When it comes to the TPR UK Trip, I can only echo what everybody else has been saying--freakin' fantastic! What a time! Mucho thanks to Robb and Elissa for putting this all together and putting up with all of us.
One thing I especially appreciated was the excellent mix of coasters and dark rides. I am a serious dark-ride fan. From the smelly, cheesy carny rides with their bang doors and skeletons on springs to the high-tech animatronics and 3D digital images of Disney and Universal, I love 'em all nearly as much as the coasters.
So, instead of a general trip report, I thought I'd focus on Blackpool's cool collection of old-school dark rides (with pics aplenty).
Please remain seated and pull down your safety bar. We're off to our first stop . . .
Magic Mountain Well, this is more like Blackpool's version of It's a Small World than of a steel-entwined mountain in Valencia. It even has an incessant, grating theme song: "Welcome to our world!/Welcome to our world!/Welcome to our World of Toys!" Fortunately, the ride vehicle, a train of four cars, makes enough noise to effectively drown the song out. This seems appropriate, as this ride, unbeknownst to many who ride it, is a hard-hitting expose of the darker aspects of the "World of Toys." Yes, this is a ride that pulls no punches, as the following pictures will show!
Be warned--this is not for the faint of heart!
Stay tuned for more dark-ride goofiness.
Welcome to Not Six Flags Magic Mountain! The cheerful entrance belies the darkness within!
Hmm--looks like other crazed coaster dorks have commandeered this train. We'll have to wait.
"Now arriving, the Sad-and-Pathetic Express for Magic Mountain's World of Toys! Last call!"
"B-o-o-o-ard!" Off we go, into the "Heart of Darkness."
Here we see a strange pagan rite from the early Mezowhatzit Era of Toy Evolution--the sacrifice to Eyore, the Great Donkey God. The fluff of many a stuffed animal was spilled in such a manner.
Behold the Love that Dare Not Speak Its Name: Interspecies Toy Lust!
Many lower-caste Toys are forced to toil for long hours at low pay in the fluff-and-velcro mines of the World of Toys. Unionization is but a distant dream to these tortured souls.
We delve deeper into Toy decadence. Here we see a typical opium den, where Toys of all social classes slowly destroy their psyches by smoking and snorting glitter and tinsel. Many take desperate measues to support their habits.
Such as this unfortunate woman. She doesn't even attempt to hide her shame from us. (Yes, we have a side-boob shot on this ride.)
Not that the upper Toy classes care: "Prepare the merwench for the pleasure of Sultan Ali Ben Gropeangrab, ruler of the World of Toys!"
Other Toys try to drown their frustrations in cheap rotgut. Yes, it's not all fun and games in the World of Toys.
But onward and, well, downward. Please keep your hands and arms inside the boat at all times as we plumb the depths of Blackpool's . . .
River Caves Old-style dark rides tend to be exercises in randomness. Look! The devil just popped up in that window! Eek! That mummy's gonna fall on us! Eww! The shapely naked chick is actually a decayed corpse! Randomness is part of their charm, actually.
Blackpool's River Caves, however, seems to take randomness to a new extreme (not necessarily a bad thing). It's a "Tunnel of Love" type boat ride past scenes of exotic places, with a bit of narration here and there (most of which probably doesn't work anymore, I gather). Heck, you even get a peek at one of Blackpool's restaurants during your trip (shades of the Blue Bayou--or is the Blue Bayou the shades of the River Caves?).
So here we go around the world in 80 ways, or something. (Some of these pics are a bit blurry--I think the mist effects in the Caves fogged up my lens a bit.)
Welcome aboard the River Caves! First, we pay a call on an ancient Chinese emperor as he grants an audience to Boy George.
But then we go back to the time of cavemen--the hell?
"Hey, stupid mammals in the boat! This is my period--you best get back to the future!"
And so we do. Here's Mad King Ludwig in the sumputous grotto under one of his Bavarian castles (the restaurant overlooks this cool-looking set). Looks like his Highness has been on a serious bender (and has a sick thing for dolphins).
Randomness kicks in again: "So shall it be written, so shall it be done" in the times of ancient Egypt.
And now the Wayback Machine sends us to the ancient city of Ankhor Wat. I wonder if Angelina Jolie is in town?
Aghh! Snake! Where's Lara Croft when you need her?
"I say, Friday, what the hell was that all about?"
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