Thursday, June 07, 2012

Summer Day Trips: Blackpool Pleasure Beach And Nickelodeon Land UK

From The Yorker blog:
Summer day trips: Blackpool Pleasure Beach

For anyone familiar with the geography of the north of England, Blackpool may not seem like an obvious destination for a day trip from York. At around 3 and a half hours on the train each way, planning is essential to get the most out of your day. Alternatively, why not spend a night, or even a weekend there, for a full dose of British seaside madness?

The main attractions to Blackpool are obvious; The Blackpool Tower for sightseers, sandy beaches for the more relaxed, and the pier and the Pleasure Beach for the thrill seeker.

Partly by choice, and partly under duress, I went for the latter of these options. Be warned, a day at the Pleasure Beach is not cheap, with day wristbands starting from around £25 in advance, giving you unlimited access to most rides and attractions.

Fortunately we visited on a fairly empty day, so did not queue for too long. Visiting at the height of summer, you would struggle to get value for money, although Speedy Passes are available for the larger rides. Access to the park alone, without anything else included, costs £5. Once inside, food and drink is cheaper to buy than expected, although naturally you are offered overpriced ride photos and souvenirs at every opportunity.

A thrill seeker must is the Pepsi Max Big One, which apparently (I couldn't testify, as I had my eyes closed the whole way) sees you plummeting towards the sea. Had I seen the sheerness of the drop before I queued up, I may have thought twice about going on.

Once that’s blown away a few cobwebs, its neighbour, Infusion, appears a little tamer if we’re going by size (theme parks being one area of life where size does matter). However, two minutes of leg dangling, cork screwing, upside-down madness later, I genuinely empathised with that old couple from the Specsavers advert.

If water rides are more your thing, Valhalla is worth a go, although you will get soaked. Fear not though, there are full body dryers available for £1. Alternatively, a couple of turns on Ice Blast should do the trick. If you can bear to keep your eyes open, there are decent (but brief) views of Blackpool and beyond from the top of Ice Blast - you’re only there for a split second before you’re dropped back to earth and your stomach ends up in your size 5s.

Avalanche is another one for the more hardcore theme park connoisseur- resembling a bob sled, you hurtle at high speed above the park, with seemingly nothing preventing the vehicle you're in from derailing.

For a more, ahem, vintage experience, try out the Big Dipper, which we were forced to conclude, after a hairy few seconds, is held up only by love (and if you find the kidney I left behind on this beast, please send it back to me). Similarly, the Grand National has been running since 1935, and heck, can you feel it.

The kids' area, Nickelodeon Land, is also worth a visit if you have time (I sense your eyes glazing over, but stick with me on this one). The Avatar Airbender, resembling the love child of a traditional pirate ship ride and a fairground waltzer, is a stomach dropper which had my 24-year-old male friend squealing like a girl. Similarly, the Nickelodeon Streak offers you the thrills of the older rollercoasters with the security of solid metal, rather than rickety wood.

If the Pleasure Beach has worn you out and the weather is looking good, cross over the road and tram tracks and you will find yourself on a lovely sandy beach, where you can relax, and ensure all body parts are returned to their rightful places – just watch out for sinking sand!

To get the most out of a visit to Blackpool, consider staying overnight.

Why not consider day trips to Scarborough and Whitby too? Go on, you deserve a break.