By Rhonda Carrier
We're in Blackpool for the inauguration of Nickelodeonland, a six-acre site within Pleasure Beach, with 12 rides based on characters and shows from the kids’ TV network. Yet not all of Pleasure Beach is new. In fact, some of it is very old indeed. The Grand National rollercoaster dates back to 1935 – which means it’s been scaring the pants off riders since before my parents were born. Mimicking the famous steeplechase, it races cars on two tracks alongside each other over a series of stomach-lurching dips and climbs emulating Aintree’s 30 fences. It’s also – for the 'coaster geeks among you – one of just three surviving Möbius Loop coasters in the world.
'The Ghost Train was the world’s first when opened in 1930 and gave its name to all such haunted rides, although inside it you’ll find lots of state-of-the-art effects that delight both me and the kids.'
A gibbering wreck by the end of our ride, I can only stare incredulously at my eight-year-old son beside me as he cries ‘Again, again!’ before we’ve even left our seats.
‘Spoil-sport Mum,’ he scowls back.
We're not staying in Blackpool but in the tranquil surrounds of the gorgeous Forest of Bowland a half-hour drive away. But we do stop for dinner at Pleasure Beach’s very own, surprisingly chic Big Blue Hotel, the restaurant of which is suitably child-friendly. The kids are certainly impressed by the hotel’s location right beside the Pepsi Big Max rollercoaster, and had we stayed over would no doubt have been thrilled by the family rooms with their children’s areas with funky bunk beds and entertainment systems.
Similar to the Grand National, the Wild Mouse is another traditional wooden coaster with a long history, having opened in 1958. The Ghost Train, which was the world’s first, opened in 1930 and gave its name to all such haunted rides, although inside it you’ll find lots of state-of-the-art effects that delight both me and the kids.
In fact, Pleasure Beach is a master of reinvention, with many of the rides within Nickelodeonland re-themes of existing rides. In keeping with its audience demographics, Nickelodeonland is largely for younger kids, with the exception of Avatar Airbender, a Zamperla Disco ride (lower height limit 1.2m) and the Nickelodeon Streak, beneath the sleek paint of which lies another classic wooden coaster (lower height limit 1.17m).
Rides to charm tots, meanwhile, include Diego’s Rainforest Rescue, the Bikini Bottom Bus Tour, and the Krusty Krab Order-up, with the main attraction visually being SpongeBob’s Splash Bash, which is like a sedate classic teacups ride with the exception that riders drench one another with water. The Rugrats Lost River, a junior log flume, is also wetter than you’d expect. But that's all part of the fun…
Find out more about Blackpool Pleasure Beach.