Blackpool Pleasure Beach

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Pleasure Beach Blackpool
Rollercoaster Big One

Rollercoaster Big One

place Blackpool , UKUnited KingdomUnited Kingdom 
opening 1896
Visitors 13 million (2010)
surface 17 hectares
Pleasure Beach Blackpool (United Kingdom)
Pleasure Beach Blackpool
Pleasure Beach Blackpool
Location of the park

Coordinates: 53 ° 47'25 "  N , 3 ° 3'20"  W.

Pleasure Beach Blackpool , until 2006 Blackpool Pleasure Beach or simply Pleasure Beach (BPB for short), is a traditional amusement park in Blackpool ( Lancashire , England ).

The park was founded in 1896 by Alderman William George Bean with the aim of creating “an American-style theme park whose fundamental principle is that adults feel like children again”. With around 13 million visitors a year, it is now one of the twenty most popular theme parks in the world. In 2014, it was voted Best Theme Park in the United Kingdom and 9th Best Park in Europe by TripAdvisor's Travelers' Choice Awards .

Pleasure Beach is currently one of the parks with the most roller coasters in Europe (ten of them, including four wooden roller coasters ). Instead of the entry system common in most amusement parks, people in Blackpool did not pay entry for a long time, but for each attraction individually (Tivoli principle). An entrance fee has been charged since 2009. However, a so-called wristband is also offered, with which you can use all attractions without restriction.

In addition to classic amusement park attractions, Pleasure Beach also offers various shows. The figure skating show Hot Ice has a special tradition .


Early years (1896-1930)

Pleasure Beach was founded in 1896 by Alderman William George Bean after his attempt to become an advertising executive on New York's Madison Avenue failed. In 1897 he returned to the United Kingdom and opened two theme parks: one in Great Yarmouth , the other in Blackpool. Great Yarmouth park attracted little public interest, and Bean eventually moved to Blackpool permanently.

1903 acquired Bean along with the businessman John Outhwaite 30 Acres land (about 12 hectares ) with which the Park should be expanded in Blackpool. The original Pleasure Beach Park was in the sand dunes along the Blackpool promenade and consisted of a few carousels, a trolley track and various stalls. Bean and Outhwaite got most of their ideas from Coney Island in the United States and from a small fair in London .

The first major attraction was Sir Hiram Maxim's Captive Flying Machine , opened in 1904 , a ride-on-ride attraction similar to the chain carousel designed by the British inventor Hiram Maxim . In 1905 a tree trunk slide followed under the name The River Caves of the World , and in 1907 the wooden roller coaster The Scenic Railway opened . Around this time, the park was also renamed Blackpool Pleasure Beach . In 1909, Bean bought a second amusement park in Morecambe called the West End Amusement Park , which later became known as Frontierland Western Theme Park and which closed in 1999. Since this park was also successful, the Pleasureland Southport was opened in Southport four years later .

Meanwhile, Pleasure Beach has regularly made major investments. It opened The Velvet Coaster , the House of Nonsense , The Joy Wheel and The Whip . Outhwaite died in 1911, taking over much of Bean's business, although the Outhwaite family still held shares in the park and occasionally contributed to its further growth. After World War I , investments temporarily ceased due to difficulties importing attractions from the United States. It wasn't until 1922 that new rides opened again with The Virginia Reel and Noah's Ark .

The Casino Building , a three-story Art Deco building designed by the architect and Mayor of Blackpool Alderman RB Mather, was also built in the 1920s . There was a billiards hall , a cinema, a restaurant and a shop here. Today the casino building houses the ticket office for visitors.

In 1923 the land on which the park stood was reclaimed. So Pleasure Beach moved to its current 17 hectare site along the beach promenade. In the same year, Big Dipper , a wooden roller coaster with an out & back route, opened and a pond was created on which you could go boating. This was the last investment made by Alderman William George Bean. He died of pneumonia in 1929 . His only daughter Lillian-Doris took over the park business together with husband Leonard Thompson.

