Sunday, 29 April 2012

Nemesis Nick at Sandcastle Water Park Blackpool

Date: Friday 13 April 2012
Venue: Sandcastle Water Park (Blackpool)
Who Went: Just me

Rationale For Trip
As some of you may have gathered, I enjoy water parks, including Splashdown at Tower Park, Poole. Having travelled to Blackpool the afternoon of Thursday 12 April for the RCCGB Blackpool Bash 2012, Friday daytime was the ideal opportunity for me to visit Blackpool's Sandcastle Water Park.

Welcome to Sandcastle Water Park
Just like Pleasure Beach Resort the rest of the weekend, it was only a short walk from the hotel where I stayed to Sandcastle Water Park. When I reached the reception I paid the extra for a Hyperzone wristband, which covers the Master Blaster, Sidewinder plus the two new slides Montazooma and Aztec Falls. Thanks to a coupon in the leaflet, I saved 10% of the admission fee.

In the Pool Area
Once past the foyer/bar and changing rooms, the water park itself is vast. Being as I'd previously been there in April 2010 and April 2011, I remembered most of the layout quite well. Having entered the pool area at 11:25, I began with the Master Blaster.

Master Blaster
One of the Hyperzone slides, requiring use of a tyre. There was a queue for tyres, and a long queue tailing back to the bridge for the launch point, but it was worth the wait. Master Blaster is 250 metres in length and seems to go on for ever; there are several uphill sections. Part way along you go through a tube slide, which exits the building, spirals around and re-enters the building. That's the blue spiral tube you can see sticking out of the left front corner of the building. Towards the end there's a final climb and a very steep final drop into the landing tray. Altogether a thrilling ride, one of the best in the water park. Due to the long wait, I only had one go for now.

The launch point for Master Blaster has a label on its side with the following information:
Aqua Leisure International
Master Blaster Ride
Commissioned April 2006

One important question: the Master Blaster is described as a rollercoaster water slide, in fact it claims to be the world's longest indoor rollercoaster water slide, but does that mean it's a rollercoaster or not?

One of the two new water slides (part of the Hyperzone) which opened in February 2012. I had to ask a lifeguard to show me the way to the waiting point for this slide. Having queued for a mat, I had to go up some steps, into a tunnel which had some special effect at the entrance, through the tunnel and up several flights of stairs to the top of a new tower. As I neared the top, I saw two queues: one for Montazooma and one for Aztec Falls. I joined the Montazooma queue, which thankfully was the shorter of the two, but I still faced quite a wait for the Montazooma launch point. When I reached the launch point I asked the lifeguard what to do. I had to place the special mat, curved end facing forwards, on the slide top and lie on the mat head first on my belly, holding the handles at the curved end. Once launched I set off really quickly, but slowed down midway. Thankfully I speeded up again and continued to the landing point. A fun new addition to the Park, but due to the long wait for mats and at the top I just had one go for now. My only disappointment was that the water felt quite cold in the Montazooma slide.

I was going to do the other new slide Aztec Falls next, but due to an even longer wait, decided to do Sidewinder instead.

Another Hyperzone slide, also requiring use of a tyre. I faced a queue for the tyre, and another queue for the launch point at the top. When it was my turn I sat in my tyre on the launch platform, waiting to be pushed over the edge. There's a very steep drop (long way down) into a ravine. Following the first drop, you go quite a long way up the other side, then down and back up the side you first came down, and so forth until you run out of momentum and grind to a halt at the bottom of the ravine, before exiting. Wow! Going back and forth made for a thrilling ride. Due to the waiting times, I only had one go for now.

Aztec Falls
The other new slide (also part of the Hyperzone) which opened in February 2012. There was now a really long wait for a tyre, I dread to think how long I had to wait for one. After that I had to go through the same tunnel and up the same stairs as I did for Montazooma earlier, until I joined the back of the long Aztec Falls queue. Eventually it was my turn to slide. It was more obvious what I had to do this time, just sit on my tyre (like Master Blaster and Sidewinder). This was so amazing, I went down a dark closed tube slide. Halfway down I entered a giant bowl, and was whirled at speed once around the outer edge, followed by once around the inner edge into another dark tube slide which took me the rest of the way to the slide exit. Another exciting ride, in some ways better than Montazooma, and definitely worth the long wait. The only disappointment was the water temperature, it felt quite cold. Due to the long wait I only had one go on Aztec Falls for now; indeed it ended up being my only go on Aztec Falls all day.

N.B. I found out from a lifeguard that Aztec Falls and Montazooma were originally planned to open summer 2011. Unfortunately a World War II bomb shelter was found in the required area for the new slides, and that shelter had to be taken out thereby delaying the project. For that reason the two new slides finally opened in February 2012.

Thunderfalls Waterslides
Two water slides, one is blue and one is yellow. These are mostly open top, however there's a short covered bit on the yellow slide midway. The queue up the spiral stairs was quite lengthy, so for now I enjoyed the blue and yellow slides once each.

Treetops Water Chutes
A set of three wavy slides side by side, thus three sliders can race each other. Looking from the top, the left hand slide is blue, the centre one is yellow and the right hand one is red. These were made by Aqua Leisure International, commissioned 2004. Unlike the slides I'd been on so far, the Treetops Water Chutes were walk-on. I enjoyed these three wavy slides twice each in the following order: blue, yellow, red, blue, yellow, red.

Whilst I was on the Treetops Water Chutes I found out from a lifeguard why the water in the new slides Montazooma and Aztec Falls felt considerably cooler than the other slides. The two said new slides are mostly outside, and being as it was cold outside, the water cooled in the slides (despite them being closed tubes).

