Parc Astérix

I decided on a short break in France around my birthday – because who wants to work on their birthday, right? My plan was a day at Parc Astérix and a day at Parc St Paul, then a flight back home. Unfortunately I messed up Parc St Paul and turned up to locked gates – it was open on the day I had originally planned but not on the actual day (I moved everything back a day to get an early enough flight to be able to collect a hire car….)

Anyway on to Parc Astérix. I went for the Filotomatix Illimité, which is their unlimited fast track, unsure as to how busy it would actually be – but this was my first ever visit to Parc Astérix and as I was going on my own, I didn’t want to be spending any time stood in queues. It turned out to be a good call as the park was rather busy, queues for some of the larger coasters consistently at 1-2 hours for most of the day.

Unfortunately I seem to have lost all the photos and videos I took after 2:30pm, not sure how as they aren’t in the recently deleted folder, but we’ll just go with what I have still got.

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Sweden – Gröna Lund and Liseberg

At the beginning of June 2023 I went to Sweden for a few days, flying in to Gothenburg. The main reason for this trip was an 11am-10pm day at Liseberg, although I managed to get a few hours in Stockholm too.

On the Friday I took the express train to Stockholm, and went to Gröna Lund. The park was open 4pm-10pm but I had to leave around 7:30pm in order to get back to the hotel near Gothenburg. I was still able to get on all of the coasters except for the really small kids creds, and one of them twice.

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Walk The Big One XL

Back in 2013 Blackpool Pleasure Beach started offering an experience called “Walk the Big One” – an escorted walk to the top of the lift hill, and back down again. I did this on one of the first dates available (picking Friday the 13th, in September 2013) and it was a great experience, especially with it being dark by the time we walked up and with the illuminations switched on it was a brilliant view.

Recently the park has offered a new version of this experience, “Walk the Big One XL”. Similar to the original experience (which is still running), the XL version includes visiting various points around the ride such as the station brakes, evacuation platform at dip 2, and the mid-course brake run platform. So on 26th May it was my turn!

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Europe Trip – Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands

Taron, Phantasialand

On the 28th April I went on a European coaster tour covering seven parks, with Coaster Breaks. This was a thoroughly enjoyable trip, with a tour consisting of 7 people plus the tour guide, with all transport, hotels, breakfast and park tickets taken care of.

I’ve been trying to plan a Europe park trip for a while, but I went for Coaster Breaks instead as it was not an easy thing to try to plan, especially only using public transport, and I’d rather experience new parks as part of a small group rather than on my own. The other advantage of going as a group, guided by somebody who has visited the parks numerous times before, is that they know what order to do things to maximise the day and stay ahead of the crowds.

I’ve never visited any of the parks on this trip before, so all the coasters and parks are new to me. I’ll go through each park briefly with what I liked/disliked – I’m not going to cover every coaster as I’d be here forever.

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Unexpected America Trip!

Classic Coaster at the State Fair, Puyallup, WA, USA. This is a classic wooden coaster (1935)

Last week I attended the Microsoft MVP Summit in person, at Microsoft’s campus in Redmond (near Seattle, Washington, USA). It was my first visit to America (and the furthest I’ve ever travelled). An 8 hour time difference meant jet lag hit me hard. My default mode is “sleepy, need sleep” so a 10 hour flight and 8 hour time difference made this even worse. I flew out on Monday, and returned on Friday evening. I had a conference on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday which left all of Friday morning and a little of the afternoon to go explore.

While everyone was saying I should check out the Space Needle or other things in Seattle, instead I opened Coaster-Count and looked at the map. A couple of parks in reasonable distance, unfortunately the larger park was closed however Washington State Fair in Puyallup was open! Obviously I chose this over looking at some buildings.

I didn’t have a car (I don’t want to even attempt to drive over there, wrong side of the road but also some right turns are allowed even when the lights are on red… confusing) but after a little research, I could reach Puyallup in just over an hour by taking two buses from the Seattle-Tacoma airport, for about $5.25 (or I could get an Uber there for over $100). So I set off to the fair and arrived about 9:50am, just before it opened.

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Thorpe Park and Adventure Island

Thorpe Park started their 2023 season on Friday 24th March and I took the long trip down there. As usual for me at Thorpe, it was a mixed day – long queues on some rides, poor availability on others (Nemesis Inferno seemed to be down for most of the day). I don’t really like the operations all that much these days – coasters that have operated fine in the rain for well over a decade now close when there’s the slightest bit of water in the air.

Highlights of the trip were getting on The Swarm (twice) – running on two trains which made the queue move quickly. I think it’s an under-rated coaster, I quite like it, and as it’s usually closed, or running on a single train with a huge queue, on my visits it was great to have two goes. Multiple rides were also taken on SAW by way of the single rider queue – they need to bring these back on more rides. I really like SAW although I think this is more to do with the theme rather than the coaster itself – I’ve found back row is fine, front row I end up with a headache.

