Thea Awards Recipients

Thea Awards 2021

Thea Classic Award

Blackpool Pleasure Beach, Blackpool, UK

As Blackpool Pleasure Beach turns 125 years old in 2021, it stands as one of those venerable, classic destinations in the world of themed entertainment, connecting the industry’s past and future. This seaside amusement park has survived two world wars and welcomed guests through more than a century of cultural, social and technological change. Remarkably, since its inception it has remained family owned and operated, currently under the care of the fourth generation of Blackpool lineage.

Spurred by the popularity of the seaside resort location due to its railway connections with the mill towns of North West England, Blackpool Pleasure Beach was founded in 1896 by A.W.G. Bean and his partner John Outhwaite, and soon became known for its innovative thrills as the site became packed with all sorts of unique attractions over decades of expansion. Today, its overall footprint occupies 42 acres with 38 rides that span thrills, coasters, dark rides and family rides, as well as shows and walk-through attractions.

Most notable is the park’s surviving collection of vintage rides, some of which are among the last of their kind in the world. These include four wooden roller coasters; of those, The Grand National is one of only three Möbius loop coasters in existence, where a singular track "loops" around itself, offering a facsimile out and back layout and creating a "racing" effect on two parallel tracks. Sir Harim Maxim’s Flying Machine (1904) is known as the oldest amusement park ride in Europe. The River Caves scenic flume (1905) remains a favorite today. Blackpool is also the last park in the world to still operate the iconic Steeplechase, installed under the reign of the late, legendary Geoffrey Thompson OBE.

Modern-era additions are equally impressive. The park was the first in Europe to introduce a fully inverting steel coaster, Revolution (1979); The Big One was the tallest coaster in the world when it opened (1994). The park also operates a Nickelodeon Land and the world's only Wallace & Gromit ride, the Thrill-O-Matic. Red Arrows SkyForce (2015) is a white-knuckle, physically challenging pilot experience and was first of its kind in the UK; ICON (2018) is a multi-launch coaster. Valhalla (2000) was at the time it opened one of the largest and most elaborate indoor dark rides in the world, and has garnered numerous awards.

Providing family fun and thrills for generations, Blackpool Pleasure Beach is an iconic destination that has stood the test of time and deserves recognition as a Thea Classic.

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