I had a fab day, as expected with CF. I'll not do an in depth trip report right now, because I'm tired. But highlights for me:
Speaking to everyone
Antics involving clicky lolly things, balloons and water pistols
Walking around Blackpool and ordering chips with Will in costume
Wild Mouse/Valhalla/Big Dipper
Thanks of course to Big John for organising and Ian for providing E numbers and annoyance devices. Peter, hope your birthday was awesome.
I shall whip up a video when I get the chance to, because I'm nice like that
Ed's quite well hidden in the non-silly photo as well, by the look of it. I'm inclined to blame Mushroom, because he's there. That aside, I'm loving almost all the photos, unsure as I am at the prospect of being reminded of *that* suit for all eternity... Still, any souvenier of a day as bloody good of that one can be no bad thing - Blackpool is always the UK season highlight for me, and this year was clearly no exception, brilliance from start to finish.
I've got a real TR pending in another window, so I'll leave it at that for now, but <3.
Phew what a totally amazing weekend!
Just got back and I'm absolutely shattered so I won't attempt a trip report until I've had at least some sleep.
After 10hrs at the park a few of us did the pier, then 'detoured' home via Southport and Liverpool creds. No energy left to...ty...p..e zzzzzzzzzzz
I forgot quite how much Blackpool causes you to really ache the day after from being thrown around so much.
I had a great day. So glad I made the effort to get there, just what I needed after my exams. It goes so fast that you kinda want it to just go on forever. Thanks for the lift Mushroom though, meant I could avoid a very horrible train ride.
Even if you removed the offending yellow t-shirt i'd still be hidden by Tanya trying to push me into the fountain :lol: We were trying to find a comical position to be photographed, then realised that the photo had already been taken and that Tanya had her back to the camera. Oops!
The day was really really excellent! A nice not too massive group so we weren't ever waiting around too long and it meant we all got to mingle.
I laughed at the first couple... but then they just kept on coming, saying much the same thing and causing my phone to make annoying noises! As fast as I opened one, the next would arrive to take its place in the inbox, so you'll be thrilled to know that was probably the most sizeable barrage of Will-based abuse that my phone's been on the receiving end of for quite some months!
By way of revenge:
*sings* Stone Cold, Mark Raybould, Ciall Connecticut
To say nothing of: The Ghosts of the Sea! Tehehehehe.
Trip report still pending, as I fell asleep in it last night - so many memories 'of joy' take quite some recording Looking forward to more pictures and videos etc. as time progresses; let the happy times roll etc.
“It’s a little bit funny… this feeling inside.
I’m not one of those, who can usually hide…”
Partly because I’m loud, but mainly because it’s bloody hard to camouflage with anything whilst wearing dayglo lime green!
For various reasons, most prominently my own chronic laziness, I’ve not done a lot by way of trip reporting lately; in fact, you have to go back to SEPTEMBER to find the last time I put metaphorical pen to paper in a big way around here, but yesterday was that good that I’d almost feel rude not making comment one way or another. Save perhaps the presence of a much missed Vadge, two Mark/cs, a Stone Cold, and 2 or 3 of my less joyous friends who I’ve not seen nearly enough this year, I’m genuinely not at all sure that anything could have made my June 5th at the Pleasure Beach any better. Weather, rides, company etc. all close to perfection, to the extent that once again there’s a ridiculous grin on my face the entire time – that’s been the case at all but one CF trip I’ve attended this year, and for that, I really can’t thank you lot enough; any coaster group who can turn not only Drayton Manor but Adventure Island into an unforgettable day out deserve the most heartfelt of praise. So, now I hide from the rain that’s pelted Blakenhall for too much of the afternoon, nursing the inevitable post-Live sore throat [which, by the way, was totally worth it], surrounded by party bag souvenirs, the remnants of a heavily abused costume, and memories of yet another my favourite theme park visits to date still making me laugh as they repeat inside my head… Simply put, I really love Blackpool Lives. As far as this country goes at least, CF + Blackpool seems to be an unbeatable combination, and as for Peter, if your day was, as I suspect, as enjoyable as mine, then I struggle to envision a better 21st. Well, as long as you got suitably pissed in the evening anyway. Hehe.