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Opening Day – 18th March!

Photo of the outside of Valhalla, Blackpool Pleasure Beach, with Ice Blast station and one of the Flying Machines rockets in the foreground

Many parks re-opened for the 2023 season today, either with passholder preview days or fully open. Today I went to Blackpool Pleasure Beach, my local park, determined to get on the Big One following its fourth consecutive year of track replacement and see what a difference it has made.

The week building up to opening day has been mostly awful weather – so today we were very lucky to have low wind speed, reasonable temperatures and no rain for the majority of the day. With it being opening day, and a decent forecast, there was quite a crowd gathering from about 10:15am waiting for the park’s 11am opening time. As usual there was people from Team Nick and the costume characters Bradley and Bella dancing for the crowds, before Amanda Thompson said a few words and opened the park for 2023.

Outside the main park, work was progressing on the new Pleasure Beach Store, which is replacing the old ticket centre within the Casino building. It’s nowhere near ready yet – the ticket centre has been cleared out and the new shop has been painted and decorated, but is still waiting for shelving and stock to be put in, but it will be nice to see such a large space filled with the various merch and hopefully it will be open after the park has closed.

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Trip Plans 2023

So as I mentioned in my last post, I’m planning to visit quite a few new parks this year, get on a lot of new coasters and this should dramatically impact my top 10s. I don’t necessarily expect the Big One to move much – maybe hard to understand given it isn’t the most exciting layout and there’s not much airtime on the ramps (yeah they are more ramps than hills, admit it), I grew up watching this being built in my home town and it’s one I really like. Plus you can’t beat that first drop.

MarchBlackpool Pleasure BeachOpening day!
Thorpe ParkOpening day!
Adventure IslandIf it’s open – never been before
Alton Towers
AprilAlton TowersPBE/Your Experience Guide event
Emerald ParkNever been
Blackpool Pleasure BeachRCCGB Blackpool Bash
Walibi BelgiumNever been
Movie Park GermanyNever been
MayPhantasialandNever been
ToverlandNever been
Walibi HollandNever been
EftelingNever been
Plopsaland De PanneNever been
Fantasy Island
Botton’s Pleasure BeachNever been
Blackpool Pleasure BeachWalk the Big One XL
JuneLisebergNever been – PBE Event
AugustOakwoodRCCGB Mega-GLOW-Mania
SeptemberAlton TowersRCCGB WOODathon
OctoberDrayton ManorRCCGB WOODathon – never been
NovemberWinter Wonderland
Trip Plans 2023

Along with this there’s going to be plenty of unplanned trips to BPB/Alton Towers/Thorpe Park.

Welcome and Top 10s

Photo of Katy wearing safety hat and harness, standing on top of the Big Dipper rollercoaster in Blackpool with view of Big One, Infusion and Big Dipper in background

Hey, I’m Katy and welcome to my new coaster/theme park blog. I’m intending this to be a much less formal blog which focusses on my coaster crazy hobby, with trip reports, photos and anything else I can think of.

I’m planning to visit a lot of new parks this year, so I’m going to put my current top 10 steel and top 10 wood coasters here, so I can see how much things have changed this time next year. I’ve not been on any coasters outside of the UK recently – except a few when I had a trip to Paris when I was a kid – so can’t remember any of those rides.

Current top 10 steel:

1Big OneBlackpool Pleasure Beach, UK
2IconBlackpool Pleasure Beach, UK
3NemesisAlton Towers, UK
4Saw – The RideThorpe Park, UK
5Nemesis InfernoThorpe Park, UK
6Munich/Olympia LoopingWinter Wonderland, UK
7StealthThorpe Park, UK
8RevolutionBlackpool Pleasure Beach, UK
9SwarmThorpe Park, UK
10Th13teenAlton Towers, UK
Top 10 Steel Coasters – January 2023

Now for the top 10 wood – okay it’s a top 8 as, although I’ve been on more wooden coasters than this (e.g. Southport and Frontierland) they were as a kid and I don’t remember them).

1Wild MouseBlackpool Pleasure Beach, UK
2Grand National (lifthill right track)Blackpool Pleasure Beach, UK
3MegafobiaOakwood, UK
4Wicker ManAlton Towers, UK
5Big DipperBlackpool Pleasure Beach, UK
6Nickelodeon StreakBlackpool Pleasure Beach, UK
7Grand National (lifthill left track)Blackpool Pleasure Beach, UK
8Blue FlyerBlackpool Pleasure Beach, UK
Top 8 Wood Coasters – January 2023

Yes I have split Grand National into two – in its current state end of season 2022, one side is brilliant, the other side painfully rough.