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Nickelodeon Land (Blackpool)
Member Name: Rhiana
Nickelodeon Land (Blackpool)
Date: 05/07/11, updated on 05/07/11 (833 review reads)
Advantages: Great for all the family, plenty to do, kids will love the theming, clean, bright, modern, fun!
Disadvantages: Dora ride a little underwhelming, can't bring own food.
In the May half term holidays earlier this year I'd made a promise to my six-year-old daughter we would visit a theme park. Originally I had Alton Towers in mind, but living way up North it's a bit of a journey and a little much for just one day, as well as being put off by the idea of 5 hours coach time each way. Light Water Valley and Flamingoland were also options, but unfortunately coach trips didn't coincide with the rest of our plans that week and getting there by train would be difficult to say the least. Having visited Blackpool's Pleasure Beach a couple of years ago and finding it surprisingly good this seemed like the best option. It was only when I went to book online I discovered that there'd been a bit of a revamp and Nickelodeon Land had just opened to the public.
Anyone who's visited the Pleasure Beach will know the specific kids area towards the back of the park called Beaver Creek. On our previous visit my daughter had really enjoyed this area, despite the fact it looked quite tired and outdated. It's this area that has been cleared out to make way for the all-new, bright and colourful Nickelodeon Land, which opened its doors in April this year.
Buying tickets was a simple case of booking online and collecting wristbands at the collection point on the day. There is no extra charge for Nickelodeon Land if you buy a park pass, which gives you access to the entire Pleasure Beach and all it's rides. With a £5 discount if bought online as opposed to the gate, I paid £27 for my adult wristband and £22 for a child's, which is on the pricey side but comparable to other theme parks. However you can also buy wristbands for Nickelodeon land only for little people at £18 as long as they are with a full paying adult. To be honest this seems false economy, as there are other rides suitable for children in the rest of the park and it limits you to one area only. Non-riders can also buy a park pass for £5, which allows them entry to the park, the South Beach show and the Pleasure Beach Express. Packages are available for groups and families of four or more. Nickelodeon Land observes the same opening hours as the rest of the park, which on our visit was 11am until 6pm, although this varies during the season.
Arriving at the park on the first warm sunny day we'd seen in a while I was surprised at how quiet it was. I was expecting it to be packed being the summer holidays but while busy, it wasn't over crowded and queues where no less than 10 minutes all day. As my daughter was excited about Nickelodeon Land, this is where we immediately headed and my first impressions were wow! The transformation here is amazing. Everything is so bright, clean and fresh looking. We got straight to work on the twelve rides, which include some brand new and some old favourites with a makeover.
First up we headed for the Blue Flyer. Once the zipper dipper, this old wooden roller coaster for little thrill seekers has been revamped with snazzy new carriages and striking blue track. This was one of my daughters most anticipated rides as she loved it previously and she wasn't disappointed. Next we headed to the all-new Diego's Rain Forest Adventure, a ride with hot air balloon carriages that go surprisingly high and riders can spin crazily or lazily view the whole park. Onto Fairly Odd Parent's Taxi Spin, a fun ride similar to helicopters that bounce up and down as they go around and one very small children will enjoy getting behind the wheel of. Other great rides for the very small include The Backyardigans Pirate Treasure, Wonder Pets Big Circus Bounce (both roundabout style rides with twists) and The Bikini Bottom Bus Tour ride.
Feeling a little brave my daughter decided to have a go at Krusty Crabs Order Up even though I decided on sitting this one out due to the small looking seats (and possible embarrassment at not fitting) This is a mini 'drop' ride formally The Fruit Shoot and was very popular with kids aged around my daughters age. Despite this the waiting time was minimal, 5 minutes each time and she ran on and off this several times while I rested my feet. Then it was off again to The Rugrats Lost River Ride, the rethemed water chute. Word of warning here- you will get soaked! This is a pretty tame ride, though will seem huge to young kids and lots of fun, however if it's not the warmest of days you may want to skip it. Luckily we dried quickly in the sun, but my daughter decided she didn't want to get wet again and passed up on one of the most popular rides in the park, Sponge Bob's Splash Back, a roundabout that allows you to squirt other riders with a water gun. I can't say I was disappointed.