The following report carries a length warning, as I've been really self-indulgent, and gone with the usual stream of consciousness style approach. Words are fun, though not as fun as the Live If I took pictures, then there'd be Images and Words, and the intimidating blocks of text could be broken up a little bit - but as I didn't, this shall have to do. If a picture paints a thousand words, I reckon this is about 7 pictures worth of report cool)
I don’t want to bore everyone with the details of my journey, as there’ll be plenty of time for that later, but alas even THAT featured antics. Much to the amusement of Rach, whose journey worked out so that I didn’t have to spend any of mine alone, the train door decided to bite me as I joined it at Crewe shortly after 8AM, leading to shouting. The same loud noises, with different wording, were required a few minutes later when a woman a few seats in front felt fit to play Iceland’s Eurovision song loudly on her phone. Whilst it’s nice to know myself & Rach aren’t the only ones who’ve been unable to stop listening to contest entries for the last week, I began to wonder if there was any escape! Laughter and the stupid man on the bridge at Preston aside, the journey continued without great event. Ed was met at Preston, and did not appear overjoyed by our onward progression towards Blackpool on a rattlewagon of doom, which featured old people with inappropriate facial hair, and a loud child, my disapproval of whom I rapidly made known. Happily, Blackpool was reached shortly before 10:00, and Neal, Big John, Ian, Tanya, Raybould etc. were met in the car park. Wristbands were promptly collected, baggage was rather less promptly checked for bad things, unnecessary turnstiles were encountered, and then we were in.
I feel I should mention my costume at this point, since, at the risk of sounding more than a little undeservingly egocentric, it was almost certainly one of the most memorable features of the Live. Not wanting to look like a complete and utter tit (not alone, anyway), I ensured others had come equipped with unorthodox attire, but as the clothing of Ian, John, Tanya and others confirmed this was the case, the outfit that had caused me so much amusement on eBay, purchased for sheer unWillishness value alone, was a go. Admittedly, I’d initially regret telling people the ludicrous, luminescent jacket I was quick to don on arrival, had flares to match, since this meant I was rapidly bullied into heading to the toilets to switch jeans. The flares were too long and too wide for the waist of my Summer 2010 look; they were also a nauseating shade of lime green, and attracted a lot of stares, but not nearly as many unhelpful comments as expected; on more than one occasion throughout the day, I’d lament upon the fact that I have too look ridiculous in order to receive semi-appreciative of stares from the handful of acceptable looking Northern females… Anyway, now clad in flares, hi-vis jacket, a rainbow wig (last worn at the Pleasure Beach back in 2005… onride must still be around somewhere!) and 70s ‘sunglasses’ that not only singularly failed to blot out the sun, but also ensured I couldn’t see a thing, hence my requests for a guide dog (Katy, you’re brilliant… but if you’re reading Brad, my hair is still at your disposal), I’d make my return to the group. Here, I was met by much hysteria and photography. Posing wore thin, resulting in well-timed rage (“I may be brightly coloured, but inside there still beats a heart of purest darkness!” I would protest, knowing full well I was fooling nobody) until I eventually collapsed on a bench to commence annoying other people… seriously though, thanks everyone for not taking the piss anymore than I deserved - I felt more than a little vulnerable for a little while, but was soon enjoying myself entirely too much to care, and any compliments on my dedication to the theme were as always, gratefully received. After a picture of the 5 of us in costume, faff commenced while we waited for everyone to arrive and, making the most of my relatively newfound sobriety, I had moral high ground time against people with hangovers including but not limited to Neal, Gavin and a certain person who should have been young enough to know better, and thus annoyance commenced. Hangovers, as I’d eventually decide in April, are not to be mixed with Will, and if I had one, I wouldn’t mix it with Blackpool either – not least since, owing to Nash’s delayed opening, our first ride would be the merciless Wild Mouse!
By the time we’d bypassed the burdenous fountains, with their disdainful, burly security guards and found Wild Mouse’s relatively short queue, people, including Neal who, all hangover forgotten had sadly found his voice box and seemed determined to single handedly make up for the absence of Stone Cold, had delved into the party bags generously supplied by our favourite webmaster, and located water pistols. As we attempted to wait for Wild Mouse, full scale war would break out between Neal and a sadly unarmed mysterious Sue – neither bubble mixture nor her unparalleled devotion to Matt Bellamy could save her from the dampening onslaught! Musical debate, and a certain amount of volume (less than 5 hours sleep left me poorly equipped to match Neal) would pass the rest of the queue, until, still feeling a bit of a berk thanks to rainbow wig and associated garments, I’d end up braving the mouse alone – possibly for the first time, despite being, as Karen, Ian, Tom and a few others were kind enough to compliment, around 25% smaller than I was when last I visited Blackpool. And while we’re on the subject, yes, yes my shoes did match, now shush. Anyway, all tangents aside, Wild Mouse is still MORE terrifying when such isolation occurs, the overwhelming feeling of “This should NOT be happening” is heavily reinforced, and not that I’d have missed it, but the ride seemed determined that I part company with my wig… as well as with me. Simply put, its perhaps the fact that it’s one of few rides left that can still genuinely terrify me that makes me love Blackpool’s Wild Mouse so much – I know I’m in a minority, but it’s definitely my favourite wooden coaster there. Exit ramp would result in curious stares from people in the queue line, one of whom had Will approved eyes, so I returned her gaze; at least until I remembered my sunglasses… did not hide my eyes. Fail_sunglasses.
