If you follow us on Twitter you’ll know that we spent a few days in Blackpool last week which – of course – included a trip to Blackpool Pleasure Beach. We really do love this park, and this trip was made even more exciting by the opening of their newest roller coaster, Icon. As we managed to get a few rides on this brand new coaster, I thought I’d try and put my thoughts together in an Icon Blackpool review.
I’d like to add here that I (it’s Charlotte btw) am more of a theme park enthusiast than a coaster one. Sure, I like coasters but it’s the theming that really gets me excited. So I don’t really know what each of the individual elements of the coaster is, or what each aims to achieve. What I do know – or at least I think I know – is how to have a really good time while I’m on one.
So take this review as it comes. As the thoughts of someone who loves theme parks and coasters, rather than someone who knows everything about them. Now that’s been said, let’s get on with this Icon Blackpool review.
What is Icon?
As Blackpool Pleasure Beach’s first original roller coaster since The Big one 24 years ago, Icon had quite a lot to live up to. Manufactured by German firm Mack Rides, it has been highly anticipated by any UK theme park fan.
Completed to a budget of around £16m, it’s a multi-launch coaster similar to blue fire at Europa Park and Helix at Liseberg – both considered to be some of the best coasters in the world. With that in mind, I wouldn’t be lying if I said that we were both very, very excited to be riding Icon last week.
Theming, music and atmosphere
Theming is a difficult one with Icon as it’s loose at best, but I guess that’s to be expected since it has very little room to stand on its own two feet. Pleasure Beach has a lot of track crammed into a small space so unlike Wickerman – the new 2018 addition to Alton Towers – it isn’t blessed with lots of land and the theming pays the price. They do try though, the bronze and grey colours make it look ultra new and modern and I love that you could see the big one reflected back in Icon’s sign – a small touch but a nice one.
The queue area is relatively short (I hope this is because they plan to have it running well so the queue never gets too big) but it’s utterly uninspiring. You do get a good view of both the launches though which is pretty cool.
Unlike the queue, the soundtrack is fantastic and really sets the scene for your ride. I loved the station as well, very slick and the bag compartment actually closes so it feels super secure.
As you board the train you’re secured by lap bar restraints. We were both pretty excited about these, having never ridden an inverted coaster without a shoulder restraint – they reminded me of the seats on Hollywood Rip Ride Rocket. Once secured we were both really comfortable with plenty of room to move – we had a feeling it was going to be a good ride!
Now I’ll admit, when we were queueing I thought the launch looked a little bit lacklustre. I’m afraid to say it was the same story on the ride too. I know Pleasure Beach isn’t advertising this as a fast double launch coaster, but there was very little thrill in the beginning.
It all improved from there though as we were propelled over an airtime hill (at least, I think that’s what it is) and were flung from our seats. There was some amazing airtime here and we both shouted “wow” to each other. From there it continued to be a fun journey through some of Blackpool’s other attractions with some nice transitions and a few more pockets of airtime.
Then the second launch. Honestly? I felt it slightly the first time but after that, I didn’t even realise we’d gone through it. It’s definitely there as a vehicle to keep the coaster moving, rather than for the thrill of the ride. I remember thinking the launches on Cheetah Hunt at Busch Gardens Tampa were a little slow, but Icon’s were even worse.
After this, there were another few fantastic blasts of airtime until it ended with a little foray around the track. I’m shocked to be saying this as usually, the longer the coaster the better for me, but I genuinely wondered when it was going to end. These sections just felt like they were there for the sake of it. Once that was done, we were back to the station.
We had three rides on Icon:
- Three rows from the front and the first train of the day.
- Second to back row towards the end of the day.
- Back row at the end of the day.
I will say that, from our experience, we would 100% advise riding at the end of the day as everything was punchier. The airtime was bigger, the transitions were smoother and the speed felt faster. I did, however, feel the launches more during my first ride, but that could be because it was the first time I’d ever been on Icon.
When it comes to position, we both preferred the back row as there were buckets more airtime and it felt faster. The first airtime hill, in particular, was amazing, it really felt like we were going to come out of our seats.
Although this review might seem negative, we both loved Icon. Carl really loved it and actually disagrees with some of the points I’ve made. It was so so much fun, had some great elements and is something truly unique in the UK. It’s already made it into both our top 3 coasters in the country and is truly an experience not to be missed.
I think for me, it was hyped up a bit too much. There were so many reviews coming out of the press day with people saying how amazing it was that I was expecting something unbelievable. It was really, really good but it wasn’t the best coaster I’ve ever ridden – and I haven’t been on that many.
I asked Carl to sum it up in one sentence and he said: “rows 1–7 Wickerman is better, row 8 Icon is better.” I purposefully tried not to compare the two – as they are completely different experiences – but I think I have to agree.
Have you ridden Icon yet? What did you think?