The 'Show piece' ride of the park is Dora's World Voyage, a river track ride similar to Disney's Small World, with an equally catchy and annoying song. This ride is a slow voyage around different countries and scenes featuring favourite characters from Dora The Explorer. I'm a bit sad to say however this was the only real disappointment of the day, possibly down to my six-year olds disgust at being forced to go on such a childish ride. And in a way she's right, it lacked the ageless charm of Small World, however I can see pre schoolers finding it magical.
Nickelodeon Land doesn't just cater for the young though, with two white-knuckle rides for older children. The Avatar Airbender was an interesting disc spinning ride, and wholly unsuitable for someone my daughter's height and so was avoided. However one ride had my daughter fascinated all day. The Nickelodeon Streak, once known as Pleasure Beaches Roller Coaster. Compared to the mammoth modern coasters this wooden big dipper looks pretty tame, but for small children it's a big deal! She wanted to go on, and measuring her against the height chart she was just at the minimum height to ride, but kept deciding against it. That is right until the very last minute when we were just about to leave. This was the longest queue we stood in, around 15 minutes and the staff were very vigilant in checking heights of smaller children. I was secretly hoping she'd be turned away like others in the queue, as I was convinced she would hate it (and OK I was a little nervous too) but soon enough we found ourselves sat in the new, sleek carriages facing the first dip. And we both loved it! The Streak is an old favourite with a bright modern look and a fabulous first coaster for adventurous young ones.
Other Stuff and Facilities
Nickelodeon is fantastically themed throughout with all the favourite TV characters featuring on rides and attraction. As well, there's meet the character opportunities, where they come out to greet the children, dance a little and pose for photographs. This was very popular as you can imagine, and small children will be thrilled to meet Dora, Diego, Sponge Bob et al, although my daughter was less than impressed again * sigh *
As you may expect there's a Nickelodeon shop selling character merchandise, and yes...it's very expensive. I allowed my daughter to buy a small Sponge Bob soft toy at £7 and felt a little cheated. It's difficult to find any souvenir under £5. If you're hoping to avoid this it will be difficult as it's situated right in the middle of the park.
Toilets were plentiful, extremely clean and easily found. There are two places to eat in Nickelodeon Land, Big Pizza Kitchen (an all you can eat buffet restaurant) situated in the newly painted and themed Space Mountain, and a fast food stall selling hot dogs and chips. While we ate elsewhere in the park, I'm guessing our Hot Dog and chips were the same as on offer here. As far as fast food goes they're pretty good and the chips come in a little bucket with mini spade that can be used on the beach later. I paid £8 for two hotdogs, a bucket of chips and a large Pepsi, probably about what you can expect in these places. Unfortunately you're not able to bring food into the park, which seems a little mean, so you will need to factor in the cost of eating into your trip.
Both my daughter and I were very impressed with Nickelodeon Land! The extent of the refurbishment is huge; everything is bright, clean, modern and clean looking. There are plenty of rides for children of all ages and the theming is fabulous. The facilities are exceptional and the staff friendly and helpful, apart from one lady operating the Fairly Odd Parents ride who could have done with some customer service training. I was a little annoyed by her attitude as she tried to double up carriages and put us in the back of another families, which of course wasn't going to work as every child wants to drive their own carriage! Other than that, the service and attention to health and safety was impeccable.
While I can't imagine spending the whole day in Nickelodeon Land, combined with the rest of the park there is more than enough to allow you to spend the whole day here. I was surprised by the lack of crowds, but I expect that Blackpool Pleasure Beach is yet to disassociate itself with it's tackier past. Personally I think it's comparable now with the other big theme parks in the country. The introduction of the £5 park pass has completely eradicated drunken undesirables hanging around, the fortune tellers and kiss me quick hat stalls have been cleared away and it's now exceptionally clean and well maintained.
I really do recommend checking out Nickelodeon Land, especially for those with younger children and I think you'll find there's far more to entertain them than at other theme parks, who seem to go for big thrill rides and children are almost an after thought. Nickelodeon Land makes Pleasure Beach a great place for all the family, there really is something for everyone and I promise you will come away impressed and looking forward to returning.
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Summary: A fresh start for Blackpool Pleasure Beach and worth a visit!
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