Lillian-Doris Bean married the businessman Leonard Thompson in 1928. They first lived in London, where Leonard Thompson worked for a Swedish match factory. However, after the death of George Bean, they moved to Blackpool. Up until then, Leonard had had no contact with the park's business, but then, by mutual agreement with his wife, he took over the management of Pleasure Beach. His first official act was the appointment of Oscar Haworth as managing director and George Palmer as chief executive officer of the company. For the next two years, Thompson worked with the Outhwaite family to expand the park. Ghost Train opened in 1930 .

Later years (1931 to today)

In 1931, the Outhwaite family sold their remaining stake in the park to the Thompsons, who became sole owners. The following year, Watson Road was built, which crossed the park underground. As a consequence, The Velvet Coaster had to close. The next major attractions to open were the Fun House in 1934 and The Grand National , a Möbius wooden roller coaster designed by Charles Paige in 1935 . Paige also designed numerous other attractions at Pleasure Beach, including Rollercoaster , another wooden roller coaster built in 1933 on the site of The Velvet Coaster .

The success of Paige's wooden roller coasters in 1936 led to a major expansion of the Big Dipper roller coaster, which has now been extended to the south-west side of the park area. Thompson also hired architect Joseph Emberton to redesign the style of Pleasure Beach's attractions and buildings. Ice Drome , an ice rink with 2000 seats, was built under Emberton . He worked on the design of the park until his death in 1956. His work was then continued by Jack Ratcliffe, who was also involved in the Festival of Britain exhibition .

Investments decreased again during World War II , but the park remained open to provide diversion and comfort to the population. After the end of the war, new attractions opened again, such as The Wild Mouse , Derby Racer and Alice Ride between 1958 and 1961 . The longest flume in the world, Log Flume , was added in 1967, and the Dark Ride The Goldmine four years later. The Walt Disney Company obtained ideas from a visit to Pleasure Beach, which they - together with other parks - used for the first Disneyland in Anaheim. Walt Disney himself was friends with Leonard Thompson, the two regularly inspired each other in the further development of their respective parks. After 47 years as managing director of Pleasure Beach, Thompson died in 1976. His role was then taken over by Geoffrey Thompson, his only son.

William "Geoffrey" Thompson, born in Manchester in 1936 , spent much of his early working life managing a London laundry. He later became Head of Gastronomy in the Casino Building at Pleasure Beach. Geoffrey Thompson married Barbara Foxcroft in 1962, with whom he later had three children. He hired Keith Ingham to undertake extensive renovations to the Casino Building , which then temporarily operated as the Wonderful World Building . Under Thompson's direction, attractions such as the Steeplechase horse rollercoaster , the Avalanche bobsleigh rollercoaster , Revolution and the free-fall tower Ice Blast: The Ride opened . The Big One (designed by John Roberts ) was the tallest, steepest and fastest roller coaster in the world when it opened in 1994 and Valhalla , a dark ride built in 2000, is the most expensive attraction to date at £ 15 million (2015: over £ 23 million) ever built in Pleasure Beach.

Geoffrey Thompson was also actively involved in promoting tourism in North West England. For this he was awarded the Order of the British Empire together with his mother Doris . In 1986, the park was one of the first British companies to take part in the Government Profit Related Pay Unit program: it committed itself to paying 10% of this to employees on profits of over £ 1 million, depending on the length of the respective employment relationship.

Despite his great reputation as a businessman in the theme park world, Thompson often came into conflict with Blackpool City Council. The reason was that private traders were allowed to do their business in the country opposite the park. There was also a dispute with the city council of Morecambe, as they regularly opposed Thompson's plans to expand the amusement park there. As a consequence, the Frontierland Western Theme Park was closed indefinitely in 1999. Many of the attractions there have been scrapped, sold, or rebuilt in the family's other parks. The Big Blue Hotel opened in Blackpool in 2002, followed by Bling , a kind of Frisbee from Zierer , in 2003 . On June 12, 2004, Geoffrey Thompson died of a heart attack in the park while attending his daughter's wedding party. His mother, Doris Thompson, died on June 23 of that year, the day of his funeral.

