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!

View of the turn-around section, taken from the evacuation platform at dip 2

We started at the station brake and learnt a few facts about the ride from the operations director, Andy Hygate. This included an explanation of the different train wheel compounds, and pointing out that there are numbers on the side of the track, these are used to measure how fast the train is running by seeing how far through the brakes it goes before coming to a stop. It needs to run fast enough to make it round the course, but not so fast that it goes through the brakes. This is done by mixing slow and fast wheels (wheels with softer or harder compound), and if the train is running too fast the ride control system will e-stop.

Following this we went to the dip 2 evacuation platform, this is accessed through the Bowladrome car park. From this position, which is higher than it looks, you can see the damage that the seaside weather does to the track and how much effort is put in across the entire ride to combat this. A great spot for a track level photo. At this spot we also learnt about the re-profiling of the first drop and the turn-around in the late 1990s,

Mid-course brake run, looking along the brakes towards the sea

Our next stop was the mid-course brakes, this doesn’t look very high but once you’ve climbed the steps you realise “Revolution isn’t actually that high at all”. Completely exhausted at this point from climbing steps, it was still a good spot to take in a different view, and get some unique photos. The brakes are at a slight incline so that if a train were to be completely stopped here, once released it should be able to make it back to the station.

Getting from one part of the ride to another was also interesting as we took some routes which aren’t open to guests normally – including a partial track walk of the Pleasure Beach Express. This was also a great thing to include (even if it was just the shortest distance route)

Finally it was time to climb the 420 steps to the 213 foot summit of the Big One. The lift hill is actually at a 30 degree angle, so it is not really that steep at all – certainly less steep than the other stairs we’ve been climbing, which makes it a lot easier to climb. Stopping at every 50 foot mark we had an opportunity to take photos. Finally at the summit we got to admire the view, at this point it was about 9pm so the sun was setting giving a beautiful view.

The dreaded anemometer – the wind speed and direction determining if the ride will be open or not

This was a brilliant experience and I would definitely recommend it. It was priced at £150 when I did it, which is quite expensive but it’s a unique experience and I thought it was worth the money.