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Pleasure Beach Blackpool is a family owned amusement park situated along the Fylde coastmarker in Blackpoolmarker, Englandmarker. It is the most visited amusement park in the United Kingdom, and one of the top twenty most-visited attractions in the world with 5.5 million visitors in 2007. The park is a privately funded business and is owned, managed and directed by the Thompson family. It was formerly known as Blackpool Pleasure Beach.

History of the Pleasure Beach

Early years

The park was initially founded in 1896 by William George Bean after he failed in his attempt to become an advertising man on New York's Madison Avenue.He returned to the UK in 1986 and opened his own small amusement parks; one adjacent to Euston Road in Great Yarmouthmarker and another in Blackpool. The Yarmouth amusement park consisted simply of a switchback railway and bicycle railway called the Hotchkiss's Patented Railroad. Bean stayed in Yarmouth until the end of the century before moving to Blackpool to concentrate on his amusement park there.

In 1903 Bean, along with businessman John Outhwaite, purchased 30 acres of land known as the "Watson Estate" to be rented out by various trade stalls and traditional fairground rides and in 1905 the name "Blackpool Pleasure Beach" was chosen. In 1910, pleasurebeachltd was founded by Bean and Outhwaite, and to this day remains the name of the company to which the Thompson family uses to manage the park. Outhwaire died in 1911, leaving the initial business to Bean, however the Outhwaite family still had ownership in shares of the park. Further investment included the building of The Casino, The Whip, Virginia Reel, Noah's Ark, Big Dippermarker and Dodgems.

In 1923 land was reclaimed from the sea front. It was at this period that the park moved to its 44 acre current location above what became Watson Road, which was built under the Pleasure Beach in 1932. In 1929 Bean died suddenly of pneumonia leaving the park to his daughter, Lillian 'Doris' Bean, who had previously married a young businessman, Leonard Thompson in 1928. Thompson was an Oxford natural sciences graduate who after Bean's death immediately took over the Pleasure Beach with his wife. The park became in full control of the Thompson family after the remaining Outhwaite family sold their share of the park. Leonard Thompson became the managing director and Lillian Dorris, who later became known as Mrs L.D Thompson, OBE, became a secondary manager and director. The couple had a son named Geoffrey.

The Geoffrey Thompson era

In 1976 Leonard Thompson died unexpectedly and six months later the company secretary also died suddenly, leaving Doris Thompson commercially in charge of the whole business. Appointed chairman; she gave the role of managing director to her eldest son, Geoffrey. He had previously administered the New Era Laundries in London before returning to the Pleasure Beach as head of catering at the Casino Building. He married his wife, Barbabra, shortly afterwards and they had three children, Amanda, Nicholas and Fiona. After Leonard's death, Geoffrey and his mother steadily extended the Pleasure Beach business, opening both Pleasureland Southportmarker and Frontierlandmarker, Morecambemarker and invested into food-and-ride trade at the Pleasure Beach. He saw the opening of the Steeplechase, Avalanche, Revolution (now Irn-Bru Revolution), Space Invader (now Space Invader 2), Rollercoaster (previously the Velvet Coaster), Pepsi Max Big Onemarker, Playstation: The Ride! (now Tango Ice Blast: The Ride) and Valhalla.

He also became a world wide figure in the industry and inspired many other showmen and theme park owners to expand their businesses by taking risks and building a higher quality range of roller coasters throughout Europe and the United States. His daughter Amanda Thompson showcased the park by expanding her theatrics company, 'Stageworks Worldwide Prodictions' to be situated primarily at the Pleasure Beach. Stageworks created almost all of the shows which would become a famous trademark within Pleasure Beach, including the world-famous Hot Ice dancing extravaganza which showed as a matinee and evening show in the Pleasure Beach arena until the 2009 season. Geoffrey Thompson died on 12 June 2004 immediately passing the role of Managing Director (of Pleasure Beach and Pleasureland) to Amanda Thompson. Nicholas Thompson became the Deputy Managing Director and Fiona Thompson became a fundamental architect (she has been praised over her work on both the Pepsi Max Big Onemarker's station and the Infusion station.) Nine days later, on 23 June, Mrs L.D Thompson, OBE died leaving the entire business to Amanda Thompson (who is the current managing director) and Nicholas Thompson who remains as the deputy managing director.