Moving swiftly on, Infusion would be the next obstacle on the Blackpool course, and this didn’t make me especially happy, though it was slightly redeemed by its short queue. I was accompanied by Jayjay on this ride, and it caused both of us inconsiderate amounts of pain – I’d intended to wear my wig, thinking this would shield my head perfectly, but the stern faced woman on the platform had other ideas, and I was thus left defenceless. Unlike most suspended coasters not manufactured by Vekoma, it went on entirely too long and knocked my head to the extent that when I opened my mouth to join Neal in raging on the brake run, my opinion came out in unexpected German – WARUM? ICH MAG INFUSION NICHT, ES MACHT MICH TRAURIG! Lengthy exit path based banter would redeem the situation slightly, as would Raybould’s humorous photography featuring my luminous legs, but my on ride photo… was not a pretty sight. After a brief sit on the comfy chairs I ended up occupying for entirely too long at the 2009 Live, it was time to proceed to the Big Dipper. At around 15 minutes (despite the weather, we didn’t queue much for anything all day – this was one of the things which made me happy), the wait was comparatively long, but accompaniment from Neal & Ian would pass the time nicely. Neal had intended to join me in the front row, but our position in the queue meant this spectacularly backfired, and we ended up in the back. Oh, the inevitable pain. To make matters worse, the train had many restraints missing, thus lots of people had to wait for the next. To make matters worse, we didn’t, and as I mentioned, we were in the back. While I generally think of myself as a relatively imperturbable, hardened enthusiast, I’m not ashamed to admit I was clinging to my restraint for dear life the entire way around the circuit. Back in 2004 when we first met, Big Dipper was my first major wooden coaster, and I fell in love – but it’s gone downhill at an alarming rate since, and I’m saddened by the amount which its roughness upsets me. On a side note, it’s got definite character, and being thrown around on the turnaround was fun, as was the airtime-packed bunny hills, which made our choice of seat more bareable. Following Big Dipper, Neal became once again distracted by his favourite activity of Mysterious_Sue baiting (why she gave me her sunglasses, I genuinely don’t know. As I had my own, which were identical – thus if you ended up with unidentified sunglasses at any point, this is why), until the group were reunited, and we continued on our quest to the next ride.
I… have to admit, my memory’s failed me a little, as you might have guessed by the choice of words, so I might get a couple of rides and events in the wrong order, or miss some also rans out altogether. You’ll live, and if I end this disclaimer here, the report might even end up a bit shorter. Anyways, if I remember rightly, we now headed past the monorail, then down the slope towards Valhalla, because Rollercoaster was shut, and Valhalla is the best ride in Blackpool, and Big John, who organised, fanboys it almost as heavily as I do. However, just as with the Live back in 2009, things weren’t looking ideal down at Valhalla – the opening time had been removed from the sign, and men guarded the queue line entrance – the station entrance was closed, and didn’t look in any hurry to open. This looked set to put something of a dampener on my day, and not any of the kinds of dampener of which I’d approved. Undeterred, Big John steered the group back around, and we made our way to the ghost train. Martyn H unwisely chose this moment to attempt to bother me for the first time, forgetting the presence of streams that it’s fun to push people into – but I quickly tired of this game, not helped by Neal standing on my foot; turns out that hurts quite a bit more when I’m not wearing ‘school shoes’! With a hurty foot and a growing sense of apathy, I rapidly lost all interest in queuing what looked like a long time for a lacklustre ghost train, and joined Rach, Nicky, Jayjay and Katy in bagladying – for one thing, this gave me a chance to rummage through the spare party bags, and equip myself with a water pistol with which to defend myself, and possibly even mysterious Muse fans. However, a water pistol, I discovered, is simply a pistol (and not of the shooty variety) once it is separated from water – thus there was little I could do to fight back against Katy and Nicky, female as they may have been; hangover or no hangover, for those few minutes, I felt suitably inadequate, if amused. Revenge would be mine for a while, as I half-inched Jayjay’s camera, creating what may well prove to be the more entertaining 3 minutes of his footage, featuring highlights including my feet, Rach’s Preston based monologue, inevitable Eurovisionrage, the many entertaining facial expressions of his sister and who knows what else besides. But then I broke the camera. This page is a bit red, as ‘spelling errors’ are underlining themselves, which isn’t great for my eyes, though I’ll admit this is beside the point. Flanked by 2 bodyguards, an irksome ginger and some guy in sunglasses who I didn’t know, and who didn’t say a lot, Tomatron showed up at this point to minimal rejoicing – it turned out the armed guards weren’t with him, but the combination made me laugh at any rate, following on from our last encounter! Hungover to an undesirable extent like so many others, he was in no hurry to stick around. Happily, neither was the eccentric old woman in pink who decided to try to have a conversation with me just after everyone exited the ghost train – I told her I was brightly coloured, and she wandered; I was very confused, Ian likewise.
