23 May 2018 – just before Spring Bank Holiday weekend, was the day chosen for the launch of ICON the new Rollercoaster at Blackpool Pleasure Beach. Visit Fylde Coast were thrilled to be invited along to celebrate the occasion.
The place was packed out with roller coaster clubs and enthusiasts, thrill seekers, journalists and media people, and not just from the UK. Now anyone who knows me will know that I don’t travel well. At all. And there’ll be plenty of talk about statistics and speed and stuff from lots of other quarters, so instead I’m going to talk about my morning out. Before I start I’ll apologise in advance for any errors in my narrative and mis-use of rollercoaster terms and expressions!
Packed house for the launch of ICON the new Rollercoaster at Blackpool Pleasure Beach
I’ve been to many different events at the Pleasure Beach and still always get a thrill from driving along Blackpool seafront, so today was no exception. The sun’s shining and there’s not a cloud in the sky – obviously the weather is like that everyday here on the Fylde Coast. (If you believe that you’ll believe anything).
As is the British way, everyone is stood patiently in a queue, waiting to get in and be served with a lanyard pass, press pack and a brew. (That’s the Fylde Coast word for cuppa). For once there weren’t that many faces around that I recognised and it was obvious that the rollercoaster fans were out in force. I kind of gave away the fact that I wouldn’t be having a go on ICON, the new Rollercoaster at Blackpool Pleasure Beach with the fact that I was wearing a dress. If you’re going to go upside down at 85kmh you wouldn’t wear a dress, would you.
The first thing I was struck by among the crowds was a fabulous jacket worn by a very dapper chap who turned out to be Andy Hine MBE the Chairman of the Roller Coaster Club of Great Britain. I caught him for this photo a bit later on. In chatting with Andy he gave me a great quote ‘the whole of the town [Blackpool] is a theme park’. Indeed.
As we were trooping to take our seats in the theatre I realised I was stood near to Simon Calder the travel journalist. Now me being me I followed him and sat down next to him. Artless as you like, I explained that I watched him on TV at the weekend when I was doing my housework…. What a nice man he is, we had a chat and I just had to catch a pic of him when he asked the first question.
Rising from the ground – ICON the new Rollercoaster at Blackpool Pleasure Beach
Being local and being interested in what goes on around me I obviously knew quite a bit already about ICON. We’ve all been watching bits of steel appearing and being installed. I drove past on one grey day in winter and saw the very car park I used today, piled up with huge round bits of grey metal and thought that today’s launch would be here before we knew it.
Now I’ve already alluded to the fact that I ‘suffer from travel sickness’. My friends know that’s a huge understatement, but it’s another tale for another day. So I must admit that the Q&A session about twists and turns and g-force was of no interest to me whatsoever. I did catch the bit about it having twice the launch velocity of a commercial airliner – and it being the only place where you’d experience that kind of acceleration. Now I like acceleration, strangely, and I’ve always enjoyed driving. Must make my ears and eyes match up with my brain. Anyway…
At this point I’ll explain that what matters to me (if not the g-force) is the effect that it will have on Blackpool. It’s going to put it on the map and ‘re-engage with thrill seekers’. Not me obviously, but I know that, without a shadow of a doubt, the ride will attract more people to the Park and to Blackpool than anyone could ever dream of. That’s the thing that I find thrilling. That today it will be on the news all over the UK and in plenty of far flung places too, showing off what a great place Blackpool really is.
I had a word with a couple of the rollercoaster fans. Sat behind me and filming the presentation throughout were the European Coaster Club, and their members really had come from various places in Europe. Sorry that their photo is a little blurred but everyone was trying to get me out of the way at this point, as we all left the auditorium.
The next victims to my own unique brand of journalism were Paul and Becky from www.thrillridesphotography.com. They’d travelled to Blackpool from Dover and couldn’t wait to get on the ride.
I did asked them what they liked so much about it and Paul explained ‘it’s a feeling that you just don’t get anywhere else, that feeling in your stomach’. I also asked them both if they ever felt ill. I could imagine unstoppable Paul being one of those people who does the non-stop rollercoaster records – Becky didn’t look quite so sure that she could ride and ride until the cows came home.
I have to say that I enjoyed the walk through the Park to the location of today’s event. It wasn’t lost on me that it was also a great opportunity to show the attraction off to all of those visiting people. The Pleasure Beach is so familiar to me, both from my childhood and now that I live here. It’s valuable to see things from an outsider’s point of view, and I fail to see how they couldn’t all be impressed.
Launching ICON, the next Big Thing
Next stop was the actual opening of the ICON the new rollercoaster ride at Blackpool Pleasure Beach, with a fanfare of confetti! (And yes, I checked, it was tissue paper 🙂 )
I just about managed to catch my own photos of the ICON carriage as it twirled around the tracks, and loved photographing the blue sky.
The next pic is a carriage of the older Revolution going around next to the new tracks. It doesn’t seem five minutes since I was a ten year old girl and Revolution was opened in 1979. I clearly remember my grandad going on it and thinking he was very brave! What I did notice was how quiet ICON is. The carriage glided past and sounded like a piece of amazing high tech engineering – which of course it is.
And here it is, the moment you’ve been waiting for, the front seat view from ICON. Yes, you guessed it, this clip was provided in the press pack by the Pleasure Beach. It’s not the view of my ride!
A walk down memory lane
By this time people were drifting away so I drifted off for a walk around the park and a walk down memory lane. I took a photo of the rails of the monorail for old times sake. It was always my favourite ride was that one. To me it’s a shame that it’s being dismantled bit by bit, but I realise that things move on even if my mind doesn’t.
As soon as I got away from the amazing music of Ben the Sax Man the next thing I heard was the twitter of songbirds. I’d bet that Blackpool Pleasure Beach is bordering on a wildlife park, because in between the rides the grounds are immaculate. Obviously the goldfinches felt at home, there were so many of them and they were making a racket!
So I snaked my way around the park back to the entrance, having completely drained the battery on my camera with all the video clips and photos.
You know that little voice that we all have in our heads that talks to us all the time? Well mine was running a monologue this morning, and it went along the lines of ‘how lucky am I’. The sun’s shining, it’s a glorious day and I’ve been at an amazing event, celebrating the opening of a significant new tourist attraction in a town that I love. And that’s my ‘job’. Beats just about anything else that I can think of doing for a living 🙂
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