Managing Directors

Name Year(s)
John Outhwaite 1896 - 1911
William G. Bean 1896 - 1929
Leonard Thompson 1929 – 1976
Doris Thompson 1929 - 2004
Geoffrey Thompson 1976 – 2004
Amanda Thompson 2004 - present


The Current park

Pleasure Beach, Blackpool is situated along the South Shore area of Blackpool along the Fylde coast, adjacent to the promenade, opposite South Pier along Ocean Boulevard and directly above Watson road. The main entrance is to the front of the initial park and approximatley 38 metres from the Pleasure Beach Casino. The ticket sales is opposite the entrance (below the Noah's Ark attraction) and is adjacent to the Globe Theatre. The main car park is to the left side of the White Tower restaurant, behind Valhalla and to the right of the Grand National station. The additional coach park is to the back of the park adjacent to the trim break section of the Pepsi Max Big One and in front of Rollercoaster. Numerous self catering kiosks are situated near to the entrance of the park. The entrance plaza is directly behind the Casino building and is themed to correspond with the Noah's Ark ride which site on top of the structure. The park is lined with tall metal gates that connect to the entrance building and the main gift shop, underneath the Noah's Ark ride. The staff entrance is towards the back of the park, behind the Grand National.

The park is currently home to over 125 rides and attractions, including twelve roller coasters, of which five are wooden - the Grand National, Big Dipper, Rollercoaster, Wild Mouse and Zipper Dipper. The newest roller coaster is Infusion which was opened in 2007. When it opened in 1994, Pepsi Max Big One was the tallest, fastest and steepest roller coaster of any park in the world. It was also substantially one of the longest, measuring 5,497 feet long. Currently, the ride holds the crown as the tallest in the UK, measuring 213 ft, (235 ft above sea level.) and features a drop of 205 ft. The Pleasure Beach is one of the few parks left in the world to operate a traditional wooden Wild Mouse coaster. The ride was built entirely in house, post-World War II and is still in complete working order. It was also the first park in Europe to introduce a full inverting steel coaster, Irn-Bru Revolution, and the first to install a Space Shot ride, Tango Ice Blast which was manufactured by S&S Sports Of Utah. The park went on to launch Valhalla, which was designed by Sarner, a UK based theme park design company. Valhalla is sponsored by the Daily Star and remains prominently the 'biggest and most spectacular dark ride in the world.' Later the Pleasure Beach opened Bling, a Zierer Star Shape spin ride of which only two are operated in the world. The latest record is taken by Infusionmarker which is the world's first suspended looping coaster entirely over water. The park has a wide variety of modern and classic-age rides and operates a separate children-themed section called 'Beaver Creek' towards the back of the park near the entrance of the 'Space Invader 2' roller coaster. This section of the park includes numerous small attractions suitably aimed at younger children. This corresponds with the parks mascots, Bradley and Bella Beaver who roam the park on a daily basis entertaining the younger visitors.

The park has numerous food stalls, restaurants and cafés including the 'Italian Job' Italian themed restaurant, situated next to the Tom Sawyer bridge, adjacent to the Big Dipper station, and the UK's largest Burger King chain restaurant, with two levels. It also owns the 'White Tower Restaurant' a tall white building near the front of the park which is used and is hired for private parties.

Awards and achievements

In September 2007, the Pleasure Beach was judged joint fifth best amusement park in the world (with Disneylandmarker in Californiamarker, United Statesmarker) in the Amusement Today Golden Ticket Awards – the self-proclaimed Oscars of the amusement industry. Pleasure Beach was the only British park to feature in any category. Pleasure Beach was also the highest ranked European park in the awards and was voted second best seaside park in the world. It is currently named as the UK's largest and most popular tourist attraction by the British Tourist Board exceeding 6 million visitors a year. The Grand National roller coaster made the universal list of Top 50 Wooden Roller Coasters at number 28 and the Pepsi Max Big Onemarker was in the Top 50 Steel section at 44 and came in at 9 in the Top Ten Coasters poll shown on Sky Travel. Previous general manager Jim Rowland received an honorship for his commitment to the Lancashire tourism industry and on behalf of Pleasure Beach. Doris Thompson received a number of awards for her commitment to the park. She also had a rose named after her, the "Lillian Dorris".

