Posted on: Thursday 8th June 2023
Since the Victoria era, people have flocked to Blackpool for many reasons; the golden mile of sandy beaches, the invigorating sea air, iconic landmarks such as Blackpool Tower and the Winter Gardens, and of course, The Pleasure Beach.
You might think that Blackpool Pleasure Beach is more of a modern addition to the Lancashire seaside resort, but it was founded in 1896, by Alderman William George Bean, after he failed to become an advertising executive on Madison Avenue in New York.
The original Pleasure Beach was built on the sand dunes to the south of the town and consisted of only a few rides, roundabouts, a bicycle railway, and several stalls. But after Bean and his business partner John Outhwaite visited New York’s Coney Island, they added more rides and sideshows and began to attract more attention from tourists visiting Blackpool.
By the early 1900s, there were more rides that you would associate with theme parks, such as rotary swing rides and water chutes, two of which, Sir Hiram Maxim's Captive Flying Machines and The River Caves of the World are still in operation today.
In 1923, the Pleasure Beach moved from the dunes to its current location, and the Big Dipper, the famous wooden roller coaster was added, and is also still thrilling visitors to the attraction today in its centenary year.
In 1931, the park was sold to the Thompson Family, who still own and run the park today under the guidance of Amanda Thompson.
Over the years, the rides have got bigger, faster, and more thrilling, including Avalanche, the first and only bobsled-style roller coaster to ever be built in the UK, The Big One, which was the tallest and steepest roller coaster in the world when built in 1994, Revolution, ICON, Grand National, and many more.
The Pleasure Beach also hosts a variety of family entertainment, such as magic, illusions, and hypnotism shows, and Hot Ice, a fantastic, fast-moving ice skating show, as well as two four-star hotels.
But today, the pirates of Coral Island were invited to ride Valhalla, returning again for the 2023 season! Valhalla is a Viking-inspired indoor, dark water flume ride, and one of the longest indoor dark rides in the world, lasting over four minutes, with its four thrilling drops, and fire, water, and snow special effects.
Let’s see if the scallywag pirates were brave enough to venture into Valhalla!
The Blackpool sun was beating down on the day our adventurers wound their way down the Promenade towards the Pleasure Beach, and after a quick stop for refuelling with a hot beverage and delicious, sugary freshly made doughnuts we found ourselves outside the impressive and imposing facade of Valhalla, looking like a sheer rock face, with water spilling down the front, a dire warning of what was waiting for us inside.
We joined the queue of other brave souls entering Valhalla, the Old Norse name for the ‘Hall of the Slain’, found in Asgard in Norse mythology. But we brave sea dogs, who have seen Davy Jones’ Locker, had no fear, nor of the other, maybe wiser souls donning waterproof ponchos. We seafaring types are used to getting wet…
However, seeing the attendants using industrial vacuums to remove excess water from the boats that would deliver us to Valhalla confirmed that we would indeed be getting more than a little damp on the ride.
Once aboard, we set forth, plunged into darkness for the majority of the ride, immersed in the world of Valhalla, as images, statues, and idols of Norse gods greeted us, with fire and smoke, ice and chills, fantastic lighting effects, and a narrator telling us of the journey ahead.
The ride started slow, building anticipation, as the special effects increased, and the boats reached the top of the building before plunging us all down the first of four thrilling drops, splashing down and soaking the boat and its passengers before, rising up again for the next big drop and splash.
Twists and turns await the boats as they press on through Valhalla, as well as giant wooden hammers splashing the boats, flaming arrows, spiked rolling logs, fireballs, and an exciting, action-packed finale, and a final burst of water to ensure that the riders all get thoroughly soaked.
Valhalla was an exceptionally fun ride, with all the thrills and effects needed to create a wonderfully intriguing atmosphere, and sense of theatre - an immersive dark ride like no other!
But you will get very wet, just like you should on any good water flume ride! So do purchase a waterproof poncho if you want to stay a little drier.
We were lucky that it was a hot, sunny day in Blackpool, so it didn’t take too long to dry off after a walk around the park and a visit to The Big One - still an impressively thrilling ride, climbing so very high above the Blackpool coast and a sudden sheer drop.
There’s a superbly wide selection of rides at Pleasure Beach, from the latest and greatest white-knuckle rides such as The Big One, ICON, Grand National, Revolution, Infusion, Big Dipper, and more, as well as more family-friendly rides such as Wallace & Gromit’s Thrill-O-Matic, Alice In Wonderland, various carousels, and the aforementioned Sir Hiram Maxim's Captive Flying Machines and The River Caves of the World.
There’s also Nickelodeon Land, the only one of its kind in the UK, where younger guests can meet SpongeBob Squarepants and their favourite characters from Paw Patrol, and many others from the world’s number one kid’s entertainment channel! You’ll find 12 amazing themed rides perfect for the younger scallywags.
Throughout June its Paw Patrol month at Nickelodeon Land, a whole month of fun and games, competitions, and chances to meet your favourite pups, July it’s SpongeBob month, where you can meet SpongeBob, Patrick and Squidward at Nickelodeon Land and play character themed games with Team Nick, and August brings the Summer of Slime, a month dedicated to slime-themed games, and maybe even get slimed in the Slimeulator.
The Pleasure Beach is a little bit of a way to the south of Blackpool town centre, and while it can be a very pleasant walk - and an opportunity to dry off after Valhalla - there are trams running up and down the promenade all day long to take you back to the attractions closer to town, including Coral Island, of course.
You can continue the fun and games here in the arcade, take a trip on our rides, win tickets on the machines to exchange for amazing gifts and souvenirs at the biggest and best Prize Shop in Blackpool, and don’t forget that Kids Eat Free at Coral Island, all day every day, perfect for refuelling your crew of scallywags after an adventure at the Pleasure Beach.
Just keep your eyes open for the yellow Kids Eat Free stickers in participating restaurants, and kids aged under 10 can receive a FREE meal with each paid adult’s meal.
The Pleasure Beach is open all throughout the week - with some exceptions - until the end of October, and you can check opening times, book tickets, get directions, and find all the information you need on their website - https://www.blackpoolpleasurebeach.com