We stayed in a hotel up the South Shore during our holiday in Blackpool so were very close to the South Pier. During our stay, we visited the pier on a few occasions and at different times. This discusses our experience as a family.
~Blackpool South Pier~
South Pier is next to the Sandcastle and a short walk from the Pleasure Beach. Trams and buses stop outside and it is very easy to find by walking along the promenade. The pier is open 7 days a week during peak season (from Easter until November) and opening times vary depending on weather. During our visit, the pier opened at 1000hrs through the week and closed after 6pm. On wet days, the rides on the pier are not in operation but the arcade is opened. The pier is open late at the weekend.
South Pier opened in 1893 and was previously known as 'Victorian Pier'. The pier extends 149m into the Irish Sea. There was originally a head theatre on the pier but this has been replaced with white nuckle rides. South Pier is home to the Laughing Donkey family bar which offers nightly entertainment during the Summer and Illuminations. There is an amusement arcade at the entrance of the pier but the outdoor space is taken up with stalls, shops and rides including The Adrenalin Zone.
The Adrenalin Zone has some impressive rides for those who aren't scared of heights or water. One particular ride is known as 'Skycoaster' - a free falling swing which can drop up to three people from a height of 38m at 80mph. Not for the faint hearted and £15.00 per person. There is also the 'Skyscreamer' which is a reverse bungee at £15.00 per person. See www.adrenalinzone.co.uk for details. For those who aren't quite as adventurous, there is plenty of smaller rides to try out including the waltzers, a bouncy castle and small swings.
I have visited the South Pier many times including during my childhood. It has changed quite a bit and is definitely the better pier for thrillseekers. The pier is easily accessed by those in wheelchairs and with prams. I recommend entering via the side entrance as there are steps inside the arcade. The pier is disabled friendly and well maintained. There is a lot to do on the pier and it is definitely one which you would go to in order to do something as opposed to relaxing at the side of the pier and taking in the views in my opinion. It is nice to walk around when the weather is lovely.
The entrance to the pier is very attractive in my opinion. The pier is free to enter so you are free to just walk on and have a look about if you don't wish to spend any money but I feel North Pier is better for a relaxing walk as both South Pier and Central Pier are very busy with attractions. Just outside the pier, there is a few places to grab something to eat including a donut shack, a place selling fish n chips for £1.99 and also ice cream and rock. We had some donuts and they were nicer compared to the donut place at the Pleasure Beach and a little cheaper at £2.20 for 5 donuts if I remember correctly.
Our first visit to the pier during our holiday was on the first night - a Wednesday. It was very quiet with most of the shops and rides being closed due to lack of demand. We did manage to find someone on the pier though as it was a fairly pleasant evening so asked if we could have a ticket for the bouncy slide. The rides are averagely priced for this type of venue - £2.00 being the cheapest ride right up to £15.00 for the white nuckle rides. Cash is not accepted on the rides and tickets must be bought from one of the cabins if you can find one open. As we were heading for dinner, we only bought one ticket but you can buy groups of tickets which gives a small saving but personally, at £60 for the most expensive package, you are better off getting an unlimited wristband each at the Pleasure Beach across the road!
£2.00 got Boo five slides on the bouncy slide which he enjoyed. As we headed off the pier, we noticed quite a few deck chairs which my son took pleasure in relaxing on and overlooking the beach and sea. The Laughing Donkey was closed on our first visit as was the small arcade in centre of the pier. Our second visit was around 6pm on a Saturday evening and it was a little more lively. We did witness some fearless people riding the Skycoaster but if you are of a nervous disposition, avoid this as it shoots you right over the side of pier.
A few of the little stalls were open this time but I personally consider them to be a con as they promise you can win this, that and the next thing but you rarely do and you end up skint! The bar was open and quiet - we found it clean so headed inside for a drink. Expect to pay around £1.50 for a juice. We had a wander around the shops and found a few open. There is a good selection - handbags, donuts, all day breakfast etc at reasonable prices. We bought some sticks of rock from the rock shops priced at 45p each but found them cheaper on the promenade.
Our son wanted to go on some more rides so we sourced an open ticket cabin and found a rather huffy seller who looked annoyed at having to serve someone. Thankfully the ride operators weren't quite as moody but not exactly welcoming as they weren't getting much business. The rides are well kept and appeared to be very safe and monitored. We bought three ride tickets for the swings, a small, child friendly ride which sends your child in different directions (the name escapes me) and a ride with little cars. He thoroughly enjoyed himself. I would say there is a good selection of rides for all ages at the South Pier but you could spend an absolute fortune if visiting with a few children.
The amusement arcade on South Pier is huge and there is something for all. My fiance loves the teddy machines and won a Scooby Doo teddy for our son for a 30p stake. Again, you could spend a fortune and need to use self control as all the flashing lights and typical amusement noises do pull you in. There was plenty of machines to play, small childrens rides and table air hockey etc. We used up some spare change we had on the last morning too on the machines but didn't win anything worth mentioning. The amusement arcade is also very accessible and there are clean but basic toilets including a disabled toilet but I did not use this.