My water pistol, unlike my face and hair, remained unsatisfactorily dry, and Valhalla remained closed, much to my mounting displeasure, and Ice Blast was instead selected as the next ride. Since I’d somehow ended up at the back of the queue, where Martyn H was exasperatingly in attendance and Ice Blast is, at best, ‘shiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiite’ and other reasons, I left my wig upon a reliably thrilling brow and left for some rocks near Valhalla with Neal. There was a man in wellies wading near the exit of the ride, and more senior looking staff hanging around with serious expressions on their faces; as ride and shop remained closed, this didn’t exactly bode well. Thirsty, we abandoned the rock and Neal’s excessive Stereophonic activities to have diet pepsi based times on a bench, upon which Eurovision was once again heavily discussed, and the delightful Lena Meyer-Landrut (one of just two necessary exceptions to Neal’s German blaming rule) almost excessively appreciated, though the Tanyas and Karens of this world have yet to understand how her awkward dancing served only to add to her appeal. Yet I digress, there were also ride ops to be admired (borrowing Neal’s glasses turned out to be a waste of time, once I’d realised she was blonde with misplaced features), though I remain amused by whoever questioned the whereabouts of ‘Elton’! All too soon, people returned from their loud noise making shot tower activity, and joined myself and Neal on a bench that quickly became overcrowded. It was lunch time, and exodus accompanied by panic over who had whose entrance ticket, ensued. This was another moment when I felt a little vulnerable in costume, but colourful objects were distributed between those fans I’d spent a surprising amount of the day with – and as Rach and Nicky were intent on guiding us toward an entirely different fish and chip shop to that favoured by much of the group, sunglasses, wig and belt/headband were forced upon them. Katy and Jayjay, with a certain amount of giggling, kept a respectful distance, and did their best to get me run over on more than one occasion. Many people ordered silly food – I quite liked the fish and chip shop that happened, especially silent girl with Will-approved eyes, who appeared greatly put out by the stupid noise emitted by the coffee machine when she attempted to dispense caffeinated beverages. Her blonde friend however, was far too generous with the salt-shaker, but the man who appeared to be in charge made us all laugh by taking 5 steps backwards when confronted by my outfit, meaning I had to shout my order. We then made our way to the beach, and munching ensued – I learned that Katy does not make a good coaster. If you put cans of drink on her head, they fall – and then you get wet when you open then. Likewise, Nicky’s poncho tastes a lot worse than sausage and chips, even when you combine it with vinegar. Finally, it hurts when you get salt in a paper cut that you didn’t know you had, and I don’t like seagulls very much – all too soon, feasting, and the humorous, if apparently surprisingly unmemorable conversation that accompanied it, was complete, and it was time to return to the park, ready for the meet at Grand National at 2PM. Pasaje del Terror PA admired my trousers (‘they’re ‘cool’’) as I passed, which was unnerving to say the least.
To kill time, bench happened – but as I’m a bit rubbish, I cleverly managed to select the bench behind a bin, near a hanging basket which Mysterious Sue seemed determined to bring crashing down on the head of either Jayjay or Mushroom; she didn’t seem to care which, and I’m not certain they did! Sitting on a bin in an attempt at recreating my bin monster exploits from Southend 3 weeks ago also took place, but Neal pulled me off (leave it…) before anyone had chance to take a picture, I was unimpressed. Peter, meanwhile, wasn’t unimpressed, because it was his birthday, thus that cursed song had to be performed in honour of the occasion, then a giant fondant fancy was expertly carved by Mattie, and distributed – I hope whoever had my slice enjoyed it, I was still feeling guilty about chips! Furthermore, Grand Nation awaited, and is probably an unwise combination with digestive systems – I don’t know who masterminded our queuing operation, but it ended perfectly, though as I was rather more hyperactive, and armed with a water pistol (albeit an empty one) and an irksome rattle type thing, leaving Katy questioning the whereabouts of her powerful painkillers as well as… what precisely she had done to deserve Will based times. Answer? Clearly not got out of the way as quickly as everyone else. But I digress. I’m bloody good at that, you have to hand it to me.
