We wanted an American Style Amusement Park, the fundamental principle of which is to make adults feel like children again and to inspire gaiety of a primarily innocent character.
Alderman William George Bean founded Blackpool Pleasure Beach in 1896 and bought the forty-two acre site on which the Pleasure Beach now stands. Various rides, including the still popular Sir Hiram Maxim Flying Machines, were introduced to the area. The First World War curtailed further development of the site until 1921 when it became possible to import new rides from the USA.
In the 1930s, Leonard Thompson succeeded his father-in-law to become Managing Director of the Company. This decade saw the introduction of many new rides, including The Rollercoaster (now Nickelodeon Streak), The Pleasure Beach Express, and the world-famous twin track coaster, The Grand National.
The Second World War once again put a temporary halt to the progress, although Leonard Thompson said, “Entertainment is about the only commodity that isn’t rationed”. During the war years, Blackpool Pleasure Beach remained open all year round, enabling thousands of evacuees and services personnel to escape the reality of war for a short while.
After the war the Company continued to prosper. The ’60s saw a resurgence of development projects and it was during this era that Britain’s first commercial Monorail was built at Blackpool Pleasure Beach and new rides – The Monster, The Astro Swirl and the Log Flume were introduced.
Geoffrey Thompson became Managing Director of the company in 1976, following the death of his father Leonard, whilst Mrs L D Thompson MBE JP, became Chairman. It was under this leadership that exciting new rides were added, including the spectacular 360° rollercoaster The Revolution, and the UK’s only bobsleigh ride – The Avalanche.
Pleasure Beach, Blackpool has been consistently profitable and these profits have been re-invested in new rides and the development and upgrading of the Park. In 1990 the exterior of the grounds were re-designed and a brand new Edwardian style cosmopolitan shopping complex created along the Promenade – Ocean Boulevard.
1994 saw an investment of £12 million for the Pepsi Max Big One, which when it was constructed was the world’s tallest, fastest rollercoaster. This was followed in 1995 with a £2 million investment to create a brand new cabaret and hospitality venue, The Paradise Room, showing once again the commitment of the Thompsons to provide world-beating quality rides and entertainment.
1997 saw another UK first – the 210 foot, £2 million Ice Blast-The Ride, opened in June of that year by the then 94 year old Chairman of Blackpool Pleasure Beach, Mrs L D Thompson MBE, and pop supergroup Boyzone.
2004 welcomed £5 million investment in the park with re-theming and refurbishment. In 2004 Amanda Thompson OBE became Managing Director following the death of her father Geoffrey, while her brother Nicholas became Deputy Managing Director. 2004 also saw the passing of Blackpool Pleasure Beach Chairman Mrs LD Thompson OBE JP at the age of 101.
In 2007, £8million was invested in the world’s first rollercoaster suspended entirely over water. INFUSION. An exhilarating infusion of the elements, soars to amazing heights and takes riders through a whirlwind water experience to amaze and astound the senses. Infusion was officially launched by DJ and television personality Vernon Kay.
2008 saw the addition of an attractive new £1/2 million 12 hole adventure golf course, featuring an eye catching 21st century design, brilliant landscaping and state of the art holes to entertain both young and old. Look out for the water hazard on holes 11 & 6, and tackle the figure eight spectacular on hole 9 – a first to the UK!
2011 saw the biggest investment since the opening of Valhalla with the arrival of Nickelodeon Land. The collaboration between Blackpool Pleasure Beach and Nickelodeon, the number-one entertainment brands for kids, saw a 6 acre area of Pleasure Beach transformed into 12 rides, a Nickelodeon shop, exciting games, a brand new family restaurant and opportunities to meet with famous Nickelodeon characters.
2013: The brand new Wallace & Gromit Thrill-O-Matic opens. Blackpool Pleasure Beach worked with Wallace & Gromit creators, Aardman, on this 4 minute, £5.25million ride which takes thrill-seekers on a tour of the dynamic duos famous film adventures and gives them a chance to be up close and personal with the characters from the movies.
2015 and the 72ft high, 12-seat, white-knuckle ride, Red Arrow Skyforce opens. Stepping into their Red Arrow cockpit, riders take control of their plane and then spin and glide in their very own display.
2016: A special year of celebrations as Blackpool Pleasure Beach marks its 120th year of fun. To add to the festivities, Hot Ice celebrates the 80th anniversary of spectacular ice shows at Blackpool Pleasure Beach.