Ocean Beach Amusement Park16th June 2007
Rhyl is not exactly the first location to spring to mind when one contemplates tourism in Wales. Now that I think of it, Wales is probably not the first location to spring to mind when one contemplates tourism, but I digress. In short, Rhyl is in dire need of urban regeneration, which is now underway. Sadly, the grand plan for the town doesn't include its famous funfair, which has been in its last year for the last two (and no, that's not a typo). With that in mind, we decided that making a trip should be a priority item, especially given the presence of four roller coasters.
Two of the roller coasters are cookie cutter models and not worthy of major note. Pepsi-Cola Loop (#969) falls into that rarest of category, the smooth pinfari looper, but having ridden nine other ZL42 models it didn't hold my interest for more than the ninety seconds a single lap required. On similar lines, the Nessi (#971) kiddie coaster was notable only for passing a few idle minutes. Far more interesting was the Jet Stream (#970), my second Z64. As with its brother, the high point of this ride (pun intended) is the first drop, which is in a word, superb. In reality this ride can best be described as Pinfari's version of the venerable Wildcat. It might not have the refinement of the Schwarzkopf design, but it's pretty close, and it's certainly one of the best designs Pinfari ever put out.
We were advised that the Log Ride would need at least another half an hour before it could open, so we filled that time slot with a two mile trip up the road to Williams Amusements. This is a very small funfair attached to a caravan park, though it does have the Z40 Roller Coaster (#972) and a powered ride that was sadly out of commission today. The coaster is probably only a draw for the complete credit whore, but whatever the case it certainly passed the time. Hearing the operator talk about Final Destination 3 was of dubious merit given the condition of the cars, but we seem to have survived, at least so far.
By the time we made it back to Ocean Beach the Log Ride (#973) had indeed opened up. As the last remaining side friction water chute attraction this was something that I was really looking forward to. The age of the ride and its design makes it feel very rickety; I'd go so far as to say that it was genuinely scary, especially as the car launched itself down the drop towards the water. Never before have I felt quite so out of control as in that car. In a word, the sensation was awesome and something I'd have loved to have done again. Unfortunately, the car then goes into a turn still at considerable speed, one which the rails really cannot take. Bouncing over potholes at that sort of speed hurts; hit my knee on the front of the car, hard enough to draw blood. Oops.
Wallis's Family Fun Fair16th June 2007
As I get older As time goes on, my enthusiasm for chasing down kiddie coasters in obscure locations begins to wane. With that in mind, I hadn't asked George to put Wallis's Fun Fair into our routing for this weekend even with its relative proximity to our planned route. He had, however, done so of his own volition, and as we were here it would have been rude not to ride the powered Dragon Coaster and the rather oddly named Wallis's Wonderful Wriggling Wirral Wacky Worm (#974). The latter stretches the definition of wonderful just a little, unless one chooses to wonder (at length) about the length of the name. At any rate, Fabbri's version of the ubiquitous ride has a unique feature; rather low steel bars inside the apple that are guaranteed to scalp riders over six foot eight or so; George must have had all of two inches of clearance from them.
Blackpool Pleasure Beach16th June 2007
My coaster obsession enthusiasm has developed quite a bit since my last visit to Blackpool, nearly five years ago. As I read over my older trip reports I've come to realise that some of the first reports I wrote, in 2002 and 2003, are as near as matters useless at reminding me whether I enjoyed a park or otherwise. As a direct consequence of that I'm now bordering on the neurotic about documenting my opinions of the various parks and rides, sometimes spending two hours typing and editing on the laptop following a day in a park. This is of course an extremely nerdy thing to do, but the reality is that I don't have the personal discipline to keep a diary on a regular basis, making the rambings on this web site the next best thing.
At any rate, we learned on arrival at the park that the closing time was to be an hour earlier than the web site had stated, and further that rides would be closing off half an hour earlier again. In summary, this left two and a half hours to explore a park that requires at least a full day to appreciate properly. Nevertheless this was still enough time to grab a ride on all bar two of the coasters. So here goes:
- Avalanche, a strong contender for my favourite coaster in the park. The train follows a very twisted course while continuing to gather speed, almost to the point where it was going as fast as I felt comfortable with by the time it hit the brake run. There were several occasions where it felt like the sled was going to go over the side of the track!
- Big Dipper. The beginning section of Big Dipper has had some modification since my last visit in order to allow the, er, infusion of a new second hand coaster for this year. It hasn't hurt the ride though, other than making for a bit of an odd introduction with a five foot high lift hill, a u-turn, then the normal one.
- Grand National. In a word, ugh. With apologies to the many people who appreciate the finer points of this ride, it didn't do anything for me other than hurt. Part of the problem is the new trains, which feel very cramped thanks to a firm seat divider and very high car walls, the latter presumably placed to stop or at least severely restrict riders trying to slap hands with the racing train. Either way, a little bit of retracking would be very useful.
- Infusion. In common with quite a lot of coaster enthusiasts I had nothing positive to say when it was announced that Blackpool was to be polluted with a second hand hang'n'bang from the now defunct Pleasureland Southport. Be that as it may, I have to say that the park has made this ride look fantastic; it is almost completely over water, and the fountains and water effects around it add significantly to the ride. The new paint job really shines too. The truly amazing bit is that the park has managed to install a second hand SLC that doesn't jar riders bar a small moment in the final inversion. It's not a B&M, but it's still a great ride. For sake of clarity, the previous sentence refers to the coaster, not the other attraction with the same name in the Blackpool area!!
- Pepsi Max Big One. Of all the coasters we rode today this was the one I was looking forward to the least; in fact, I was tempted to skip it altogether. What a mistake that might have been. My memory of this ride centered on the square wheels the cars clearly operated with, but they were not in evidence today. From our vantage point in the middle of the train we were treated to a high speed coaster ride; admittedly a fairly boring one following the wonderful first drop, but nevertheless one which was highly enjoyable all the same.
- Roller Coaster must have been retracked for this season. There's no other explanation for the fact that it was easily the smoothest traditional wooden coaster I've ever been on, excluding the prefabricated rides from Intamin. The carpenters who work on this ride know their business. My only disappointment was that seatbelts have been added to this ride since my last visit. If it was safe for nearly seventy years without seatbelts, why does it need them now?
- Space Invader 2. The best way to describe this ride is as a poor man's Space Mountain. It is a lot of fun, but suffers from horrendous capacity, with a three seater train going out at best every thirty seconds, though more often every minute. A park as big as the pleasure beach seriously can't afford an attraction that averages two hundred and fifty per hour.
- Wild Mouse. This ride is insane, in the nicest possible way. There are only a handful of surviving wooden mouse coasters, and it's not hard to see why; the maintenance bill on this ride has to be horrendous thanks to turns which must pull at least a lateral 3G, probably more. Either way the design is a huge amount of fun, though the writer recommends that intending passengers wear thickly padded clothing!
- Zipper Dipper. This ride closes half an hour before the rest of the park as it is targeted mainly at children. It's hard to see any good reason why, to be frank; it's a really nice small sized wooden coaster, and as with Roller Coaster it's in superb condition.
One final note on Blackpool; visitors should not forget the South PIer up the road, which has another handful of thrill rides including a Skycoaster and a SCAD Tower. We elected to skip it outright today as we'd visited before and it was getting late, but credit whores coaster enthusiasts should definitely try out the Crazy Mouse.