Admission

For the 2009 season the park introduced an entrance charge after having previously for its entire existence been a free-to-enter park. The park was criticized over its decision by the "Stop The Charge" protest group, headed by protestor Stuart McNeil who set up pages on MySpace and Facebook as well as canvassing outside the park gates informing people of the charges. On 13 February 2009 the group presented a petition to the Pleasure Beach with a claimed 19,823 signatures of local residents and tourists, calling for the entrance charge to be abolished. This was unsuccessful. The Pleasure Beach now has a variety of payment methods, all payable upon entrance.

Unlimited ride wristbands

Most commonly used is the 'Unlimited Ride Wristband' option, whereby wristbands are sold at costs between £20 and £30 depending on the time of year and promotional season. These wristbands are valid only for one day, and include a printed barcode unique to the day. Access to each ride is via a turnstile, which must be unlocked by scanning the barcode. At the end of each day, a computer calculates how many guests have used the ride during the day. Each day a new code is printed on the wristband, meaning wristbands from previous days are now invalid. A warning section is printed on each wristband, telling guests that removing the wristband or peeling the barcoded sticker will deem the band void and invalid. Unlimited Ride Wristbands allow access to both the interior park and the children's-themed area of the park Beaver Creek.

Junior Wristband

At a cost of £20, younger guests may access the park with a special junior wristband which allows entry to both the Beaver Creek children's park and the interior park. Access to larger rides is permitted but must be afflicted with the general safety/height restrictions.

Freedom pass

Guests who do not wish to purchase ride wristbands are required to purchase a £5 Freedom Pass. A guest holding a Freedom Pass is entitled to upgrade to any wristband type or purchase Ride Tickets once inside the park. The Freedom Pass allows access to the park and to selected attractions within the park area covering Water Dance Show, Chinese Puzzle maze, Pleasure Beach Expressmarker, as well as the South Beach Musical stage show at Planet Rock.

Attractions

Roller coasters

Name Opened Brief Description
Avalanche 1988 A bobsled rollercoaster.
Big Dippermarker 1923 A traditional wooden rollercoaster and a classic amongst coaster enthusiasts. Extended in 1936.
Grand Nationalmarker 1934 A wooden racing roller coaster. A classic among coaster enthusiasts.
Infusionmarker 2007 A Vekoma Suspended Looping Coaster and the first of its kind in the world to be built completely over water. (Formerly operated at Pleasureland Southportmarker as the "Traumatizer" until 2006.)
Irn Bru Revolution 1979 Opened as the first modern looping coaster in the UK. An Arrow Dynamics shuttle coaster with an inversion. Has a unique cantilevered support structure.
Pepsi Max Big Onemarker 1994 An Arrow Dynamics hyper coaster with a highest point of 235 ft above sea level or 213 ft above the ground. It reaches speeds of up to 74mph.
Rollercoaster 1933 An out and back wooden rollercoaster aimed at the younger generation.
Steeplechase 1977 A three-tracked racing steel roller coaster and the last of its kind in existence.
Wild Mousemarker 1958 One of only three operating wooden wild mouse roller coaster's in the world.
Zipper Dipper 1934 A children’s wooden coaster composed of bunny hills and a tunnel. Located in Beaver Creek.


Thrill rides

Name Opened Brief Description
Bling 2004 A "Star Shape" ride made by German company Zierer, one of only three in the world.
Ice Blast: The Ride 1997 An S&S Power Space Shot which stands at 210 ft above sea level.


Water rides

Name Opened Brief Description
Beaver Creek Log Chute A one lift hill Log Flume
River Caves 1905 Boat based dark ride, visiting displays of "around the world".
Swamp Buggies Water buggy rides.
Valhalla 2000 Themed Viking dark flume ride, laden with special effects.


