Pleasure Beach Blackpool - Pay to Enter in 2009
So the BPB Guide forums are ablaze with discussion over this. It looks like next year, the pleasure beach will be wrist band entrance only. You can buy one of two wrist bands. One lets you ride everything. The other, lets you in to walk around and will give free entry to some attractions, such as Noahs Arks, Alice In Wonderland, Mono Rail and Pleasure Beach Express. The latter wrist band will cost a fiver.
If this does happen next year (and it looks very likely as some attractions that I have mentioned have been scheduled to have their ticket booths closed) then the Pleasure Beach will be turning it's back on families and the income from non riders. More than that, they will be turning their back on the traditional values of the amusement park.
Sad times are ahead for my favourite uk park.
I agree with everything you said, Chris. I don't think non-riders would want to go on those rides - OK, maybe the railway and monorail, but not the others. It might as well be seen as a straight £5 entry fee.
If I think of the non-riders I've visited the Pleasure Beach with, I don't think they'd pay it. It's not that they can't afford it; it's the principal. Free entry was one reason they enjoyed coming with me and were impressed with the park.
Apart from that, £5 could be spent on fish & chips, which is much better value for money. It's a lot of money compared to what else you could spend it on.
I'm honestly not bashing the park, but imagine if this happens for two seasons (2009 and 2010) and is deemed a failure... It was enough to shut Pleasureland.
Hmm I'm not as shocked as the general feeling seems to be on this issue
Security are very present around the park and manning the metal detectors at the entrances, there were lots of staff pushing round the sweeping machines and each toilet is manned with a member of staff to keep on top of things and keep them clean, as they’ve always been
This all costs money, I think £5 is a fair admission price to the park, and including some accessible to all rides is an ok deal,
My only slight concern is that it will damage the attendance figures, after all that's what was blamed for killing Southport as Graeme has mentioned, but I guess Blackpool is a much more buoyant resort and hopefully will be able to maintain the numbers to keep the park a float
The paid admission, then rides/wristbands extra system is how its done in the Scandinavian city parks I've visited, at Tivoli I was amazed that locals will pay the admission just to use one of the park’s fine restaurants and watch the fireworks/entertainment
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Here's an interesting article about it.
One thing I hadn't thought of (and that a few people mention here) is that people won't be able to have a look round first and decide which rides they want to go on.
> Security are very present around the park and manning the
> metal detectors at the entrances,
For what? I thought possession of a firearm is illegal. Is security really an issue at UK theme parks to warrant metal detectors?
As for the admission charge. Disneyland originally charged a gate price and required tickets for their attractions. I think you bring up some good points on why they may need to charge an admission fee. There are amenities that are being used, but not supported by the public.
The amenities point is in all fairness, a valid point. There are many guests who enter the park just for a look around and kill time, use the toilets etc and of course, this all adds to the overheads of the park. It is a fair point but I guess I am just nostalgic for the old, traditional park that you can wander in, browse the rides and soak up the atmosphere, something that one could do at any sea side resort. When someone takes away a piece of freedom, especially freedom associated with holidays and loving memories...well, it's going to upset a few people.
>> Security are very present around the park and manning the
>> metal detectors at the entrances,
> For what? I thought possession of a firearm is illegal. Is
> security really an issue at UK theme parks to warrant metal
It's probably more for knives. However, gangs do have firearms nowadays. Unfortunately, violent crime seems to have become out of control in the last 10 years (in the UK), especially amongst the young.
I'm glad you posted this Chris and some great responses Graeme, Winged Beast, Eric et al.
I think the need to introduce an entrance fee is sad.
Really, I do.
I want to support PBB but I sometimes tear my hair out with the place.
This aged jury has been out for a bit about as to whether it's a good thing to charge £5 to enter but as much as I have tried to understand the rationale posted on boards I find myself scratching my head.
I could write a thousand lines as to why something like a charge is wrong in my book but I'm usually trumped on boards by some good intentioned person on an enthusiast board with a good argument pointing out to me as to why it has to be done.
That probably says more about me and my longing to keep the park free to enter.
For the record I'm still a little confused reading enthusiast boards elsewhere as to why there needs to be a charge.
I've read that the fee will keep "chavs" away but then I have also read that the fees will help pay for extra security.
"Chavs" seem to come in for a lot of flack. So they should, but I read somewhere some time back that they were responsible for Cableway closing due to spitting at unexpected visitors below..
..So why have an open top monorail then? (Sorry for sounding smug..I'm reading too many boards I guess)
I've read that the park really needs to cut its cloth - fair enough - but has the management asked the public about their views regarding the entry charge?
Perhaps you feel they shouldn't have to. Perhaps they already have asked them?. Perhaps I don't know?
I often wonder (rightly or wrongly) whether some people on park boards when writing about the advantages of a charge like this write openly in favour of a charge but secretly think otherwise?
In short I long for more healthy balanced debate about the subject.
I would love to read more about possible alternatives to the fee - no matter how stupid, naive and incredulous - regardless of the fact that there will most probably be no U Turns now.
These ideas are usually the best! :-)
OK..If they must introduce a £5 fee then what about..
Giving out a booklet for your £5 with vouchers off loads of things..not just the stipulated rides..free coffee / free muffin / free end of day prize draw / free side stall / etc..Make people think they have more of a choice.
Yes, how many typical punters will really know what Noah's Ark is all about?
Selfish reasons too..The thought of the Maze and Ark being open with noone manning the entrance to them (Will this be the case?) sort of cheapens the ride for me..I hated seeing The Haunted Hotel like this at Southport towards the end.
...Even more of a concern for me than the introduction of an entrance fee that specifies what rides you can go on is the fact that in my humble opinion the park seems to be distancing itself from the resort.