Amanda Thompson, the eldest daughter of Geoffrey and Barbara Thompson and who had been the park manager for over 15 years, then took over all business affairs at Pleasure Beach. Her two siblings also held managerial positions. Amanda Thompson is also the founder of Stageworks Worldwide Productions , which has been responsible for shows at Pleasure Beach, among others. Like her father and grandmother, she was also named OBE for her contribution to tourism development. Significant remodeling took place in the park under the direction of Amanda Thompson. Many attractions have been dismantled, including The Whip , Space Invader , Turtle Chase , Spin Doctor , Trauma Towers , Noah's Ark , Black Hole , Bling, and Super Bowl . In 2005, the family decided to close Pleasureland Southport because, despite major investments, it did not generate any profit for several years. The roller coaster Traumatizer there from 1999 was rebuilt in Pleasure Beach under the name Infusion . After 13 years a roller coaster was opened again in Blackpool.

In 2011 a contract was signed with Viacom , the owners of the television network Nickelodeon . It saw the opening of the 5 acre themed Nickelodeon Land in the park. For this purpose, the Beaver Creek children's area, which was closed in 2010, was rebuilt for 10 million pounds. Among other things, the Rollercoaster rollercoaster there was completely redesigned and opened under the new name Nickelodeon Streak . The building of the former Space Invader 2 indoor roller coaster has been converted into a pizzeria. Many other attractions have either been replaced or redesigned to represent the Nickelodeon brand. In 2013, Pleasure Beach partnered with Aardman Animations , who own the brands Wallace & Gromit and Shaun the sheep . The result was the Dark Ride Wallace & Gromit's Thrill-O-Matic , which replaced The Goldmine . In 2015, the Red Arrow's Skyforce attraction was created in cooperation with the Royal Air Force , named after the aerobatic team of the same name .

Timetable of the managing directors

Surname Number of seasons year
1890s 1900s 1910s 1920s 1930s 1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s 2010s
John Outhwaite 16 1896-1911  
William G. Bean 34 1896-1929  
Leonard Thompson 48   1929-1976  
Doris Thompson 76   1929-2004  
Geoffrey Thompson 29   1976-2004  
Amanda Thompson 12   2004–

Today's park

The Casino Building at night.
Big Dipper , Infusion and The Big One (front to back).

Pleasure Beach is located on 17 acres along Blackpool's promenade, about 3.5 km from Blackpool North Railway Station. The park is bordered by Promenade , Balmoral Road , Bond Street , Burlington Road West, and Clifton Drive . Watson Road also runs under the park . The main ticket office is located on the ground floor of the Casino Building to the north of the park area. The rest of the floor is taken up by The Horseshoe bar and Tiger Bills restaurant . On the upper floor there is an event hall and the luxury restaurant The White Tower Restaurant with a view over the promenade. In the basement of the Casino Building there is The Horror Bar and an interactive horror maze called Pasaje del Terror .

The park could be entered through three entrances. The main entrance is on the north side of the site. At the south end of the park there is an entrance reserved for guests of the Big Blue Hotel, and a third entrance is on the east side of the park. Since the introduction of the entrance fee in 2009, access has only been possible via the main entrance. There are five car parking spaces and one bus parking area available for visitors.

Pleasure Beach is divided into three sections: North Park, Nickelodeon Land, and South Park. These individual sections are each divided into specially designed subsections. These are: North Entrance Plaza , Heidi Street , Bean Street FY4 , The Watson Overpass , The Tom Sawyer Bridge and South Entrance Plaza . Many of the rides run above or below other attractions, making Pleasure the most densely built-up amusement park in the world in this regard.