“Where are your platforms, mate?”
As I was saying, the Grand National trains were perfectly organised to allow for hand holding and such, partly because Neal has long arms. Whilst not as upsettingly close to the back of the train as on Big Dipper, I was still in prime position for a serious battering, though the fact that a fat person had ridden before me, thus requiring major belt adjustment made me smile – as did unexpected party popper – though unexpectedpartypopperintheeye didn’t appear to be Katy approved. Grand National was rough, but fun… as ever – holding onto both restraint and increasingly burdenous wig, was once more a necessity! Nash was followed by faff outside Trauma Towers, featuring unexpected photography with “Gary Barlow in 50 years” and other Elton John enthusiasts, as well as fountains which, despite the best intentions of Mysterious Sue, we never did manage to drown Neal in – but… what d’you say, there’s always next time! Beaver Creek followed… and while I don’t know whose bright idea Magic Mountain was, I CAN confirm that it wasn’t their finest hour.
“Welcome to our world, welcome to our world, welcome to our world of: boys” repeated Ian merrily to himself, occasionally accompanied by an intriguing cocktail of accents from up and down the country, as I sat surrounded by a frankly excessive number of pestilential amphibian themed bins, feeling it was my turn to wonder I’d got up to, in this live or the last, that had been deemed bad enough to deserve Magic Mountain. Needless to say, I did not ride, and ‘enjoyed’ bench activities, aside from my musical surroundings – the nearby toilets served more than one purpose, as my water pistol finally acquired some much needed water – more than one person would quickly wished they hadn’t, upon exiting the ride! Eventually, a group of long-suffering enthusiasts with matching looks of deepest despair on many of their faces would exit Magic Mountain, and proceed towards Zipper Dipper. Unfortunately, much as I like the ride, Zipper Dipper is operated by an utter psycho who scares me at the best of times – largely through his propensity to make personal comments that even Neal would balk at, regarding appearances – clad in limegreen 70s stuff, there was no way I was going to bait him, so having topped up the water pistol (Tomatronatron had returned, and I’d recently used the last of my previous ammunition avenging Katy), I sought refuge in a rocking fire engine, which made a bad noise when I sat on it. Saddeningly, said scary man still saw me, and shouted – but I ran and hid, so everything was alright, Karen was called upon to placate me, and provide amusement for the remainder of the wait. As mentioned, Tom felt the need to make his presence felt at exactly the wrong time, and whilst I’m quite prepared to declare us BOTH losers, I still felt that the combination of THAT shirt and THAT comment, to see nothing of the persistent Elton John BOTHERING were indeed deserving of: watering, regardless of the views on waterRAGE which he’d make quite clear just under a year ago! Yes, I’m childish – but after over 5 years you should: know this by now, now… shut up and have wet times. Mutinous mumblings would take me most of the way to the Pepsi Max queue, but… I got bored and resumed being happy. Saturday night may well have been alright for fighting otherwise, and yet I find I use less caps lock this way.
The Big One was closed when my family went to Blackpool a week ago, but… it wasn’t closed for us, which added to the happiness based activities, as did the presence of the inevitable Neal, and the usual suspects who provided me with people to annoy, mainly using wigs, teeth (I’m still surprised by anyone who doesn’t take the threat ‘I bite’ seriously…) and… strange sweets that were oddly fun to break, throughout the tedious, claustrophobic indoor queue line – which placed limegreen_Will in upsetting proximity to people who enjoyed giving me funny looks; they weren’t my favourite. Demanding a dose of “Will times”, Nicky disappointed Neal by acquiring my strangely sought after company for this ride, for which the wig of ridiculous was stealthily stowed beneath my shirt. To be fair to the Big One, aside from its station announcements, it is exactly what it says on the tin – which it wouldn’t be, if it called itself ‘The Forceful One’ or similar – but the first drop or two do continue to pack a punch, regardless of Neal’s theories to the contrary, and it doesn’t look bad. It’s overrated by a lot of people however, and… runs out of ideas quite fast after the still faintly unnerving first drop – I think it was around halfway around the track that I’d proclaim “Why is this my thing that I do!?,” to much amusement from similarly perplexed enthusiasts, who were themselves of course, precisely WHY I’ve stuck with the coaster thing for so long. Blackpool’s a great park, but it needs the group in order for it to truly shine. Similarly, ride photos are fun to pose for on the Big One, but ‘MCBR’ is tricky to shout as if it’s all one word, it confuses people.
