ICON is Blackpool’s New Rollercoaster: Do You Dare to Ride?
Prepare to be thrilled: Blackpool has launched a brand new £16 million rollercoaster. Icon The Ride is the first big high thrill ride since the Big One and the only double launch coaster in the UK. It interacts fifteen times with other iconic rides at Blackpool’s famous Pleasure Beach. We were invited to the launch to experience it for ourselves.…
A beautiful day to be terrified
It would be pleasant sitting in the sunshine in a nice comfy seat, if I wasn’t about to blast through a mist filled golden tunnel into the clouds, travelling from 0-85km/hour in 2.25 seconds, and shooting through The Big One, upside down. Instead, it is vaguely terrifying.
There’s a new icon at Blackpool Pleasure Beach
At Blackpool Pleasure Beach, The Big One used to be the head turning icon. But now there’s a new kid on the block; a gold and grey styled steel structure that rose out of the ground over the winter months, twisting, turning and interacting with more senior rides.
After several years of building up the family offering with Nickelodeon Land and the world’s first theme park ride to be based on the adventures of Wallace and Gromit, owners of the Pleasure Beach decided to give the thrill riders something new to scream about and something fresh to scream from. You certainly get some fresh air as you weave around and through five different ride structures on the 42 acre site. You also get some power behind you; during the double launches electromagnets are used as motors in a similar way to the Shanghai Maglev.
“I loved the launch and the acceleration, no hesitation on that one.” – Tony Pycroft, European Coaster Club.
Created by technology
The Thompson family and park engineers travelled all over the world taking inspiration from other rollercoasters before settling on Icon’s design. The greatest challenge, says Pleasure Beach’s Deputy Managing Director, Nick Thompson, was fitting the 1.143 km of track into the world’s most ride intensive amusement park. Engineers used technology to scan and model the entire area and the coaster was designed on screen, allowing engineers to squeeze it safely through existing rides adding an extra thrill to the ride experience.
Anticipated by enthusiasts and the industry
And where the coaster goes, the fans follow; many of the most loyal are here with us today. “From the rollercoaster enthusiasts point of view this is the mecca. This is iconic in itself,” says Paul Burton, Chairman of the European Coaster Club. “Not only the ride, but the park, so to see this investment of £16 million for a ride of this size is breath-taking. It’s going to be an amazing ride, not just for the Pleasure Beach but for theme parks worldwide.”
Rated by the experts
Tony Pycroft is a member of the European Coaster Club. He puts Icon in his top 100 rides in the world, which is a big thumbs up as he has ridden over 1500 coasters in parks across the globe. I find myself jostling with him for front row seats. I win, but suspect he lets me. He’s already been on the ride and tells me what I’m in for:
“The launch just takes your breath away. You are out of there before you get the actual G’s and then when it sets off it’s that little bit of a shock. And then you are off down the side of the Steeplechase, next to the Big Dipper, and under The Big One, so you’ve got all the iconic rides. And then just as you feel it taking off, you get your second launch. And then it hits you. You’ve got some amazing airtime at the top of the hill, you feel like you are coming out of your seat and you are floating down toward the big one.”
Engineered by family
The finished product is more than a theme park ride, says Amanda Thompson, Managing Director of Blackpool Pleasure Beach; it’s a close bond between two families. “It’s very important to us to have such a good working relationship with the manufacturer. The Mack family and the Thompson family have worked closely together for many years. Not only have we bought rides from them but family members have worked with them.” Amanda worked with the Mack family for thirteen years and her nephew worked in the Mack factory on Icon The Ride.
“The theming and the thought behind it all stems from a cherry blossom tree blowing in the wind and the ground cracking beneath it and shards of steel coming up.” – Amanda Thompson
Important for Blackpool
Amanda Thompson says this ride is very important to Blackpool. “I’m a huge fan of Blackpool as a resort. I think that reinvesting in our town is what we really need to do all the time. We need to change Blackpool, we need to make Blackpool great; it always has been great but it needs to move up a notch.”
She says each year the Pleasure Beach has have reinvested everything that they could possibly reinvest in the town and people are coming back in their droves. “I think there is no better place to be than Blackpool on a sunny day. Blackpool has so much to offer. There’s a little bit of Blackpool in everyone I believe.”
Tony Pycroft agrees, “It could be faster, it could be longer, but it is the most relaxing thing you can do on a sunny day.”
Just look how relaxing….
Experience a ride on ICON
We take twelve year old Hannah on the ride to see if she finds it relaxing. You can follow the ride in real time and see her ever changing verdict on her face in our ICON point of view video.
What’s the verdict?
And my opinion? It’s really smooth, and makes The Big One seem a bit rattley and rickety. It’s not nearly as sprightly as Ferrari World in Abu Dhabi where you need to wear safety goggles to protect your eyes. But when you see the steep inversion straight ahead and feel that second boost kick in, it’s a great moment. I tried to tick off the fifteen times it interacts with another ride, but some of the time I had my eyes shut, and other times it was just going too darn fast.
Wristbands start from £21 for under elevens and £23 for over 12’s if booked online. Gate prices are £33 for under 11s and £39 for 12’s and over. The park opens daily until November.Check the Pleasure Beach website for opening times.