Pleasure Beach is the only privately owned company in the UK that has no restrictions on planning expansion. Attractions that exceed a height of 60 meters only have to adhere to the strict regulations of the aviation authority . B. be fired .


roller coaster

Surname Length
(in m)
(max. In km / h)
Type Design / manufacturer Opening year Remarks
Avalanche 450 80 Steel roller coaster Mack Rides 1988 Avalanche was the first bobsleigh coaster to be built in the UK.
Big Dipper 1006 80 Wooden roller coaster John A. Miller , Charles Paige, Joe Emberton 1923/1936 Big Dipper is a traditional wooden roller coaster built in 1923 by John Miller and expanded in 1936 by Charles Paige and Joe Emberton.
Blue Flyer 335 40 Wooden roller coaster Philadelphia Toboggan Coasters 1934 Family roller coaster with a tunnel and several bunny hops . Until 2011 it was called Zipper Dipper .
Grand National 2x 1006 64 Wooden roller coaster , Möbius roller coaster Charles Paige 1935 Named after the Grand National Horse Obstacle Race , it is now one of three remaining Möbius roller coasters worldwide.
Icon 1143 80 Launched coaster Mack Rides 2018 Icon is the UK's first multi-launch coaster. The lift opened in spring 2018.
infusion 690 80 Steel roller coaster , inverted coaster Vekoma 2007 Standard SLC , but the first of its kind to be built entirely over a body of water. Opened in Pleasureland Southport in 1999, moved to Blackpool in 2007.
Nickelodeon Streak 699 56 Wooden roller coaster Charles Paige 1933 A traditional wooden roller coaster in Nickelodeon country. Until the name change in 2011, the roller coaster was simply called Rollercoaster . The railway uses the lift hill of the Velvet Coaster from 1909.
revolution 194 72 Steel roller coaster , shuttle coaster Arrow Development 1979 In the meantime, the railway ran under the name Irn-Bru -Revolution. From the station, visitors loop through a loop first forwards and then backwards again.
Steeplechase ? ? Steel roller coaster , horse roller coaster Arrow Development 1977 This three-lane horse roller coaster is the last of its kind in the world.
The Big One 1676 119 Steel roller coaster , hyper coaster Arrow Dynamics 1994 The Big One has a height of 65 meters and a maximum gradient of 65 °. When it opened, it was the tallest, steepest and fastest roller coaster in the world. Today it is still the UK's tallest roller coaster.

Other attractions (selection)

Surname Opening year description
Adventure golf 2008 Mini golf course .
Alice's Wonderland 1961 Dark Ride for children with scenes from Alice in Wonderland and Alice behind the mirrors .
Sir Hiram Maxim's Captive Flying Machines 1904 The oldest attraction in the park, with rocket-shaped gondolas hanging on ropes, similar to a chain carousel .
Ghost train 1930 The world's first ghost train , built by Joseph Emberton.
Ice Blast: The Ride 1997 A 60 meter high vertical ride from the manufacturer S&S Power .
Pasaje del Terror 1996 An interactive horror labyrinth in the basement of the Casino Building .
Red Arrows Sky Force 2015 A thrill ride of the model Sky Fly by Gerstlauer , in which planes are attached to a long arm, which rotate while the arm swings around. Based on the Red Arrows aerobatic team.
Ripley's Believe It or Not! ? A cabinet of curiosities located on Ocean Boulevard.
Valhalla 2000 The packaged water ride , with 610 m the longest dark ride in the world. Visitors ride in Viking boats through an appropriately themed route with numerous effects.
Wallace & Gromit's Thrill-O-Matic 2013 A dark ride with scenes from the Wallace & Gromit animation films.

No longer existing roller coasters

  • Circus Clown (children's roller coaster)
  • Space Invader 2 (dark rollercoaster of the type Four Man Bob by Zierer Rides )
  • Wild Mouse ( Wilde Maus wooden roller coaster built by Frank Wright in 1958. Demolished in January 2018.)


