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Pleasure Island & Flamingoland, 1st time., 25th & 26th Oct '09.
Howie
post Nov 13 2009, 5:36 PM
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* This report is 3 weeks late cos my internet connection has been down, sorry...

Well, it was a weekend full of pleasant surprises!
First of all, it wasn’t intended to be a theme park trip. I was merely oop north visiting a mate who lives in, ahem, Grimsby. What I didn’t realise prior to going is that Grimsby is right next door to Cleethorpes.
‘Cleethorpes?’ I thought to myself ‘There’s a park in Cleethorpes. Might even get me some unplanned coaster fun-age on this trip. Bonus!’.

Sure enough, on the Saturday I had a quick ‘reccy’ of the park, looked it up on t’internet, checked prices etc and decided that it would be worth my time, if for no other reason than their Vekoma Boomerang. Even if the entire park was absolute pants, it’d be worth 14 quid just to finally ride a Vekoma Boomerang.
Being as he lived nearby, my mate had already been to the place several times so, while he was sleeping off a hangover on the Sunday morning, off I toddled to get my fix.
Yes, I went on my own, I’m THAT sad….

Now I didn’t expect much, I kind of expected it to be like Fantasy Island at Skeggy, basically little more than a bunch of amusement rides plonked onto some tarmac but to my surprise, Pleasure Island actually looks and feels a little bit like a proper theme park, albeit a very small one. It’s got a ‘street’ as you enter the gates, y’know, like a mini Towers Street or Disney’s Main Street, complete with happy music, a little sweet shop, café etc…
It’s got some nicely kept lawns, a little pond with a fountain, the odd flowerbed and stuff. Not only that, everything was clean and tidy, staff were friendly and all the rides looked in good nick, were nicely painted and appeared to be well maintained. What I’m trying to say is that, despite their obviously limited resources, Pleasure Island is surprisingly well kept.

Ride-wise, there isn’t a great deal to get excited about. Being a wet Sunday in October, queues were simply non existent on any ride so I had all the big ones done in under an hour. First up was a shot/drop tower, only a little one mind you, about the same size as Detonator, but still a good way to warm up and get the juices flowing (oo-er!)
They’ve also got a Fabbri Boost - I love those things! Ok so they’re not pretty, there may be a portable version in every travelling funfair but that doesn’t matter to me - the ‘Boost’ is one of the most insane rides out there. Almost up there with Slammer for that sheer ‘plunging-headfirst-towards-the-ground’ kinda feeling. Ace!
Then I headed for the Boomerang. It was pretty much exactly as I thought it would be, typical old-school Vekoma. Nothing to shout about but quite a good buzz and hey - you’re not a real coaster-head until you’ve ridden a Vekoma Boomerang. Right?
Next up was a Huss gyro-swing. Not a floorless one like Vortex or Maelstrom, one of the old style floored versions which, like most Huss gyro swings, is run on a programme that lasts far too long and just ends up making you feel sick.

Feeling a little queasy, I decided that a blast on the ‘Top Spin’ wasn’t a great idea and besides, I’ve been on enough Top Spins in my time to know what the crack is. Without fountains, it just ain’t the same.
There was also another topsy-turvy spinny thing in the park, not sure exactly what it was but it looked like a hybrid of Samurai and Enterprise and, given my delicate state at that point, I skipped that too!
They’ve got go-karts, a couple of carousels, a little mine train and a mini-apple coaster for the young’uns. No, I didn’t go on those either. I might be a geek, but I’m not so sad that I’ll ride every little tin-pot kiddie coaster I come across, ‘just for the count’. Especially on my own. Instead, I went for another rip on the boomerang, called it a day and went for a KFC, happy in the knowledge that I did what I came for.

Now, I’m not saying that Pleasure Island is North-East England’s hidden gem, I’m not suggesting for one minute that you all make this your ‘must-do’ park for 2010. All I’m saying is that it was better than I thought it would be, and if you happen to be in or near Cleethorpes one weekend, or are planning a theme park tour of Northern England, make sure you include it in your itinerary, you just might be pleasantly surprised.