A visit to South Pier is very much worth it but it is definitely more fun to visit when it is during peak season as the atmosphere isn't as good when it is so quiet. There is a lot to do and it is suitable for the whole family but if you aren't interested rides or arcades then it really isn't for you. If you want the pier atmsophere but without the 'tacky' extras, then head to North Pier as it has a more relaxed atmosphere. Overall, we would go back here as we had fun.
Thanks for reading :)
Although it isn't the biggest of the three piers that Blackpool has to offer (north, South and Central), South Pier probably has the most to offer and as a result is the most visited. The selection of attractions has expanded vastly over the years and now includes an arcade, family pub, many food stalls, children's rides, a series of fairground rides, including the death defying Cat and Mouse ride, and the very popular Adrenaline Zone.
Originally called Victoria Pier, it was opened in 1893 and was considered (rather ironic as it now seems) to be the most 'up-market' of the three piers. It had a series of shops and a bandstand. A couple of fires over the years have forced dramatic changes to the pier, which has resulted in the tourist attraction that you see here today.
It's free to enter the pier and you can walk either down the outside, for great views across Blackpool's seafront, or through the various attractions that are housed inside in the pavilions. However this is where the 'free' aspect of it ends! You can expect to part with plenty of money if you want to spend a day, or even an afternoon here, as everything costs money and none of it is cheap.
The first thing you come to on entering the pier is a pretty comprehensive arcade that has every kind of machine you can think of. There are the popular slot machines that take 2p and 10p pieces as well as many new, all singing, all dancing computerised games, such as Guitar Hero. There is something for everyone, if this is your kind of thing. There are also cash machines (that charge for withdrawals!) and change machines in various locations throughout the arcade.
On leaving the arcade you go onto the pier proper, where you'll find it lined with the sort of attractions that you would see at the fairground. The many stalls include things you have to throw, things you have to aim at and things you have to knock over. Obviously there is a wide selection of oversized, incredibly tacky stuffed toys for those who manage to beat the system. I don't particularly enjoy this area as you do get hassled by the stall owners, who promise that there is 'a prize every time'.
Moving on, the fairground feel continues as you pass all the food stands offering anything and everything you can imagine possible to rot your teeth and insides; chocolate covered fruit, fresh donuts, homemade fudge, burgers and chips. The smells are overpowering at times but there are things that you probably won't be able to resist - my downfall was the mini donuts covered in sugar at a fairly pricey 5 for £2.
Next you go through a smaller arcade that is aimed mainly at small children, with plenty of bright lights and popular characters for them to enjoy. There is also a small, two-lane bowling alley here as well. It isn't very expensive (£1 per person if my memory serves me right), but expect what you pay for. Whilst we enjoyed the game, we found that the computer wasn't very good at counting the number of pins that were knocked down. This meant there were strikes when there shouldn't have been and vice versa. I didn't complain too much though as it meant that I won!
At the other side of this arcade is the Laughing Donkey Family Pub. I have been here a few times as it serves cheap beer and there are seats outside. The atmosphere inside is a bit like what you'd expect at Butlins or similar, with a regular programme of quizzes, karaoke and other similar entertainment. It's not my thing, but everyone who goes in seems to enjoy themselves.
Finally moving to the end of the pier, you'll find all the rides. Firstly, there are the rides for the kids. These include bouncy castle, Ferris wheels and climbing frames that will have the little ones entertained for hours. Next come the rides that have height restrictions and these include dodgems, waltzers and roller coasters. You can't pay for each ride as you go on them - you have to buy tickets from one of the kiosks. I think it works out at about £3 per ride (maybe £2 for the children's rides) or you can buy wristbands that work out much more cost effective if you're planning on going on a few of the rides - they are about £10.
Also in this area is the fairly new Adrenaline Zone, where you'll find a couple of stomach churning rides that are not for the faint hearted. You can experience free flight with the Skycoaster and be spun around until you're ill on the aptly names Skyscreamer, both of which cost around £15 per person (although you do get a video of you screaming and swearing for that price). As you can guess, I haven't actually participated in either of these 'attractions', however it is quite entertaining standing beneath them and marvelling at the bravery or stupidity of those who do dare to venture forth.
As you can see, there really is something for everyone at South Pier and it makes a fairly good alternative for those who don't want to pay the entry fee that has been introduced on the Pleasure Beach. The focus here is very much on family entertainment, so it makes a great day out if you have kids in tow. I personally enjoy strolling along and watching the many things that are going on here, however be warned; it's brash, noisy and very in your face and there is a fair old price to pay if you want to participate.