General rides

  • Adventure Golf - New in 2008
  • Alice's Wonderland - Children's dark ride featuring scenes from both Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. The cars are big Cheshire cats. It was damaged by the fire that destroyed the Grand National station on 20 May 2004.
  • Derby Racer - One of only three in the world, the ride is essentially a large carousel of 56 horses in four rows, the outside row being the fastest.
  • Dodgems - Bumper cars
  • Sir Hiram Maxim's Captive Flying Machines - The oldest attraction in the park, opened in 1904.
  • Gallopers (carousel) - Ornate traditional English carousel.
  • Gold Mine - A dark ride featuring scenes of a gold mine theme.
  • Go-karts
  • Ghost Train - A Dark ride. This ghost train was the first in the world and is where the ride name "Ghost Train" originates.It was named and built in 1930 by Mr Emberton.
  • Grand Prix - Diesel Powered automobile ride.
  • Impossible - (Previously 1001 Troubles and The Haunted Swing) - a mirror maze, followed by displays of optical illusions, and a haunted swing ride.
  • Monorail - Travels around the park and through the back of Valhalla. Has three trains, covered/semi covered/open.
  • Veteran Carousel - A classic carousel ride.


Beaver Creek rides

  • Beaver Creek Log Chute - A one lift hill Log Flume (Also Known as Beaver Creek the ride)
  • Chinese Puzzle Maze - a small maze.
  • Convoy Ride - All trucks are painted in Eddie Stobart colours including names.
  • Helicopters - Children's helicopter spinning ride.
  • Lunar Carousel - A space-themed carousel.
  • Magic Mountain - Children's Dark ride
  • Mini Dodgems - Pint-sized children's bumper cars.
  • Mini Scooters
  • Pirate Ride
  • Pleasure Beach Expressmarker - A miniature railway.
  • Tetley's Teacup Ride - Children's Teacup/Waltzer ride
  • Thor's Turnpike - A children's automobile track ride.
  • Top Rallye - £1 Operate Go kart ride in former site of Ellies caterpillar


Standing but not operating

  • Noah's Ark - This ride has not re-opened as of 2009.
  • Trauma Towers - This ride has not re-opened as of 2009.


SBNO Without Change

  • Space Invader 2 - The ride has been closed due to Health & Safety. In October 2009, Pleasure Beach officially put the ride up for sale.


  • Alpine Golf - This attraction has not re-opened as of 2009.


Other attractions

  • Pasaje Del Terror - Opened in 1998. Interactive horror attraction within the Casino.
  • Horror Crypt
  • Bowl-a-Drome
  • Ripley's Believe It Or Not!
  • Pleasure Beach Arena (Ice rink) skating year round. It is only closed two-five days a year
  • Arcades and Midway Sideshows
  • Gallery @ The Globe


Shows

Hot Ice and Forbidden

Hot Ice is a skating extravaganza show which was created by Stageworks Worldwide Productions, a Blackpool and West End based company owned by Amanda Thompson, the managing director of Pleasure Beach. The show has been running for many years and stars Olympic ice skaters and dancers. The show is performed in an auditorium in the Arena, a large skating rink in the centre of the park. The Arena is also open to the public when matinee performances of Hot Ice are not featured. Forbidden, shown in the Globe theatre at the entrance of the park is a variety show featuring a range of Circus Type acts,Dancers and amazing special effects. Both Hot Ice and Forbidden are currently not showing. The Globe Theater is currently used to house the 'Big One Talent Show' and the Arena is used as a public skating rink. It is unknown whether Hot Ice and/or Forbidden will return.

Cafes, restaurants, pubs and accommodation

Food and drink

  • Bradley Beaver Catering Co. - located in Beaver Creek. Serves a wide range of snacks and meals.
  • Cafe Boulevard - Located on Ocean Boulevard. Includes snacks and ice-cream. Licensed restaurant
  • Casino Bar restaurant - A small bar
  • Coasters - An American style diner. Vintage waltzer, roller coaster and dodgem carriages used as seating CLOSED .
  • The Fish Inn - A seafood restaurant situated in the Casino at the entrance to Pleasure Beach.
  • The Horseshoe - Serves a variety of different meals.
  • Ice Lounge - Serves ice cream, desserts, and hot and cold drinks.
  • Italian Job restaurant - Centrally located licensed restaurant.
  • Magnolia Cafe - A family themed cafe bar serving a selection of Southern Fried Chicken dishes.
  • Mr Fu's Sailing Junk restaurant NO MORE - Located on Ocean Boulevard. Chinese food.
  • Pizza Hut - Opened 1986. Located on Ocean Boulevard.
  • Rib Shack - Located in the Bowladrome, a fun sports arcade. Serves hickory smoked char grilled ribs, fries and a selection of burgers. It can also be hired for private parties.
  • Southern Fried Chicken - Family themed cafe bar.
  • White Tower Restaurant - Award-winning penthouse restaurant with panoramic ocean views, stylish and romantic atmosphere, often favoured by celebrities. Art deco design. The largest restaurant in the park.