What I also didn’t realise prior to going was that Pleasure Island is, in fact, the sister park to FlamingoLand and a surprise bonus was finding a 2-for-1 entry voucher on the back of the Pleasure Island entry ticket. That gave me the perfect excuse to drag my mate off, kicking and screaming, to Flamingoland on the Monday.

I hadn’t been to Flamingoland before. Been meaning to for years, just never got round to it. From reading the reports on here and other websites, I did expect it to be pretty good. What I didn’t expect was for it to be really, really good. In fact I liked it almost as much as my beloved Thorpe Park. Seriously, Flamingoland is a great park, with great rides & shows, great staff and great value for money. I’d have been happy to pay the 23 quid each entry fee for what they have on offer here. With rollercoasters and rides looming over expansive animal enclosures with giraffes and rhinos wandering round, it reminded me in some ways of Busch Gardens. Which can only be a good thing…

We arrived about lunchtime, once again a bit hungover so decided to eat first before looning about on rollercoasters for the afternoon. Not knowing our way round, we headed for the first thing we saw which was the Metropolitan restaurant in the entrance plaza. Probably expensive but we didn’t care, we were hungry. Surf n turf for me, mixed grill for him and I tell you what, both meals were amazing. I mean really, they were gorgeous! Hefty portions, steaks cooked to perfection, all the trimmings and good service. Couldn’t fault it. The price? About 12 quid each. For a mixed grill in a theme park restaurant, that’s pretty darn cheap.

Anyway, alcohol duly absorbed by beef, we ventured into the park. It was now about 1pm but the place was practically deserted so we (just about) had enough time to get everything done, every ride being walk-on except for Mumbo Jumbo, which had a 20 minute wait due to both operational cars having a test dummy in one of the front seats. Wouldn’t like to wait for this one on a busy day but it IS a very good ride. Short? Yes. Ugly? Definitely, but it’s a novel, quirky little ride and does push all the right buttons.

Never thought I’d miss Alton’s Corkscrew but riding FL’s brought many happy memories flooding back. Is it just me, or is Flamingoland’s Corkscrew much, much smoother and generally better than Alton’s ever was?
Loved Velocity! Favourite ride of the park. Anyone who moans that it’s uncomfortable or painful is just being wussy. It does exert some forces on you mind, it does make you wanna hang on, but that’s what makes it fun! Much better ride than Rita. 9/10.
Had a go on the mouse, but hey, a mouse is a mouse, and this mouse is just like all the other mice. Ok, but not brilliant and a little bit painful.
I did like Kumali though. Surprisingly smooth for an SLC and a much better track layout than the standard Infusion style layout, just a little on the short side. 7/10.

Loved the Disc-O. Always thought it was a pointless ride design seeing as it basically does the same sort of motion as a gyro swing, but the ride experience is actually very different and just as much fun. Favourite flat ride of the park.
Funnily enough, I didn’t like Flamingoland’s gyro swing as much. It didn’t make me feel ill like the one at Cleethorpes but the thing is, the seats face outwards on this one. Call me picky, but I like the seats on my gyro swings to face inwards. That way, when you’re at the highest point of the ride you’re facing downwards and you get that intense ‘ground rush’, instead of facing the sky and not knowing where you are. Still, a decent enough ride overall.

Had a go on the shot/drop tower - much bigger and better than the one at Pleasure Island, more on a par with Blackpool’s Ice Blast.
Really liked the Lost River ride too, although it could have been better I feel. I like the way it takes you past the lion enclosure but couldn’t they have installed a few more windows, offering a better view?
The open section past the field of giraffes and emus is cool, but when the boat came to a stop near that Land Rover, I was kind of waiting for something really exciting to happen. In the end I had to remind myself that this wasn’t the Rhino Rally, and that the boat simply stopped to allow some viewing time of the giraffes. Most of the people on the boat actually started to get a bit bored by now and it just became a waiting game until the big drop at the end.

