below, but there’s more to Pleasure Beach than adrenaline fuelled rides. It also contains classic British-style, family friendly “casinos” with a mix of old-school video games, one arm bandits and vintage slot machines – where you can often find people trying to win back their entrance fee in two pence coins. Adventure golf, bowling and ice skating is available for those who prefer less death defying activities; and there are plenty of street performers providing caricatures, face painting and even fortune telling for a small fee.
Food and Drink
When you think of Pleasure Beach, black and while images of families wondering the grey sandy shores with their portion of fish and chips no doubt pop into your head. In reality, there’s actually quite a few fancy restaurants serving a varied international menu. From freshly caught local seafood bars to posh Italian restaurants, the options are inspirational. Whether you want a quick bite while on the move or a seated three course meal, there is something for everyone.
Compared to the other big theme parks in England, Pleasure Beach is actually very reasonable. Adult tickets are £30 on the gate, but as low as £18 when booked online (depending on the season). Each wristband (ticket) permits entry to the park (including Nickelodeon Land) and provides unlimited all day riding on every ride. Entry to the park itself is only £6, but this does not include access to any rides.
To all the pompous theme park goers out there who think Pleasure Beach is nothing more than an ageing fairground, give it a chance. It may not come close to the big American names like Disneyland and Universal Studios, but it definitely has some of the best rides Britain has to offer.