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Freak Visits the Land of Iron Maiden, the Land of Qua-sooonts, and the Land of Pizza (Trip Report)

Discussion in 'Trip Reports, Planning, & Questions' started by Freak, Jun 7, 2019.

  1. Freak

    Freak Veteran Member

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    While y’all are talking about Galaxy’s Edge, I want to talk about my trip so far seeing Europe. I started off flying into the land of tea, crumpets, and Iron Maiden....otherwise known as England. Spending two weeks in England (meeting up with a friend at Thorpe for one day) and two weeks in France and Italy with the fam. Before I get into that, a little backstory: this is my first time flying solo to another country and this is my first time in Europe. My parents and sister are visiting Europe and Italy for two weeks. I saw this as my big chance to check out the British parks that I’ve been curious to see. I decided to do this the two weeks before they left and meet them at Paris via the Chunnel. Planning this felt like a dive into cold water worrying about potential surprises.

    So there I was, planning everything out, thinking I figured everything out. Of course, as soon as I landed in Manchester, the airline I was with lost my bag. Flew with JetBlue, then Thomas Cook. Long story short, it was checked at the gate at LAX before flying to my connecting at JFK. Wasn’t in the system, so all I was left with was the stuff in my backpack. No extra clothes (but plenty of socks and some PJs) that really started off my trip with some frustration as my HHN 2018 shirt was in there as well as ALL of my good jeans and shirts and underwear for the trip. I’m getting by and had to buy a few extra clothes items, but I didn’t let that bad experience stop me. Not the kinda thing you want to happen to you when you’re traveling internationally for the first time solo.

    But enough of that. Let me talk about the good stuff. I want to talk about my first major park of the trip: Blackpool Pleasure Beach. I’ve always been fascinated by this park as it has much historical significance (I mean, Big Dipper has been there since WW2, how is that not cool!?) It felt like a Santa Cruz on steroids infused with tea and crumpets. The layout was a bit complicated and all over the place. It was also interesting just to see how so many structures and attractions were built on top of each other. So much so that I was amazed at how small the clearances were for most of their dark rides (Which I’ll address shortly). It also blew my mind how some of their flats or dark rides boat rides (River Caves and Valhalla) didn’t have any seatbelts or restraints. The train station didn’t even have an attendant! It’s amazing how much they rely on guests to use common sense at the park; it’s something you’ll hardly see at any US park, let alone Florida or Cali. This post is really getting long so I will as quickly as I can address the highlights.

    The Big One was my first International coaster credit. My first ride on it was fairly smooth as was a descent ride. The other two (front and back) were rough, and that’s because I ride on top of the wheels. Kinda sad that the most iconic coaster there was not great...and running one train. However, Icon was a really great ride. Got six rides out of it for my two days being there. Definitely the best ride there and probably my favorite coaster in the UK so far (Up against Smiler). Five of those rides were in the back and my last one was in the front (which was HOLY CRAP AWESOME). The other coasters were cool. Rode all of the wooden ones and Steeplechase was unique despite the rough turns. Infusion was awful. Hate those SLCs. That’s all on the coaster font.

    More coming in post 2.
     
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2019
  2. Spaulding

    Spaulding Rookie

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    Enjoy your trip! Very interested to see what you make of the UK theme parks. Particularly how they compare to what is in America.
    Also, try black pudding and Irn Bru if you get the chance.
     
    Freak likes this.
  3. Freak

    Freak Veteran Member

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    (Cont.)

    Let’s talk the dark rides. Like I said earlier, I was amazed at how tight the clearances were for those things. In all of them except Valhalla, if you raised your hand up during the ride, it would easily hit the ceiling or the lights mounted onto the ceiling. What was crazier was that in some of those cases, they were in total darkness! Again, it’s amazing how much the park relies on you to use common sense. I love it.

    Ghost Train was a fun spooky ride, Alice was an unusual ride that just had the music from Charlie and the Chocolate factory that awkwardly loops in the middle of the song and had no sound effects. It almost felt eerie; River Caves was a neat, old-school “tunnel of love” ride. That also had a quiet ambiance in a couple of rooms, which made it eerie. Wallace and Gromit was an oddly-paced, quirky dark ride that only had a “greatest hits” story from their shorts, but I kinda dug it. I was amazed at how low the ceilings were. The one dark ride that really stuck out to me was Valhalla.

    Valhalla was absolutely crazy. It’s totally out-of-place for a cold and soggy country like England. While I loved the ride for how it was, it was annoying how absolutely SOAKED I got both times riding it. It had zero chill with how wet it got you. Like, right after the second drop, the boat took you through a room that was ice cold. It was like the ride was taunting you. “You got wet, huh? Well, HOW ABOUT SOME CHILL TO GO WITH IT? It didn’t help that the boats were flooded with what felt like two inches of water. With that aside, the ride was really awesome. While not a technologically advanced powerhouse in the likes of Spidey, Indy, or FJ, it’s unique scenes, effects (especially the dual battering ram scene and fire effects), and unusual drops make this ride awesome. The theme music they have playing throughout the ride is really awesome when it’s echoing through the scenes. Also interesting to see while the ride does have “rooms”, a lot of it is just in one giant arena building, but they hide that from the flume supports, set pieces, and lighting. If it didn’t get you so uncomfortably wet, it would probably make it towards the bottom of my top 10 dark rides list. It’s really cool!

    Overall, I enjoyed Blackpool. I saw it as a better Santa Cruz. It’s one park I can now cross off the bucket list. I dig the “old school” feel of the place. I’ll write more about Alton soon, but I’m preoccupied with things right now. Other than that baggage hiccup, I’m having fun so I’ll write more soon!
     

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