Friday, 13 September 2013

Why we love Blackpool and the Pleasure Beach

Like all parents returning to school run duties this September, I’ve been asked 384 billion times “Did you go anywhere nice this summer?”

When I answer “Blackpool.”

I generally get looked at like I’ve misunderstood the question.

It would seem that Blackpool has suffered something in image over the years, and is not often put in the same sentence as nice and place, unless there’s a not amongst them too.

But we love visiting.

True, I did have to blind myself to a lot of the world around me, which being a permanently self-imposed challenge, is no more than I’m used to anyway.

However I can’t think of another UK coastal town that has the number of family friendly attractions that Blackpool does.

We used our Merlin Annual Passes and went to the top of Blackpool Tower, visited the famous Tower Ballroom, the Circus, the Sea-Life centre, Pirate Mini-Golf and Madame Tussauds.

All awesome in their own right. 

Having already spent plenty of time on the beach this summer, we gave Blackpool’s a miss as we didn’t get time.  But Max was reminded to keep telling one of his favourite jokes.

What do the Donkeys on Blackpool beach get for their lunch?


We scheduled our stay to end on the day the famous Blackpool Illuminations started, which you may say was poor timing, but we thought the exact opposite.

See the lights are all up and on the night before their official switch on, and you can enjoy the relative quiet and drive along the promenade with ease rather than bustle during the official switch on times.

Driving passed the stage being erected for the switch on, we even got to learn that Gary Barlow had indeed come to the organisers rescue after The Script had pulled out.

Who needs Twitter?

But a lot of our fun was reserved for Blackpool Pleasure Beach.

We enjoyed a maiden visit there last year courtesy of Best Western, and this year were determined to make it back under our own steam.

Of all the amusement parks I’d say the Pleasure Beach was set on the smallest footprint, meaning while you’ll still give your legs a good workout, not quite as much as you would visiting some of the others.

And in fact parking is so close, we actually left our car once more under the frame of The Big One.  Which is not all you can do under a rollercoaster.

Taking it turns in picking which rides to go on, we did all the old rides like the Steeplechase, Alice in Wonderland and the Ghost Train.  As well as on the newest Wallace and Gromit ride.

There really are rides for all ages and levels of thrill seeker.

It was exhaustively brilliant, and armed with our experience of last year we managed to eeek out absolutely loads from our time on the Pleasure Beach.

Think the longest we queued was waiting to board Wallace and Gromit, a little over 30 minutes that could mostly be attributed to the ride being temporarily stopped.

You have to box clever a little, and not just look at queue length, look at ride turnover too.  What I mean is, a queue could be huge, for say Derby Racer or the Flying Machines  but they get a lot of people on and off for each ride sequence, making the queue move more dramatically and quicker, effectively.

In total we spent nearly 10 hours at the Pleasure Beach, and while knackered by the end of it, I didn’t feel at all stressed, as with its long opening hours you can be a little calmer about chalking off all your ride hit list spreadsheet.

It’s a surprisingly laid back experience visiting the Pleasure Beach.

Top Five Tips for Visiting Blackpool Pleasure Beach 

  1. Pre-book your tickets and arrive early to collect them – I bet a lot of families find that the biggest queue they will join at the Pleasure Beach is that for tickets, do all you can to avoid that by pre-booking and arriving early.
  2. Scout good parking – There’s a quality car park just under the Big One.  Accessed by driving passed the Pleasure Beach front and turning left.  Means you have a very short to and from the park and can even see your car from the rollercoaster if you fancy!
  3. Don’t be fooled by where rides are – It’s a small place, and all rides are cleverly arranged around the park, but some rides like The Air Bender in Nickelodeonland shouldn’t be written off as a little kids ride just because of its position.  Likewise Wallace and Gromit is more of an experience ride safe for everyone, rather than a rollercoaster.
  4. Bide your time – With the park open late it is worth biding your time to get on the popular rides.  Hold your nerve and don’t think you’ve lost your chance if you don’t join a monster queue at 2pm.
  5. Look out for occasional shows – We spotted a free puppet show last year.  Performed in the dark with luminous puppets and UV lighting, it was a surprising highlight of our day.