  • Hot Ice : An ice skating show that takes place at The Arena ice rink . The show has been running since 1936 and is currently produced by Amanda Thompson. The choreographer is the Finnish figure skater Oula Jääskeläinen.
  • Ken Webster: Mentalist Hypnotist : A comedy hypnosis show with hypnotist Ken Webster. With a duration of over 25 years, it is currently the longest-played hypnosis show worldwide.
  • Russ Brown's Carnival of Magic : A magical variety show with Russel Brown.
  • Spectacular Dancing Water Show : A water show designed and built for ₤ 500,000 by Aquatique Show International. 30 nozzles and a water cannon that can produce a 30 meter high fountain “dance” to different styles of music. The show runs every 30 minutes.


Pleasure Beach Blackpool holds and has held several records. When it opened in 1994, The Big One roller coaster was the highest at 65 m, the fastest at 119 km / h and the steepest roller coaster in the world with a gradient of 65 °. It is currently still the UK's tallest roller coaster.

Besides Luna Park in Sydney, Pleasure Beach is the only park that still operates a traditional wooden wild mouse roller coaster . The park built the roller coaster entirely on its own in 1958. Grand National is the only Moebius Loop roller coaster in Europe. There are only three roller coasters of this type in the world where there are 2 largely parallel routes, but the trains arrive at the other station when they started. With Revolution , Pleasure Beach Blackpool also built the first roller coaster in Europe to complete a complete loop and is the last park that still operates a horse roller coaster with Steeplechase . Sir Hiram Maxim's Captive Flying Machine is the oldest attraction in a European amusement park, it was opened in 1904. Valhalla is the largest and, at £ 15m, the most expensive dark ride in the world.


  • On December 16, 1991, the Fun House attraction (opened in 1934) was completely destroyed by arson. In their place is Valhalla today .
  • In July 1994, The Big One had an incident just a week after it opened: due to a bug in the computer system, a returning train at the station did not stop completely and ran into a waiting train. There were 26 slightly injured. On August 31, 2000, a similar accident occurred due to a fault in the braking system, in which 20 people were injured.
  • On July 21, 2000, an 11-year-old boy died when he fell off the Space Invader 2 dark roller coaster . He probably panicked while driving and loosened his seat belt. Then the roller coaster trains were equipped with shoulder bars.
  • On May 20, 2004, the Grand National wooden roller coaster station burned down. The attractions Alice's Wonderland and Trauma Towers were also damaged. After five months of repairs, Grand National reopened on October 28, 2004. In 2014, a 58-year-old broke his neck while riding the same roller coaster. The man suffered from spondylitis , an infection of the vertebral bodies, but despite all warnings drove Grand National anyway . He survived but remained paralyzed.
  • On August 11, 2009, two trains on the Big Dipper wooden roller coaster collided. 32 passengers were slightly injured.

Awards (selection)

  • 2003, 2005: Best water ride, given by the Golden Ticket Awards for Valhalla .
  • 2009: Best entertainment show, awarded by the IAAPA for Forbidden
  • 2014: Best theme park in the UK, ninth best in Europe, awarded by TripAdvisor as part of the Travelers' Choice Awards
  • 2014: Third Best Hotel in the UK, awarded to TripAdvisor's Big Blue Hotel in the Travelers' Choice Awards.

Pleasure Beach in popular culture (selection)

  • In 1997 the park was the subject of a six-part BBC documentary about the day-to-day operation of Pleasure Beach.
  • The roller coaster The Big One appears in the British crime comedy The B-Team: Restricted and On Probation , as well as an episode of the series A Touch of Frost .
  • The music videos for Fairground ( Simply Red ), Here With Me ( The Killers ) and Try Hard ( 5 Seconds of Summer ) were shot here.
  • The roller coaster Infusion was part of an advertising campaign by the optician Specsavers.
  • The paranormal reality show Most Haunted investigated alleged ghosts on the premises in 2002.
  • The children's television show Blue Peter visited the park in 1988. The presenters rode the newly opened Avalanche roller coaster and interviewed Doris and Geoffrey Thompson.
  • Professional wrestler William Regal made his first wrestling experience in the park at the age of 15.
  • A commercial for drinks brand Irn Bru , in which goths ride the Revolution roller coaster, was shot here.
  • Kevin Bacon drove on The Big One as part of a commercial for wireless operator EE .

