Saturday 27th July saw the first Influencer Day at Blackpool Pleasure Beach, which Theme Park Guide was generously invited to attend. Numerous Facebook groups, YouTubers & bloggers all met in the White Tower Restaurant, which is celebrating its 40th year, where we were greeted by the marketing team including Director of Sales, Marketing & PR Robert Owen and Marketing Executives Alejandra Garcia & Richard Lander and the Pleasure Beach Junior Board Members, which is a group of children selected by Pleasure Beach to learn what it takes to run a theme park and help in various decision making processes, to give a view of the park direct from a younger set of eyes.
Once everyone had arrived and settled down with refreshments and Krispy Kremes, the team handed out wristbands, Speedy Passes and thanks to the Great British weather, ponchos for the impending rain. Robert then gave an overview and history of Pleasure Beach from its beginning in 1896 to 2019 which sees a number of milestones across the park, including 60 Years for Derby Racer, 40 Years for Revolution and as previously mentioned the White Tower Restaurant, 25 Years for the Big One and Icon’s first anniversary.
After our welcome meeting the entire group was led down to Derby Racer where we would have an exclusive ride just for the group, where we were promised there would be a little surprise waiting for us all. As we waited for the previous cycle to finish, we started to spot names on the side of some of the horses, which turned out to be all the names of the various groups attending the day, which created a great buzz amongst the group, and was a really great gesture to make the day special for all those that were attending. So as our turn came around we walked around to find our ‘Theme Park Guide’ horse, and took a ride like which we’ll probably never get to experience again, on a personalised horse on the 60 year old classic. Everybody in the group loved this experience, it was such a simple touch, but made a big impression across the group.
Following our ride on Derby Racer we had some free time in the park armed with our Speedy Passes to explore and take on the rides. During this time there was opportunities to be interviewed on the Pleasure Beach Radio Station, do some on-ride filming and talk to the Junior Board Members. Unfortunately at this point the rain had moved in, so we donned our ponchos and ventured off. This was our first time using the Speedy Pass Mobile system, and it worked really well, the list of attractions all had the applicable wait time next to them, and a countdown to when you could ride once you selected them. We managed to get quite a few rides done in our free time in the park, including the Ghost Train, which I always love that there are new scenes or effects added, it would be very easy for this classic to be left alone and preserved as it was, but these updates make it a very re-rideable attraction. We also rode Icon in the rain, which was definitely an experience! We also had an opportunity to try out the new personalised merchandise kiosk in the Kiss Me Quick shop under the Flying Machines, which allows you to put your name on a variety of souvenirs including, magnets, keyrings, coasters, notebooks, sports mugs and glitter frames. You can choose from a range of different themes including rides and generic Pleasure Beach styles. The system works really well, with you using touch screen kiosks to personalise your choice, which then gives you a receipt to take to the counter where your souvenir is produced. The cost of the souvenirs are great value, and are no more than the standard non-personalised items you find in the shops. These kiosks are being trialed at the moment (we also spotted on in the Avalanche shop), so hopefully the interest is good enough to see them stay, as we think they offer a great souvenir option.
Our next scheduled part of the day was a fish & chips supper at Loki’s where they had reserved the upstairs area for the group. We were all served fish, chips and mushy peas, which were very nice, definitely a great choice if you are eating in the park. Once everybody had eaten, we were all given the opportunity to make candy floss. In groups we were taken over to the candy floss machine and given a tutorial, before we tried it for ourselves, with very mixed results, some managed quite impressive floss, while others not so much. After we’d spun our candy floss, one of the Pleasure Beach’s mascots aptly named Candy Floss was on hand for a photo op. Again this was a great addition to the day, it got everybody involved and the atmosphere was great.
After we successfully devoured a lot of candy floss, we set out into the park again to get a few more rides in before our next group activity. We headed for Avalanche at this point, which itself celebrated its 30 anniversary last year, and it’s still one of our favourites, a really fun and unique ride, it’s a shame that more of these rides weren’t built. We were soon ready for our next step on the itinerary for the day, which was the evening performance of Hot Ice – Utopian. The long running ice show, which debuted in 1936 and a new production is put on every year during the summer season. The show is produced and directed by the Managing Director of Pleasure Beach, Amanda Thompson, who has been involved in the show for 27 years, long before she took the reigns of the theme park in 2005.
The group met at the Ice Arena a bit early before the show, as it had been arranged for us to meet a couple of the ice dancers from the show, husband & wife pairing Alexander Demetriou and Carlotta Edwards, who perform many of the couples skating sections of the show, and who both debuted as professionals on ITV’s Dancing on Ice earlier this year. The show itself was amazing, it includes a cast of 30+ skaters with individual skating sections all the way through to huge group routines, with really great choreography throughout, including a big opening sequence to the Icon soundtrack.
We would definitely recommend Hot Ice to anybody visiting Blackpool, it’s sometimes easy to overlook the shows that are part of Pleasure Beach’s line up when you are busy with the rides, but it would be a real shame to miss out on this experience. We have always enjoyed watching Dancing on Ice, so it was great to see a similar show in person, but there were members of the group who had never watched any ice dancing previously and absolutely loved the show, so it really is worth seeing.
As we left the Arena it was 9pm, and the rides on the south side of the park were now closing, in preparation for the nights fireworks, so we explored the rest of the park for few more rides before heading to a drinks reception to end the day. At the T Café near Wallace & Gromit, the team had set up drinks and cupcakes decorated as all the milestone attractions mentioned earlier. After finishing off an Icon and Derby Racer cupcake between us and washing it down with a couple of drinks, we were also given a final gift of a framed 2019 pin badge, celebrating the 5 milestone attractions, which was a really nice gesture.
It was soon time for the finale of the day, the Harry Potter themed fireworks. They were the perfect way to close out the day, a big crowd had formed to watch them from across the park, high in the sky above the Big One, accompanied by the familiar tunes of the Harry Potter themes. With the day coming to an end, we made our way back out of the park and headed home, just as it began to rain again, which luckily held off until after the fireworks.
The Late Night Riding & Fireworks dates are spread out until the beginning of November, and they are great time to visit, with the park open for 12 hours and fireworks to finish the day, there’s very few opportunities for anything similar in the UK at the moment. There are also films being shown on the big screen with Wallace & Gromit on 10th August, and Avengers – Endgame on 24th August, they did show Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone while we were there, but we were watching Hot Ice while it was on.
We can’t thank Robert, Alejandra & Richard from the Marketing team enough for inviting us along for the day, for being fantastic hosts and making us feel very welcome throughout the day. We had a great time from start to finish, and it’s completely clear that they all love what they do and have a real passion for Pleasure Beach, which is fantastic to see, and it also has to be noted that every single member of staff we interacted today (not just those involved in the Influencer Day), were great, really friendly and genuinely appeared to be enjoying themselves, that’s not something we can say about everywhere we visit these days.
Again a huge thank you to Pleasure Beach for putting on this special day, and giving Theme Park Guide and the other attendees the opportunity to take part in the many activities, and for the generosity throughout the day, we really do appreciate it.