Pubs

  • The Star - A traditional family pub. Home to Pleasure Beach's brand new pop bands.


The Big Blue Hotel

The Big Blue Hotel is a Four star family hotel, owned by Pleasure Beach Blackpool and is situated within the outskirts of the park, near the now disused south entrance behind the Pepsi Max Big One and adjacent to Blackpool Pleasure Beach railway stationmarker. The hotel opened in Spring 2003. It is currently the highest awarded hotel in the North West of England.

Damaging events and incidents

Big Dipper

On 11 August 2009, two trains - carrying a total of 32 guests - collided, resulting in 21 guests requiring treatment at a nearby hospital for injuries ranging from whiplash and broken noses, to cuts and bruises.

Fun House

In November 1991, the Fun House attraction was completely destroyed by a fire caused by vandals. Valhalla was built in its place.

Grand National

On 20 May 2004 the Grand National’s station was destroyed by a fire that also damaged Alice’s Wonderland and Trauma Towers.The Grand National was repaired and re-opened five months later on 28 October 2004. Not long after, a large restaurant caught fire, the restaurant was almost completely destroyed leaving only the shell of the building. The building was demolished and replaced with the Big One Stage.

Pepsi Max Big One

On 31 August 2000, 23 people were injured, when two ride vehicles collided due to a failure of the ride's braking system. Of those injured, 21 were taken to the hospital.

Space Invader 2

On 21 July 2000, an 11-year-old boy died after he fell out of the ride vehicle. Reports say that he panicked on the dark ride and unfastened his seatbelt.

Club Pleasure Beach

The Pleasure Beach has its own enthusiast club, Club Pleasure Beach. It is run as a non profit organisation and was formed in 1992 by the park as an initiative to sell advance boarding tickets for the Pepsi Max Big One, but has since evolved to become an organisation for Pleasure Beach enthusiasts.

Television series

In 1997 the Pleasure Beach featured in a six part BBC documentary, which followed the day to day running of the park. It was mainly focused on the rides and the park managers, Jim Rowland and Keith Allen. The film crews also spoke to Geoffrey Thompson and Amanda Thompson, the director and producer of Stageworks Worldwide Productions (which directs, produces and choreographs the shows within the park.)

Gallery

Image:HotchkissBikeRR.JPG|The Hotchkiss Bicycle Railroad.Image:Pepsi BM.JPG|When opened on 28 May 1994 The Pepsi Max Big Onemarker was the tallest, fastest, and steepest roller coaster in the world.Image:Rollercoasters At Blackpool Pleasure Beach.jpg|Rides at Pleasure Beach, BlackpoolImage:OnRideView.png|A view over the park, taken from the lift hill of the Pepsi MaxImage:Valhalla ride.JPG|The Valhalla ride, which is themed around a mythical place from Norse mythologyImage:Maze (Blackpool Pleasure Beach).JPG|Statues inside the Chinese Puzzle Maze. The rollercoaster track passing over it is from the Pepsi MaxImage:Pleasure Beach.jpg|A large Pleasure Beach sign just outside the park, at night.Image:BigDipperHillsBPB.jpg|Part of the Big Dipper with Infusion behind it and the Pepsi Max Big One dwarfing both of them in the background.Image:Irn Bru Revolution (Pleasure Beach, Blackpool).jpg|The Irn Bru Revolution.Image:Pbb nash.jpg|Two trains of the Grand NationalmarkerImage:BPBbobsled.jpg|The Avalanche bobsled roller coaster.Image:Pleasure beach.jpg|Pleasure Beach Blackpool from South Pier.Image:Wild mouse plaque.jpg|The older rides have historical plaques like this one on Wild Mouse.Image:Blackpool 101.jpg|The entrance and Casino at night.Image:The Big One-Blackpool.jpg|The Pepsi Max Big One at night.


See also



References

  1. http://www.connectingindustry.com/downloads/pwteaerasupp.pdf


External links




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