Brief faff was followed by Bling, which, since so few people could be arsed with its lengthy queue and undesirable section, meant a far longer interlude of faff in actuality – yet it was during this faff that the day’s greatest drama would unfold, for, as I’m sure you’re aware if you’re dedicated enough to still be reading, Big Dipper would derail right in front of us, near mirroring the scenario which led to the 2009 crash, though the riders looked to be mercifully unaware of this! I was too lazy for wandering, or for photography at this stage, so I agreed to guard the bags, bottles of water, nasty sweets, photography equipment and an intriguing selection of wigs whilst Rach, Ian and others went to snap exclusives for the site, or to just generally be nosy. Before long, security would appear on scene to prevent photography and gawping bystanders from going about their business, yet it would be too late – Ian had made the world aware, and a certain thespian who will remain nameless can stick that in her water feature and rinse her anatomy with it (… those not Ian, Tanya or Big John… would probably do well to ignore that…)
DipperGate aside, antics while waiting for Bling to stop being a burden were minimal, though the auction for my jacket amused, Neal’s offer of £2 defeating John’s offer of Tanya… because I’m still not a breast man, but I am still unemployed and every little helps… and by the way Neal, where IS my 2 quid? At length, silly and now additionally dizzy people would exit Bling, putting an end to Ian’s attempts at exasperating Blackpool management to the best of his ability – it was now time for the day’s highlight and the Pleasure Beach’s crowning jewel since at long last, my beloved Valhalla was operational, and since Rach sadly had to depart within the hour, it was time to make our way in that general direction!
En route to Valhalla, my only interruptions came courtesy of annoying men who made Elton John based remarks (“Don’t YOU start! >:C”) and then the group photos in front of the oddly placed rusty O. It’s no secret that my enjoyment of being centre of attention (so long as it’s for the right reasons) borders on goonish, so there was no objection to daft glasses, just so long as emphasis was placed upon the matchingness of my shoes! Following on from this however, I’d be heavily overshadowed by Mushroom, who saw fit to lumber into the foreground of the silly picture, his silhouette all but eclipsing the water fight once again raging behind! Anyway, fun as group pictures were, it was ALL about Valhalla. I’d originally planned to wear a poncho, and come prepared, but with the weather being the way it was (I’ve not really mentioned it, but a few people have returned complaining of sunburn, and I was glad of my wig… it was VERY nice for the North and the coast!) and the fact that getting soaked would provide an ideal excuse to abandon my costume for the rest of the day, since many others seemed to have left theirs behind, I decided against it – I believe it was acquired by Katy… who then had 2, for reasons unknown, though for reasons known, I would chew the hood of that one during the queue. Indeed, under orders from Big John of Valhallafanboydom, all ponchos to come near me met with a similar fate, because Valhalla is good, and... So is wanton destruction of polythene materials, and so is the Valhalla music. Having not ridden in over 2 years, thanks to the rides failure at the last Live, I was a happy, excitable Will – the queue moved fast and the company of Neal, John, Gavin and the usual suspects (though we failed to get Ian to ride) added to the amusement. After not riding sans poncho since the week I started Uni in 2006, I was also unsure of what exactly to expect, and the waterfall at the beginning failing to entirely turn off didn’t exactly fill me with confidence – nor did the brokenness of Shouty_Viking atop the first lift hill, but from here onwards was the ride’s usual brilliance. European trips have shown me better coasters, parks, theming, antics etc. than the UK can ever hope to provide, but I’ve still yet to find a dark ride, or a water ride, that can hold a candle to Valhalla – I’ll be a VERY happy, impressed man when I do. I’ll probably be quite wet as well. In terms of effects, the majority appeared to be working, according to John’s commentary, aside from a dead stop after the backwards drop of why, which served to upset those who’d opted, with their countless fun spoiling ponchos, to hide on the back seats. Fire is awesome, cold rooms are cold, wind machines are highly annoying, and brilliant effects can keep even the most critical of Wills entertained for the length of your average prog-metal masterpiece… and that’s not even mentioning the water, of which there was really no shortage, though I’m sure it’s got me far wetter in the past – clearly 3rd row was the place to be whilst lacking poncho. Anyway, finally getting on Valhalla after that amount of time made me VERY happy, as I may have mentioned – my day was made, and anything that followed was to be an added bonus. Such bonuses included Ian’s attempt at squirting our boat with yet another water pistol as it passed, before he was heavily emasculated by the water cannon that makes an awesome noise, causing Neal to have a disproportionate amount of rage, featuring a frankly inexplicable amount of Monty Python! Revenge upon Ian would rapidly follow – a soggy Big John embraced him from the front, whilst an equally moist Will joined at the back (no… there’s no way of phrasing that that doesn’t feature innuendo – I tried a few combinations!), thus making ensuring his pale t-shirt was similarly damp! Upon being given my wig back by Neal, it occurred to me just exactly how much fun I could have with this – as it was now dripping wet, and there were those who’d spited me by keeping oddly dry heads. Needless to say, 5 minutes later as we made our way towards Grand National again, more than one person’s hair had been dampened to a Will-approved level, and was looking suitably displeased about it. My work there was done. It was also time to say goodbye to Rach :cry:
The second Grand National of the day was somewhat less memorable; though the queue featured excessive doses of Mushroom (the faithful had finally abandoned me, as revenge for my earlier wig abuse), and riding at the front with Ploddish’s friend Mattie. The front provided a considerably smoother ride, and was thus more enjoyable, helped on by an undeniable victory for our train, much to the fury of a Neal on the opposite platform! Since we were close, it was logical that River Caves, ignored earlier and infinitely inferior to Valhalla, be our next destination. River Caves has a silly queue, with lacklustre animatronic dinosaur which enjoys: biting, but can easily be made sillier by the inclusion of MouseAT wearing my wig, and me… generally being me – though with the time approaching 6:00 (in a change from advertised plans, park opening was extended to 8. Happy times), my energy levels were beginning to flag, and hydration was required thanks to the weather, leaving me a little more bearable for my companions! Within the river caves boat of joy… which didn’t look too happy about floating once I boarded, I was joined by a brace of Katys, a friend of a Katie (she kept calling me Elton, so I decided she didn’t deserve a realname), a Nicky and a MouseAT, and none of these people approved of me rocking the boat, which was unfortunate really, because I did, because bored. There was also lots of theming to be shouted at, in addition to rage which occurred when the boat unwontedly stopped on the final lift hill… and with nothing to hold onto or lean on, unexpected falling looked like a worrying possibility! Happily, mildly pointless drop followed, much to the delight of a collection of photographers congregated on the bridge, and the perturbation of all those within my boat of uncharacteristically brightly colourfulness. Numbers now began to dwindle as Ian and Neal (much to the relief of Mysterious Sue, against whom Neal’s vendetta continually raged) bid farewell to the group and began their long journey home, joined by my green jacket, leaving me looking dafter than ever as I attempted to match up the green flares with a more clichéd red check shirt; ‘twas truly not meant to be!
It was a smaller, and in the absence of Neal, somewhat creepily quiet group that proceeded to Rollercoaster, which had opened in place of the stricken Big Dipper, for our next ride – and in this queue, Karen and Phil were relied upon for conversation (as Ed mentioned earlier – the group size was absolutely perfect for getting around moreorless everyone at some point during the day), and Jayjay for company on ride, in order to evade the bothersome Martyn H as much as was humanly possible! Rollercoaster, and its idiosyncratically crooked lift hill and unnerving smoothness was its usual mildly tedious self, though I will attest to getting the faintest hint of airtime every so often, which made a refreshing change – though even I struggle to think of a great deal else to say about the ride, which would now be quickly left behind. With Gold Mine closed (I didn’t miss it, don’t know about anyone else, but it’s always bored the hell out of me. And it smells funny…), the monorail was the wildcard which Big John would now play – partly out of curiosity, since this would provide opportunities to spy on the Big Dipper – which turned out to be have been evacuated with surprising ease, and the train returned to the station for SBNO based times with a similar amount of still more surprising ease. Karen, Phil and… somebody unmemorable, who hopefully isn’t reading in case that offends them made up my company on this ride… in fact, aside from posing for mirror photos, I remember little more than having quiet, tired times – the 4-5 hours sleep on Friday night thanks to people who know who they are, atop the sheer length of a day at Blackpool were beginning to take their toll on my energy levels, and though I’d have loved a 2 day Live, as another day in the same company would have made me a still happier Will, if such a thing is possible, parts of me would be glad of an excuse to have lots of bed and not a great deal else on Sunday! With the monorail over, it was time for the group to get smaller still – Nicky and Mushroom had begun their journey further north after Rollercoaster, and now it was time for Jayjay and Katy to bid their farewells to the group, but not before the inevitable lengthy shoulder-themed partings, and final waterpistolrage with those whose surprising tolerance of my inevitable childlike hyperactivity/paininthearse times had once more contributed in the day’s antics a surprisingly high amount, before the irksome plastic implements were handed over to an equally irksome Martyn H, and a bin enabled myself and the omniscient sunglasses that Mysterious Sue never DID want back, to finally part ways!