See also

Web links

Commons : Pleasure Beach Blackpool  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files


  • John K. Walton: Riding on Rainbows: Blackpool Pleasure Beach and its Place in British Popular Culture . Skelter Publishing, St. Albans 2007, ISBN 0-9544573-6-6 .

Individual evidence

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  3. It really is the Big One! Blackpool Pleasure Beach is voted UK's best theme park (and named among Europe's top 10 attractions). In: The Daily Mail. July 15, 2014, accessed August 3, 2016 .
  4. NFA20 - June Collection of the Month - Pleasure Gardens, Amusemens Parks and Theme Parks. Archived from the original on August 21, 2014 ; accessed on August 5, 2016 .
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  8. A look back at Frontierland., January 15, 2015, accessed August 5, 2016 .
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  10. Homepage of Amanda J. Thompson ( Memento of the original from March 4, 2016 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. , accessed August 5, 2016 @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  11. a b Pepsi Max Big One Ride case study . In: Project Magazine . tape 18 , no. July 2 , 2005 ( Pepsi Max Big One Ride case study [accessed August 5, 2016]). Pepsi Max Big One Ride case study ( Memento of the original dated August 6, 2016 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.  @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  12. ^ Avalanche (Pleasure Beach, Blackpool). Roller Coaster Database, accessed August 5, 2016 .
  13. Big Dipper (Pleasure Beach, Blackpool). Roller Coaster Database, accessed August 5, 2016 .
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  21. Wild Mouse (Pleasure Beach, Blackpool). Roller Coaster Database, accessed August 7, 2018 .
  22. Revolution entry on the park's website , accessed August 5, 2016
  23. ^ Blackpool and its History of Big Fires. (No longer available online.) June 26, 2012, archived from the original on August 5, 2016 ; accessed on August 5, 2016 . Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  24. Rollercoaster 'one of the world's best'. BBC News, September 1, 2000, accessed August 5, 2016 .
  25. Rebecca Allison: 20 hurt in crash on Blackpool rollercoaster., September 1, 2000, accessed August 5, 2016 .
  26. Four hurt in fairground fall. BBC News, July 30, 2000, accessed August 5, 2016 .
  27. ^ Fire damages famous Blackpool ride. BBC News, May 21, 2004, accessed August 5, 2016 .
  28. Paul Byrne, Chris Bradley: Man breaks his neck in freak accident on Blackpool Pleasure Beach roller coaster., October 29, 2014, accessed August 5, 2016 .
  29. 32 injured after a roller coaster accident in England. Hamburger Abendblatt, August 12, 2009, accessed on August 5, 2016 .
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  34. Resort hotel is a hit with families. The Gazette, January 22, 2014, accessed August 5, 2016 .
  35. ^ Pleasure Beach Blackpool, TV Documentary Series, Episode 1/6 on YouTube
  36. Entry in the Internet Movie Database (locations of Das B-Team) , accessed on August 5, 2016.
  37. entry to (Touch of Frost) , accessed on August 5 2016th
  38. Emma Flanagan: Simply Red: Which tracks did you decide were their best hits? Manchester Evening News, November 5, 2014, accessed August 5, 2016 .
  39. ^ The Killers film new music video in Blackpool., December 17, 2012, accessed August 5, 2016 .
  40. 5 Seconds of Summer release 'Try Hard' music video. Sugar Scape, June 4, 2013, accessed August 5, 2016 .
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  46. Irn-Bru Goth Holiday on YouTube
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