23 May 2018 – just before Spring Bank Holiday weekend, 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 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 still always get a thrill from driving along Blackpool seafront, so today was no exception. 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 a queue, waiting to get in and be served with a lanyard pass, press pack and a brew. (That’s the Fylde Coast word for cuppa). For once there weren’t that many faces around that I recognised and it was obvious that the rollercoaster fans were out in force. I kind of gave away the fact that I wouldn’t be having a go on ICON, the new Rollercoaster at Blackpool Pleasure Beach with the fact that I was wearing a dress. If you’re going to go upside down at 85kmh you wouldn’t wear a dress, would you.
The first thing I was struck by among the crowds was a fabulous jacket worn by a very dapper chap who turned out to be Andy Hine MBE the 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.
Andy Hine, Chairman of the Rollercoaster Club of Great Britain
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. I drove past on one grey day in winter and saw the very car park I used today, piled up with huge round bits of grey metal and 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 that the Q&A session about twists and turns and g-force was of no interest to me whatsoever. 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…
At this point I’ll explain that what matters to me (if not the g-force) is the effect that it will have on Blackpool. It’s going to put it on the map and ‘re-engage with thrill seekers’. Not me obviously, but I know that, without a shadow of a doubt, the ride will attract more people to the Park and to Blackpool than anyone could ever dream of. That’s the thing that I find thrilling. That today it will be on the news all over the UK and in plenty of far flung places too, showing off what a great place Blackpool really is.
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.
Paul and Becky from Thrill Rides Photography at the launch of ICON, the new Rollercoaster at Blackpool Pleasure Beach
I did asked them what they liked so much about it and Paul explained ‘it’s a feeling that you just don’t get anywhere else, that feeling in your stomach’. I also asked them both if they ever felt ill. I could imagine unstoppable Paul being one of those people who does the non-stop rollercoaster records – Becky didn’t look quite so sure that she could ride and ride until the cows came home.
I have to say that I enjoyed the walk through the Park to the location of today’s event. It wasn’t lost on me that it was also 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. It’s valuable to see things from an outsider’s point of view, and I fail to see how they couldn’t all be impressed.
For more information and carry on reading this blog please visit https://liveblackpool.info/recreation-entertainment/things-to-do/launch-of-icon-the-new-rollercoaster-at-blackpool-pleasure-beach/