Thea Awards Recipients

Thea Awards 2021

Thea Classic Award

Blackpool Pleasure Beach, Blackpool, UK

As Blackpool Pleasure Beach turns 125 years old next year, it stands amongst few comparables in the world of themed entertainment, connecting the industry’s past and future by thriving through over a century of cultural, social and technological change. As one of the world’s first and most iconic amusement parks, it has survived two world wars and the harsh environment of its seaside location while continually providing family fun and thrills for generations while remarkably also being a family owned and operated business since its inception, 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, the overall footprint of the de velopment occupies 42 acres with 38 rides that span thrills, coasters, dark rides and family rides, not to mention a collection of shows and unique walk-through attractions.

Most notable is the park’s surviving collection of vintage rides, some of these are the last remaining types 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 is the oldest amusement park ride in Europe, having opened in August 1904. The River Caves scenic flume opened in 1905 and
still is a favorite toda y. They are also the last park in the world to still operate the iconic Steeplechase, one of many attractions installed under the reign of the late, legendary Geoffrey Thompson OBE.

Their additions in the modern era are equally impressive. The park was the first in Europe to introduce a fully inverting steel coaster, Revolution; while The Big One was the tallest coaster in the world when it opened in 1994. The park also operates a Nickelodeon Land and the world's
only Wallace & Gromit ride, the Thrill O Matic. In 2015 the park introduced Red Arrows Sky Force, a Gerstlauer Sky Fly thrill ride which is the first ride of its kind in the United Kingdom. The latest record is taken by 2018’s Icon, a multi launch coaster. Originally opened in 2000, Valhalla
was one of the largest and most expensive indoor dark rides in the world at the time, winning "Best Water Ride" at the 2018 Golden Ticket Awards, an accolade it has held over a consecutive number of years; Valhalla is currently being reimagined to reopen during the 2021 season in
time for Blackpool Pleasure Beach’s 125th anniversary year.

Award Credits