Duelling Dragons
Two fast closed tube slides, which are classed as White Knuckle Slides, but they're not part of Hyperzone. The queuing time for these slides was considerably shorter than most of what I'd already been on, for now I enjoyed the left and right slides (as viewed from the top) in sequence four times over.

Ushi-Gushi River Creek
A flowing river, running anticlockwise. Some used floats, but I didn't bother. I enjoyed eight laps of this river run. This river run was too busy to swim breaststroke properly in though.

Main Wave Pool
At this point the wave machine was on in the wave pool, so I briefly went in there until the waves ended. This was my only time of going in the main wave pool all day.

Now for two more thrilling goes on the Sidewinder. The wait for tyres was quite lengthy, as was the wait at the top. Never mind, both goes on Sidewinder were definitely worth the wait.

The time was now after 3pm. I was hoping to do Montazooma and Aztec Falls next, but they were very busy, so I gave them a miss.

Thunderfalls Waterslides
Now for some more goes on the Thunderfalls Waterslides. The queues for these slides were still quite long. Anyway I enjoyed the blue and yellow slides in sequence twice over.

Duelling Dragons
Back to the Duelling Dragons. The waiting time for these varied considerably. For a few of my goes the queue extended some way down the spiral stairs, but most of the time the wait was very short, sometimes no-one in front of me. I enjoyed the left and right slides (as viewed from the top) in sequence eight times over.

After that, I expected Montazooma and Aztec Falls to be quieter this late in the afternoon. Sadly that wasn't the case. Montazooma still had a queue for mats, and Aztec Falls had an even longer wait for tyres.

I joined the Montazooma mat queue. When I finally got one, the queues on the tower staircase for both Montazooma and Aztec Falls were quite long. Eventually it was my turn to slide Montazooma. From earlier I remembered the correct slide position, i.e. head first on my belly. Just like earlier, the water was uncomfortably cold in the slide. Due to the long wait I only had one go; indeed this was my final go on Montazooma for the day.

The time was now after 5pm. I decided not to have a go on Aztec Falls due to its long queue. Instead I spent the final hour on the Sidewinder and Master Blaster.

My final four goes of the day on this. The wait for tyres at the bottom was now short; indeed twice I was able to keep my tyre between goes. However there was still a surprisingly lengthy wait at the top.

Master Blaster
The time was now 5:40pm, so I aimed to cram in as many goes on the Master Blaster as I could before the whole place closed at 6pm. In that remaining time, I was able to fit in five goes. The Master Blaster was now really quiet, with no wait for tyres each time. The queue for the launch point varied; on my first two goes there was still quite a queue for the launch point; on my final three goes the launch point was walk-on. It was definitely worth staying until closing time to cram in this many goes right at the very end.

After that it was closing time of 6pm, so I left the pool area and returned to the changing room. I finally left the water park at 6:14pm and returned to my hotel to prepare for the evening.

One other feature which I missed is the Caribbean Storm Treehouse. This is a play area with a number of features, including water jets you can aim at other bathers, and a giant coconut which gradually fills and tips to spill its contents over you. Although I walked near / through this area from time to time, I didn't actually stand under the coconut or aim the jets this time.

Summary of my day in order of activity
Master Blaster 1
Montazooma 1
Sidewinder 1
Aztec Falls 1
Thunderfalls Waterslides: blue 1, yellow 1
Treetops Water Chutes: blue 1, yellow 1, red 1, blue 1, yellow 1, red 1
Duelling Dragons: left 1, right1 (as viewed from top) in sequence 4 times over
Ushi-Gushi River Creek river run 8 laps
Main wave pool briefly (until the waves ended)
Sidewinder 2
Thunderfalls Waterslides: blue 1, yellow 1, blue 1, yellow 1
Duelling Dragons: left 1, right1 (as viewed from top) in sequence 8 times over
Montazooma 1
Sidewinder 4
Master Blaster 5

Cumulative Summary of Slides

Aztec Falls
Duelling Dragons: left slide entrance
Duelling Dragons: right slide entrance
Master Blaster
Thunderfalls Waterslides: blue
Thunderfalls Waterslides: yellow
Treetops Water Chutes: blue
Treetops Water Chutes: yellow
Treetops Water Chutes: red

Total 52 slides, plus 8 laps of Ushi-Gushi River Creek.


High slide count, considering how busy the place was.
Re-riding the thrilling Hyperzone slides Sidewinder and Master Blaster which I'd enjoyed on previous visits.
Sliding the new Hyperzone slides Montazooma and Aztec Falls for the first time ever.
Five goes on Master Blaster at the end of the day.

The place was busier than I'd have liked.
Only one go on Aztec Falls and two on Montazooma; I'd have liked a few more goes on both.
Water a bit cold in the new slides Aztec Falls and Montazooma.

Summing Up
Wow, a mega fun visit to the UK's largest indoor water park. By staying in all day, I certainly got my money's worth. Amazingly I managed to stay in until 6pm without eating or drinking anything. Evidently my big breakfast around 9am kept me going all day. If you've not yet been there, and you enjoy water parks, I strongly suggest you pay it a visit. In order to get your money's worth, I recommend staying in all day. Going in after the ERS on Sunday of the Blackpool Bash (i.e. around midday) may not give you sufficient time to do Sandcastle Water Park justice. My only surprise was how busy the place was. I know it was the Easter school holiday, but when I went last year it was also the Easter school holiday and I don't recall it being quite so busy. My guess is that the new slides Aztec Falls and Montazooma attracted more people in; interestingly I noticed a lot of bathers had Hyperzone wrist bands.

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