FOR MORE than one hundred years, Blackpool Pleasure Beach has reigned as the North’s premier family fun day out.
And this year, the Pleasure Beach has upped its fun-loving ante, with highlights such as spectacular ice shows and guest appearances from famous children’s characters such as Dora the Explorer.
The Pleasure Beach also opened its Nickelodeon Land last year, a six-acre site with family attractions, a Nickelodeon shop and a new family restaurant.
But then there are still the thrills.
Among the Pleasure Beach’s white-knuckle rides are the Big One, the Grand National and Infusion - the world’s first roller coaster suspended entirely over water.
Indeed, Blackpool Pleasure Beach has always pushed frontiers where technology is concerned. Valhalla is the world’s biggest indoor ride in the dark and crosses a giant cascading waterfall crashing onto the wooden hand-carved entrance station. It’s nothing if not ambitious.
Brave / foolish passengers board boats and embark on a dark journey through a freezing cold ice room and via huge balls of fire, launched up into the air.
But ambition’s nothing new for the Pleasure Beach.
In 1994 millions of pounds were invested into the Pepsi Max Big One, which, at the time, was the world’s tallest, fastest roller coaster. In 1995 a further £2 million was invested to create a new cabaret and hospitality venue, The Paradise Room.
Clearly, Blackpool Pleasure Beach is committed to escapism, as managing director, Amanda Thompson OBE, said: “We want families to come to Blackpool Pleasure Beach and go away with memories which will last a lifetime.
“There is something for all ages at the attraction, from white knuckle rides to children’s rides at our fantastic Nickelodeon land attraction.
“Then there are our tailored shows which have something for everyone. Hot Ice amazes the senses while we also have magic shows on and off the park which are suitable for all ages.”
Her comment is not a million miles apart from that of the Pleasure Beach’s founder.
He said: “We wanted an American-style Amusement Park, the fundamental principle of which is to make adults feel like children again and to inspire gaiety of a primarily innocent character.”
He imported numerous rides from the USA, making the Blackpool theme park the first of its kind in the UK.
And it has gone from strength to strength ever since, it even stayed open during the Second World War.
Leonard Thompson - George Bean’s son-in-law, who took over from George - said: “Entertainment is about the only commodity that isn’t rationed”.
The Pleasure Beach provided a much-needed release from the devastation and worries of wartime life.
In the Golden Ticket Awards last year Blackpool Pleasure Beach was voted best in the UK and one of the world’s top ten amusement parks. And remarkably, it’s still ran by the same family.
The focus on family fun has remained intact - this summer La Quebrada, a troupe of six world-class high divers from Mexico, will dive from heights of 81 feet, 48ft and 26ft.
The name La Quebrada is inspired by the famous cliff in Mexico, where the six intrepid divers plied their trade before taking their world-renowned show across the globe.
All six divers have been part of the Mexican national Olympic diving team and have represented their country, winning gold medals and wowing judges worldwide.
Amanda said: “We are all excited about La Quebrada as they truly are stunning athletes.
“Having seen them before on a number of occasions I am sure all the family will love their dives and will be amazed at how they can perform such amazing dives into such a small area.”
“La Quebrada adds just another element of fun to our guest’s experience of Blackpool Pleasure Beach and we know people will talk about what they have seen and tell all their friends and family so they can come and see these fantastic divers too.”
But if you’re more Strictly Dancing than sporty, fear not.
The Pleasure Beach has its own ice skating extravaganza, called Entice, which features ITV’s Dancing On Ice star and Blackpool-born Katie Stainsby alongside Russian ice star Ruslan Novoseltsev, UK’s international gold medallist David Walsingham and six-times Australian ice champion Trent Nelson-Bond.
But the ice show - spectacular though it is - is no novelty.
The first ice show to hit The Pleasure Beach Arena was back in 1937 and there has been one most years at the Pleasure Beach ever since. Producer and director Amanda Thompson OBE, also the Pleasure Beach’s MD, said: “This year promises to be one of the best ever Hot Ice shows. The cast and crew have worked tirelessly to produce a spectacular show which will leave audiences amazed.”
So, whether ice skating, chasing Dora the Explorer or watching world-class divers plummet from awe-inspiring heights, Blackpool Pleasure Beach has it all.
A short history
The Pleasure Beach was founded in 1896.
One of its first rides was the Sir Hiram Maxim Flying Machines.
The Pleasure Beach has thrived ever since, with a sharp boom in the ’60s, when there was a resurgence of development projects.
Britain’s first commercial monorail was built at Pleasure Beach.
In 2007, £8 million was invested in the Pleasure Beach for the world’s first roller coaster suspended entirely over water, called Infusion.
The ‘3 For 2’ wristbands offer is available online only. The lowest priced wristband is free, readers just need to visit www.blackpoolpleasurebeach.com and click ‘book online’ and then enter the promotional code 1281.
Select the date of your visit and complete the online transaction. Bookings must be made by midnight the day before your visit. On the date of visit you MUST take the ‘3 for 2’ voucher and e-ticket containing your unique reference number, plus proof of address to collect your wristbands.
Terms and conditions: offer applies to gate priced wristbands and height restrictions apply. The offer is not valid in conjunction with any other promotion and excludes Bank Holidays.
Visitors are limited to one voucher per transaction and wristbands are not for resale. The offer is valid until 4/11/12. Please quote reference 1281.