It’s been a big year for the UK and as I’ve been taking the time to report on all the local Wacky Worms it seems rude not to put something together for the big boys. Icon I’d tried to distance myself from the hype surrounding this ride somewhat for the last year or so. In trying not to let it sink in that my favourite ride type was coming to the UK, it eased the expectations and even by the time I was sitting down in the thing, it hadn’t quite hit me. But here we are in a sexy Mack train, sitting on a launch track, in Blackpool. What. First impressions were good. Nothing was overwhelming, but it felt like a solid layout that had somewhat more to give... and give it did. Kept going back to it throughout the course of the day and it only ever got better. I soon came to the selfish realisation that regardless of how well this thing goes down in the country, for the public, for the park, whatever, this ride is exactly what I wanted for the UK. This isn’t purely down the ride itself, but also the park it’s located in. I’ve already mentioned the easy-going atmosphere, but this place is just well run and packed full of attractions in that you can really get the most out of your day there. Queues don’t get huge, operations are great. It was a gorgeous weekend, we didn’t even arrive for opening, but had done all the rides bar a couple of breakdowns by lunchtime. Icon never got above 15 minutes, but it can’t physically hold a queue of more than about 20 minutes. Why does this matter? Because Icon is ridiculously fun and re-rideable. Something that has been missing for me in this country, personally, forever. I’m very happy to say it’s my new favourite in the country, and that it's gone to somewhere that really lets you make the most of that. Nemesis had that crown before, and it’s great, but it was never a ride I’d want to do 10 times in a day, even when the UK scene was all I had. Merlin parks are forever falling out of my favour as the queues and operations get steadily worse. It’s a struggle to turn up to those places on a whim and have either an overall good time or spend some time whoring something you love. Even if they did get something as good as this I just feel it would be harder to enjoy and appreciate. When I do turn up to them, the time investment is rarely worth the return for me, and that’s a much more significant factor when you’re dealing with your ‘local’ parks. Enough sidetracking. Back seat is where it’s at, all the key air time moments are enhanced by that position and it’s those moments punctuating the other things going on that make this style of ride special for me. The first hill is crazy good with it’s sharp entrance and exit, separated by a slow drag over the crest. Many twisty turny bits follow to keep you amused, never too repetitive and always with at least some purpose. The gentle downhill inversion is glorious, something Mack have always managed to nail for me. Then it gets a little wild and kicks you down into the second launch and you’re soon being dragged through another sexy inversion. More twisty turny bits including one bit of the ride that stands out with some strong positive force, another tick for variety, keeps you happy all the way into the brakes. I even appreciated the way it hauls arse out of the brake run into the station, coming in hot. I’ve fallen for the soundtrack now I’ve heard it in person. Found myself singing it quite often throughout the day which is always a good sign. Should be a worthy addition to the playlist. The entrance and queue is decent. I like the way the pathway follows inside the supports for a while. The fact that Grand Prix is mincing along the fence next to the queue makes me laugh. Station is decent. Looks like a bit of modern interior design, the phrase ‘those mirrors will just open up the room’ must have been said at least once. They’ve adopted the free-for-all row allocation strategy which I know and love, the staff sometimes got annoyed by this, but I hope it sticks. Bag holders and wall that is built into the transfer track and moved with the train also makes me laugh. Exit is a bit lacking. The plain black walls are too high to enjoy views as you pass between the two launches, the floor is already collapsing and the stairwell is boring. Minor ride nitpicks: Mist in the tunnels was off already. That wonky hill doesn’t kick as much arse as some of its rivals and is a bit unbalanced in that it’s tailored towards the left half of the train. I didn’t really feel, appreciate or even notice the interactions and near misses that seemed like they would be a huge part of this experience. Maybe I was wrong earlier and I was overwhelmed, the whole time. As already mentioned, there was plenty of time to enjoy all the other stuff on park, including time to slither out to the car for some Valhalla preparation and grab a bonus cred on the way! South Pier Reverchon Spinner. £4 a pop. The true highlight of the day.