Specific Type: Wooden, Out-&-Back
When Blackpool Pleasure Beach was first opened in 1896, park founder William Bean was hoping to build a park similar to Coney Island in the USA, and wanted to make adults feel like children again. Within a decade of its opening, the park began getting its first major attractions, with the Hiram Maxim Captive Flying Machine in 1904, the River Caves of the World Mill Chute water ride in 1905, and the park’s L.A. Thompson designed Scenic Railway in 1907. Just two years later, the park was ready to add a second roller coaster to its lineup, the Velvet Coaster. Pleasure Beach hired William Strickler to build the £8,000 coaster—a three quarters of a mile long oval track of maple, with seats covered in velvet, hence the coasters name “Velvet Coaster.” The hope was to make the coaster the smoothest and most comfortable roller coaster ride possible.
In 1933 however, the Velvet Coaster as it was known was brought to an end, and parts of the coaster had to be removed and rebuilt to make room for the park’s extension to Bond Street. Charlie Paige was brought in to rebuild the new coaster next to thePleasure Beach Express, but kept the original lift hill in place for his design. Another man, Joseph Emberton, who was famed for his architecture, designed the station for the coaster and built a £10,000 tower to go along with it. The new coaster was simply dubbed the Rollercoaster (or Roller Coaster depending on the source), and the ride remained in its classic, restraint-free style until 2006. In 2006, the train received a couple of trains from the parks other non-racing wooden coaster, the Big Dipper, which did have lap bars. Along with the new trains, those left from the old Velvet Coaster were retired, and one of the front four-bench coaches is now on display in the rides station.
This streak of overhauls would not end here however. In 2010, Pleasure Beach Blackpool (“new” name for the park) announced it would be overhauling the family section of its park into Nickelodeon Land, of which the Rollercoaster would be a part of. The new Nickelodeon Land would represent an investment of £10.3 million, and theRollercoaster would not be shortchanged in its overhaul into the Nickelodeon Streak. With trains now from the Big Dipper, it continues to utilize the “old fashioned” four-bench cars on its trains, a rarity seen only on older Scenic Railways and European coasters, or occasional US installations such as Astroland’s Cyclone. The ride is being “modernized” and “extensively rethemed” for its 2011 debut, and it will receive all new paint and decoration when it reopens, though the ride layout itself will remain unchanged.
The ride starts off with a quick U-turn out of the station and onto the lift hill, which hauls the train up to a maximum height of 61 feet. Upon disengaging with the lift, the trains are turned around to the right before finally descending down the rides first drop. The long cars are pushed and pulled towards the ground, but before they can reach it, they are pulled back up and over a tall hill. The train drops once again and traverses another hill, twisting and turning slightly to the right once reaching the other side and passing below a “Look Out Below” sign. Rising out of the Blackpool foliage, the track begins turning to the left in a long, slow, flat turnaround that lines riders up for their return run to the station. The track plummets to the ground as it exits the turnaround (literally, there is grass growing up from below through the track) and rises over three consecutive bunny hills, before its final rise into a tunnel, and finishing left-hand turn into the brake run.
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