23 May 2018 – just before Spring Bank Holiday weekend. It was the day chosen for the launch of ICON the new Rollercoaster at Blackpool Pleasure Beach. Visit Fylde Coast were thrilled to be invited along to celebrate the occasion.
The place was packed out with roller coaster clubs and enthusiasts. Thrill seekers, journalists and media people, and not just from the UK. Now anyone who knows me will know that I don’t travel well. At all. And there’ll be plenty of talk about statistics and speed and stuff from lots of other quarters. So instead I’m mostly going to talk about my morning out. Before I start I’ll apologise in advance for any errors in my narrative and mis-use of rollercoaster terms and expressions!
Packed house for the launch of ICON the new Rollercoaster at Blackpool Pleasure Beach
I’ve been to many different events at the Pleasure Beach and always get a thrill from driving along Blackpool seafront. The sun’s shining and there’s not a cloud in the sky. Obviously the weather is like that everyday here on the Fylde Coast. (If you believe that you’ll believe anything!).
As is the British way, everyone is stood patiently in the queue. All waiting to get in and be served with a lanyard pass, press pack and a brew. It was obvious that the rollercoaster fans were out in force. The fact I was wearing a dress kind of gave away that I wouldn’t be having a go on the ride! If you’re going to go upside down at 85kmh you wouldn’t wear a dress, would you.
Among the crowds, I was struck by a fabulous jacket worn by a very dapper chap, Andy Hine MBE. He’s Chairman of the Roller Coaster Club of Great Britain. I caught him for this photo a bit later on. In chatting with Andy he gave me a great quote ‘the whole of the town [Blackpool] is a theme park’. Indeed.
As we trooped into the theatre I realised I was standing near to Simon Calder the travel journalist. Now me being me, I followed him and sat down next to him. Artless as you like, I explained that I watched him on TV at the weekend while doing my housework…. What a nice man he is. We had a chat and I just had to catch a pic of him when he asked the first question.
Rising from the ground – ICON the new Rollercoaster at Blackpool Pleasure Beach
Being local and being interested in what goes on around me I obviously knew quite a bit already about ICON. We’ve all been watching bits of steel appearing and being installed. On a grey winters day a few months ago, the same car park used today was piled up with huge bits of grey metal. At the time I thought that today’s launch would be here before we knew it.
Now I’ve already alluded to the fact that I ‘suffer from travel sickness’. My friends know that’s a huge understatement, but it’s another tale for another day. So I must admit I tried not to concentrate on the Q&A session about twists and turns and g-force. I did catch the bit about it having twice the launch velocity of a commercial airliner. And it being the only place where you’d experience that kind of acceleration. Now I like acceleration, strangely, and I’ve always enjoyed driving. Must make my ears and eyes match up with my brain. Anyway…
Icon’s ability to throw you around on one side, it’s certainly been a good thing for Blackpool. ‘Re-engaging with thrill seekers’ and attracting more people to the Park and Blackpool. This launch was on the news all over the UK and in plenty of far flung places too. All showcasing what a great place Blackpool really is.
I had a word with a couple of the rollercoaster fans. Behind me and filming the presentation throughout were the European Coaster Club. Their members really had come along from various places in Europe.
The next victims to my own unique brand of journalism were Paul and Becky from www.thrillridesphotography.com. They’d travelled to Blackpool from Dover and couldn’t wait to get on the ride.
What did they like so much about it? Paul explained ‘it’s a feeling that you just don’t get anywhere else, that feeling in your stomach’. I also asked if they ever felt ill. You could imagine unstoppable Paul being one of those people who does the non-stop rollercoaster records. Whereas Becky didn’t look quite so sure that she could ride and ride until the cows came home!
The walk through the Park was a great opportunity to show the attraction off to all of those visiting people. The Pleasure Beach is so familiar to me, both from my childhood and now that I live here. Seeing it from an outsider’s point of view, I fail to see how they couldn’t all be impressed.
Launching ICON, the next Big Thing
Next was the actual opening of ICON the new rollercoaster ride at Blackpool Pleasure Beach, with a fanfare of confetti! (And yes, I checked, it was tissue paper 🙂 )
I just managed to snatch some photos of the carriage as it twirled around the tracks. Look at the blue sky!
And here’s the older Revolution going around, next to the new tracks. It doesn’t seem five minutes since I was a ten year old girl and Revolution was opened in 1979. I clearly remember my grandad going on it and thinking he was very brave! What I did notice was how quiet ICON is. The carriage glided past and sounded like a piece of amazing high tech engineering – which of course it is.
And here it is, the moment you’ve been waiting for, the front seat view from ICON. Yes, you guessed it, this clip was provided in the press pack by the Pleasure Beach. It’s not the view of my ride!
- The roller coaster was installed at a cost of £16m
- Designed by one of the best roller-coaster designers in the world, and fabricated in Germany.
- Designers had to fit its twists and turns through, up and under existing structures. So the Pleasure Beach was laser scanned to create a 3D render of what’s where.
- In total there’s an amazing 15 interactions with existing rides.
- Icon was the UK’s first double-launch rollercoaster
- It uses electromagnetic propulsion to send you from 0-82 km/h – TWICE!
- It gives the ride the same G force as a Formula 1 racing car, and twice the velocity of a commercial airliner.
A walk down memory lane
By this time people were drifting away from Icon. So I drifted off for a walk around the park and a walk down memory lane. I took a photo of the rails of the monorail for old times sake. It was always my favourite ride was that one!
Getting away from the amazing music of Ben the Sax Man, the next thing I heard was the twitter of songbirds. In between the rides the grounds are immaculate. Obviously the goldfinches felt at home, there were so many of them and they were making a racket!
I snaked my way around the park back to the entrance, with a flat camera battery, video clips and photos.
You know that little voice that we all have in our heads that talks to us all the time? Well mine was running a monologue this morning, and it went along the lines of ‘how lucky am I. The sun’s shining and it’s a glorious day. I’ve been at an amazing event, celebrating the opening of a significant new tourist attraction in a town that I love. And that’s my ‘job’. Beats just about anything else that I can think of doing for a living 🙂
While you’re here…
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