After our soaking, we went for a wander round the zoo to dry off and I gotta say, it’s really nice. Plenty of spacious, well maintained enclosures and lots of cool animals who all appear to be healthy and happy. The seal show was quite cute, not Sea World standards obviously but still a nice way to pass 20 minutes or so, and the bird show too was rather nice.

With the clock ticking, we decided to use the final half hour to re-ride the best coasters - Kumali, Corkscrew and Velocity (twice) before heading back to sunny Grimsby.

So there you have it. Barely a bad word to say about either park. I doubt this report would be anywhere near as positive had we gone on busy days, I’m sure that large crowds at either Flamingoland or Pleasure Island would expose some major operational shortcomings of both rides and staff but therein lies the moral to this story you see, a moral which should apply to any park you ever visit - go on a quiet day!!

A surprisingly enjoyable weekend for many reasons and a nice way to round off the season.

Ta for reading.
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chapmanmania
post Nov 13 2009, 8:02 PM
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I don't think Pleasure Island ever gets ridiculously busy. I went on a sunny Saturday in September last year, and whilst not during school holiday time, the queues were minimal. The park is extremely well kept, although I think the shared ownership with Flamingo Land probably helps the park remain operational.

I loved the park, and whilst I'd go again it is sort of out of the way for most and doesn't really hold a lot of re-visit value for most. Like you said, the park has a lot of 'spin and spew' rides, which are each good in their own right but when placed together with relatively short queues it even left me feeling sick of the sight of them toward the end of the day. Hyper Blaster is an awesome double shot. Despite it being small, it packs quite a force in the drop, and offers a better ride experience IMO than a simple shot or drop tower.


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AstroDan
post Nov 15 2009, 7:56 PM
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Suprised to read a "great staff" comment about Flamingoland. From every visit I have had there, many of the ride staff just seem ill-trained, ill-cared and poor. On Cliffhanger, I saw guys messing on their mobile phones whilst I was on the ride, for example - and many staff just chewing and scoffing their faces. Many rides had seats out of use, and on my last visit Velocity and Lost River Ride were closed all day.

I certainly don't think Velocity is better than Rita. RE: Mumbo Jumbo, the ride is "a bag of s**t" - that's a quote from the ride manager who was there on my last visit when I asked why the queue was so long and dispatching so slow. The ride barely gets 350pph.

Flamingoland has a few gems but it's diabolically run from my experience.

However, on the flip side - it's nice to see some glowing reports.


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meames
post Nov 15 2009, 11:58 PM
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The staff attitude varies day by day in my experience. I have had a season ticket to the park this year and on the various times I have been there some days have been really bad whilst others it seems like the staff have come straight out of Disneyland, asking if you are OK, what you enjoy most yadda yadda yadda.

I really like the rides at Flamingoland, and it is well worth the entrance fee, but I do agree that Mumbo Jumbo is a waste of space. Its a shame because its quite a good ride, but the really low throughput makes it one of the worst ideas management have had in years.


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Howie
post Nov 16 2009, 10:57 AM
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QUOTE (AstroDan @ Nov 15 2009, 7:56 PM) *
Suprised to read a "great staff" comment about Flamingoland. From every visit I have had there, many of the ride staff just seem ill-trained, ill-cared and poor.
Many rides had seats out of use, and on my last visit Velocity and Lost River Ride were closed all day.

Flamingoland has a few gems but it's diabolically run from my experience.


That may all be true, but I can, of course, only base a trip report on the experience I had on my trip, and when I went, rides were open, qeues were short and staff were great. Ok, so that might be partly due to the very low number of visitors on that day but again, that's the day I was there so that's the day I wrote about.
If I go again (which I almost certainly will) and everything goes pear shaped, I'll write a bad report. I will, however, be making sure that I go on a quiet day then too.

Can I also just say that Flamingoland has what has to be the cleanest and nicest toilets in any theme park anywhere! I mean they were gleaming...


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