As you know if you have read my other opinions on Blackpool I do like the place! I have just spotted the new categories for each of the piers and immediately felt an opinion coming on! Blackpool has three piers inventively named North Pier, Central Pier and South Pier, all of which have free access at all times. The South Pier is situated almost opposite the Pleasure Beach and can be reached from the bus, which runs along the seafront, or from the famous Blackpool Trams, which stop right outside the pier. It is the shortest of the three piers being 285 metres long and was built in 1893, when it was called the Victoria Pier. What it lacks in length it makes up for in fun! The main entrance to the pier is through a huge amusement arcade flanked by two stalls selling tea, coffee, cold drinks, chips, burgers etc. I will just say at this point that you can be sure of a decent cup of tea at either of these outlets as they both use real milk, not those little containers of UHT milk! The amusement arcade contains a wide variety of machines from the two penny push off types to the complicated bandit types with flashing lights and nudges galore – most of which I wouldn’t have a clue how to play! There are also simulator rides and a dance machine in here together with toilets. If you don’t like amusement arcades there is a walkway to either side, which allows you to bypass the arcade as you walk onto the pier. Along the pier there are various shops selling glass ornaments, leather bags, rock, and numerous typical Blackpool holiday gifts. I’ll leave it to your imagination as to what the last category includes! You’ll also find the booth containing the fortune-teller who is, of course, a direct descendant of the true gypsies and may even be the 7th daughter of a 7th daughter! There are pictures of her with a host of various stars of screen and stage, which I have never quite kno
wn whether to take at face value or not… I can’t say whether she would be any good or not, as this is one thing I don’t try on holiday! There are also a number of food and drink outlets selling waffles, jacket potatoes, chips, candy floss and ice cream. The café about halfway along the pier called The Seabreeze Café sells a good selection of meals, snacks and drinks and has indoor seating. We have eaten in here and, while it’s not the Ritz, the food was a good price, it tasted fine and the place was clean. What more can you expect on the pier? The bar at the top end of the pier is the Laughing Donkey, which is a family pub and has both indoor and outdoor seating. I can’t comment any further on this one, as I have never been in here. The very top part of the pier is given over to a small fairground. There is a selection of various stalls such as hook a duck, knocking off the pile of cans etc so that you can try your luck at winning a huge stuffed toy. I always tell Dave that if he wins one for me he’ll have to move out, as we haven’t got room in our small house for both of them! I suppose that when he does try to win one for me I can assume that he’s trying to tell me something? There is a set of Dodgems and one of those old fashioned rides where the riders sit in two rows each of about a dozen people and the whole thing goes round across the vertical face of the machine with everyone remaining upright. I hope I’ve explained that well enough, as I haven’t got a clue what they’re called. There’s also a ride that consists of a flat disk set at an angle with cars for up to two people round the outside. The disk spins sending the cars swinging out. There is also one of the giant swings on this pier, where you get strapped into a harness and get pulled up on a wire between two posts and then let go to swing back and forth. If that doesn’t scare you se
nseless there’s a reverse bungee as well. This is a spherical cage with two seats in it on two pieces of strong elastic cable attached to two posts. You are strapped in and the catch is released so that the cage hurtles skywards and then bounces up and down. I will just say that I have not yet been brave enough or daft enough to go on either of these rides! The final ride at the very end of the pier is a Wild Mouse and it really is wild I can tell you! This works in the same way as a Mad Mouse in that the car climbs to the top of the track, zigzags down and then has one or two roller coaster type dips. The BIG difference is that the car is circular and about half way down it also begins to spin! My screams were so loud everyone along the pier turned to see what was happening! Of course the other terrifying thing is that, as you get to the end of the zigzag where you feel as though the car is going off the edge of the track, the view below is off a drop into the sea! Every time I go on it I say never again! Despite the modern fairground rides the pier still has an old fashioned feel to it, which is probably in part due to the fact that the old wooden and wrought iron structure remains, and long may it be so. I can’t imagine Blackpool without her piers!
The English seaside pier seems to be an attraction that is slowly disappearing, but at Blackpool there are three piers and they are all thriving. All three of the piers have free admission and each has it’s own characteristics. The South Pier was built in 1893 and is the shortest of the three Blackpool piers at 285 metres. Originally this pier was called the Victoria Pier. There is a large amusement arcade at the start of the pier, although you can walk on either side of this building onto the pier and miss out the noise and the slot machines. Beyond the arcade is the Seabreeze Café, which sells a good selection of snacks and drinks. After the café there is a collection of small shops and snack bars. There is one particular snack bar that I would highly recommend. Here they sell hot cream waffles. The hot waffle is covered with an enormous layer of cream and then drizzled with a choice of syrups, these are delicious but very, very high in calories! The Laughing Donkey is a family bar/pub that has live entertainment and a large outdoor beer garden. At the end of the pier is the Adrenaline Zone. This is a collection of rides and attractions that hurl people into the air, or drop them from great heights in many variations of the bungy jump. Not for me at all, but I love watching other people “enjoying” themselves. There are also a number of other fun fair rides at the end of the pier. The pier is very well maintained and kept very clean. I could not imagine a visit to the town without going on at least one of the piers and normally I manage to go on all three. They have all been standing for over 100 years and I hope they remain in use for future generations to visit and appreciate.