Now wanting a few minutes to myself as well as to end the day in more flattering attire, I would opt not to brave Avalanche of tedium and its like minded queue, and retreated to toilets near the former Space Invader. In a recurrent theme, being reunited with jeans would make me happy, but I’d quickly find it entirely too quiet and return to the group, passing a few minutes with the bag ladies whilst we waited for others to be thoroughly bobsledded, and admired Karen’s awesome ride photo. With a 7:45 train back to Crewe on the cards, my day was now rapidly drawing toward its eventual climax, but as the park had noticeably cleared out in the early evening, resulting in many deserted queue lines, a last ride looked possible, and it was toward the Revolution that the remaining diehard members now made their way. Through no fault of my own, it was Tom and companions that I ended up here, but as the queue was non-existently short, catch up times were acceptable. Revolution, returning to the matter in hand, was its usual self – for such a simplistic ride, I’m shocked every time by the weight of the punch it still manages to pack, even after all this time, being seated near the back presumably helping. Thanks to tiredness, dehydration and so forth, I’d leave Revolution more disorientated than usual, and declaring re-rides unwanted, adopted my place on a bench – recovery from the stairs that Revolution has ENTIRELY too many of definitely in order!
It was now shortly after 7pm, and looked as if Steeplechase was to be my last ride before I said my own sad farewell to the group and headed home. Steeplechase was its usual frankly lethal self, and being paired with Martyn H didn’t help matters any, not least when, despite help from a speeding lift hill, I was still defeated by him at the final post, fuelling my annoyance. Tom, a horse or two in front of me, appeared to be having similar annoyance of his own – clearly managing to consider even single-rail coasters a serious business, the competitive determination and thirst for victory visible in his eyes made me laugh loudly, much to the confusion of a dispatching ride host!
And so, it was goodbye yellow brick pleasure beach, and time for me to head back to my… plough, as the rest of the group joined the queue for the Big One, each finding time for goodbye Will of amusement hugs as they passed. I always dislike saying goodbye to everyone at the end of Lives, but this one had been truly exceptional to the extent that it hurt inside more than it had since the Autumn if not before, truly speaking volumes for the quality of my day out – as I’ve already mentioned a hundred times or so, it really was THAT good, that after buying a drink for the journey home, my iPod would be set on ‘sentimental, tacky crap’ for the first time in a good few months as I began the walk to Blackpool Pleasure Beach station. Emotional times resides, but they were emotions of the very finest variety. If only my fellow passengers en route back to Preston had been of a similar quality. Shouty drunk man was drunk, and shouty.
So – and if you’re still reading, you’re either very dedicated or bored beyond belief, whichever way, I’m quite impressed, since this ended up longer than even my Flamingo report, such was the power of the memories still lingering from the weekend. There’s little left to do other than reiterate just exactly how much I enjoyed this Live, and thank every last person in attendance, even the ones I love to hate, since it wouldn’t have been the same without you, and as I said at the beginning, only the addition of a few sadly absent friends could have made it any better than it already was – hope we catch you next time…
Conclusively, a massive vote of thanks from me to both Ian and Big John for their usual flawless organisation, and how smoothly they kept the day flowing despite a few unpredictable turns of events, and I suspect that’s a thank you that will be echoed from all corners. Similarly, to Rach and also Ed for providing entertainment on trains en route to the park, as well as to everyone who kept me entertained or put up with my exasperating nature at any point during the day. As with Southend and Drayton alike, I was reminded of just how much I enjoy calling myself part of the CoasterForce group, and thanks to a few very welcome compliments from various individuals, I probably feel more a part of it than ever. Should we continue in this vein, 2010 could certainly rise from the ashes to become the finest of my seasons on the site, so obviously a real thank you to everyone who continued to make me feel welcome during a rough first few months of this year – for vanishing then could have proved to be one of the bigger mistakes of my life. Because the very vast majority of you lot are ****ing great – I’ve not stopped smiling while writing this, despite the amount of effort converting memories to text has been, and that’s entirely down to you, so give yourself a pat on the back, and not just for endurance reading. I, for my part, can’t wait for next time – and while we go from strength to strength as a community, I doubt I’m the only one.
‘Sir Will Garner of the realm’… or… Elton, as I’m affectionately known on my days off, signing off.