Is it or is it just me that is thinking this?
I was one of those concerned when the park chaged its name from Blackpool Pleasure Beach (Emphasis on Pleasure Beach being situated in Blackpool) to Pleasure Beach Blackpool (Emphasis on The Pleasure Beach just happening to be situated in Blackpool)
A brilliant slick bit of marketing that appears to have shifted emphasis upon ownership in one fell swoop.
Blackpool needs the Pleasure Beach and the Pleasure Beach needs Blackpool in my opinion if either is going to survive and thrive..
Surely one wont last without the other? They need to compliment each other...Don't they?
They seem to be in competition with each other right now.
And that can't be good..Can it?
I'm adding question marks to the end of my sentences and I've already modified this post at least three times already.
If I go on any longer I will probably end up convincing myself that the entrance fee is a good thing and go marching up and down Ocean Boulevard tomorrow with a plaque proclaiming the fee a wonderful idea.
Time to stop typing methinks.
Posting about PBB always plays with my brain. :-)
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Excellent food for thought there, sir. You seem as upset about this as I am. The pleasure beach it seems, is remarketing itself as a theme park and no longer a world class amusement park. Didn't they recently receive an award for 5th best sea side amusement park in the world? (Or wording very similar). Have they forgotten this already?
I have no degree in marketing or business studies, so I can only assume that they have fully researched that this is the best financial direction for the park's future. Still, it's such a shame to see a world class amusement park turn it's back on traditional values in favour of the almighty euro/pound.
Blackpool itself is changing, redesigning itself, remarketing itself. I think the pleasure beach is following suit and not competing. The overhaul for the town itself is a promising one and the seafront changes look slick. However, I cannot see how the pleasure beach can change itself. With so much installed from years gone by, the possibilities for change are very limited and we are left with lame excuses for the fee, such as chavs and security. Also, if they are going to behave like a theme park, then they need to regularly invest in new rides that really stand out and draw new punters in. As I said, how can they do this with little room for changes in the park? With several million visitors to the park each year, I really cannot see that they need the extra revenue that badly. But like I said, I have no real understanding of business studies...
In answer to one of your many questions; I think they should give you a choice of family rides to use your £5 wristband on and also incorporate other free deals etc.
Bah, thinking about this makes me annoyed!
Great post, Gary.
I must say, I share your confusion. There are so many contradictory factors.
> I've read that the fee will keep "chavs" away but
> then I have also read that the fees will help pay for extra
...This is one of those factors I'm talking about. I think it's fair to say young people have become louder and more yobbish in the past 10 years. In that regard, yes, of course BPB needs good security and, sadly, even needs to control/remove rides that particularly allow abuse (like Cableway). Sad times, and not the Pleasure Beach's fault.
On the other hand, every public place needs to fund security; it's just one of those things. We all know how youths bellow round supermarkets as if they own them. Well, I suppose they do, really. You make a good point though - if everyone who comes in has paid £5, then in theory they'd be much better behaved!
> I often wonder (rightly or wrongly) whether some people on
> park boards when writing about the advantages of a charge
> like this write openly in favour of a charge but secretly
> think otherwise?
I think people hate to be negative. I know I do! Honestly, I'm a pretty happy person, and I hate myself having to criticise so much in the UK amusement park industry. I try to be as positive as possible, but the truth is I can't say I've been pleased with much over the past few years.
> OK..If they must introduce a £5 fee then what about..
> Giving out a booklet for your £5 with vouchers off loads
> of things..not just the stipulated rides..free coffee /
> free muffin / free end of day prize draw / free side stall
> / etc..Make people think they have more of a choice.
This is what I think too. If there absolutely must be a charge, how about £2, which is redeemable against coffee or tea? It's more universal than the rides, I feel.
> Is it or is it just me that is thinking this?
No, it's not, I completely agree. Visiting a seaside isn't like visiting a theme park. You need to be able to go in and out as much as you like. OK, you'll probably be able to get your hand stamped, but I just feel BPB should be part of the real estate when visiting Blackpool. After all, you do have to pay quite a lot for parking (£5-7?)
Again, this comes back to how tied BPB is with the resort and the council. When you visit Blackpool, the amusement park is just part of it, almost as much as the promenade. Yes, it's privately owned, but this is just the way people visit seasides.
Going back to the "confusion" aspect, I sat on the fence about the Pleasureland fee, because I honestly didn't know whether it would work or not. Look what happened. They were, quite frankly, heartless with that. I'd be fibbing if I said I wasn't bitter. It might make me a better person if I wasn't, but I am.
And yet, look how much effort they have put into BPB and renovations and refurbishments - quite a lot. My conclusion is they get behind the park if they think it's going to be good business for them, but I can't help wondering how quickly they'd change their minds.
My conclusion is that free entry and pay-per-ride is the ultimate democracy. If rides don't attract the custom, then I have no problem getting rid of them. This is why I've never been critical of removing the Whip, Turtle Chase, Vikingar etc.
Wristbands were welcome, but I just feel an entry fee is one step too far from the original idea.
> Also, if they are going to behave like a theme park, then
> they need to regularly invest in new rides that really
> stand out and draw new punters in. As I said, how can they
> do this with little room for changes in the park?
Maybe I'm just a fogey. I'll tell you what my favourite BPB era is: the pre-Big One era, as captured in Lord Lichfield's beautiful photographs.
The skyline, looking out to sea, with Revolution, Avalanche and then Big Dipper.
Beaver Creek lit up at night with Roller Coaster's light bulb-strewn lift hill pointing to the right, the pink roof and a giant holding up the Monorail.
Of course, he took some cracking shots of the Big One too, and it was very exciting for the park to get.